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Syria in Bush's cross hairs

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  • Syria in Bush's cross hairs

    The Bush Administration has been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad. Parts of the scheme are outlined in a classified, two-page document that says that the U.S. already is "supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists" in Europe. The document bluntly expresses the hope that "these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of actions for all anti-Assad activists."

    The document says that Syria's legislative elections, scheduled for March 2007, "provide a potentially galvanizing issue for... critics of the Assad regime." To capitalize on that opportunity, the document proposes a secret "election monitoring" scheme, in which "internet accessible materials will be available for printing and dissemination by activists inside the country [Syria] and neighboring countries." The proposal also calls for surreptitiously giving money to at least one Syrian politician who, according to the document, intends to run in the election. The effort would also include "voter education campaigns" and public opinion polling, with the first poll "tentatively scheduled in early 2007."

    American officials say the U.S. government has had extensive contacts with a range of anti-Assad groups in Washington, Europe and inside Syria. To give momemtum to that opposition, the U.S. is giving serious consideration to the election-monitoring scheme proposed in the document, according to several officials. The proposal has not yet been approved, in part because of questions over whether the Syrian elections will be delayed or even cancelled. But one U.S. official familiar with the proposal said: "You are forced to wonder whether we are now trying to destabilize the Syrian government."

    Some critics in Congress and the Administration say that such a plan, meant to secretly influence a foreign government, should be legally deemed a "covert action," which by law would then require that the White House inform the intelligence committees on Capitol Hill. Some in Congress would undoubtedly raise objections to this secret use of publicly appropriated funds to promote democracy.

    The proposal says part of the effort would be run through a foundation operated by Amar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based member of a Syrian umbrella opposition group known as the National Salvation Front (NSF). The Front includes the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that for decades supported the violent overthrow of the Syrian government, but now says it seeks peaceful, democratic reform. (In Syria, however, membership in the Brotherhood is still punishable by death.) Another member of the NSF is Abdul Halim Khaddam, a former high-ranking Syrian official and Assad family loyalist who recently went into exile after a political clash with the regime. Representatives of the National Salvation Front, including Abdulhamid, were accorded at least two meetings earlier this year at the White House, which described the sessions as exploratory. Since then, the National Salvation Front has said it intends to open an office in Washington in the near future.

    "Democracy promotion" has been a focus of both Democratic and Republican administrations, but the Bush White House has been a particular booster since 9/11. Iran contra figure Elliott Abrams was put in charge of the effort at the National Security Council. Until recently, Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of the Vice President, oversaw such work at the State Department. In the past, the U.S. has used support for "democracy building" to topple unfriendly dictators, including Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic and Ukraine's Vladimir Kuchma.

    However, in order to make the "election monitoring" plan for Syria effective, the proposal makes clear that the U.S. effort will have to be concealed: "Any information regarding funding for domestic [Syrian] politicians for elections monitoring would have to be protected from public dissemination," the document says. But American experts on "democracy promotion" consulted by TIME say it would be unwise to give financial support to a specific candidate in the election, because of the perceived conflict of interest. More ominously, an official familiar with the document explained that secrecy is necessary in part because Syria's government might retaliate against anyone inside the country who was seen as supporting the U.S.-backed election effort. The official added that because the Syrian government fields a broad network of internal spies, it would almost certainly find out about the U.S. effort, if it hasn't already. That could lead to the imprisonment of still more opposition figures.

    Any American-orchestrated attempt to conduct such an election-monitoring effort could make a dialogue between Washington and Damascus — as proposed by the Iraq Study Group and several U.S. allies — difficult or impossible. The entire proposal could also be a waste of effort; Edward P. Djerejian, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria who worked on the Iraq Study Group report, says that Syria's opposition is so fractured and weak that there is little to be gained by such a venture. "To fund opposition parties on the margins is a distraction at best," he told TIME. "It will only impede the better option of engaging Syria on much more important, fundamental issues like Iraq, peace with Israel, and the dangerous situation in Lebanon."

