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September 9, 2008
Middle East discusses peace in Damascus

Patrick Seale, blogging for Syria Comment, is a leading British writer on the Middle East and the author of “The Struggle for Syria.”

Rescuing peace in the Middle East

The four leaders who met in Damascus this past week have this in common: they recognize the extreme danger of the present situation in the region, and the unwelcome fact that U.S. President George W Bush, far from acting to resolve conflicts, is largely responsible for the prevailing tensions.The mini-summit in the Syrian capital brought together President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar, and their host, Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.

These four leaders are not seeking to expel the U .S. from Middle East peace-making. On the contrary, they concede that a U.S. role will ultimately be indispensable. But they feel the urgent need to step into the vacuum created by American failure and wrong-headedness — a vacuum likely to last well into 2009, until the next U.S. President gets into his stride and Israel resolves its current political turmoil.

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