Washington's Incoherent Attitude to Syria

(Times-UK) Dean Godson - Isn't Syria meant to be one of the leading sponsors of terrorism in Iraq - at least according to the State Department's annual terrorism report? Well, times change. Back in 2001-02, wide swaths of the administration still entertained fond hopes that the "secular" Baathist regime in Syria might become an ally in the war on the fundamentalists of al-Qaeda. Had it not brutally crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama in 1982? All that, of course, was before President Bashar Assad started to funnel jihadis through Syria and into Iraq to kill U.S. servicemen - not to mention the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister, that united the international community in condemnation of Damascus. Much of the career bureaucracy at the State Department and the CIA held that al-Qaeda was an autonomous entity, largely independent from control of any state. If so, the administration would have enjoyed a relatively free hand to work with a broad range of partners when it suited mutual interests to do so - Syria, Libya, and even Iran. The loudest dissenters from this orthodoxy were the administration neoconservatives. They charged that al-Qaeda could not flourish without substantial state sponsorship. These contradictory impulses have never been resolved in the case of Syria. Has the administration concluded that the regime is unreformable and must be replaced? Or does it just want it to "moderate" its behavior - above all in Iraq and Lebanon?

2005-12-30 00:00:00

Full Article


Visit the Daily Alert Archive