World Citizen: Watch Syria for Signs of Obama’s Mideast Chances

World Citizen: Watch Syria for Signs of Obama’s Mideast Chances

If you want to get an early read on the ultimate success or failure of the Obama administration's policies for the Middle East, keep an eye on Syria.

From the earliest days of the administration, even before it assumed power, its planned strategy for dealing with a number of conflicts in the region has included changing Syria's behavior. After all, Damascus has not only complicated life for U.S. forces in Iraq, it has also proven over the years to be an important ally of the Iranian regime and a key partner of radical militant organizations in Lebanon and Gaza. Syria has done its part to make already difficult conflicts ever-more intractable.

Washington is now pivoting sharply in its relations with Damascus. As the administration starts granting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad many of the changes he so desperately wants, we will soon begin to see if the United States gets anything in return. If Damascus does not reciprocate, the Obama brand of engagement will have proven a failure. If Syria does respond the way White House strategists hope, significant benefits could start trickling in. So far, there is little evidence that the results will be positive. But it is early yet.

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