The Independent Institute hosted an luncheaon-event on Friday titled Troop Withdrawal: Looking Beyond Iraq in which I spoke about my new policy analysis A Diplomatic Road to Damascus: The Benefits of U.S. Engagement with Syria which has been published by the institute. Ivan Eland who deals with foreign policy in the Independent Institute and David Henderson from the Hoover Institution also spoke on Iraq and America's non-dependency on Mideast oil. And you can read my Reporter-at-Large: Time to Talk to Syria? about the secret negotiations between Israel and Syria on the National Interest Online. A summary of my Independent Institute's policy analysis has been posted on the globalist.com under American Realism and Engaging Syria.
Update: Alon Liel, the former Israeli diplomat involved in the secret negotiaitons with Syria (see my National Interest piece) provides an interesting explanation for the "mysterious" Israeli strike into Syria here.:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is coming to Israel on Tuesday to "say thank you" for the alleged Israeli air force operation in Syrian territory, Dr Alon Liel, a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry, told Ynetnews.
Addressing the numerous media reports which claim Israeli jets penetrated Syrian territory, Liel said: "I think what we did, if we did it, is work for Americans. Maybe even as an intelligence operation for the Americans, and therefore I think she (Rice) came to say thank you, more so than to discuss Palestinian affairs," the former top diplomat said. Northeast Syria, where the jets were said to have flown, according to Damascus, "is not an area that bothered Israel in the past, this is an area that bothers the Americans very much," Liel added. "We did work for them, as you know they pay a lot so that we work for them. Seemingly they are satisfied. This has helped them to complicate the Syrians and push them deeper into the axis of evil," he added.
In recent months, Liel has been heavily involved in diplomatic activity to advance an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty, based on an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. Last July, he told Ynetnews that he heard a top aide to Syrian President Basher Assad say that Israel and Syria agreed on "85 percent" of the issues which needed to be resolved before a treaty could be signed between the two countries.
Liel made no efforts in disguising his disappointment with the alleged Israeli operation. "Israel has a clear interest in making peace with Syria," he said, adding that the incident in Syria's skies has "shut the door to peace in the near future."
The rest of Rice's visit would be dedicated to "maintenance," Liel said, adding that America's interest lay in driving a wedge deeper between Hamas, an ally of Iran and a part of the axis of evil and Fatah, seen as "one of the good guys." Rice would seek to ensure that that PA President Mahmoud Abbas not attempt a reconciliation with Hamas, Liel added.
Makes sense to me. The question is what was the "intelligence operation for the Americans" that the Israelis conducted? Well, it's something that made the Syrians embarassed, since they are not talking about it. So what is it? Assassinating or kidnapping someone who was involved in killing American taregts? So why aren't the Israelis publicizing it? If we're talking about kidnapping someone, it's possible that the Israelis have handed him to the Americans who are interrogating him? Hence the silence. Or perhaps they are using it as a leverage on the Syrians? My guess is as good as yours here...