On Sunday, Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he is ending his disastrous flirtation with Bashar Assad "until we have proof of Syrian willingness to let Lebanon appoint a president by consensus".
Before you shed tears over wasted time, and the use of the expression "appointed a president by consensus", remember the saying: God never closes a door without opening a window somewhere. This holiday season, two US Senators opened that window for Assad. Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy paid a visit to Bashar on Saturday to help ease his newfound isolation. They found him "ready for peace".
And here's how Syria read it:
A Syrian government newspaper urged Sunday the United States to work seriously for peace in the region.
"What is the problem of the U.S. Administration with Syria so long as U.S. delegations, Republicans and Democrats, have not stopped visiting Damascus and confirming the importance of its role in solving the region's problems?" Al-Baath, the ruling party newspaper, said in an editorial.
"Where is the courage and daring that Bush urged all parties to display to achieve peace in the Middle East?" it added. (Naharnet)
But what do we, the fools who think murderers shouldn't be rewarded with undeserved recognition, know anyway? Damascus, after all, will be the "cultural capital" of the Arab world in 2008. On January 28th, our own Fairuz will celebrate Syrian culture, for the first time in 20 years.
American linguist and leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky, Czech writer Milan Kundera and Lebanon's famed songstress Fairuz are among the personalities coming to Syria as Damascus assumes the cultural mantle from Algiers.
But not everyone welcomes the planned events, with Syrian writer Ibrahim Haj Abdi calling them "ephemeral cultural festivities."
"Syrian intellectuals might have believed these promises (by the organizers) if only they had been accompanied by efforts to free one of the country's most important intellectuals, Michel Kilo," he wrote in Sunday's pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat, published in London.
Another Syrian novelist writing in Al-Hayat also slammed the organizers of the year's festivities. "My experience with the organizers quickly dismissed any hope... of seeing it revive the role of culture that has been destroyed over decades" in Syrian society, wrote Samar Yazbek. (Naharnet)
Happy new year.