Henry Kissinger in Israel, 2008
Henry Kissinger in Israel, 2008Israel news photo: Flash 90

Venerated former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says he is not optimistic about the chances for any real progress in final status talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Nor does he believe it is likely the Syrian conflict will be resolved any time in the near future.

In the first case, it is unlikely that Israel will be able to reach a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority because the surrounding Arab nations don't really have any interest in such a move, Kissinger said, according to a report broadcast on Bloomberg News.

Pre-eminent among the Arab nations who have no interest in peace with Israel is Egypt and its ruling Islamist Muslim Brotherhood government, though few Islamic entities in the region have any interest in a “just outcome” with regard to Israel, Kissinger pointed out. “To have a meaningful Palestinian-Israeli agreement, the Arab world has to be prepared to guarantee and accept it.

“The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt is not ready to accept genuine coexistence,” the 89-year-old former diplomat said bluntly.

Nevertheless, he agreed with current Secretary of State John Kerry that “an effort should be made in order to see what is possible,” despite the dim view that peace could be reached in the near future. 

Kissinger also expressed the opinion that Syria’s savage civil war is not the simple uprising that much of the international media has made it out to be.

It is “not a fight of democracy against a dictator,” he explained. “It’s a fight of various ethnic groups for preeminence.”

In fact, the entire Arab Spring phenomenon that swept the region in 2011, toppling some Arab governments and continuing to threaten the stability of others, remains a source of concern to the veteran diplomat. Such uprisings, he said, are comprised of “many groups hostile to the existing government, but not necessarily for the same reason.” 

In Syria, that has indeed been the case, where already fragmented opposition forces have split off into two camps – the Western-backed Syrian National Council, and the radical jihadist Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria. 

The former, which includes the Free Syrian Army, is currently receiving limited non-lethal assistance in the form of military and medical training, equipment and other aid from the United States, Britain and France.

The latter, which has said it despises the SNC due to its “foreign ties,” is comprised of 13 Islamist factions, many of which have strong links to the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization. 

Both rebel groups are battling an axis loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and which includes the Syrian Army, the Iranian-backed, Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization and the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Tehran.