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MIDDLE EAST: The famous roadmap

I apologized for the original typo saying "The Quartet consists of the US, the UN, the EU, and Lebanon". I meant Russia. I wondered why on earth I should have written "Lebanon". I accept Ed. Jajko's idea that, believe it or not, my mind was at work. Ed says: "Personally, I think that naming Lebanon as a member of the Quartet was an inspired idea. Russia is involved in this business as successor to the Soviet Union, which contended for influence in the Middle East with the US, taking Egypt (until Sadat's Infitah), Syria, Iraq, and the former northern Yemen into its orbit. The Soviets maintained a naval and submarine base on the Syrian coast. Yemen became the only officially communist state in the Arab world. Under Nasser, Egypt shifted its official allegiance from the West to the socialist bloc. But with post-Soviet Russia scarcely able to pay its own bills, let alone support foreign regimes, it has lost influence in the Arab world. Having Russia as a member of the Quartet simply props up the country and gives it a prestige that I feel is unwarranted. Bringing Lebanon into the Quartet, and ideally expanding it into a Quintet with a Syrian delegation, would bring in parties who will have to control elements that will militate against a "permanent two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," like Lebanon's Hizballah".

Ronald Hilton - 5/4/03