07/13/2009, 00.00
SYRIA - UNITED STATES - SAUDI
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Damascus hopes in a visit by Obama, Abdullah and Hariri

The Iranian crisis sees Syria increasingly the focus of international countries that have an interest in "detaching" it from Tehran. Assad has invited the U.S. President, while there is talk of reopening the Saudi embassy and a visit by the Lebanese premier.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Barack Obama wants "progress" in relations with Syria, Saudi Arabia is preparing to reopen its embassy in Damascus, the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, speaking from the Syrian capital said that Bashar al Assad wants a freely chosen Lebanese government, and the possibility of a tripartite Summit - Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon -  held in Damascus is being hypothesised, which could remarkably include the presence of King Abdullah and Saad Hariri.

 

Syria is increasingly the focus of international efforts regarding the Middle East, at least in part connected with the crisis –deeply rooted - that Tehran, the principal ally of Damascus, is currently experiencing.  

With the aim of breaking, or at least weakening the relationship between Assad and Ahmadinejad, the United States have given Damascus reason to hope not only in economic support but also in possible pressure on Israel for the return of the Golan Heights, Syria lost in the War of 1967. The recovery, a forbidden dream for 40 years, would benefit the low popularity of Assad, as well as having importance, both economically and politically. For their part, the Saudis have a fundamental interest in recovering the role of main regional power against the growing weight of Iran, including in relation to the influence of  Shiites through Hezbollah in Lebanon, the enemies of Sunnis, for the time being the election winners with Saad Hariri. The latter, according to the pro-Syrian Lebanese daily As Safir, said recently that "sooner or later" he will meet Assad, (generally considered the political author of the murder of his father, former premier Rafic Hariri), "because Lebanon needs good relations with Syria and I intend to travel this road, which is essential for both countries. "

Thus in theory, Obama, King Abdullah and Hariri may one day visit Damascus. Assad has invited the U.S. President who, in an interview to English Sky News, spoke of "behavioural aspects" of Syria that "lead to anxiety," but who also added that he "hoped to see progress on the diplomatic front”. For its part, the influential Saudi newspaper Asharq Alawsat writes that "the Syrian capital is preparing to receive the Custodian of the Two Mosques", the Saudi King Abdullah, "in a new atmosphere in far- reaching Arab reconciliation."  

Relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia suffered a blow after the assassination of Hariri, a great friend of the Saudis, and reached their lowest point in 2008, when Riyadh withdrew its ambassador and has not participated at the annual summit Arab held in Damascus since. Syria’s attitude during the Lebanese elections, its deference from interference, has given grounds for a new improvement. As well as the victory of Hariri.

 

The rapprochement between the Syrians and the Arab world, if so, could have positive effects on the climate in the region, including the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians, given the weight that Damascus has in particular with Hamas, whose political leader, Khaled Mashaal , lives in the Syrian capital. (PD)

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