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Friday, February 26, 2010

Despite recent U.S. overtures to Syria, President Bashar Assad recently reaffirmed Syria's strong ties with Iran. So I guess that soft diplomacy approach is really starting to pay dividends now, eh? More:

Assad's strong words Thursday indicate that America does not have the kind of leverage it thought over Syria, said Joshua Landis, an American professor and Syria expert who runs a popular blog called Syria Comment.

"America overplayed its hand," Landis said. "The rest of the world is engaged with Syria - France is doing business, Turkey is doing business. Syria can survive. But it can't survive cutting ties with Iran."

Still, there are signs Assad could be open to a breakthrough with America.

Assad has begun to dismantle his father's socialist legacy since he rose to office in 2000. He has loosened the reins on banking, sought to attract foreign investment, and encouraged tourism and private education.

He also is hoping for U.S. help in boosting the Syrian economy and American mediation in direct peace talks with Israel - a recognition that he needs U.S. help to reach his goal of winning the return of the Golan Heights, seized by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.

So any action by Syria to accept our engagement attempts are basically just to help them get the Golan Heights back from Israel. Like that is going to happen any time soon.

What we ought to be doing is asking France to lean on Syria more. They are the ones injecting foreign dollars into the country. Obama should be working on his relationship with Sarkozy, not Assad.

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