Washington DC – August 15, 2009 (Farid Ghadry Blog) – Tensions and comfort zones arise when two foes attempt to mediate their differences. Who succeeds in creating tension for the other while enjoying a certain comfort will ultimately decide the outcome of those negotiations.

In the case of Syria and the United States, Assad has created a comfort zone for himself that has permitted him to remain in control of his actions. Meanwhile, the United States has entered a tension zone it is starting to sense because intelligence of Assad’s actions against the west keeps leaking to the press and shedding light on a strategy that may not be as potent as we are led to believe.

There is a concerted effort in the US to suppress intelligence that clearly shows Assad is not about to peel from Iran and that he has yet to turn any corner from his past policies. Suppressing intelligence in order to demonstrate that diplomacy may work is counterproductive. It cements a notion of weakness and indecisiveness making one’s foe conspicuously more aggressive in his negotiations. It is, in fact, self-defeating.

In order to succeed in taming Assad, it is imperative that the United States raises a bit the tension against him in one of two forms: 1) Adding sanctions to the list already passed by US Congress into law or, 2) Leak valuable intelligence about Assad actions to the press to get him out of the comfort zone he is clearly abusing.

In the case of Syria and Israel, delayed actions by Hamas and Hezbollah establish a much needed comfort zone for Israel. The US is shouldering the burden of the tension it finds itself in on behalf of Israel because Assad cannot afford, in the middle of negotiations, to unleash Hamas again.

But the short-term gains accorded to Israelis are more of a danger in the long-term because Hamas is using time to be better armed and trained and better prepared for the next conflict with Israel. All the talk about Hamas re-balancing its act are just that. Hamas is interested in more than the destruction of Israel, it is interested in one Islamic nation. Furthermore, Hezbollah remains unfazed by its near destruction in 2006 and its arsenal is getting more sophisticated with time.

Worse even is Assad’s clandestine WMD development with Iran and the North Koreans, which is bound to hinder Israel’s offensive capabilities and deter the country from effective security in any future aggression.

It is also to Israel’s advantage to raise the tension against Assad short of an open conflict with Hamas and Hezbollah. On the world scene, today’s picture favors Assad and in doing so, it is hampering his foes in the Syrian opposition, Lebanon, Iraq, and the US. The actions Israel can take to get Assad out of his comfort zone are essential for a region tired from terror and resistance. The more time in this comfort zone, the more leverage Assad has to weaken Israel.

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