Across the Bay

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who's Leading on Syria Policy?

I'm very late posting this, but here's my piece from last Tuesday in NOW Lebanon about the John Kerry factor in the recent incoherent development in the US policy toward Syria.

My assessment of the Syrians' conception and cultivation of Kerry's role was further corroborated in a recent report in the pro-Syrian As-Safir, which contained the following quote by Imad Mustapha's lap poodle. This is essentially straight from Mustapha's desk:

Landis told As-Safir that Kerry's role is essential in Syrian-American relations because he carried messages from the US administration during his visits to Damascus and he is playing a role in reassuring the Syrians and in confirming that Syrian-American relations remain on the White House's agenda. [Landis] considers that Kerry is also trying to distance Obama from "the traditional policy at the State Department which is not eager to engage with Syria."

Similarly, another regime mouthpiece put this out in al-Hayat:

It was confirmed that Sen. John Kerry played a role in pushing up the date of the [Senate Committee on Foreign Relations] hearing in order to "confirm the continuation of the dialogue due to Syria's axiomatic role," after eight Republican congressmen asked Secretary of State Clinton to postpone the discussion of appointing an ambassador, noting the need "to not engage for the sake of engaging."

I had warned about this back in March of last year:

Syria will attempt to diversify its channels with as many American interlocutors as possible to play them off against each other. The Obama administration would do well to restrict the number of cooks in the Syria kitchen.

In the end Kerry can only carry the Syrians so far. More to come.