Syria Faces Test of Wills with Washington

(Reuters) Cynthia Johnston - Syria is betting Washington has too much on its plate in Iraq to turn up the heat after threatening Damascus this week with sanctions for supporting terrorism, diplomats say. Experts say the rift is unlikely to progress beyond diplomatic saber-rattling, with Iraq-style "regime change" not on the cards as the U.S. military was too stretched in Iraq and European allies were showing no support. "The Syrians are judging the United States is coming close to playing its last hand," said one Western diplomat in Damascus. Syrian political analyst Imad al-Shuaibi, who is familiar with official thinking, said, "We know our enemy in the region is Israel, not the USA. And we have a hierarchy of priorities that means we don't want to make problems with America."

2003-11-14 00:00:00

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