"...In Lebanon, where March 14's electoral success depends to a great extent on the perception of ongoing U.S. backing, the recent visits by American legislators to Damascus were viewed with great interest. During his public statement following the Hariri meeting, Kerry reassured Beirut and lowered expectations in Damascus (IN BEIRUT!). He reiterated U.S. support for Lebanon and emphasized that the Hariri tribunal was "independent from any issues of discussion between the U.S. and Syria." The purpose of discussions with Syria, Kerry said, was to "test whether or not this is a moment for change. . . . We are looking for actions." ....By all accounts, March 14 officials were pleased with Kerry's message in Beirut.........The Obama administration's initial approach toward engaging with Syria has been somewhat haphazard, but ultimately cautious, careful both to preserve U.S. equities in Lebanon and to discourage irrational exuberance in Damascus.......On the one hand, Washington does not want to undermine the March 14 coalition as the June Lebanese elections approach. On the other hand, it will prove hard to generate momentum with Syria unless the United States sends an ambassador and/or senior administration officials to Damascus. ......A Hizballah victory in the Lebanese elections would represent a strategic setback for regional moderates at the hands of Iran and Syria. Conversely, if the administration could somehow engineer the strategic realignment of Syria -- away from Iran toward the peace camp -- it would prove a real blow to regional militants. As Washington's engagement with Syria moves forward, balancing should remain an integral element of the strategy...."
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Schenker (always) seems to buy into Washington's empty and recycled commitments to the Cedarites ... Obviously, he has not talked to Walid Jumblatt lately, and most importantly, he seems to be oblivious to the fact that the sloganeering & bravado (Sen . Kerry) in Beirut was not duplicated in Damascus, where the talk was focused & revolved around the fact that "we're all interested in turning a new leaf".... WINEP, here
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 3:18 PM