For Syria, Alliance with Iran Outweighs Rapprochement with U.S.

[Jerusalem Post] Jonathan Spyer - In his letter to Congress announcing the renewal of U.S. sanctions on Syria, President Obama said Syria was "supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq." Syria's activity reflects the regime's strategic choice to align itself with Iran. With regard to supporting terrorism, the leaderships of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are domiciled in Damascus. In addition, Syria has over the last decade built a close, mutually beneficial strategic relationship with Hizbullah. On weapons of mass destruction, Syria possesses one of the largest and most advanced chemical warfare programs in the Arab world - including chemical warheads for all its major missile systems. It is known to possess a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin, and is attempting to develop the more powerful VX nerve agent, according to the CIA's bi-annual report on WMD proliferation. Damascus is also thought to possess a biological warfare development program. Four months into Washington's courting of the Assad regime, there has been no improvement in Syria's stances regarding issues of concern to the U.S. The regime has evidently concluded that it has nothing to gain by loosening its relationship with the Iranians at the present time. The firmness of the Syrian stance suggests that Damascus expects U.S. attempts at engagement with Iran to fail. The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.

2009-05-15 06:00:00

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