Zenobia Baalbaki | Doctoral candidate United States
November 2nd, 2007

Re: ‘Syria's foreign policy

The fate of Syria’s political and economic relations with foreign powers and its neighbors will be determined, unfortunately, by the developments and outcomes of the conflicts involving more powerful state actors on the world stage. It would be a fine thing if Syria could suddenly disengage itself from the surrounding conflicts, take a new hands off approach, un-involve itself from the regional power struggles and political posturing currently taking place. Assuming such disengagement would be desirable- as some keep insisting it would, and that Syria is acting criminally even by influencing the balances of power in all her neighboring states- the question first must be posed: is disengagement even possible??

The notion that Syria can disengage itself from the conflicts involving the Palestinians, Israel, Iraqis, Iran, the Lebanese, and even Turkey is simply an impossibility, a denial of reality. The only conflict arena in which Syria can reasonably stay at a distance is in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

And this last sentence should suggest the number one reason for my assertion that the region’s conflicts inherently involve Syria. Geography. Just look at a map. Syria is geographically in the center of the middle-east stage. Not only this, but like Turkey and Lebanon, it sits on the Mediterranean Sea at the bridge between Asia and Europe. Dare I say that Syria is in the center of the world.

Anybody who takes the view that things like the political borders and �??sovereignty�?? of each of the middle east nations determine the boundaries of their rightful concerns and interests is engaging in some kind of fantasy. Where the boundary of Syria ends and Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey begin on the map reveals nothing about what Syria actually is. The same confusions would apply to many colonially carved �??states�?? of the world.

The reality is that the Palestinians are in Syria. The Iraqis are in Syria. Kurds are in Syria. And Lebanese are in what was Syria. So is some of Turkey. And some Syrians up in the north-east might as well be Turkish. And the Syrians are in Lebanon, and they are sometimes also Lebanese. The Israelis are in Syria! The Iranians are now everywhere in real and in spirit, and might as well be in Syria.

So here is the situation. The borders don�??t matter (as much as people pretend that they are so sacred and that as soon as you �??secure�?� them�?�everything will be alright). What matters is that some very big western powers are engaging in a pretty dangerous cold war with Iran. In fact, this cold war between Iran and the United States has been going on for decades. And at times it wasn�??t even that cold. I refer here to such things in the past as covert coups, poison gases given to the enemy of my enemy, hostage taking, sanctions, and finally, what has come down to some pretty large threats by the United States�?? current psychotic administration to bomb the crap out of Iranian nuclear facilities. Again, it is hard to imagine, given that the targets are nuclear facilities, that the boundary and supposed difference between bombing a bunker or a laboratory and bombing large swaths of the Iranians themselves as they become the �??collateral damage�??, as they say, can be understood as a definably different in reality on the ground. The reality is also that such aggression is likely to unleash -if not WWIII- then at least, a colossal regional conflict.

So, where is Syria on this possible horizon? Again, it would be much preferable that Syria and Syrians be able to concentrate on economic development, improvement of the country�??s infrastructure, and other internal needs. Syria continues to forge positive economic relations with European nations. She is hanging on to such mutually beneficial relations with Spain, Italy, Germany, and Eastern Europe, despite enormous pressure from America to designate Syria as one hundred percent rogue state. But it seems impossible to expect that Syria can fulfill its economic potential when the world hegemonic power is not only lighting fires in the neighboring countries, but most of all, is unwilling to confront Israel and force the Israeli leaders to make concessions necessary for a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. I will return to this last point in a moment.

There are those who feel little Syria can at will step out of the regional and world fray and move on with its growth plans, continue to forge mutual economic partnerships with Europe and Turkey, make progress on internal reforms, ignore the Lebanese hatred being hurled at her, and abandon ties with any combustible Lebanese elements, be welcoming to Iraqis, disengage from the Palestinian cause by nixing the Hamas leadership from Damascus, stop the flow of weapons between Iran and Hezballah, talk bad about Iran, and be nice in general as defined by the United States, especially to Israel, and all will be well. Syria might even get the return of the Golan out of such good behavior.
But are these expectations based in any reality that is possible??

Again, I will argue NO. And here is why these scenarios are not possible:

First, did I mention that the borders in the region are fictitious?

Just look at Iraq and Iran at this moment, and one can see how imaginary it is. And the situation there is just getting worse in terms of �??sovereignty�??. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia told a BBC interviewer that the Saudis are planning on constructing a fence between Iraq and SA to keep those �??terrorists�?? from crossing into Saudia Arabia. (Say what?) He smiled wryly at his interviewer when questioned about how long it would take to erect this fence? Mmm�?� er. A long time. I guess, the King thinks that fighting in Iraq is going to go on for quite awhile. But, more significantly, I would like to know what planet is the King living on? He thinks a fence is going to do the job.

A bit ironic when the reality is that a few of the more famous �??terrorists�??, hijackers, and jihadis are�?� well,�?� Saudi Arabian.
For Syria, the reality of her porous borders and literally, tribes, culture, religion, and connected peoples who span across these borders, cannot be wished away. Syria may have a security service that stands guard, somewhat like a fence, but nothing actually separates the connections that cross over the boundaries of states.

Second, Syria cannot be isolationist even if the borders weren�??t in essence fictitious�?� foremost because of her central relevance in the most spotlighted relentless pre-Iraq war conflict going on in the Middle-East. The most significant obstacle to peace in the micro region that concerns Syria is Israel�??s unwillingness to give up land it is occupying. More precisely, it is the inability of the Israeli leadership to confront the elements of Israeli society who are dead set against giving up land. And tied to this stalemate between Israel and Palestine as well as Syria is the unwillingness of the American leadership to apply the enormous pressure required to force the Israeli leadership to force its people make these land concessions. However, without an end to the problems of occupation, there is no chance of peace in Lebanon, no end to the effect of Hamas or some of its leaders hunkering down in Syria, nor an end to the threat of a possible Iranian and Israeli showdown. A resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the end game and not sufficient to bring the entire middle-east fire under control, but it is certainly a necessary component of the cessation of conflict in the region as a whole.

And Syria is in the middle of the swamp of this conflict. To ask Syria to just walk out of the swamp and wash off�?�.is about as realistic as asking the Lebanese to just never mind the Palestinians in Lebanon and make peace with Israel. The point is that Lebanon hasn�??t yet even come close to publicly accepting and announcing that there are hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Lebanon who are never going home to Palestine. And the government isn�??t really interested in breaking this news to its citizens and non-citizens. Syria similarly cannot announce to its people a new stance in regards to Hamas or the occupied territories when there has been no final-status resolution accepted by the world that it can point to and say to the Syrian people in essence, �??this is the end of the game�?�.

