by Tony Badran
The last couple of weeks have shed the spotlight again on the tensions between
The possibility of Egyptian-Syrian reconciliation had received ample airtime ahead of the Arab Summit in late March, but it amounted to very little. During the summit, the political differences dividing the two states were on display, pitting Egypt and Syria in opposing camps on key issues such as Palestinian politics, the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, their respective positions on “resistance,” and, in general, Syria’s strategic position within the Iranian camp.
In the end, the Egyptians and Syrians only agreed to stop media campaigns against each other, which had reached a fevered pitch. It was speculated that the freeze in media wars was to pave the way for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to visit his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, who had undergone surgery.
A host of Arab papers kept talking up the prospect of such a visit throughout last month. The Kuwaiti paper Ad-Dar claimed that the visit was due in mid-April. It was soon followed by similar reports in a number of Kuwaiti outlets, as well as in the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi and the Lebanese Al-Liwaa, which announced everything from a visit within a “few hours,” to a readjusted “in the next two days,” all the way to a more vague “very soon.”
Al-Quds al-Arabi’s widely-recycled April 21 report claimed that Assad’s visit would be to participate in a tripartite summit along with
Cold water was quickly poured over this story, as both the Egyptians and the Syrians denied it. A couple of days later, during a trip to
Moreover, the Saudi monarch has also yet to pay a visit to
Evidently, there was no change in the political status quo to warrant even a pro-forma photo op. There were several sources for the continued strain, not least being the Scud story, and they quickly bubbled to the surface.
For instance, one of Bashar al-Assad’s closest Lebanese associates, former Minister Michel Samaha, unleashed a scathing diatribe on Al-Manar TV against
Indeed, Hamas officials have also come out criticizing
Then came the Egyptian judiciary’s conviction of members of the Hezbollah cell caught operating in Egypt, which revived tensions with the Party of God, including public condemnation by the party’s secretary general and a vow to work to set free the incarcerated cell members. And finally, at the Follow-up Committee’s meeting last week,
Therefore, the issues dividing
The Jordanian analyst Saleh al-Qallab made this keen observation in his As-Sharq al-Awsat column last Thursday. The calls for reviving the “Arab triangle” are badly misplaced, he wrote. In fact, this “triangle” never really existed, he added. Contrary to the common wisdom about
Tony Badran is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.