Annapolis Peace Conference

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The long awaited one day peace conference will be held in Annapolis tomorrow. Expectations are low for this event, which could mean that something big could develop from the meeting. If so, it is likely to unfold over a period of time and be the result of private meetings between the principles.

Syria and Saudi Arabia have decided to attend and that is more than interesting. Saudi Arabia usually does not attend these events. Their attendance may indicate something deeper. The Saudi's are supporters of Hamas, which will not be there. Stratfor says this about the Saudi motives:

Two possible motives for the move come to mind. The first is to back up the United States. Saudi Arabia has become increasingly concerned that American weakness, resulting from the Iraq war, might create a power vacuum in the region. At the end of the day, the Saudis do not want to see that vacuum arise, and they want Annapolis to look successful, give the Bush administration a boost and make the United States appear to be doing better in the region.

The second motive has to do with Iran. The more unstable the Sunni world becomes, the more powerful Shiite Iran becomes, and the Saudis have the most to lose with the rise of Iranian power. The Palestinian split is a Sunni split and it opens the door to Shiite Hezbollah and the Iranians -- not something the Saudis want to see continue. Going to Annapolis is a strong signal from Riyadh that it wants the Palestinians to reconcile.

The meeting may be more about long term alignments in the Arab world rather than just the Israeli and Palestinians.