Hafiz al-Assad and the Elusive Quest for Syrian-Israeli Peace
For the past decade, Syria has been a killing field on which the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been a ruthless perpetrator. As a result, international players now view the Syrian leader as a pariah. Under the rule of Bashar’s father, Hafiz al-Assad, Syria employed harsh tactics and embodied rejection of Israel, but the former president also responded to regional changes amid the loss of his Soviet patron and the end of the Cold War. Reluctantly, he flirted with an Israeli peace as a means to retrieve the Golan Heights. Now, as other Arab capitals pursue rapprochement with Jerusalem, the question reemerges of how close Assad and his interlocutors came to a deal in the 1990s.
In this episode of Decision Points, David Makovsky talks with three individuals closely involved in the Syrian-Israeli peace process: former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Israel Edward Djerejian; former member of the U.S. peace team and translator for presidents and secretaries of state Gamal Helal; and Institute International Fellow and former member of the Israeli negotiating team on Syria Michael Herzog.