Across the Bay

Friday, February 26, 2010

Obama's Incoherent Syria Sideshow

I'm a bit late in posting this, but here's my piece in NOW Lebanon from Tuesday on Obama's incoherent Syria move. I argue that the Syria "policy" is neither a policy nor is it about Syria. It's an incoherent tactical move resulting from Obama's floundering Iran policy and lack of an overall strategy in the region. The justifications offered by the administration are so illogical that they crumble under their own weight. This is a failure before it even begins. Proof came rather swiftly at the Assad-Ahmadinejad summit in Damascus, where the two terror-sponsoring dictators publicly mocked Secretary Clinton and the US. We shall see how that will affect, if at all, the confirmation of the newly-nominated US ambassador. Already one Democrat has voiced his displeasure with Obama's move, and that was before the Damascus summit and Assad's statements.

Aside from mocking Clinton's statement, and reaffirming his strategic alliance with Iran, Assad also said:

"We discussed the situation of the resistance in the region and how to support these resistance forces. It is self-evident to say that this support is a moral and national duty in every nation, and also a religious legal duty, since we are today in a religious occasion [the birthday of Islam's prophet Muhammad]."

Other items critical of Obama's initiative include, aside from the Washington Post editorial posted right below, these two articles by David Schenker and Matt Brodsky.

Schenker raises an issue I've written about in the recent past -- the fate of Imad Mustapha:

The one potential benefit of a senior U.S. diplomat returning to Damascus is said to be a quid pro quo involving the imminent departure from Washington of Syria's longtime ambassador, Imad Moustapha. Since 2000, Moustapha has served as chief regime propagandist and spinmeister, and his incessant leaking and mischaracterizations of U.S. policy initiatives have proved a complicating factor in the relationship.

Finally, to revisit the nauseatingly repetitive argument of the Syria-Iran alliance, see this article and this old blog post of mine on the subject.

Addendum: Forgot to add this piece on the Damascus summit by Jonathan Spyer:

As such, the Ahmedinejad trip to Syria is not merely an opportunity for the two leaders to re-affirm the long-standing close ties between their regimes – and Syria’s links with the Islamic Republic of Iran date back to 1980, a year after the Iranian revolution. Rather, the visit represents a showcasing of the shared regional strategy of “resistance” to the US and its allies in the region.
And all of this comes apparently with little cost. In spite of it, all the West, the US and Israel, still apparently want to be friends. Why then would Assad be inclined to “distance” himself from Iran? The answer is that he wouldn’t, and he won’t – as was on vivid display this week in the visit of the Iranian president to Damascus.