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Our Say... : Engagement is the way.

... Speaker of the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) has already left a mark on US internal politics by challenging President Bush's unrestrained policies towards military involvement in Iraq with no end in sight for the deployment of US troops there. By rallying a majority against Bush's open war policy, Pelosi has led the House in approving a bill that ties funding of the war with troops withdrawal from Iraq by the end of March next year. While the executive powers remain in Bush's hands, it is not an easy matter for bush to fathom that Pelosi--holding the third most powerful position in the US--has even gone as far as reaching out to Syria, in search for a meaningful dialogue. With the US administration's faltering policies dragging the US more and more towards a never ending war of attrition all over Iraq, Pelosi has grabbed the opportunity of following up on the recommendations of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, and which Bush has balked at when presented to him. Those recommendations involve the engagement of Syria and Iran as major players in the region, in order to reduce the tension and violence, not only in Iraq, but also throughout the whole region.Pelosi seems to be a woman of immense substance. She understands that for the US to continue to be an active player in the region, it must engage all parties to the conflict in the area. Syria does have grievances; since Bush's ascension to power in 2001, he has tried to isolate Syria from its Arab neighborhood through his war on terror campaign, by claiming that Syria is actively engaged in supporting terrorism, by allowing Palestinian movements sanctuary in Damascus and by its backing of Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syria considers these movements as legitimate organizations that have the right to fight occupation of their lands, in the case of Palestine, and as a legitimate party in the Lebanese arena. While the US might perceive a different image of the situation, still the differing points of view cannot be solved by isolation, but rather by dialogue which could open endless possibilities for conflict solving across the board. Pelosi's meeting with President Bashar Al-Assad on Wednesday opens the way for more encounters as the former has actively taken it upon herself to mediate between Syria and Israel, a role left vacant by the brooding Condaleeza Rice who has advocated the Israeli agenda more than the Israelis themselves and who wants to impose US terms on the Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis, without listening to the grievances of those countries. Carrying a message of peace from Olmert to Assad, Pelosi found a receptive ear that stresses Syria's search for peace and readiness to negotiate with Israel. It was Syria that has been calling for returning to peace negotiations with Israel during the last decade only to be turned down by successive Israeli prime ministers. Furthermore, Syria could act as a bridge to reducing tension in the region, by easing Iran's rhetoric and surge in the region, which worries not only the US, but also the rest of the Arab world. Already, Syria seems to have helped secure a peaceful resolution to the issue of the 15 British Marines held captive in Iran after they boarded a merchant ship in Iranian waters, according to Iran, which is contested by the British authorities; Iran has announced its intention to free the captives on Thursday. Some reports indicated that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was in contact with Assad over the issue.Pelosi has injected a fresh breath of optimism in an otherwise stale environment; we hope the momentum would be maintained to get the region out of the dark tunnel it has been led into by the short sighted and adventuristic policies of the present US administration. nOur Say... : Engagement is the way

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Apr 10, 2007
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