Syria: Fighting for the Status Quo

Syria: Fighting for the Status Quo

When talking about peace in the Middle East, the first parties that come to mind are Israelis and Palestinians. Lately, however, Syria has broken into the headlines, with conflicting news about peace and war. The talk, which alternates between ominous and promising, reflects the script of a very public performance with a very specific intended audience and a very clear desired outcome. In this case, the talk of peace and warnings of war is aimed at neither peace nor war. Its purpose is to solidify the status quo, at least for now.

A couple of weeks ago, many believed war was near when large numbers of Israeli and Syrian troops were mobilized. Israel was conducting large-scale military exercises, and Syria deployed several divisions at the Syria-Lebanese border. On Thursday, the United States revealed pictures and analysis of a Syrian facility destroyed by Israel last September, arguing that with North Korea's help, Syria was building a structure to make nuclear weapons -- something Syria emphatically denies. At almost the exact time that Washington was talking about Syria's possible nuclear plans, the Syrian president told the world that he has been engaged in indirect peace negotiations with Israel and has already received an offer from Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights in exchange for peace.

Revealing information that has remained secret is always part of a larger strategy. The revelation by the White House of photographic evidence from within the destroyed Syrian plant was likely part of a plan that has less to do with Israel than North Korea and even domestic U.S. politics.

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