Following the passage on September 2nd of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1595, calling on Syria to remove its troops from Lebanon and respect the sovereignty of its neighbor, Damascus has come under increased pressure and scrutiny. Facing growing isolation, Syrian President Asad has announced his willingness to renew negotiations with Israel and cooperate with the United States in Iraq. Does this represent a strategic shift in Damascus that would bode well for Lebanon, Israel and the United States? Or is it a tactical maneuver designed to relieve the immediate pressure and improve Syria’s standing in Washington?
Martin Indyk, director of the Saban Center at Brookings, and Edward Gabriel, visiting scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, were visiting Damascus and Beirut during the recent interaction over the amendment of the Lebanese Constitution and the passage of the UN Security Council resolution. They met at length with President Asad as well as other high level Syrian and Lebanese officials and personalities. They will share their unique perspectives on the range of policy challenges and choices facing the Syrian regime, Israel and the United States. Responding to this analysis, Ammar Abdulhamid, Visiting Fellow with the Brookings Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World and director of the Damascus-based Tharwa Project, will then offer his comments and insight.