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Wednesday, May 04, 2005 

US Ambassador to return to Damascus

Margaret Scobey (below) was recalled to Washington just days after the murder of Rafiq Al-Hariri. Her last act as Ambassador was to serve a harsh letter to the Syrian government. Her withdrawal was to focus international attention on Damascus, and imply that Washington held Bashar responsible for the killing.

It was widely assumed that this marked a turning point in the deterioration of US-Syria ties. From here on in, the only possible end would be regime change. No US Ambassador would set foot in Damascus until Bashar was out of office.

But Syria steadily assented to international pressure. Against all expectations Syrian troops pulled out as promised. And next month Lebanon will hold free elections.

True, the US is still doubtful that Syria's intelligence have been completely withdrawn. But they've made it clear that they'll judge Syria on the success of the Lebanese elections.

Western diplomatic sources (who were quoted by the official Kuwati News Agency KUNA) said that if Scobey is to return, it wont be before the elections. Is this the first sign of an American carrot?

Hi Azad, the Syrian government needs to change, and I think the President knows that. But Syria isn't Iraq. People live freely, communities work well together. As much as outsiders may think we're repressed, that's just patronising. Politics isn't the most important thing in most people's lives.

The Syrian President (and Bashar's father before him) may be a 'dictator' but the best thing he has dictated is stability. For the first time in Syria's history communities and international forces aren't battling for control of our country.

I think Bush is bent on regime change at all costs. We feel the charges against the government are exaggerated. But most of all we feel that our government is absolutely hopeless at defending itself. It has appaling PR, it rarely speaks to the media, and almost doesn't care about its international image. It's as if the government wants to protray Syria as 'closed'.

Hi Marsden,

Yes it really feels like Bush is fishing for excuses to batter Syria with.

I don't think Bush will do anything to Syria, no change nor anything else...
And I really don't think this sterile corrupt regime here is going to change and open up politically either.

Hi Catherine,

I really hope you're right. But I can't help feeling that we're kidding ourselves when we keep say Bush wont do anything. What will it take to convince us that he can get away with anything with impunity.

There's a lot wrong with our government, and it's crying out for change. Our economy's stagnating while little Lebanon's becoming richer. Our politicians get older as our population becomes younger.

But we don't live in a police state, we aren't repressed, we're socially, religiously and economically free. True, there are a lot of people in prison, but nothing compared to the tens of thousands of political prisoners in democratic-Egypt. Analysts say there are between 0 and 600 political prisoners in Syria - and the Syrian Ambassador in Washington has made a commitment to release them all by the end of the summer.

Meanwhile ordinary low-level Ba'ath Party members are going to protest at the undemocratic way that mid-level leaders are chosen.

So, no, there aren't calls for revolution and there wont be any time soon. But expect to hear 'Syrians' in Washington saying that we want regime change, and that we're begging for American tanks to roll into Damascus.

We want slow, peaceful, progressive change of policy - not regime. Syria's the only country in the Arab world that hasn't been in turmoil in the last half century.

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  • Written by sasa
  • From Damascus, Syria
  • From Damascus to London via Beirut. Based in and out of the central Damascene hamlet of Saroujah. News and feelings from the streets every day. I'm talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy. See below for info about this site.
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