Third, Syria cannot be out in the cold, all by herself when she is surrounded on all sides by a rising tide of other micro conflicts. Here, I am not yet referring to the WWIII explosion that could occur, but merely the somewhat smaller fires burning nearby. For example, the minor problem of the insane civil war that is raging next door in Iraq. Almost equally troubling, is the potential civil war that threatens in Lebanon as long as the impasse and government shutdown and hatreds continue unabated. Many Lebanese would like the world to believe that this struggle is Syria�??s fault, so if the Syrian security element would simply butt out there would be no problem. But I would argue, more realistically, that the problems in Lebanon are far bigger and more complex than Syrian interference. And this last point directs me to a more central problem both significant in Lebanon and in the larger regional arena: the mysterious and amorphous jihadist groups all over the Middle-East. The potential Fatah-al Islam type movements and other Al-Qaeda inspired cells and militias are an ever-present wild card influence�?�that deepens and darkens the swamp. These elements are far out of the controlling hands of any single government, whether Saudi, or Syrian, or Iraqi. They are not a centrally located threat that can be quarantined or even clearly defined, for that matter. They cannot be blamed on any one source. But certainly, they cannot either be ignored or taken for granted. The relevant point in Syria�??s interest is that current and potential enclaves of people that may fester into violent militias or guerrilla groups surround Syria on all sides, and she can hardly ignore this reality by forming a foreign policy comprised of disengagement and a laissez faire or isolationist attitude.

Finally, without trying to sound apocalyptic, lets face it: the WWIII line up is simply taking shape more and more, and Syria, small as she may be, is right in the middle of it. As usual- the Ottoman descendants will end up on the opposing side of America. However, this time the Iranians are enemy number one of the western powers. The Iranians are trying to take over the territory of Iraq and cleanse it well enough of Sunni non-loyalists that Iran-Iraqistan will be decidedly part of the new Persian �??coalition of the willing.�?� Of course, the USA has in its arsenal the landing and launching pad of Israel, while fighting hard to win over the government of Lebanon so as to neutralize that country from being enemy territory. Still, in the background somewhere are the crazy lands of Afghanistan and Pakistan where�?�. well,�?� we know where the sentiments of the people of these countries lie no matter who the leaders claim to support. Alas, no one can predict the outcome of this potential world war because the new giant economic powers�?� of China and India, and the remaining Soviet influence�?� are not so predictable as to how they will impact the outcome.

But, there is Syria, left out in the cold by the United States, again. Sanctioned to the hilt. Labeled a state sponsor of terror. And what is she supposed to do? Stand on the doorstep outside�?� begging to be let into the club of America?
Meanwhile, the Americans don�??t talk about how many American military bases are continuing to be constructed all over the region. Kuwait is, I believe, one big military base. Then there is Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates. The Americans tried to convince the Turkish government to give them some landing space. Just an airfield, what�??s the big deal? Israel. Might as well be American. Iraq�?�.. well, there is a reason the USA can�??t withdraw for a while. They will be building there for quite a few years to come. And now, if the US can just swing that Lebanese government the right way�?� the military bases will be up and running soon, one only a stone�??s throw from the port of Tartous, just across that fortified fictitious border.

Syria has no choice. She is in a corner. Up against a wall. And she is doing exactly what makes sense, politically speaking, strategically speaking, even internally speaking. Do Syrians feel natural affinity with the Iranians? No. Are the Syrians pals of the Taliban? No, definitely not. Do Syrians have warm sentiments toward those Ottoman descendents? No. Is Syria the one on good terms with the homeland of the hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center. No, that would be America. Are the Syrians soul mates of the Iraqis? Well, they certainly are not thrilled about the 1.5 million Iraqi visitors they are currently hosting. And from my personal observations, Syrians do not seem that fond of the Palestinians in their midst or even down south. They just like the cause�?� the righteous cause of the underdog. Syrians love that.

Actually, Syrians like Americans (or they did until quite recently).

Syrians like Europeans, especially Italians (and extra especially Sicilian Mafioso).

Syrians like Egyptians, at least the ones in the movies.

And Syrians would like to be liked by their brothers in Jordan and Lebanon. But unfortunately, there is that family rivalry thing going on where the Syrians get treated like inferior relatives.
Australia and Canada are very happy to import a lot, and I mean A LOT of Syrians to their lands. And so, Syrians are happy to be also Canadians and Australians.

And generally speaking, it should be noted that Syria is not on a terror state watch list in the countries of Africa, Asia, South America, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or the former Soviet territories.

So is it really Syria�??s fault �?� that somehow she finds herself�?� thrown into the designated Axis of Evil? Is it her fault�?�.that should the lunatics in Washington start another major invasion or, god forbid, a World War that Syria end up on the side of the Turks and the Persians?

As I quoted above, the old wisdom that the enemy of my enemy is my friend�?�. tells the whole story. Hence, Syria finds herself in bed with the regional players who, frankly, will play with her. But, in the end, America is the �??decider�??. America holds the key to these conflicts, should she choose to be so foolhardy to antagonize foreign leaders further, that will transform these mere economic and pragmatic alliances Syria has into battlefield alliances.

In the mean time, Syria goes on her way�?�. progressing slowly through the deep swamp�?� the same swamp that Cheney and company would like to drain to their liking. It is tragic that the �??think-tank�?? zealots in D.C. (who don�??t actually think) continue not to see how Americans will drown in the swamp first before it can ever be cleared.

Thankfully Syria is experienced with swamps�?�having cities that although they have turned to desert, nonetheless, have survived with their people through the rise and fall of empires.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (11 votes, average: 3.09 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

39 Responses to the Article

Mazen Says:

Zenobia, that piece was excellent. Well thought through and well put. I just hope that Syria proves as experienced with swamps and storms as we all hope it is.

Wassim Says:

This is….excellent. I liked your introduction to the subject and the way you presented the context. Especially the point on the nature of borders, territory and states in the region. I’m not so sure about your interpretation of the events which built up to your conclusion. Somehow I feel Syria has not “found” itself with these countries, regardless of the average Syrian’s preferences for emigration or taste. There are “other” Syrians who are not so eager to be Canadian, American or anything else but what they really are. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more of them soon, even though their silence is mistaken for absence.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

The core problem of the middle east is lack of democracy. All the rest is just excuses for leaving tyrants in power. Yes, blame the Syrian problems on Israel, instead of looking inward and improving.

