Syria Wants Golan Heights For Helping US in Iraq
James Baker III, co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, has met several times and asked the Syrians what it would take for the Assad regime to cooperate on Iraq.
The New York Times reported:
James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state who is now Republican co-chairman of a bipartisan group examining strategic options in Iraq, has met several times with Syrian officials to discuss how they might cooperate with the United States, the Syrian ambassador here said Friday.
“What would it take Syria to help on Iraq?” the Syrian ambassador, Imad Moustapha, recalled Mr. Baker asking Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Muallem, during a meeting in New York at the Waldorf-Astoria in September. Mr. Moustapha described the session as “very promising.”
SYRIA is to demand American help in securing the return of the Golan Heights from Israel as the price of co-operation over Iraq. With the White House under pressure to talk to its adversary, President Bashar al-Assad has resolved that his assistance will not be cheap.
Assad has been considering how to respond to an American overture following reports that the Iraq Study Group will recommend that the United States engage Syria and Iran in talks on Iraq, a position backed by Tony Blair last week.
The Syrian president wants America and Britain to use their influence with Israel to raise the return of the Golan Heights, seized by the Israelis in the 1967 war. “It will be the top demand,” said Ayman Abdel Nour, a leading reformer in the ruling Ba’ath party.
Assad also said that Syrian help will only come with guarantees that US troops will withdraw from the region.
Atlas says this is a definite stomach churner.