A Memory of Things to Come

BEIRUT — Well, well… It appears at first blush that things must have gone well for Syria in Annapolis. [Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman has gotten the nod from Hariri camp inside March 14](http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&AEDDA8B8857799F6C22573A100434AE0) as a consensus candidate for Baabda Palace. This is curious because many in the pro-March 14 press have been labeling him as sympathetic to Syria.
Hezbollah, too, seems to be inching toward Suleiman, [giving only lukewarm objections on procedural grounds](http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&140E0E198ED39744C22573A10054CC01). “To me, at the personal level, I believe a constitutional amendment in parliament is possible after resignation of Fouad Saniora from the government which is neither constitutional nor legitimate,” said MP Mohammed Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc. But he stressed his views were entirely personal. “We will not block any consensus possibility if the intro to it is a constitutional amendment, provided that all opposition factions have agreed on it.”
Even that old warlord Samir Geagea, one of the most anti-Syrians of the March 14 coalition said the constitutional amendment allowing Suleiman into the presidency was “an option.”
So what happened? Well, as [I wrote on Sunday](http://www.spot-on.com/archives/allbritton/2007/11/going_long_on_the_golan_at_ann_1.html), Syria got the Golan Heights on the table at Annapolis. And I predicted then:

A success in Annapolis might mean the beginning of a real discussion of a Grand Bargain for the region, not just another fitful start to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The thinking is that if the Syrians are shown some flexibility on the Golan, they might also show some flexibility in Lebanon, which is in the midst of its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 Civil War — a political crisis stoked in large part by Syria and its allies in Lebanon.

And by “success” I meant some signs of thawing on the part of Syria, the United States and Israel.
Now, it’s too soon to tell what is going down, but the fact that everyone started talking nicely to each other here in Lebanon *the day after Annapolis* is pretty significant. Does it mean Syria has had a change of heart regarding Lebanon? Not likely. The international tribunal is still a Sword of Damocles over Bashar al-Assad’s head, and the Golan hasn’t been returned yet.
But my feeling is that the Americans softened their support for Lebanon’s March 14 alliance a bit. There wouldn’t be this talk of Suleiman otherwise. Still, he’s not totally pro-Syrian and the opposition has its doubts about him, so no one got a total victory if this thing goes through. What’s this mean for U.S.-Syrian relations? Sounds like the hints of a thaw, which can be a good thing for almost everyone but anti-Syrian factions in Beirut.
And what’s next? Ah, I have a text message that [Serge Brammertz just delivered his final report on the assassination of Rafik Hariri to Prime Minister Fuad Siniora](http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=87078) and he allegedly names names. Wanna bet it’s the four he named last year — a list that includes Assad’s brother-in-law?
Hang on, we’re not out of the woods yet.