More Posturing on Middle East Peace

By Stanford Matthews
Blog @

POTUS sealNixon’s legacy included the milestone of opening dialogue
with China and historic visits by the West to the mysterious and
isolated region of the world. Carter’s often criticized
administration had what appeared as a Middle East peace effort that
came closer than any other at resolving the conflicts. Reagan
convinced the Soviet Union to ‘tear down this wall’. Much about
President Bush these days points to the near obsession of American
Presidents to push for their legacy in the fading hours of their
Presidency. Beyond victory in the war in Iraq, President Bush’s
latest call for Middle East peace talks presents among other things,
his search for a legacy.

Along with most in the international community, as indicated below, the
US and EU want nothing to do with Hamas while a few voices are heard
urging dialogue with the generally perceived Middle East outlaws.
No relationship in the search for Middle East peace may be more of a
gamble than the involvement of both President Bush and former British
Prime Minister Tony Blair. In general, the intentions of both men
may be to recover some success for their respective legacies after the
controversy and criticism over the war in Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan.

US, EU shun Hamas as Blair takes over as Middle East peace envoy
Compiled by Daily Star staff
Friday, July 20, 2007
The Quartet of Middle East mediators met for the first time with Tony
Blair as special envoy on Thursday at a meeting Washington hopes will
breathe some life into the stagnant Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In Cairo, Foreign Minister Ahmad Abou al-Gheit said Thursday that a
Mideast peace conference called for by US President George W. Bush will
likely be held in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly
meeting in New York.

Tony BlairUnderstandably, some in the Middle East are wary or even
suspicious of Tony Blair’s involvement. Of all the people on the
planet likely to have a role to play in the search for Middle East
peace, Tony Blair probably has the best chance of providing a sense of
genuine sincerity and honesty to the task at hand. But the
baggage of his history with President Bush and some indications he
bears his own separate agenda on solving this never ending crisis may
sabotage his ability to assist before it really begins.

Blair hampered in Middle East role
Ms Rice deftly defended the limiting of the scope of Mr Blair’s job,
despite EU foreign ministers arguing that it should be expanded. The
American backed brief says “yes” to Palestinian institution building
and economy, but “no” to a role in peace negotiations.

Indeed, if Mr Blair entertains the idea of gradually expanding his own
mandate, and dreams about jump starting peace talks, he may find that
Ms Rice is a no less formidable obstacle than the Israelis and

Among Palestinians, Mr Blair’s impending arrival is being greeted with
a mixture of skepticism and anticipation.

But Palestinian politicians outside of Fatah, and even some Israelis,
say such a policy is doomed to failure because it excludes the group
chosen by the majority of Palestinians in the 2006 elections.

may be viewed as a wild card in this entire scenario. His power
or influence over any part of the conflict may be suspect and the call
for elections just one more attempt by a weak player to muster
languishing support.

Abbas plans to call early elections, isolate Hamas
Friday, Jul 20, 2007
In a speech on Wednesday, Abbas asked the Palestine Central Council, a
Palestinian Liberation Organization decision-making body, to endorse
his call for elections that aides said would be designed to freeze
Hamas out of the political arena.

Abbas’ aides said they expected the election by the end of the year or
early next year. His announcement came as the US and other
international mediators were moving swiftly to try to revive Mideast
peace efforts.

no one should overlook the complications provided by the most suspected
opposition to any peace in the region, none other than the President of
Iran. A meeting between Iran, Syria and Hamas is nothing more
than a strategy session of those opposing peace efforts in the Middle

Iran’s Ahmadinejad in Syria for talks with Assad, Hamas
19/07/2007 11:04 DAMASCUS, July 19 (AFP)
The fact that Ahmadinejad’s visit — his second to Damascus since
becoming president in 2005 — comes so soon after Assad’s re-election
will be seen as a clear sign of the value of the relationship to both

The strength of their ties is viewed with the deepest suspicion in
Washington, which blames Tehran and Damascus for much of the
instability dogging the Middle East region.

Thinking of peaceThe
classic mixture of opposing agendas by all involved in Middle East
‘relations’ are no more an optimistic forecast for resolving problems
now than at any time in the past. No one should be hopeful this
early in the recent moves to hold talks on peace in the Middle East or
anywhere else on the planet.