Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Abbas Edges Closer To Syria's Assad -- Does Not Bode Well For Kerry's Middle East Peace Talks

Khaled Abu Toameh writes that Abbas, Hamas, Flirting With Syria's Assad. However, while Hamas -- which has seen its once promising relationship with Egypt on the skids -- has been slow to get back into Assad's good graces, Abbas has been more successful.

The reasons for making up with Syria extend beyond mere political gain:

The two rival Palestinian parties are hoping that Assad will forgive them for failing to support his regime against the rebels – a move that has resulted, since the beginning of the civil war, in the displacement and death of tens of thousands of Palestinians living in Syria.

More than 200,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes in several refugee camps in Syria, while another 2,000 have been killed in the fighting between the Syrian army and the opposition forces.
So during his speech at the UN, Abbas made clear that he was once again siding with the Syrian regime when he said:
While we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations of the Syrian people.
Abbas not only noted his objection to a "military solution," he also did not hold Assad responsible for using chemical weapons.

Needless to say, Assad was pleased.

Abbas at UN
In his September 26, 2013 address to the UN General Assembly, PA President Mahmoud
 Abbas tried to improve damaged relations with Bashar Assad's regime, stating "while
we condemn the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our
 rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the
aspirations of the Syrian people." (Photo credit: UN video)

Following Abbas's speech at the UN, Assad met with senior PLO official Abbas Zaki, and received a letter from Abbas, and the Syrian news agency Sana quoted Zaki that the Palestinians support the Syrian regime in the face of "aggression."

A major implication of this new rapprochement between Abbas and Assad has implications for Kerry's Middle East peace talks, as Toameh notes:
The Assad regime is not going to change its position toward peace with Israel to appease Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Abbas's gestures toward Assad will only bring him closer to Iran, Hizbullah and radical Palestinian groups that oppose any peace process with Israel.

Maybe it's finally time for Secretary of State John Kerry to start paying more attention to Egypt, Syria and Iran?


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