Syrian offhand about US sanctions, policy reversal

An unnamed Syrian sources described Washington’s decision of Friday, May 8, to renew US sanctions – because of the continuing threat Damascus posed to US interests “a routine measure.” The source said the measure would not affect dialogue between the two countries.
After a major diplomatic offensive to thaw relations with Syrian president Bashar Assad, US president Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress accusing Damascus of “supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining US and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.”
debkafile‘s Middle East sources explain Obama’s change of heart on three grounds:
1. Disappointment over Assad’s refusal to budge, in the face of repeated attempts by US envoys – the latest being Acting US assistant secretary of state Jeffrey Feltman on Thursday, May 7 – to start moving away from Tehran and stop transferring arms to the Shiite terrorist Hizballah. The Syrian ruler also refused to keep his hands of Lebanon’s June elections, in which Hizballah and pro-Syrian factions are challenging the Western-backed majority government.
2. Obama’s decision to address the Muslim world from Egypt on June 4 signals a certain cooling in his enthusiastic courtship of Tehran and Damascus. Two US envoys, Dennis Ross and defense secretary Robert Gates, reported back from their missions to Riyadh, Cairo and the Gulf emirates in the last ten days that any further US gestures towards those two radical regimes would place US ties with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf in grave jeopardy.
3. By turning tough towards Damascus, the US president is telegraphing Tehran that their dialogue can make headway only if Iran is willing to make real concessions on key issues, including its nuclear program and sponsorship of terror.

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