You portray Syria has having no choice. But it is not Syria, it is Asad and his strategies to stay in power that have pushed Syria into the axis of evil, and as usual the Syrian people will pay the price, as they have already paid for years of economic stagnation.

And what is sad is that people like you, living in freedom and enjoying the economic benefits of democracy, preach a totally different startegy for your compatriots in Syria. Don’t you see that you are living the ultimate contradiction and are not beeing intellectually honest?

Mazen Says:

I thought the elections in Gaza were democratic, weren’t they? Was that good enough for you, Mr. Israeli guy? No, of course not. So please stop preaching us about democracy cuz it ain’t sticking anymore. You will accept the results of democracy if and only if they suite what you think is your best interest. Otherwise, all bets are off on democracy.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

I accept the results in Gaza. Let Hamas rule there. But why would I want to deal with the Gazans if they want to destroy me?

Let them choose whoever they want, which is their democratic right and I will exercise my right and decide if I want relations with him. Both postitions are totally democratic. Just like you don’t like the Israeli administration that has been democratically elected, I don’t like the Hamas one.

Don’t worry, you’ll have an off shot of the Muslim Brotherhood in control of Syria also. It is a matter of time. Then let’s see if you support the dictatorial regime or not.

Zenobia Says:

Mazen, thanks much.
Wassim also, …some of what i wrote was just being funny…. i mean about the Canadian syrians etc…..I think i just want to convey that Syrians are not anti-western at all. And the alliances are one of pragmatics….not heartfelt bonds.

Rami Says:

Hi Zenobia
Bravo, I liked this piece?
??The notion that Syria can disengage itself from the conflicts involving the Palestinians, Israel, Iraqis, Iran, the Lebanese, and even Turkey is simply an impossibility, a denial of reality.? That??s right and moreover it??s a miracle how Syria kept itself out of the violence wave that hitting the entire Middle-East.
Syria end up on the side of the Turks and the Persians when the Arab ??brothers? gave her up at the time Syria required a serious political support. Syrians are very open minded and they are not anti-western or anti-anybody, but they simply can??t give up their alliance only because Saudi Arabia wants them to do so or because America is not satisfied about such a relation! So, give them alternatives? These people are just trying to survive.


david s Says:

Dear Zenobia,
Such an outstanding piece written with simplicity without sacrificing substance. My cousin, you are I believe obliged to share this highly informative and relevant summary of the Syrian plight beyond these friendly borders and dedicate yourself to having this excellent article published widely and broadly. You would be amazed at how little people/ press who claim expertise on mid – east issue know or consider little the evident truisms entailed in your article. The more we reach others with such cogency, the more we can potentially mitigate assumptions that allow my country’s absurd current policies to continue unchallenged.

Thank you my dear,
David Shagoury

Bashar Says:


You seem to forget that Jordan, Saudia Arabia, UAE, Kwait, and others all have Palestinans, Lebanese, and Syrians too yet they do have political borders and respected sovereignty. They also seem to be able disengage themselves from their surroundings despite their “fictitious” borders and make wise political alliances and choices that seem to keep them into the Arab camp rather than against it.
The EU have those same “fictitious” borders but each country also seem to make the right choices for their respective people and respect each other sovereignty.

Your attempt at demonizing US foreign policy is self-serving and grossly eccentric. Just as Syria, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, and the rest of the Arab world is suffering the effects of those “mysterious and amorphous jihadist groups” you describe, so is the rest of the world.

Don’t you find it ironic that foreign policy makers aroud the world are working to stem the tide of these groups while you seem to support a regime that have chosen to ally itself with their nexus?


Zenobia Says:

thanks so much for your praise and appreciation. It means a lot coming from you. I really wasn’t feeling like writing this piece, as it is rather depressing to look at the whole picture. As well, i feel there are already plenty of voices out there -that are sophisticated and more informed- telling it like it is.
If I did manage to add to the dialogue in my own particular way of delivering the message and this was worthwhile… i am very pleased to hear that. j
Hopefully we will all keep doing whatever we can do and trying to work towards greater tolerance and less warfare.

david s Says:

yes Zenobia, mailaise is in abundance regarding this issue, and in such circumstances I know first hand that writing on such a subject can be more arduous (probably why havent wroye a piece on this yet :) Again dear, share this outstanding and acutely clear article as widely as possible.
Now briefly to Bathar’ critique> are you seriously comparing former desert outposts to the levant!? As to Jordan…..what is a Jordanian? 70% of its population is Palestinian, and even the “royal” family considers itself Arabian – as to the AEU and Quatar etc – I have great, sincere respect for what they have accomplished but of course there is no comparison on border issues – what was there during the Mandate system? And most obviously, none share a contreversial border with Israel, nor have been compelled to challenge that border periodically with much sacrifice. Zenobia’s thesis holds Bathar.

Zenobia Says:

yes, David, thanks for the reply to Bashar. I was lax in responding even though i was thinking to say something along the same lines.

I mean in some ways…. in terms of the famed ‘terrorists’ I think these countries are no better off than syria…. as i was trying to say of Saudi Arabia. And you could say that of others…Jordan….

And as David said… Jordan is majority Palestinian!…as well… Palestinians in Jordan were given the option to give up refugee status and become Jordanian citizens… which most have, i believe.

I don’t agree with you Bashar that these countries you mentioned are disengaged at all. (I would place UAE in a catagory by itself in a way, but even here, I think the leadership just met with a representative of Iran just a few days ago. )
Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan……. ? The security they hold is not in place because they are paragons of democracy, nor because they have some great record of peace. Their big claim is in being US blessed “allies”.
Everyone knows, however, that the political policies of the leadership of these states do not particularly match with the political views and sentiments of the populations.
In contrast, at least you could say that the Syrian gov’t’s foreign policy is generally reflective of the sentiments of the people.

AIG like to keep asserting how the Syrian regime’s views are not the people’s views. and this may be argued true regarding internal concerns and complaints… ie corruption… or forms of repression.
However, in regards to foreign policy … the gov’t is very much in line with the attitudes of syrian population… that is my view…sitting here..in Damascus for months and months.

