Little Hope for Improvement in the U.S.-Syrian Dynamic

(Los Angeles Times) David Schenker - The Obama administration's year of "engaging" with the Assad regime has yielded few, if any, achievements. While Syrian facilitation of insurgents into Iraq has slowed, top U.S. generals say the problem remains. At the same time, increasing evidence suggests that Damascus has provided Hizbullah with a new generation of sophisticated weaponry - including advanced antiaircraft weapons - that changes the equation along the Israeli-Lebanese border. The one potential benefit of a senior U.S. diplomat returning to Damascus is said to be a quid pro quo involving the imminent departure from Washington of Syria's longtime ambassador, Imad Moustapha, whose incessant leaking and mischaracterizations of U.S. policy initiatives have proved a complicating factor. While the latest U.S. diplomatic moves may improve communication between Washington and Damascus, absent progress on terrorism or the Middle East peace process, the new U.S. ambassador in Syria will have little of substance to discuss with the Assad regime. The writer is director of the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2010-02-25 07:50:12

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