Is Syria about to engage in peace negotiations with Israel? According to a report by top Arab journalist Ibrahim Hamidi, that could very well be the case.
Hamidi, who heads the Damascus bureau at Al-Hayat daily. is considered to be close to government circles in Damascus. In a report during the weekend, he claims that Syrian President Bashar Assad recently utilized several back-channels to indicate that he is interested in engaging in indirect talks with Jerusalem reports Israel Hayom. This means that he is ready to return to the negotiations table with Israel.
Syria has been the recent target of almost nightly Israeli bombardments targeting Iranian militias in the area. Recent strikes include an Iranian missile factory. If the report is true, the request to normalize with Israel could be a call for help to stabilize the country or even the symbolic raising of a white flag.
Israel and Syria have been in a cold state of war since 1948 when the Jewish State was established. The two countries have actively clashed in three major wars – Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, 1967’s Six-Day War, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
In 1974, following Israel’s victory in the Yom Kippur War, the United Nations formed the UN Disengagement Observer Force, who has been present in the two countries’ shared border ever since.
During the 1990s, several Israeli Prime Ministers have been involved with negotiating with Syria’s President Hafez Assad in an effort to broker a peace deal. The negotiations eventually faded.
The Syrian regime has long-been supported by Iran, Israel’s arch enemy. Since the country fell into a bloody civil war in 2011, Iran has been slowly exploiting the vacuum and tightening its grip on Damascus. Additionally, there is a consensus among Middle East experts that Assad’s regime would not have survived the near-decade-long conflict if it weren’t for Iran’s lifeline.
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