Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S. Engaging Syria - a Terror State - on Anti-terror Concerns

Reversing yet another policy of former President George W. Bush, current U.S. President Barack Obama announced this week that he would nominate career diplomat Robert Ford to become Washington's first ambassador to Syria since 2005, when the former ambassador was removed in the wake of the assassination of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri. As the U.S. seeks to get closer to the Arab world, Washington seems ready to re-engage Damascus, sharing with it American concerns over problems in the region – chief among them, of course, the Iranian threat, and terrorism.

Analysts believe that the U.S. is hoping to co-opt Syria, veering it away from terrorism; according to U.S. officials, Damascus has been seeking an opportunity to prove itself, and has, the officials say, proclaimed its willingness to negotiate with Israel over the Golan Heights. However, Syria continues to insist on on supporting Hizbullah and Hamas terrorists, and remains on the U.S. list of states that support terrorism.

The inherent contradiction in the U.S. position – which seeks to engage a state that supports terror in fighting terror – was highlighted in a press conference held in Washington Thursday. In a regularly scheduled press conference held by Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, a perceptive reporter pointed out that attempts to engage Syria in anti-terror dialog seemed out of place.