Monday, June 23, 2008

Dealing with Damascus: Seeking a Greater Return on U.S.-Syria Relations

USIP's Mona Yacoubian & Scott make a strong case that the Bush administration’s policy of diplomatic isolation of Syria is not serving U.S. interests, at CFR, here
"...What lessons can be drawn from this lengthy period of confrontation? First, prospects for Syrian cooperation were diminished due to maximalist demands from Washington and its unwillingness to bargain.
Fourth, the attempt to isolate Syria diplomatically because of its destabilizing behavior, including its alliances with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas, has largely been a selffulfilling prophecy that has only served to limit U.S. options and raise the costs of reengaging.
forgoing dialogue and diplomacy cedes too much of the diplomatic landscape to others, forces Syria to draw closer to Iran and other U.S. adversaries, and leaves the United States feeling righteous but nevertheless on the sidelines.
The policy (engagement) must also be informed by an understanding of Syria’s role in each of these crises, including its underlying motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. Syria’s primary interest is to ensure against Iraq’s complete disintegration, particularly given the likelihood that all-out civil war would result in additional refugee flows into Syria and the potential spillover of sectarian violence. the United States and Syria share a deep antipathy to al-Qaeda and its jihadist ideology.........."

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