The documents I'd like to read from Assad's drawers
Revolutions grant historians and journalists great opportunities, when new rulers expose secret documents of their predecessors. Here are ten that Haaretz's editor-in-chief would like to read if and when the Syrian regime falls.
Revolutions grant historians and journalists great opportunities, when the new rulers open the drawers and archives of their predecessors and expose documents describing their "plots," diplomatic intrigues and arms deals.
For instance, after the 1917 revolution in Russia, the Bolsheviks exposed the Sykes-Picot Agreement for the division on the Middle East between Britain and France; after the 1979 revolution in Iran and the siege of the U.S. embassy, Iranian s discovered the extent of the cooperation between the Shah's regime and Israel.
The Arab Spring revolutions have so far revealed few sensational discoveries about the secrets of the regional diplomacy. Yet the current civil war in Syria and expectations of an imminent fall for Syrian President Bashar Assad are raising hopes that a new trove of documents will soon be exposed – ones that could shed light on some of the most momentous questions concerning Israel's foreign and security policies over the past two decades.
I am waiting for Assad's drawers to open, in order to read some fascinating documents:
1. What did the Americans offer former President Hafez Assad to convince him to attend the 1991 Madrid Conference? Did offer him a guarantee that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights, or just empty words?
2. How did the Syrians explain the repeated failures in peace negotiations with Israeli leaders? What caused the crises in talks during the tenures of Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert? What was missing, in the eyes of Assad and his advisers, that prevented a peace agreement between Israel and Syria?
3. What exactly did Benjamin Netanyahu offer Hafez Assad during the indirect talks they held with the mediation of U.S. businessman Ron Lauder in 1998? Did Netanyahu offer Assad a full withdrawal from the Golan to the June 4, 1967 lines, or did he stop short, as he claims, at the "cliff line?"
4. Did Syria really build a nuclear reactor in the desert, near the Euphrates River? What was the nature of the contacts between Syria and North Korea for the procurement of the reactor? How long did the talks go on undetected by Israeli and American intelligence? How much did it cost? Who paid? How did the Syrians explain the fact that the secret was leaked? Were people killed or wounded when the reactor was bombed in 2007?
5. What did Assad's cronies know of the fate of Israel Defense Forces soldiers Yehuda Katz, Zvi Feldman and Zachary Baumel, who went missing in the 1982 Battle of Sultan Yacoub in the First Lebanon War? Of the fate of the missing Israel Air Force navigator Ron Arad and what happened to him while being held hostage? Of the soldier Guy Hever, who went missing in Ramat Hagolan in 1997? Of the burial place of Israeli spy Eli Cohen?
6. What is written in the Syrian investigation files of the 2008 assassination of senior Hezbollah official Imad Mugniyah in Damascus?
7. What conclusions did the Syrians draw from the Second Lebanon War in 2006 regarding the performances of Hezbollah and the IDF, and from the missile attacks on the Israeli coast.
8. What was the depth of military cooperation between Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas? Did they prepare contingency plans for coordinated acts against Israel, such as retaliation against a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities? Or did each of the players only look after themselves?
9. Did Netanyahu and Assad hold secret meetings during the Arab Spring and the civil war, in which Israel promised not to interfere and support the rebels, in return for a Syrian promise not to join a future war Israel-Iran war?
10. What were Assad's favorite PlayStation games?
The battles in Syria are at their peak. Assad and the rebels are fighting for their lives, and the future of Syria is not a great mystery. But if and when the war ends with the fall of Assad, the winners will be able to solve a few mysteries of the past and present. Just open the drawers.
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