Thursday, July 2, 2009

Syrian reaction to success of Hariri/Future Party

This response sounds pretty reasonable to me (basically the Syrians concede that even if the pro-Syrian opposition would have won much of the world would have isolated the new Lebanese regime - a fact driven home even more by the fallout after the re-election of Ahmadinijad and Biden's statements during his earlier visit to Lebanon).

Nonetheless, the fact that the elections were peaceful and there were no (to my knowledge) accusations of Syrian interference, this might be a good time to step us talks between the US and Syria. Granted, not interfering was probably in the interests of the Syrian regime, which is embroiled in it's own domestic problems ranging from managing Iraqi refugees to riding out the economic downturn. But it's still another step by Damascus in a long series (not reacting to either the Israeli bombing of a supposed nuclear facility last year or the US cross-border bombing raid, intelligence sharing in the wake of 9-11 (yes, snubbed by the Bush Administration), etc.)

These steps seem to me to garner (at the absolute least) the end of US economic sanctions, which are completely meaningless and only serve to symbolically isolate the regime, in addition to the end of US efforts to bock Syria's ascension to the WTO.

I would say that even the most reserved regime would be losing patience with US efforts to isolate the country, and that Syria may be looking for an opportunity to demonstrate it's regional importance (and opportunities abound: Iran, Iraq, Palestine, etc.). This would be a sad reversal of the current trajectory. One can only hope that Mitchell et al are cooking up something to take to Damascus in the near future . . . .

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