December 11, 2007, 11:42 AM (GMT+02:00)
Monday night, Dec. 10 Cairo announced plans to resume diplomatic relations with Tehran. An Egyptian emissary was sent to Iran to discuss the resumption of relations after 27 years. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report that this step was part of an initiative for Saudi Arabian, Jordanian and Egyptian leaders to come together in a new summit to embrace the Syrian ruler and bridge their policy differences with the radical Syrian-Tehran line.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will be invited and urged still more emphatically to starting patching up his Fatah’s quarrel with the extremist Hamas and adapt to the newly emergent Arab reality with a tougher line against Israel. DEBKAfile’s Middle East sources report: The road to radicalization embarked on by this central Arab bloc is the direct result of the dialogue Washington has opened with Tehran, while also reflecting the ubiquitous Arab drive for unity.
Saturday, Abbas sent Ahmad Qureia, head of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel, to Damascus for guidance from Syrian officials on future tactics in these negotiations.
He was preceded by Bassam Iwadallah, personal adviser to Jordan’s King Abdullah, who informed Syrian officials of the king’s initiative for a new Arab summit to restore their ruler to the Arab fold. The Jordanian official disclosed that the king was fully engaged in bids to heal the rifts between Saudi Arabia and Syria, and the Palestinians and Syria.
Bashar Assad responded favorably by sending Syrian foreign minister Walid Moualem to Amman Sunday, Dec. 9, where he was personally received by Abdullah. He also sent the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to Riyadh Saturday, on two errands:
1. To let Hamas’ Saudi bankers hand out the directive for a nod to Fatah overtures to his movement for a reconciliation – with effect in Gaza and Lebanon.
2. To embody the Assad regime’s willingness to begin coordinating its policies with fellow Arab rulers.
DEBKAfile reports that Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert will find a different Abbas when they meet Wednesday, Dec. 12, to start the talks for a Palestinian state that were kicked off at the Middle East conference in Annapolis last month. The Palestinian leader will now be following fresh guidelines from the Arab bloc which is emerging from the chrysalis of Washington’s direct engagement with Tehran, rather than conforming with the spirit of Annapolis.