Friday, October 07, 2005

Syria: coming up roses

A delegation of Pentagon and US National Security Council officials visited Damascus last week for talks with Syrian government members, a United Arab Emirates newspaper reported on Friday. The al-Khalij daily, citing an unidentified US State Department official, said the visit was part of an attempt to re-establish a dialogue between Damascus and Washington after relations were greatly soured following allegations of Syrian involvement in the February assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri.

After the broadside to Syria and Iran given by Bush in his yesterday’s excellent speech, this visit – if confirmed – could signal an important shift in Syria–US relations that has been long maturing and might have benefited by the recent mediation of Egypt and Jordan. Even if Assad wanted to pull a “Qaddafi” however, the problem lies in having him survive it at home; convincing Assad to change his spots and having him killed the next day is not very constructive.

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