Britain and Syria Resume Intelligence Sharing
Two pieces of important news. Al-Baradei claims that the traces of uranium discovered at the Euphrates bomb site do not mean there was a reactor. He has demanded greater Syrian and Israeli cooperation. The Syrians are unlikely to allow further teams of investigators to explore Syrian sites.
Second, Miliband, Great Britain's foreign minister, did two important things. He visited Damascus, which raises the pressure on Obama to revise US policy toward Syria. He has asked Syria to push harder for advances on the peace process - but this should be read in two ways - one as a genuine message to the Syrians, but two is a message to Washington to throw its weight behind the talks and to place the Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations high on its agenda. Gordon Brown has already state that Mr Obama's foreign policy priority should be the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The announcement that Miliband has re-established high level intelligence sharing with Syria is also significant. Secretary Rice and Foreign Minister Mu`allim discussed restarting intelligence sharing in May 2007 at Sharm al-Sheikh, but Syria asked the US to return an ambassador to Damascus as a sign of Syria's cooperation. The US refused this gesture, forcing the US military "to take matters in their own hands." Ultimately, the politicians in Washington forced the Defense department to settle the border issue militarily - hence the raid last month that killed eight Syrians. (We still have no proof that the Americans killed or captured the "facilitator" Abu Ghadiyya, whom they claim they snagged n the raid. I find it a bit odd that they have not shown us a photo of the man as they did with Saddam or his sons. Why all the secrecy about a raid they claimed as a stunning success and a person they have told us so much about?)
At any rate, the Syrians clearly offered the British the same offer they made to the Americans well over a year ago. The difference is that the British have been smart enough to take the offer, sending their foreign minister to Damascus as a gesture of good will and cooperation. So the British will now supply the US with Syrian intelligence. This will be awkward for the Americans; they will be dependent on the British for intelligence. Of course, if the Americans like the bits of intelligence they get from the Syrians, they will have to ask for more and will have to ask the Syrians to act on the intelligence or to deliver certain fighters. In this way, one can only presume that the Americans will start to negotiate with the Syrians indirectly. Just as the Syrians talk to the Israelis through the Turks, the US will talk to the Syrians through the British. The silliness of this will strengthen the Defense Department's hand in insisting that Washington politicians do the right thing and grow up. It is just plain silly. Syria wants to help the US kill al-Qaida types, but the US refuses to say yes. How goofey is that? If Obama doesn't send someone of stature to Damascus to fix this, I will eat my hat.