Finally, you accused me of making an attack on the United States administration’s foreign policy that is ‘self serving’ and ‘eccentric’.
I don’t even know how this would be self serving.
I am an American.
And I think it is my job..as a citizen to criticize and hammer vigilantly…on the offenses that i feel are being committed by my government.
as for “eccentric”??? have you seen the polls lately? I mean even the military families are at the point where they are really angry and criticizing the gov’t’s foreign policy warmongering.
I think in my views, i am in good company with a huge percentage of Americans now who are viewing our leadership as having gone off the deep end.
If the New York Times can make such statements, i think mine are hardly eccentric or out of the mainstream.

Zenobia Says:

yes, David, thanks for the reply to Bashar. I was lax in responding even though i was thinking to say something along the same lines.

I mean in some ways…. in terms of generating the jihadist threats I think these countries are no better off than Syria…. as i was trying to say of Saudi Arabia. And you could say that of others…Jordan…. because the people are angry at there leaders throughout the middle-east and they are suffering economically. Egypt is a powder keg waiting to explode in this regard.

As David said already… Jordan is majority Palestinian!…and has similarities and differences from Syria. A significant difference is that Palestinians in Jordan were given the option to give up refugee status and become Jordanian citizens… which most have, I believe. In contrast, Syria is sitting next to the Palestinians of Lebanon who are discontent, to put it in an extreme understatement.

I simply don’t agree with you, Bashar, that these countries you mentioned are ??disengaged?? at all. (I would place UAE in a category by itself, in certain ways, but even here, I think the leadership just met with a representative of Iran just a few days ago.)

Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan……. ? The security they hold is not in place because they are paragons of democracy, nor because they have some great record of peace. Their big claim is in being US blessed “allies”.
Everyone knows, however, that the political policies of the leadership of these states do not particularly match with the political views and sentiments of the populations.
In contrast, at least you could say that the Syrian government’s foreign policy is generally reflective of the sentiments of the people.

AIG likes to keep asserting how the Syrian regime’s views are not the people’s views. This may be argued to be true regarding internal concerns and complaints… ie corruption… or forms of repression.
However, in regards to foreign policy … the government is very much in line with the attitudes of the Syrian population. This is my view…sitting here?in Damascus for months and months.

Finally, you accused me of making an attack on the United States administration’s foreign policy that is ‘self serving’ and ‘eccentric’.
I don’t even know how this would be self-serving.
I am an American.
And I think it is my job?as a citizen to criticize and hammer vigilantly…on the offenses that I feel are being committed by my government.
As for “eccentric”??? have you seen the polls lately? I mean even the military families are at the point where they are really angry and criticizing the administration??s foreign policy and warmongering.
I think in my views, I am in good company with a huge percentage of Americans now having the opinion that our leadership has gone off the deep end.
If the New York Times can make such statements, I think mine are hardly eccentric or out of the mainstream.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Is it the common Syrian’s position that they are willing to sacrifice freedom and economic growth for the current regimes foreign policy?

Just for clarification, are you posting from Syria?

Alex Says:


I know you need to blame any opinion you don’t like on something related to the murderous Syrian dictator but “Just for clarification” .. Zenobia is indeed posting from Syria and I spoke to her few days ago and we spoke freely about all the problems Syria faces and no, they did not arrest her or torture her yet.


AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

No Alex, but it forces them to hide their real criticizms. Zenobia for example cannot say that Bashar should be replaced. She cannot say that any specific person in Syria is corrupt. She can only talk in generalities and generalities never lead to problem solving.

There cannot be an honest debate if there is fear. Let the foreign press roam Syria and interview many Syrians and let us find out what they really think. Not just in Damascus or among the Alawites and Christians. I want to know what the Sunnis, Kurds, Assyrians etc think. I want a real picture of Syrian public opinion. I want to understand the economic conditions in Damscus relative to the country side. I want to know what education the Syrians are really getting. How good are the schools in the countryside? How is the infrastructure there? Let’s get a FULL picture and discuss. Why do we have to believe your very narrow view?

But of course, Asad is too afraid to let that happen. What is he afraid of?

Alex Says:

Zenobia, do me a favor .. PLEASE criticize Bashar personally … find something to criticize him so that we will get this issue behind us .. hopefully.

You know what .. I will do it too:

Bashar is not doing an acceptable job in controlling corruption. I understand the difficulties of controlling Syria’s (and the Middle East’s) widespread corruption, but a lot more could be done … especially when it comes to his own family’s corruption, and that of the Business elites.

This corruption is one of the reasons why Syria’s exceptionally wise long-term regional vision is not getting the respect it deserves.

Zenobia, … your turn.

ten maybe AIG can find another reason why we don’t hate Bashar as much as he does .. maybe we are naive or maybe we don’t understand Syria as much as he does.

AIG … take it from me .. you are not capable of understanding anything … the way you read information makes it only possible for you to re-enforce the opinions you already have … you have to be neutral to comprehend everything, and not only that parts you already like. You are not here to understand .. you are here to prove to yourself that Israel is moral … it probably bothers you that your country in an apartheid state … so you are turning Democracy (Israel’s obvious strength compared to the authoritarian Arab regimes) into the one and only, most valuable thing … that way Israel score higher and you feel better about your self and your beloved country.

You are net here to understand

You are not capable of absorbing information that threaten your existing beliefs.

Zenobia Says:

i too would really like to have a clearer picture of what people think and feel. I really would.
and that is part of why i came here. To understand more…in person.

yes, realistically, there is some fear by people to indict the regime or say things against specific people. Of course. but there are also a lot of people who talk freely in private situations. I try as much as I can just to understand the culture from many vantage points…not just asking direct questions about the leadership.
As self destructive as that may seem to you, I would answer your last question directed at me, that yes, Syrians would give up a lot of internal change, growth, or freedom for these abstract foreign policy goals that are highly emotionally charged attitudes. I don’t think it is exactly a position, but it is apparent in their attitude and action/non-actions.
I hold an American passport. But I also care deeply for the best future for Syria. And if I really felt that replacing Bashar was the biggest priority, and that was my goal. I would say that, as I am not afraid.
the truth is…that I came here with an open mind. And found all kinds of nuances and a reality that as always is much more complicated and not as black and white as anybody likes to state it.
I think that with time, the syrian government system will change and improve. But if somebody wiped it out tomorrow, I believe that the society as a whole would not know how to replace it with something better. I think people would be very afraid and in chaos. And some person who wanted to take advantage of the vacuum would seize power and the country would end up with the same thing or much much worse.
Society has to change and evolve and develop more in ways that can support changes and greater civic participation. It is not just a problematic system. The system includes the people who have lived in it and have absorbed that to the point that they are not prepared for dramatic change. I found the Syrian people to be extremely resistant to changes, and whether that is the fault of the system or just perpetuated by it, still… changes have to happen from the ground up.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

What you write is very interesting. I wish I could visit Syria and do what you are doing.

