Assad and the Peace Process: The Pivotal Role of Lebanon

  • February 01, 1995
  • Dr Stephen C Pelletiere

The world is waiting for peace in the Middle East. At present the possibility of a settlement is delayed by differences between Israel and Syria. The two are far apart on how to solve one of the thornier problems of the negotiations--the eventual status of the Golan Heights. That Syria's President Assad and Israel's Prime Minister Rabin should find themselves in disagreement is not unusual--Israel and Syria have been enemies for years. But that Assad should be able to hold out against Israeli power is quite extraordinary. Assad has played an extremely astute game of diplomatic intrigue against the Israelis, with successes far beyond anything one might have imagined. This study shows how the Syrian was able to improve his originally weak position in the peace talks by exploiting crisis conditions in Lebanon. Assad's major weapon against the Israelis has been the guerrilla group Hizbollah. The author claims that the fact that a small group of guerrillas could have such an enormous impact in this international drama reveals changed power relations in the strategic Middle East.