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Interview: Movement in Middle East Peace Talks

Council on Foreign Relations

Interviewee: Mona Yacoubian, Special Adviser, Muslim World Initiative, Center for Conflict Analysis and Prevention, United States Institute of Peace
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org

June 18, 2008

Mona Yacoubian, the coauthor of a new Council Special Report on diplomatic relations with Syria, says a spate of diplomatic moves in the Middle East indicate that various parties are “growing increasingly alarmed and concerned by the volatility that had come to characterize the Middle East. I believe that they have decided for a variety of reasons to take matters into their own hands and to seek to resolve the region's conflicts via diplomacy rather than violence.” She says that the Israeli decision to hold secret peace talks via Turkey with the Syrians and the new Israeli offer to negotiate peace with Lebanon are part of this effort.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is returning from a trip to the region that included a surprise stop in Lebanon where she tried to bolster the new government there. The Israelis announced not only a cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza, but also offered to negotiate a peace treaty with Lebanon. At the same time, Syria and Israel have apparently been moving ahead in their peace talks, through Turkish intermediaries. What do you make of all this?

It’s my sense that actors in the region were growing increasingly alarmed and concerned by the volatility that has come to characterize the Middle East. I believe that they have decided for a variety of reasons to take matters into their own hands and to seek to resolve the region's conflicts via diplomacy rather than violence.

Are you surprised that the Israelis have gone ahead on dealing with the Syrians and offering to negotiate with the Lebanese while Washington hasn't said much about this?

It’s been very interesting.


Read the rest of this article on the cfr.org website.


Copyright 2008 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.



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