People are not generally self-destructive so I wonder about your following observation:
“As self destructive as that may seem to you, I would answer your last question directed at me, that yes, Syrians would give up a lot of internal change, growth, or freedom for these abstract foreign policy goals that are highly emotionally charged attitudes. I don??t think it is exactly a position, but it is apparent in their attitude and action/non-actions.”

1) Can’t the action and non-action aspect be attributed to fear?
2) It is the case that this is their reaction because they do not see a real alternative in front of them? They are not really in a position to choose, so they might as well endorse what they have given the one sided info they are getting. Perhaps a simpler question such as “would you like to move to the US or europe” will give you an answer about their real intentions. After all, moving to the US is the ultimate surrender to US hegemony.

I see you are open to the hypothesis that the system is responsible for the resistance to change. If yes, then how can changes happen from within? How can changes happen from within a system that is optimal at stopping change? Isn’t an outside impeteus required? (Not that I support it).

It seems that you have adopted a fatalistic attitude toward any possible change in Syria. That is quite sad.

Zenobia Says:

in terms of #1. this cannot account for everything.
I will give you an example.
there was a guy i know who was working within a very prestigious entrepreneurship program run by MIT – who had traveled all over the middle east working on the same program with great success.
He spent five months in Syria then, and when he left he was complaining that when they tried to implement the program in Syria, it was like pulling teeth. He wasn’t speaking about bureaucracy or the gov’t or anything political. He described how the people here are so stuck in their ways… or resistant to being educated in a way to changing even micro systems say within their business practices, organizational practices, management practices, and way of understanding finance.
And he felt very unappreciated and frustrated. This was just one program, but it was extremely difficult to implement even though it was designed completely for the benefit of the Syrian people for economic changes… and growth.
now, i heard that the security services had also paid this guy a personal visit and questioned him a lot and that annoyed him too.
But the security people were not the biggest obstacle. the biggest obstacle was the Syrian people themselves.

Your #2 point. basically i would agree with that. yes, people don’t see alternatives. But they also don’t have the skills to evaluate alternatives when they might see them. They also don’t have internal leadership to create alternatives.
In my experience people all over the world would like to move to the United States…in order to make money and prosper. I even once met an Afghani refugee in Budapest…who went on an on about how things were better under the Taliban before the Americans came in and turned things into a bigger nightmare.
Then i was in shock when he said that when he leaves Hungary- he wants to go to America to live.
but i get this now!!!!! It is money. and freedom too. sure.
But there are a Syrians i met who have left america and came back to Syria….after they had made money there. And this was because they miss their country regardless of the gov’t.

#3 Yes, i am completely of the view that the authoritarian system of gov’t has over decades deeply influenced the mentality of people, and not for the better. And yes, it is necessary to have outside input in order for change to occur. where we might disagree is what that constitutes.
I am of the mind that it starts from the bottom or the middle i guess you would say. Civic input. Exposure. Interaction with business and people from the outside. Tourism. Syrians going and traveling outside.
right now, i met many Syrians who would love even to visit the United States, but they can’t get a visa. Syrian Expats being more willing to participate and contribute their knowledge and expertise back into the country. This kind of thing.
Many of these things are already happening. In the beginning maybe it just started with satelite tv, then more and more internet. but the biggest thing will be interaction with real people and projects that include foreigners and possibilities for new experiences.
This what changes people and brings innovation.
It is much more powerful than politics to my mind. It is the political on the level of the citizenry and societal practice.

I am not at all fatalistic. I am only recognizing what slapped me in the face. And that inputs have to adapt and suit the nature of the people we are talking about. These are very cautious and traditional people. Timid.
yes, this came from their history, the structure of gov’t and society, all of it, other things i haven’t even figured out yet.
But one must respect that. If we don’t then…the outcome is just total resistance and more stubborn defensive backwards movement.

actually, i am optimistic. because I think people and social life are more resilient than we think….and ultimately more powerful than governments and elites. It is like water wearing down rock…little by little.
I even think that about America. thats a place we really need to try not to be fatalistic about.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Sorry Zenobia, when I read what you write it sounds too much like what some people used to write about the citizens of countries under communist rule. The very same words. Timid, unresponsive to change etc. When communism went away the “magic” transformation happened. Human nature is human nature. When what you do really does not matter because if you are successful someone may notice you and you will pay a price, you do not do much. Your MIT consultant example is a case in point. Nobody wanted to cooperate with him because they feared being seen as a western agent and because their success could be interpreted as getting help from America and thus they would be traitors.

You see the sympotoms but your diagnosis is the incorrect one.

Zenobia Says:

I think my conversation is over with you.
you are like an incredible broken record.
and it really doesn’t matter if I told you my own personal anecdote or one from a friend of mine….or anything even super specific….you take the data and completely twist it around….to suit some believe you have that you just are absolutely resistant to having any challenge to it.

Yeah, this man with a MBA from the Massachusetts Instiute of Technology who went all over the middle east being greeted by a few kings and emirs….and having great success… HAS IT WRONG…. about HIS OWN EXPERIENCE ….. and YOU have it correct?????

this wasn’t my story.. this was his story and his experience and his interpretation….. AND GUESS WHAT… HE WAS ACTUALLY THERE.

yes… the people actually signed up for the program… paid money to be in it. Spent months of training…. but they were actually afraid of being accused of being western agents…so they failed to grasp concepts or follow advice.
You really are a piece of work my friend.
I spent a lot of time and effort here trying to have a conversation… and try to share something about my personal experiences and thoughts….
and basically you just keep puking your entrenched prejudices and distorted viewpoints all over it.
why are you here? to keep barking the same rhetoric over and over…again….on each article of every writer on this forum.

You waste our time in the end….if there is nothing to be learned by you.
If you think you know it all….just get lost. what is the point.

you dont’ know a goddamed thing about what you are talking about…. and yet you preach so much.
i feel sorry for you. and I am offended by how much time I wasted speaking to a brick wall of a brain like yours.

I am done.

