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Bible Top 1000

The Syrian way

Shortly after taking office, in a dramatic departure from Bush-era policy, President Barack Obama made good on his pledge to reestablish dialogue with Syria. In recent months, in an effort to build confidence and improve the relationship, the administration has dispatched seven delegations to Damascus, including multiple visits from its top Middle East diplomat and peace envoy and senior military officials.

Much of the discussion has focused on stabilizing Iraq, an area where Syria-the leading point of entry for al-Qaida-affiliated insurgents since 2003-could potentially make a significant contribution. Washington also sought Syrian assistance in bolstering the embattled government in Baghdad. The administration chose Iraq because it was assumed to be a topic of "mutual interest", a belief seemingly confirmed in June 2009 by Syrian Ambassador to Washington Imad Mustafa, who described Iraq as "a very strong opportunity to cooperate with this administration".

THREE MONTHS later, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that Damascus is falling short. Not only are jihadis continuing to flow into Iraq via Syria, but the Assad regime appears to be actively working to undermine the stability of the Iraqi government. The recent carnage in Baghdad tells the story.

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