Russian President Medvedev paid a call on Syrian President Assad in Damascus -- a chummy get-together that ended with Moscow's full endorsement of the most rejectionist Arab agenda against Israel, plus a direct Kremlin challenge to Obama's Mideast diplomacy.
In a joint communiqué with Assad, Medvedev put forward his own Mideast blueprintput, including:
--Putting the entire blame for Mideast tensions on Israel.
--Demanding a complete Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, which would leave the entire Old City of Jerusalem, including Judaism's holiest shrines (the Western Wall and Temple Mount), plus Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs (Judaism's second holiest site), plus the Mount of Olives (the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world) under Palestinian rule.
-- Demanding that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nusclear state, which would deprive Israel of its ultimate deterrent against Iranian genocidal threats.
-- Endorsing Palestinian demands for a "right of return" of millions of refugees and their descendants -- a formula for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.
All this comes at a time when Obama has put all his chips on getting his Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, to mediate indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians -- with a U.S. agenda that specifically avoids "outside solutions" like those Medvedev trotted out as Russia's position during his tête-à-tête with Assad in Damascus.
Obama and Secretary of State Clinton insist instead that only direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians can produce a blueprint for peace. In line with this stance, they've ruled out imposition of any "outside solution." However, Medvedev in Damascus has done just that, embracing a joint Syrian-Russian "outside solution" as the Kremlin's alternative Mideast policy.
Medvedev, with his trip to Damascus, has made a shambles of more than a year's worth of Obama-Clinton efforts to woo Moscow with pledges to "reset" U.S. diplomacy with a kinder, gentler approach. The Russian president instead has laid down the gauntlet to Washington that Russia intends to go its own way in the Middle East with a radically different agenda from Obama's. He is clearly signaling Palestinians and Arab rulers that the Russian bear is ready to challenge Obama and denying him the role of the only indispensable "peacemaker" in the region.