The U.S. administration has asked Syrian President Bashar Assad to immediately stop transferring arms to Hezbollah. American officials made the request during a meeting Friday with the Syrian ambassador to Washington…
The move was described as an opportunity to discuss the next steps following the visit to Damascus by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns on February 17. The administration also said the meeting was part of its efforts to achieve a direct dialogue with Syria on issues of interest to both sides.
Haaretz has learned that Burns’ visit to Damascus ended unsatisfactorily for the U.S. administration. During Burns’ meeting with Assad, the Syrian leader denied all American claims that his regime was providing military aid to terrorists in Iraq, or to Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups.
Assad essentially told Burns that he had no idea what the American was talking about. — Ha’aretz
The US recently presented a gift to Bashar Assad, by nominating Robert Ford as the first US ambassador to Syria since the recall of our ambassador following the Syrian-perpetrated murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Barry Rubin notes that to add insult to to injury to pro-Western circles in Lebanon, this was done on the 5th anniversary of the murder!
In keeping with the strategy of ‘engagement’, the Obama Administration preferred to literally let Assad get away with murder in order to promote US strategic interests.
Important interests indeed: nothing is more likely to bring about a regional war in the Middle East than a massive rocket attack on Israel by Hizballah. Once the rockets start flying, Israel will not feel constrained to spare Iranian nuclear facilities; and then Iran will retaliate in various ways which may include harming US troops in the Mideast and will certainly affect the oil supply. No matter how they feel about Israel, the administration and State Department are very serious about oil. The US might even get dragged into conflict with Iran as a result.
And by the way, wouldn’t it be helpful if Assad would make it easier for Obama to get out of Iraq without too much trouble from the insurgents that Syria presently arms and supports?
We were just asking for a quid pro quo. Well, we gave them the quo and what did we get for a quid? Assad doesn’t know what we’re talking about!
Update [1 Mar 0920 PST]: Read Barry Rubin’s latest comment on this subject here.