Saudis, Egypt snatch US-backed peace track from Turkey. Assad is willing

One reason for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s urgent visit to Damascus Tuesday, May 5, according to debkafile‘s intelligence sources, was to thwart a Saudi-Egyptian move to snatch the indirect Syrian-Israeli peace track backed by Washington from Turkey and relocate it in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
The Iranian president came too late. Syrian president Bashar Assad had meanwhile decided to appoint one of his must trusted intelligence officers, Gen. Bahjat Suleiman, as Syrian ambassador in Amman, with the task of heading his government’s side in prospective peace talks.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are solidly backed by the Persian Gulf emirates as well as Jordan in the move to cut Turkish prime minister Recip Tayyep Erdogan out and “Arabize” Middle East peacemaking. Edogan is left holding an empty bag after he turned against Israel and lined up with Iran.
debkafile‘s Middle East sources report the combined Arab step also dealt a reverse to US president Barack Obama’s Middle East emphases.
The US envoys, Daniel Shapiro of the National Security Council and Jeffrey Feltman of the State Department, due in Damascus Thursday, May 7, will pull in the opposite direction: They will try and resuscitate the Israel-Syrian indirect talks through Turkey and also persuade Assad to lean on the warring Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah to bury the hatchet and establish a coalition government. This would take Palestinian fence-mending out of Cairo’s hands.
However, the Syrian president has now chosen the all-Arab channel over the US-Turkish track for peace diplomacy with Israel, a slap in the face for Erdogan just a week after Turkish and Syrian land forces held their first ever joint maneuvers.

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