Diplomatic Engagement with Syria

[National Review] John P. Hannah - Syria is a brutal anti-American dictatorship that, along with its closest ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a charter member of the State Department's "state sponsors of terrorism" list. Since 2003 the Syrian-Iranian axis has worked tirelessly to defeat the American project in Iraq. Hundreds of unreconciled Baathists are harbored in Syria. Thousands of foreign jihadists have been welcomed at Damascus International Airport. After receiving money, training, and arms, they have been transported to the Iraqi border to engage in jihad - resulting in the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqis. Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI) - headed by President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, Asef Shawkat (sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for his links to Iraqi terrorism) - has been up to its eyeballs in this activity, its agents actively facilitating the work of al-Qaeda in Iraq's most lethal foreign-fighter networks. True, the flow of jihadists from Syria has slowed significantly, but this has far more to do with al-Qaeda's diversion of recruits to the more promising Afghan theater than it does with any Syrian measures. When it comes to anti-American dictatorships in general, and Syria in particular, history suggests that leverage and pressure, not reassurance and unconditional concessions, are the most reliable ways to ensure that diplomatic engagement advances U.S. goals. The writer, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was national security advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2005 to 2009.

2009-09-15 08:00:00

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