“…Washington proposes to Syria ‘Last Chance’ initiative”
On December 21, Al Seyassah, an independent anti-Syrian daily, reported that: “Following interferences and mediations undertaken by more than one Arab capital, and following a special recommendation by the Baker-Hamilton commission to study the situation in Iraq…, Washington offered Syria what has come to be known as the Last Chance initiative, to ensure the removal of its isolation and its return to the heart of the international community.
“Al Seyassah has learned that this initiative was carried to Syrian officials at the head of whom is President Bashar Al-Assad himself, by a highly-placed Arab delegation that is usually resorted to for special and critical missions, namely in Palestine and some states of the Arab Gulf. This delegation revealed the details of the American initiative to the Syrian leadership during three visits it made to Damascus… and was directly proposed by former US State Secretary James Baker to diplomats at the Syrian Foreign Ministry, in two out of five meetings during the last couple of months. In the last few days, the New York Times alluded to these meetings.
“According to the information that Al Seyassah acquired, the special Arab delegation, and after it proposed the points in the new American initiative, made sure that Damascus understands this was its last chance. The delegation also related the advice of the head of its state to the Syrian officials, regarding the necessity to grab the opportunity and deal with it with the utmost seriousness, for dangerous repercussions will be entailed if it is missed or neglected.
“Al Seyassah has learned that the Arab delegation conveyed the relief of its country vis-a-vis Damascus’ opening of an embassy in Iraq and for specifying the movements of some of the extremist organizations’ leaders in it, whereby it considered it to be an expression of good intentions which should be followed by other steps in the context of improving the relations with the international community and the moderate Arab states. According to the information, the Last Chance initiative which was proposed to Damascus within a comprehensive basket, stipulated the following:
“1- For Syria to cut off its relations with the Iraqi resistance factions, including the Al-Qa’idah organization, prohibit their supply with any types of arms, and carry out the plan to monitor and control its border with Iraq, including ensuring the circulation of joint patrols.
“2- For Syria to stop interfering in Lebanese domestic affairs, prohibit the supply of Lebanese parties with arms and ammunition through its border, fully comply with UN resolution 1701 and seriously cooperate with the international tribunal [formed to try the perpetrators of the] assassination of Rafik Al-Hariri.
“3- In light of that, the US will hold the Madrid 2 Peace Conference between Syrian and Israeli officials thus corroborating the points which were agreed on during the Madrid 1 conference and will remove the obstacles facing the full Israeli withdrawal from the Syrian Golan after reinforcing the international emergency troops and expanding their area of operations. The US also expressed its willingness to partake in these troops.
“4- The US will also work on and encourage Arab and European states to offer urgent and comprehensive aid to Syria so that it is able to achieve its developmental plans, to enhance its national economy, reinforce its inclination toward market economy and encourage investments.
“According to the information which Al Seyassah acquired, the American administration which presented this initiative as a last chance for Syria, has informed the officials in Damascus – according to what was related by the Arab delegation – that the slogan of the peace negotiations which should take place was neither ‘land in exchange for peace’ as it is proposed by President Bashar Al-Assad, nor ‘land in exchange for security’ as it is wanted by the Israeli government, but rather ‘land in exchange for stability’. This slogan is accepted by the US, Europe and the international community.” - Al Seyassah, Kuwait