Driving a soft bargain with Syria

Now, according to reports, Syria is willing to break off its alliance with Iran in exchange for Israel’s surrender of the Golan Heights.

Color me skeptical.

(In fact, very shortly after these tantalizing reports surfaced in Israel, Syria quashed them with some diplomatic kissy-face with Iran.)

If, however, there is any kernel of truth to such talk, it can only be so because Syria believes that Iran’s star is on the wane… meaning, an Israeli strike on Iran is inevitable, and that strike will cripple the Islamic Republic… or that calamity awaits Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime in some other form.

And if that is so, one has to wonder, all the more: Why would Israel want to offer Syria ANYTHING for peace? if Syria believes that its position vis-a-vis Israel (and the West) is about to be weakened, wouldn’t it have a strong incentive to maximize its position now? Wouldn’t its demands now be inflated, relative to its power to negotiate in the near future? And wouldn’t Israel’s best play in such a scenario be to “drive a hard bargain” and to tell Syria that it will trade peace for peace, but no more, seeing as how Syria is more desperate for the benefits thatĀ peace with Israel would provide than Israel is?

Yes, yes and yes.

Yet Israel, or rather Ehud Olmert, seems to be driving about as soft a bargain with Bashar Assad as possible.

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