    Others detect another goal for the proposed policy. "Ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which Syria opposed, the Bush Administration has been looking for ways to squeeze the government in Damascus," notes Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who is co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma. "Syria has appeared to be next on the Administration's agenda to reform the greater Middle East." Landis adds: "This is apparently an effort to gin up the Syrian opposition under the rubric of 'democracy promotion' and 'election monitoring,' but it's really just an attempt to pressure the Syrian government" into doing what the U.S. wants. That would include blocking Syria's border with Iraq so insurgents do not cross into Iraq to kill U.S. troops; ending funding of Hizballah and interference in Lebanese politics; and cooperating with the U.N. in the investigation of the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Senior Syrian government officials are considered prime suspects in Hariri case.

    Money for the election-monitoring proposal would be channeled through a State Department program known as the Middle East Partnership Initiative, or MEPI. According to MEPI's website, the program passes out funds ranging between $100,000 and $1 million to promote education and women's empowerment, as well as economic and political reform, part of a total allocation of $5 million for Syria that Congress supported earlier this year.

    MEPI helps funnel millions of dollars every year to groups around the Middle East intent on promoting reforms. In the vast majority of cases, beneficiaries are publicly identified, as financial support is distributed through channels including the National Democratic Institute, a non-profit affiliated with the Democratic Party, and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which is linked to the G.O.P. In the Syrian case, the election-monitoring proposal identifies IRI as a "partner" — although the IRI website, replete with information about its democracy promotion elsewhere in the world, does not mention Syria. A spokesperson for IRI had no comment on what the organization might have planned or under way in Syria, describing the subject as "sensitive."

    U.S. foreign policy experts familiar with the proposal say it was developed by a "democracy and public diplomacy" working group that meets weekly at the State department to discuss Iran and Syria. Along with related working groups, it prepares proposals for the higher-level Iran Syria Operations Group, or ISOG, an inter-agency body that, several officials said, has had input from Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, deputy National Security Council advisor Elliott Abrams and representatives from the Pentagon, Treasury and U.S. intelligence. The State Department's deputy spokesman, Thomas Casey, said the election-monitoring proposal had already been through several classified drafts, but that "the basic concept is very much still valid."

    Syria in Bush's cross hairs

  • #2
    WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has launched a campaign to isolate and embarrass Syrian President Bashar Assad, using parliamentary elections in late April as a lever, according to State Department officials and Syrian exiles.

    The campaign, which some officials fear is aimed at destabilizing Syria, has been in the works for months.

    It involves escalating attacks on Syria's human rights record, which is generally regarded as abysmal, as well as White House-approved support for Syrian bloggers and election monitors inside and outside the country to highlight the nation's lack of freedom, the officials and others said.

    The State Department in recent weeks has issued a series of rhetorical broadsides against Syria, using language harsher than that usually reserved for U.S. adversaries. On Friday, the administration criticized a planned visit there by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California.

    "It's the new Cuba - no language is too tough," said one of the officials, who like others insisted on anonymity to discuss internal government planning.

    The campaign appears to fly in the face of the recommendations last December of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which urged President Bush to engage diplomatically with Syria to stabilize Iraq and address the Arab-Israeli conflict. The White House largely ignored that recommendation, agreeing only to talk with Syria about Iraqi refugees and to attend a Baghdad conference where envoys from Iran and Syria were present.

    Some officials who are aware of the campaign say they fear its real aim is to weaken or even overthrow Assad and to ensure that he can't thwart the creation of an international tribunal to investigate the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A U.N. report has implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials in the murder.

    The officials say the campaign bears the imprint of Elliott Abrams, a conservative White House aide in charge of pushing Bush's global democracy agenda.

    The plan's defenders say the effort to support democracy and speak out against repression in Syria is no different from similar U.S. efforts aimed at governments in Cuba, Iran, Zimbabwe and elsewhere.

    The parliamentary elections scheduled for April 22 appear certain to be rigged, according to experts on Syria and critics of Assad's authoritarian regime.

    Almost three-quarters of the seats in parliament are set aside for members of the Ba'ath Party, which has ruled Syria since a 1963 coup, and its allies. New campaign spending rules appear designed to undercut the few truly independent candidates.

    "Our objective is to have real elections in Syria. . . . It's important to get that kind of message across and, number two, to expose what's happening in Syria," said Najib Ghadbian, who's affiliated with the National Salvation Front, a loose coalition of mostly exiled Syrian government opponents. The group gets no U.S. funding, he said.

    Joshua Landis, a University of Oklahoma assistant professor who studies Syria, agreed that the election outcome isn't in doubt, but said U.S. pressure will have little impact. "The problem is, America's such a discredited bully pulpit for this kind of thing," he said.

    Indeed, U.S. efforts to isolate Syria received a setback at this week's Arab summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    The Saudi leadership, which has ostracized Assad since the Hariri assassination, appeared to welcome him back into the fold.

    Ahmed Salkini, a Syrian embassy spokesman, said, "There is nothing not free" about the upcoming elections, and he called U.S. criticisms hypocritical in light of alleged U.S. rights abuses at the Guantanamo prison.

    McClatchy Newspapers is withholding some details about Syrian groups and individuals involved in monitoring the April elections because their followers could face arrest in Syria.

    But a classified government document that surfaced in December proposed a covert election-monitoring effort that would be funded by a State Department-run democracy promotion program known as the Middle East Partnership Initiative. MEPI has set aside $5 million for activities aimed at Syria.

    U.S. officials confirmed the existence of the document, which was first reported by Time magazine.

    The document identified the U.S. government-funded International Republican Institute as a potential partner in the effort. An IRI spokeswoman declined comment this week.

    At least some elements of the plan appear to have gone forward.

    Several Internet sites have been created to monitor and discuss the April elections, which are to be followed in May by a referendum on Assad's rule. One, largely in Arabic, is Transparent Syria.

    As McClatchy Newspapers first reported last year, the Bush administration also has orchestrated meetings of Syrian opposition figures under the auspices of the Aspen Institute's Berlin offices. White House officials have met with representatives of the National Salvation Front, a broad umbrella group that includes Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood and former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam.

    In Washington, meanwhile, the State Department's verbal attacks on Syria have gotten harsher.

    On March 8, in what several officials said was an opening volley, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack issued a statement urging Assad to allow full media coverage of the elections and permit independent monitors. "The United States is deeply concerned that the Syrian regime will again fail its people by not holding free and fair elections," he said.

    On Thursday, McCormack issued another statement, expressing concern over two imprisoned human rights activists in Syria, Anwar al-Bunni and Kamal al-Labwani. Al-Labwani was arrested in November 2005 after returning from a trip that included a meeting with a top White House adviser.


    • #3
      BALA SHOU!!!!!!!!! They can't - absolutely CAN'T make propaganda against us --- as stupid as they may be, the American people know the gigantic mistake they made w/ Iraq. No one is going to allow it to happen all over again to Syria...

      Dream on ya ibn il @#$*&...
      Last edited by Bent_Bladi; 2nd April 2007, 09:40.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bent_Bladi View Post
        BALA SHOU!!!!!!!!! They can't - . No one is going to allow it to happen all over again to Syria...
        if those warmongers in washington make up their minds, no one is going to stop them , not even the anti war crowd . over one million walked in london and people came out in most cities in the world to stop the war against iraq , but it did happen . im afraid there is nothing stopping the madmen in washington unless there is a miracle . (those zionists who wrote Clean Break are already beating the drums and flooding papers they own with Columns upon columns about syria and iran . god help them.

        [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.

        [60:9] GOD enjoins you only from befriending those who fight you because of religion, evict you from your homes, and band together with others to banish you. You shall not befriend them. Those who befriend them are the transgressors


        • #5
          eh wallah, may Allah protect them and protect us all... But the number of people against the war significantly increased, and is steadily increasing as more and more people die (and more and more money is wasted) and as the gas prices keep soaring...


          • #6
            Furthermore (and crucially) an anti-war stance is now an electoral asset in the USA, where it wasn't before. I can't see a full-on attack on Syria going ahead, although there might be (and probably always has been) US support offered to internal forces opposing the Baathists.



            • #7

              A vendor gives pistachios to U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives,
              Nancy Pelosi, at a souk in Damascus


              • #8
                Originally posted by voltaire View Post
                Furthermore (and crucially) an anti-war stance is now an electoral asset in the USA, where it wasn't before. I can't see a full-on attack on Syria going ahead, although there might be (and probably always has been) US support offered to internal forces opposing the Baathists.

                Ah, yes - there's that... But who knows how long the US will be supporting significant others -- with all the debts it has, its going to stop giving money and try and keep itself alive.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post

                  A vendor gives pistachios to U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives,
                  Nancy Pelosi, at a souk in Damascus
                  *sob* lucky woman!! . I was craving those yesterday


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by voltaire View Post

                    .....I can't see a full-on attack on Syria going ahead, although there might be (and probably always has been) US support offered to internal forces opposing the Baathists.

                    The problem is, ya voltaire, that the 'internal forces' are mainly represented - and perhaps a better word would be misrepresented - by exile groups. Think Chalabi, Allawi etc. These people inflate the extent of internal opposition and their own alleged support while proving themselves to be useful tools in the pay of U.S. hawks. Take a look at this scaremongering piece, planted in who-knows-how-many media sources this week, by a Syrian exile group, the 'Reform Party of Syria':

                    Washington -- An Algerian Parliamentarian named Abdul Rahman al-Soueidi (sic), in an interview with "al-Youm" newspaper in Algeria, confirmed that the Syrian intelligence is funding an organization called "Hezbollah al-Magharbi" (sic) whose base is in Damascus but which operates out of Germany under a Moroccan resident of Germany. Mr. Soueidi claims that this organization has also roots in Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and Holland.

                    The leak by the Algerian Parliamentarian focuses the attention on a new policy by Assad to stir-up trouble in Europe in order to dissuade it from voting against Iran's nuclear program. This highly coordinated effort by the Syrian and the Iranian regimes has one purpose only: To weaken the resolve of Europe and the United States by taking advantage of appeasing elements within the US represented by a new Democratic Congress and in Europe represented by Javier Solana.

                    RPS reported yesterday, in an opinion entitled: "Syria's relationship with al-Qaeda", about one Shakir Absi, an ex-Syrian Air Force officer who has received orders from the Syrian intelligence to mount attacks against Europe and the US.

                    The opinion stated:" Many indicators exist that the terror network that has been fermenting for the past two years in the Palestinian refugee camps in northern Lebanon overseen by Syrian Military Intelligence and the Al Qaeda in Iraq Abu-Ghadiyah network which operates from Damascus and northern Syria are in the advanced planning stages for spectacular external attacks against civilian targets in Europe and the U.S."

                    No holding back on whipping up anxiety there, eh?

                    As it so happens, I recently posted a piece about the 'The Maghrebi Hizbullah' that was drawn from a report in Asharq Al-Awsat. The report stated, inter alia:

                    "...The new movement is called The Maghrebi Hizbullah and it is led by an influential Shi'ite from the Maghreb, who currently resides in Germany, said 'Abd A-Rahman Sa'idi, deputy chairman of the Algerian party Mugtama' A-Silm.

                    The Maghreb is a region in northern Africa, which includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya.

                    "An intellectual group out of Algeria is moving to establish the basis for a Maghrebi party in the Arab Maghreb," said Sa'idi. He added that the movement was led by a person whose origin was from eastern Algeria.

                    "He is married to a Lebanese woman and maintains much influence in Shi'ite circles out of Algeria. He is known as one of the leading Shi'ites in the Maghreb region."

                    Sa'idi also revealed that according to his information, the preparations toward the creation of the movement were made in Western countries and in Syria.

                    The context for that report was one of alarm at the emergence of a Shi'ite movement in the Maghreb, a region that is largely Sunni. The genesis of the group is said to be Algerian, references to other regions are in part explained by marriage ties and in part by natural support constituencies. We can look at the issue in a new light, as we have access to other reports, but how likely are most U.S. media readers to cross-check the wild claims of the Reform Party of Syria? These people receive major funding from the U.S. in return for their planted stories, all designed to foment conflict. They only have to infect a certain percentage of people to whip up anti-Syrian sentiment (we can still read how effectively Chalabi & Co. and their planted stories were - many Americans still think that there were WMD in Iraq).

                    It's true that there is a greater aversion to military adventures in the U.S.A. nowadays, but the actions and agendas of 'exile groups' shouldn't be underestimated.


                    • #11
                      I was thinking rather more of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom I would wager the CIA wouldn't be above backing if they thought a subsequent government would be friendly. There's after all a history of this in Iraq where (after the debacles which you correctly point out with Chalabi et al) they settled upon backing the likes of sectarian parties such as SCIRI, who do have considerable support within Iraq whether or not one finds their politics distasteful.

                      Of course, a Brotherhood-led government would not likely be good news for the Alawites, Assyrians, exile Iraqi Christians, etc, who live in Syria, but then the West doesn't have much of a track record for caring about that stuff where there are more overriding motives.



                      • #12
                        WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney accused U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday of "bad behavior" on her Middle East trip, saying she bungled a message for Syria's president that was later clarified by Israel.

                        Cheney harshly criticized Pelosi's visit to Syria this week and declared in an interview, "The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House."

                        Pelosi's Syrian stopover was opposed from the start by the Bush administration, which accuses Damascus of sponsoring terrorism and says it should be isolated from the international community.

                        While in Damascus on Wednesday, Pelosi announced she had told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Israel was prepared to negotiate with Syria. That prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office to underline the Jewish state's preconditions for such talks - including that Syria abandon its "support for terrorist groups."

                        Cheney, pointing to the Israeli reaction, said it was obvious Olmert had not authorized the message Pelosi delivered.

                        "It was a non-statement, nonsensical statement and didn't make any sense at all that she would suggest that those talks could go forward as long as the Syrians conducted themselves as a prime state sponsor of terror," the vice president said on the Rush Limbaugh radio show.

                        "I think it is, in fact bad behavior on her part. I wish she hadn't done it," Cheney said. "Fortunately I think the various parties involved recognize she doesn't speak for the United States in those circumstances, she doesn't represent the administration."

                        Pelosi, the top House Democrat and next in line to the U.S. presidency after Cheney, is the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria in more than two years.

                        Pelosi's spokesman, Brendan Daly, asked to respond to Cheney's criticism, said the speaker accurately relayed the message from Olmert to Assad.

                        "The tough and serious message the speaker relayed was that, in order for Israel to engage in talks with Syria, the Syrian government must eliminate its links with extremist elements, including Hamas and Hezbollah," Daly said, referring to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, and Lebanon's Hezbollah, which Israel fought in a war last year.

                        Pelosi's decision to defy the White House and meet Assad stepped up a tug of war between the Democratic-led Congress and Republican President George W. Bush over foreign policy.

                        The two sides are already doing battle over Iraq policy, with Democrats trying to force Bush to accept a date for withdrawing U.S. troops.

                        Pelosi was also slammed on Thursday by a Washington Post editorial that was headlined "Pratfall in Damascus" and called her Middle East shuttle diplomacy "foolish."


                        • #13
                          WASHINGTON – Three Republican congressmen who parted with President Bush by meeting with Syrian leaders said Wednesday it is important to maintain a dialogue with a country the White House says sponsors terrorism.

                          “I don't care what the administration says on this. You've got to do what you think is in the best interest of your country,” said Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Virginia. “I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah.”

                          Washington accuses Syria of backing Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups it deems terrorist organizations. The Bush administration also says Syria is contributing to the violence in Iraq by allowing Sunni insurgents to operate from its territory and is destabilizing Lebanon's government.

                          Bush sharply criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, for leading a delegation to meet with Syria's president, Bashar Assad.

                          The White House, however, stayed relatively quiet about a similar trip just a few days earlier by Wolf and GOP Reps. Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania.

                          Returning on Wednesday, the lawmakers said they made clear to Assad that they support Bush and were not representing the administration. But they said they felt it was important to keep open lines of communication.

                          “This is an area where we would disagree with the administration,” Aderholt said. “None of us in the Congress work for the president. We have to cast our own votes and ultimately answer to our own constituents. ... I think there's room that we can try to work with them as long as they know where we draw the line.”

                          A White House spokesman, Alex Conant, said the administration tries to deter lawmakers from both parties from engaging Assad.

                          “We discourage all visits to Syria because it's a state sponsor of terror,” he said. “A lot of officials have gone, and it hasn't changed the Syrians' behavior.”


                          • #14
                            WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has come under heavy fire on a number of fronts over her trip to Damascus and her meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad - an enemy of the United States, according to the Bush administration. But Syria insists it is no foe.

                            One of the many presidential candidates, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney, intensified his criticism of the Democratic House speaker for defying the White House ban on visiting Syria.

                            "The speaker of the House helped dignify a state sponsor of terror," Romney said in prepared remarks at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. "At this time of war, her action stands as one of the most partisan, divisive and ill-considered of any national leader in this decade."

                            Syria is considered a rogue state by the United States, which asserts the Syrians support terrorist groups. The Syrians see it differently. Those terrorist groups the United States accuses the Syrian leadership of supporting are seen as liberation movements by the Syrians.

                            So was Pelosi wrong in defying the White House and bringing President Assad out of his political isolation where President Bush wanted to see him linger? Republicans - some of them at least - believe she was wrong.

                            But if we look to history as a guide, the House speaker is more than right in talking to the "enemy." There are numerous precedents of the United States or its allies talking to groups or countries with which they were at war.

                            Even during the darkest days of the Cold War when relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were at their chilliest, Washington and Moscow had installed a "red phone" between the two capitals to allow quick and easy access between the leaders of the free world and those of what President Reagan once called the "evil empire." The red phone was installed in case of urgent need for the leaders to communicate and to avoid having a crisis grow into a reason for a major confrontation.

                            During the Algerian quest for independence from France in the 1960s, Paris held secret talks with members of the National Liberation Front, or the FLN as it was known by its French acronym. And these talks were going on while the FLN was setting bombs and attacking and killing French troops as well as civilians in Algeria.

                            In Vietnam, during the conflict in Southeast Asia, U.S. officials had engaged in talks not only with the North Vietnamese, but with the Vietcong, too.

                            And in Iraq today, U.S. officials have at multiple times engaged Sunni insurgents in negotiations, all while these same rebels continue to fight the Americans.

                            By visiting Syria, Pelosi has not really done anything new in the world of politics. What is new is that in the past when such talks took place it was usually with the approval of the entire government. In Pelosi's case, she undertook this initiative on her own, stepping into what has traditionally been State Department or White House turf.

                            Still, there is a fundamental difference between the above-mentioned examples and Syria. "Contrary to what any one is saying, Syria is not an enemy of the United States," Syria's ambassador to Washington, Imad Mustapha, told United Press International.

                            "We can work together on many issues," said the ambassador, adding that it was time to "engage to address the issues."

                            The ambassador, who was in Damascus during Pelosi's visit, said, "The discussions (between Pelosi and Assad) were very serious."

                            While Pelosi does not have the power to directly change the administration's policies, she can help influence future policy.

                            Mustapha told UPI that Syria agreed to continue to cooperate with the House speaker. He said the Syrian government told Pelosi to "go back and tell the (Bush) administration" that Syria wanted to cooperate with Washington.

                            But, said the Syrian diplomat, "This administration does not want to listen." Given that no progress is likely to be made during the remainder of the Bush administration, the Syrian ambassador said, "Please let us prepare for the future."

                            By that he means pave the way for better relations with the next administration.

                            "We are not trying to score points," said the Syrian diplomat, noting that Washington's current policy is not leading to Syria being isolated. Rather, "It is the Bush administration that is being isolated."

                            "It's time for this administration to reconsider its policy toward Syria," said Mustapha. But the chances of that happening are rather slim.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Al-khiyal View Post
                              um -

                              *feeble zarghouta*


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