AnotherIsraeliGuy Says:

Give me a rational explanation why someone would pay money for advice and then refuse to accept any of it? Why did they sign up in the first place? What is going on here?

Zenobia Says:

they signed up for an entrepreneurship program to learn business practices and management practices. and they wanted to learn how to raise seed money to have start ups. And the program also helped to raise seed money for some of the business proposals.
and then…. it wasn’t that they completely failed at it. It was just extremely frustrating for my friend and the others who were doing the training….because the participants had a very difficult time doing what we call in psychology “changing sets”….. they had set ideas about how money is made….how you run business… (based on very small business enterprises of a traditional sort)…they didn’t have the skills and knowledge to know about running much larger business and how to make them work.
did they learn nothing. of course not.
but my example was about how old worldish and resistant to change the culture is as a whole…..and how this friend of mine experience a reflection of that in how people were processing the information that was being given them.
for an even more micro example that my friend told me… the participants had a very hard time…thinking long term about their investment of capital. They had experiences with small business where…you don’t risk very much capital and you expect immediate returns.
whereas…with larger enterprises… one has to take bigger risks and you sometimes have to spend more money on higher quality input…in order to have greater gains at a later point.
Apparently, this was hard for the Syrian participants to tolerate.
there was something in their mentality that made them more nervous about spending money at the outset….and they were more used to buying the cheapest raw material possible…regardless of quality, and they were nervous about not seeing quick returns on their project or business.
Ok…. so… the interpretation that i am making…and that this MBA made was not only that he noticed such patterns….but that…despite the training the participants were given…and the knowledge about how larger enterprises work… or the advice to spend more on quality input, they were very very resistant to taking this advice…
They couldn’t CHANGE SETS. They were very TIMID to take financial risks… and they would sabotage a bit….by not following these new practices….or making the correct decisions based on the training they were given.

And I don’t think this was because they really didn’t want to participate or thought this has something to do with being secret agents!….

The program didn’t end. I believe that my friend went back to the States exhausted. And he planned to return at some point to work more with the program. That was my understanding.
But the point is that Syria was very very slow…..to absorb… help in this way….to really grab on….to new knowledge coming in.
is that because of the systems that have been in place for years and years? YES!…. i am not saying it isn’t….but….it is not because a gun is being held to somebody’s head…..it is because…. keeping the status quo….IS IN THE HEAD…now…… it is thoroughly ingrained…into a high percentage of the society.

this is an example of general cultural characteristics that were at play. I really don’t care if they resemble communism. Maybe there is some truth to that..considering that Syria was following the communist model of economy for a long time.
anyhow…. I don’t see Russia as a great example of success these days. It is rife with problems.

Another good friend of mine….born, raised, lives…in Syria….once in a discussion of the Syrian character in his view….used that exact word….TIMID…risk averse… and don’t like to be challenged too much at once.
My father….75 years old.. Syrian.to the core.. emigrated to America for the last 50 years.. (and a very bold and adventurous character)….once responded to a question of mine about political change in Syria….by rolling his eyes….and told me…that it will be a very hard road and a long one….because…the Syrian people are very cautious in nature… and not bold enough to do anything dramatic or rash. I saw some disdain in his face at this pronouncement.

I suppose we end up with a NATURE vs NURTURE debate in all this… for you have asserted that all people would do what you think they should do…rationally speaking if they follow your idea of basic human nature.
Nature…. the desire for freedom….perhaps, although the concept of freedom didn’t exist a number of hundred years ago… at least not for the common man.
I privilege Nurture…..and sometime…all it takes is a few hundred years (if one wants to take this back to the Ottomans) of conditioning….. to get some pretty seemingly irrational people by western standards. The Syrian soul is very old…i think.

now, i am serious. I am not interested in having you throw my data back at me…in some warped way. these are just personal experiences, not grand theories, and they don’t deserve to be attacked.

If you don’t find anything useful in what I am saying, then keep it to yourself please.

Bashar Says:


Did I tell you I love your name. I once even had a corporation which carried the same name.

Anyway, I??m glad you seem to enjoy Damascus. It??s a beautiful city that never leaves your heart once you get attached to it. While there, you might want to check out Kasioun Mountain at night, its breathtaking view of the city heals the soul.

Back to our discussion; you are most definitely correct about the foreign policy of the country being in line with public sentiment. However, since when public sentiment counted in Syria? The late Assad hijacked any decision on foreign policy since the ??70??s.
He played the game well I admit, in fact, I even admired some of his strategic alliances in the past where Syria became the focal point and the main power-house in the region despite its military failings and its technological shortcomings. But that was then and this is now.

My comparison to the other Gulf States was not to highlight the failings of your thesis as much to throw the light on the alliances they have struck with foreign countries that have benefited their respective governments and their people. As for Jordan, it is true that most of its citizens are of Palestinian origin and as you indicated they have been absorbed by the state as fully fledged citizens. Don??t you wonder why Syria has not done the same?

You make a good point in regard to the mosaic of people which makes up Syria and the diluted political border regions in all directions. However, you seem to ignore the fact that Syrian foreign policies are not direct results of this make up. It is primarily built on weighting the danger it constitutes to the regime rather than the well-being of its citizens. Let??s not forget that the people have no voice in such policies and the choices made in taking one route or another are solely based on self preservation of the regime. Therefore, your observation might be misleading to you and your readers. A Syrian person is a naturally proud patriotic and nationalist, you will never hear him/her talk defeatism. Your observation is accurate but lacks transparency. Ask a Syrian about his/her real feelings regarding neighboring foreign policies and you will hear a litany of grievances and dejections that speak volumes about Syria??s own. In another word, a Syrian can not see the hump on his/her back mainly because his/her vision has never been counted in the political system of the country. We tend to believe in the direction the leaders have chosen to take us to regardless of their consequences since we can not participate in the decision making. Syrians have simply become too acquiescent to challenge authority.

Finally, I??m glad you are still able to criticize your own government from Syria; it just shows how An American thinks regardless of his/her geographical location. Unfortunately Syrians around you can not risk doing the same without natural apprehensiveness.


david s Says:

Bashar, I too agree that Zenobia is a beautiful name.
I also have always conceded that as an American I may be more immune to some of the domestic shortcomings of the government in question. However, I do take issue with your dismissiveness of the import of popular perspective on Syria’s foriegn policy and also the implication that other Arab countries do not suffer such a discrepency between the governed and the governing. Actually, the exact opposite is true! Syria is arguably the ONLY arab country where there is symmetry between the people and government regarding foriegn affairs. Egypt and Saudi Arabia in particular have for decades essentially eschewed popular input in their foriegn affairs and suffered dissent with brutality. It is accepted fact that both governmentshave conducted a policy that is overtly opposed to popular opinion, and that any poll taken in said countries have and will continue to confirm this fact. Syria is the impressive exception to this rule in the arab world. If your point is that it is beneficial to be supported by the west..i do not think anyone can credibly argue against this…but at what cost my friend. Honestly, is Egypt that much stronger economically than Syria now , even after almost 30 years of recieving 3 billion/ year of our aid money?

