A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Engagement is Still On" with Syria

UPDATE: As commenter Al-Farabi of Dispatch from Damascus notes in a comment to my original post, things are already moving on this front.

There've been a lot of pessimistic reports lately about the state of the US-Syrian rapprochement. Josh Landis at Syria Comment (the essential site for Syria watchers) makes the case that engagement is still on. Maybe I'm grasping at straws, and maybe Landis is too, but I think this is a very important and encouraging post. Please read it. Key paragraphs till you do:

Engagement is still on. Washington’s desire to improve relations with Damascus has not come to an end, despite the claims of several Kuwaiti and Lebanese papers which have been insisting that US engagement with Syria is over. Their false reports have been accompanied by a barrage of articles produced by Bush era diplomats proclaiming the failure of Obama’s engagement with Syria. They insist that Damascus only understands force and cannot produce anything positive because its DNA matches that of … well, the Devil. I kid you not. They really say things like this. Read Nicholas Noe’s excellent article: “Revenge rules for Middle East hawks.” He shows just how silly their logic is.

The spark that set off this cycle of spin designed to scotch engagement with Syria was the accusation by Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki that Syria was behind the mid-August car bombs that targeted several ministries in Baghdad. No regional leaders seem to take Maliki’s accusations at face value. Indeed, most top Iraqi officials have discounted their own Prime Minister’s claims. Andrew Lee Butters of Time Magazine explains why Iraqis believe that Maliki’s accusations are “politically” motivated.

1 comment:

al-Farabi said...

Excellent timing with your and Josh's post: