In the Arena

Smart Move

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The Obama Administration has decided to send a U.S. Ambassador back to Syria, for the first time since Margaret Scobie was pulled by the Bush Administration, which was protesting the likely involvement of the Syrian government in the assassination of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. This is a wise move on several grounds. It is a reflection of productive negotiations between the U.S. and Syria just below the radar screen. It also sends an interesting signal to Iran, whose regime should begin to wonder if Syrians are shifting with the international tides, given the Iranian regime’s public brutality and the recent defeat of Hizballah in the recent Lebanese elections. And it positions the U.S. as mediators in potential peace talks between Syria and Israel, which both sides have been pursuing through intermediaries for years.

The Syrians have been slightly uncomfortable with their Iran alliance for years, but they tend to move very slowly and cautiously in negotiations. This is a sign that something’s bubbling in Damascus.