Bashar Says:


Thanks for the input. I was looking forward to hear from Zenobia since her article makes good points that I seem to agree with yet I find many others that I do not.

As to your comment, I??m certain we can not argue that most all Arab nations exclude popular input in their respective foreign policies and still practice brutality with any dissenting views. Yet, you seem to think Syria is the exception to the rule this time around. Here is what you say ;

??It is accepted fact that both governments have conducted a policy that is overtly opposed to popular opinion, and that any poll taken in said countries have and will continue to confirm this fact. Syria is the impressive exception to this rule in the arab world.?

Let me ask you this then. Wouldn??t you agree with me that in the late 70??s and early 80??s, Syria??s foreign policies were certainly not in line with popular sentiments? Were its alliances with the former Soviet Union and former Eastern Europe nation??s popular among Syrians then? Was there any symmetry between the people and the government then? I can tell you with confidence the answer to all three questions are unequivocal NO.
I grew up in Damascus and I remember the disenchantments and disgust people exhibited then, yet they had no choice. We can even argue that the Muslim-Brotherhood movement then manifested such anger with sectarian violence against the government which ended up in a blood bath that put an end to any future adventure in political opposition to the government in Syria.

What we are witnessing today is the result of a deliberate choice which the leadership in Damascus, due to grave miscalculation and lack of long term political vision regarding the Iraq war, Lebanon, and the peace process with Israel elected to take the opposite route in alliances versus what the other Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt saw as a fait accompli. In fact Libya??s Gaddafi seemed to get the message then and made 180 degree turn after the US invasion of Iraq. The US was dead set on invading Iraq, and Syria could have chosen to go the other route that most Arab states took. Many benefits have been lost due to the leadership taking such a diametrically opposing route. The timing of the change in Syrian foreign policy coinciding with high level of antipathy in Arab public sentiments towards the US and its allies does not relate to any preconceived notions on the part of the leadership. In fact, the reports of President Assad ??warning? the Americans of their impending failure in Iraq have been trumpeted by the Syrian official news media as a sign of wisdom and leadership on his part. The argument that is being peddled by the regime that Syria was willing to do anything to go with the US but Washington was dead set on regime change is nonsense. Syrian foreign policies and alliances are the direct results of the regime lack of sense of its legitimacy among its people. The regime simply found the public sentiments ready for it to use as means of solidifying its grip on power.
Do you remember the ??half-men? speech of President Bashar during the Israeli attack on Lebanon? It should give you sense of what I??m talking about. The regime crack down on civil activists and political activities after the Damascus Spring period and its excuse for such actions is a testament to this. The Iraq war and its aftermath allowed it to extend and consolidate its forces against any future threat to its survival under the pretense of security and stability. Of course, what would people think when they see their surrounding is ablaze? The regime is offering them the alternative next door, its either us or chaos.

Now we all know, the American mission in Iraq is a long one. As the price for a barrel of oil in the market hovers at $100, the long term objectives for the US in securing the oil sources in the Middle-East seem to prove prophetic. Wouldn??t be wiser for the leadership in Syria to have taken the easy route out of all this and ally itself with Washington instead? How long do you think Syria can sustain such an opposing stand with the West in its foreign policy before it runs heads-on with the interests of the US and its allies in the area? I??m afraid that another invasion of an Arab country by foreign power is imminent and danger looms ahead.


Zenobia Says:

I think Egypt is worse….from what i hear.
my friend who just returned…told me that if i am upset about filth, polution, poverty… and traffic…..i had better no go to Egypt. but he highlighted that there were beggers all over the street…wherever you go… trying to sell you something or just beg.
there is some of that in syria…and there are a lot of people who are just poor. but not to the level of rampant begging on the street. You don’t see it- the same level of the super super poor.

david s Says:

Bashar, thank you from your riposte. If I may….
My friend, to challenge my point on the relative import of popular opinion of Syrian foriegn polcy, you harkened back 2 decades. Even those examples are quite assailable! First, all of your opine on this issue are based on a deeply flawed implied premise; that being that we sophisticated western democracies conduct our respective foriegn affairs in concert with the popular desires of our people. Simply put…wrong answer Bashar! The current conflict in Iraq has been highly unpopular in both US and Britain for years. I do not believe any major policy of Hafez was as decisively unpopular as the Iraq occupation is in our country. You refer to the cold war strategic alliance with Russia as deeply unpopular in Damas….again falsely implying that Syria was a de-facto member of the warsaw pact. While such an affiliation was Im sure discomforting for Syrians, Im confident that knowing that a Washington alliance was not available, and knowing that the world was bipolar, and knowing that enemy whom you just fought 2 wars with had access to the weapons of superpower #1 as well as its complete political support, most Syrian came to accept the aforementioned strategic friendship as a necessary if temporary evil. Further, you should acknowledge that Hafez never allowed his ability to ultimately act in his national interests impinged upon by Soviet dictates (eg his support for President Franjieh against Arafat in Lebanon).
In general, the Syrian government’s arabist ideology and policies, and its ability to practice dogmatism as well as pragmatism in foreign affairs has probably been its most succesful populist aspect (and its saving grace), and also has elicited the spite of other arab governments who were in such discord with their own populations and felt threatened by Syria’s positions. Im suprised you do not recognize that Syria is the exception in the Arab world in this regard. I urge you to examine the other Arab countries policies in this context more closely Bashar.
Thank you for the collaquy.

david s Says:

an addendum….i believe that most Syrians would love nothing more now than to be befriended by America, and in this regard I also believe that Bashar’s govt also has long desired this. Cirmstances, as well as a deep philoshpical change towards neocons in post 911 Washington has largely prevented this from occuring. Its quite sad, as i believe the true national interests of both countries are largely in communion (eg; 90s)

david s Says:

Addendum #2
If a legitimate offer for peace with Israel without unprecedented conditions recently enumerated emrges (similar to the one HAfez Al Assad had agreed to in prinpile in the 90s), Bashar will be morally obliged to make the deal! If he doesnt, i too wil be highly critical of that government..and i believe he would at that point be deviating palpably from popular desire to be fully integrated internationally with all the benefits therof. His legitimacy would be threadbare at that point.

