The Syrian Paradox: Playing the Spoiler to Stay Relevant

[The National-UAE] In all likelihood, Syria was behind the firing of two rockets from southern Lebanon into Israel last Friday, employing pro-Syrian Palestinians. Damascus has often used similar incidents to get its messages across, despite a pro forma veneer of deniability. Only Syria has the latitude to set up rockets in an area tightly controlled by Hizbullah. President Bashar Assad is displeased with the fact that the Syrian track appears to be far less of an Obama administration priority than the Palestinian track. By ordering rockets to be fired into Israel, the Syrians reminded the Americans that they could provoke a conflict between Lebanon and Israel. In some respects this is similar to the policy that Syria is pursuing in Iraq, where they have also tried to accumulate political capital by manipulating the security situation. For Syria to engage the U.S. effectively, the Assad regime believes it must accumulate leverage regionally. But its only means of doing so is by destabilizing its surroundings, adding to the obstacles preventing better ties with Washington.

2009-09-18 08:00:00

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