New U.S. Ambassador Faces a Syria Stuck in its Ways

(The National-UAE) Michael Young - The Obama administration named a new ambassador to Syria shortly before this Sunday's fifth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The previous U.S. ambassador was recalled after that killing, not to be replaced until now. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon at the time of the Hariri assassination, is a man greatly disliked in Damascus. Feltman, who witnessed Syrian violence in Lebanon from up close, will be an influential skeptic at the State Department. Syria still enjoys little goodwill at the State Department or in Congress. Its ambassador to the U.S., Imad Mustapha, is mistrusted in Washington and may soon be sent home. On the Palestinian front, Syria supports Hamas at a time when the Obama administration is trying to restart negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis. The Syrians want control of the Palestinian card, especially the means to torpedo agreements with which they are unhappy, as leverage in their own track with Israel.

2010-02-11 08:55:43

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