Bashar Says:


Let me show you the contradictions in your statements;

“Actually, the exact opposite is true! Syria is arguably the ONLY arab country where there is symmetry between the people and government regarding foriegn affairs.”

Then you say;

“an addendum?.i believe that most Syrians would love nothing more now than to be befriended by America, and in this regard I also believe that Bashar??s govt also has long desired this.”

I guess the symmetry you are talking about does not apply to the second statement! :-)

You also indicated;

“First, all of your opine on this issue are based on a deeply flawed implied premise; that being that we sophisticated western democracies conduct our respective foriegn affairs in concert with the popular desires of our people. Simply put?wrong answer Bashar! The current conflict in Iraq has been highly unpopular in both US and Britain for years. I do not believe any major policy of Hafez was as decisively unpopular as the Iraq occupation is in our country.”

Have you forgotten the 29 years occupation of Lebanon? Was that popular sentiments? Forgive me but I beg to disagree with you.

I never implied that western democracies conduct their respective foriegn affairs in concert with popular desires of their people, that is your assumption. It is the leadership lack of vision that put us against the US and its allies in the region. Syria’s foriegn policy is based on the regime self preservation, nothing more and nothing less. Anyone who argues differently is mislead.


david s Says:

Thank you for your comments bahar. Allow me to preface my comments by reiterating my enjoyment of this collaquy.
I apologize for assuming that it was understood that desiring friendship with the US does not equate being the beggar at the ball and totally foregoing hisorical national interests for the pleasure. A majority of Syrians are currently anti US policy just as its government is – there is symmetry my friend. When I visited family in Damascus in early 90s my little cousin kept reiterating how he learned in (govt run) school what a good friend President GHW Bush was to Syria! The people and its government desire that staus quo ante..symmetry my friend! Unlike your Mpnarchist, Wahaabi friends in Riyadh who have little symmetry with their people – nor Egypt for that matter! You refer to the “half men” speech as being unpopular as Bashar had the guts to call out Bandar et al for their blatant complicity in the assault of cluster bombs on the people of the Lebanon! Unpopular with who..the fundementalist Brotherhood which for years was funded by SA!? Perhaps my friend you just have a sectarian bias against the Asaads?
I also reject your idea of a 29 yr “occupation” but that for another day

Antoun Says:


Good piece, and you’re absolutely right. Syria cannot disengage itself, geography speaks for itself. On top of geography, you have the thousands of years of history that has virtually made the people of the Fertile Crescent virtually indistinguishable. At the heart of this 3,000 year old melting pot is, what is currently Syria. As you alluded to previously, Syria has taken various shapes and forms throughout history, sometimes encompassing Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, parts of Turkey, to parts of Iraq … all depending on the occupier and how they draw their lines. It seems each time a new Western conquerer arrives in the Middle East, they redraw our boundaries. You’re right, our borders mean nothing at the end of the day.

However, we cannot fall for the trap of simply excusing ourselves and our inability to progress completely on foreign developments. Indeed, the meddling of colonialist powers, and consequently the US, has forced our region to explode over and over in the past 60 years. This hasn’t been easy for any state to sustain, but the Baathist leadership has been in charge for over 40 years. Syria is the only Arab country where there is a high degree of stability, and political activism is close to zero. The domestic climate is ripe for implementing reforms and initiatives to develop the country.

There are elements that have led to Syria withholding on key reforms, but not excuses. Tension with the US, Israel, problems with Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine, of course, all culminating in a paranoid Damascus. But, who is paranoid, and why? Is the Baath leadership concerned, primarily, about the collapse of the Syrian nation, or, ultimately, by the collapse of the Baath regime?

I addressed the same issue in SimoHurrta’s post, and I’m probably going to come to the same conclusion in every post I respond to, so I’ll save myself from being repetitive in each thread and just keep it to this. Our problem, in Syria, as in every Arab country, is that our policies are not set by our national interests, but rather by selfish, corrupt chieftains. I see no difference between the Baath Party in Syria, to the Future Movement or PSP in Lebanon, to Fatah in Palestine, to Monsieur Abdullah II in Jordan. They all share the same interest … personal power. Even if the entire region was quiet, we simply do not have the institutions, nor a leadership, nor a political will to develop.

I don’t object to Syria signing a peace accord with Israel. In fact, I would support a peace accord with Israel, not for the sake of the Israelis, but so that the Syrians may be able to concentrate on rebuilding their own country. What excuse will it use to deny its people progression after an agreement is signed?

Syria’s 15 years in Lebanon was a golden chance to begin a new era in the Arab world, but as expected from a totalitarian regime, its eyes are blinded by greed. I can’t see progression with the status quo, with or without the US in Iraq.

david s Says:

Antoun – very important and sad point you made. Those years were indeed a golden opportunity and there is no question that corruption and greed, especially some of those in charge like Khadaam greatly hurt that opportunity and the SAR govt reputation in lebanon.

Zenobia Says:

thanks for your well thought out comment.
i can’t find any disagreement with your statements.

My own view is not meant to excuse anything about the gov’t or its self interest. I would say that all these things can be true at the same time. I think regardless of the power motivations, it remains true that Syria is not in much of a position of choice.
i think that is my overall point. There would be no realistic way for ANY regime to swing policy around in an about face.
And i am arguing that this is the fault of the US administration which claims to be wanting to dictate the regional outcomes. The US policy is certainly not about what they think of the Syrian governments internal policies or its form. No, it is not about that at all.
so, I think everything remains to be seen. I think how things shape up on all fronts… around Syria is going to determine how Syria will continue to respond and the choices made.
I mean, the Syrian gov’t could turn around and say the same thing to the US administration as what is thrown at Syria repeatedly…. , “America knows what it has to do…. we don’t have to any have any meetings to tell them…. it is obvious… and until they do it- uh….don’t call us, we’ll call you.. “….
if you flip it around… its hilarious…. as a foreign policy…

david s Says:

No more insidiously ironic that the nonsecial refrain of us and the French condemning Syia for “foriegn ” interference in lebanon while they incessantly meet and instruct and coerce leb political leades on what to do!!

Leave a Reply

« Return to Main Page