Thursday 8 November 2012

U.S. diplomats squash Syrian opposition hopes

Ambassador Ford
 On the day President Barack Obama won his second term, American diplomats told participants in the Syrian opposition “jamboree” in Doha there would be no change in the Obama policy of refusing to intervene militarily or arm the resistance.
Instead, they said, Washington would seek a “political solution” to the carnage in Syria.
The American diplomats were named as U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and A. Elizabeth Jones, a former Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs and one-time U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Samir Nashar, one of the Syrian National Council (SNC) members who attended the meeting with Ford and Jones tells today’s edition of the Saudi daily Asharq Alawsat, “They plainly said the United States does not envisage a solution in Syria other than the political solution.”
Nashar added, “When we told the two diplomats such an American position will ruin the reputation of the United States among Syrians, their answer was: ‘You need to relay this to the Syrians in dozes – that the United States won’t intervene in Syria and they have no choice other than a political solution.’
Elizabeth Jones
“…We reiterated that -- despite (U.S.) criticisms of the SNC – we remain committed first and foremost to the Syrian revolution’s path and objectives, which foreclose any political solution that does not commence with Bashar al-Assad standing down.”
Political analyst Rajeh el-Khoury, writing for the independent Lebanese daily an-Nahar, describes Obama 2 as just “a carbon copy” of Obama 1.
“Barack Obama is back and nothing will change. We have a carbon copy of the U.S. president who will probably be less interested in foreign policy issues in order to focus during his second term on what James A. Baker calls America’s Titanic load of debt,” Khoury says.
“Look at Obama’s wavering and elusive policies vis-à-vis (1) the Libyan revolution (2) change in Egypt, which is now causing Washington a splitting headache, and (3) the revolution in Syria, where massacres and calamities multiply because of Russia’s malign alignment with the regime and America turning a blind eye to the bloodbath and cruelly denying arms to regime opponents. If we pondered all this, we would conclude that Obama 2 could only be like Obama 1… So don’t expect U.S. policy change. You won’t see it anytime soon.”
Zuhair Qusaybati, writing for the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat, notes that many regional states and politicians are pinning false hopes on Obama’s second term. Some see him arming the Syrian opposition adequately to overthrow the regime by year’s end, or warning to cut aid to Israel if it did not stop the building of settlements and the judaization of Jerusalem, or inviting Ali Khamenei to the White House to end the tug-of-war over Iran’s nuclear file and share spheres of influence in the ‘Shiite Crescent’ region.”
All this is wishful thinking, says Qusaybati, because the Obama administration’s “pullout from the region will from here on enter its second stage. So there is no good news on the way for the Syrians. Chances of the U.S. arming the opposition are low and the likelihood of military intervention is nil. Syria is abandoned to its fate. The balance of power will be decided on the ground -- at a prohibitive cost…”