Obama Should not Renew Executive Order Sanctions on Syria this Weekend

The usual groups in congress are petitioning President Obama to renew Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004 Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting the Export of Certain Goods to Syria. (This order blocks Syrian Air, weapons, and property of those people who aid Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, help Palestinian groups other than the PLO, and so on.)

Hey, maybe sanctions on Syria will make them go away?

The JTA blog – “Captial J, inside the Beltway” – publishes a copy of the congressional letter to Obama asking him to renew the executive order that is due to expire this Sunday, May 10. I will make a few comments about why this is a bad decision following the letter:

Kirk, Engel wants Syrian order renewed By Eric Fingerhut · May 6, 2009

Two members of Congress are urging President Obama to renew an executive order placing sanctions on Syria. In a letter to the president, Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y) note that the order — which limits Syria from exporting certain goods and freezes the assets of a number of Syrian nationals close to the Bashar Assad regime — will expire on May 10. The order was initially issued in 2004 and renewed last year by President George W. Bush. The full letter is after the jump:

President Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our concern about the upcoming expiration of Executive Order 13338, originally issued in 2004 and renewed last year by President George W. Bush. As you know, E.O. 13338 was established and renewed in response to Syrian support for terrorism, harboring of terrorist leadership, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, and support for insurgent groups in Iraq.

The E.O. places sanctions on Syria, including limiting the export of certain goods. The E.O. also freezes the assets of a number of Syrian nationals close to the Assad regime who are responsible for Syrian interference in Lebanon and for other destructive behaviors. Without your renewal, the order will expire on May 10, 2009.

Unfortunately, it remains Syrian policy to continue a destabilizing agenda in the region. As General Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 1, 2009, “The al-Assad regime in Syria continues to play the dangerous game of allowing or accepting extremist networks and terrorist facilitators to operate from and through Syrian territory…[including] hosting Hamas leadership, supporting the shipment of armaments to Hizballah, [and] cooperating with AQI operatives.”

Syria remains under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its nuclear activities and has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the agency. Syrian influence is also still felt in many areas of Lebanon. Weakening sanctions now, just before the Lebanese parliamentary election in June, would embolden Syria’s attitude toward Lebanon and potentially cause certain factions to question the new Administration’s resolve regarding Lebanon’s independence.

We urge you to act quickly to renew Executive Order 13338.

Sincerely, Eliot L. Engel and Mark Steven Kirk

Renewing executive order sanctions sends the wrong signal. It was promulgated by the Bush White House, which believed that it could break Syria through a combination of economic, judicial, military and diplomatic pressure. Intimidation did not work.

Obama has promised that he will change the nature of US relations in the region. If he renews the Bush sanctions it will be a step in the wrong direction. What impression will it leave in Damascus or the Arab street? Certainly not a good one. Obama established a new tone in his relations with Middle Eastern countries with his interview on al-Arabiyya, his video to Iran, and his speech in Istanbul. He has yet to take concrete action to back up this promising rhetoric with action.

If Obama renews sanctions on Syria it will show that there is no serious departure from President Bush’s policies and no real change.

Could Obama believe that renewing sanctions will help Syrian-US relations or that Syria will be intimidated into changing its policies? I doubt it. Syria refused to be intimidated under Bush when the pressure was infinitely greater. Syria will not allow its relations to hinge on the use of the stick. What is more, its regional and economic relations have already been adjusted to account for the sanctions.

Obama might argue that he cannot lift sanctions until Syria has stopped backing Hamas, Hizbullah, etc. But this is silly. Syria knows that it has many outstanding issues with the US. it is not foolish enough or unwise enough to think it is home free if executive order 13338 is not renewed.

Syria can help the US. It wants proper intelligence sharing in Iraq and better security. It has made no secret of its interest in having the US end its occupation of Iraq, but that is Obama’s objective. no serious policy differences divide Syria and the US on Iraq. Not having intelligence sharing between the two is almost criminal. Damascus wants elections to go smoothly in Lebanon and has every interest in encouraging stability there. In Palestine, Syria can play an important role in helping to bring Hamas into dialog for peace. Hamas and Egypt do not trust each other; it is natural that Syria should be an intermediary between Washington and Hamas. On Iran, the Syrians can also help once the elections are over.

As Syrian officials have been insisting, in foreign relations Syria and the US should be able to agree on 70% of the issues that concern them both. By renewing sanctions, Obama will be sending the wrong message to President Assad, who is eager to work with him on many fronts and turn the rhetoric of change into action.

Comments (25)


1. norman said:

Syria, U.S. agree to improve ties
08 ìàé 2009 | 01:49

Damsacus. Syria and the United States agreed to continue dialogue to tackle the differences between the two countries so as to improve bilateral ties, Xinhua News Agency informed.
During a meeting between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem and visiting U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and means of enhancing ties within the framework of dialogue.
In a statement issued after the meeting, Feltman described the talks as “constructive,” saying that “there is a development in the U.S.-Syrian bilateral relation since my previous visit (in March).”
Feltman said his current visit to Syria is part of the commitment of U.S. President Barack Obama to use diplomacy and dialogue to bridge the differences that remain in some of their policies.
“I conveyed the commitment of President Obama to continue the work for peace on all tracks, including the Syrian track,” he said.
Their meeting also dealt with the latest developments in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, the occupied Palestinian lands and the peace process in order to realize the common goal of achieving a just and comprehensive peace across the region, the report said.
“We look forward to continue dialogue between the two countries to handle our differences and upgrade our common interests,” the report quoted Feltman as saying.
The new U.S. administration started talks with Syria soon after Obama took office in January, ending years of estrangement between the two countries under former U.S. President George W. Bush.
This is Feltman’s second visit to Syria, accompanied by U.S. National Security Council official Daniel Shapiro. The two officials visited Damascus in March.

© 2009 All rights reserved. Reproducing this website’s contents requires obligatory reference to FOCUS Information Agency!

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May 8th, 2009, 12:50 am

 

2. norman said:

US affirms commitment to Syria-Israel peace deal

* Syria rejects changes to Arab peace offer to make it more acceptable to Israel

DAMASCUS: The United States told the Syrian government on Thursday it was committed to seeking a peace deal between Syria and Israel, a main objective for Damascus in its rapprochement with Washington.

“We conveyed … President Obama’s sincere commitment to pursue Arab-Israeli peace on all tracks, including on the Syrian-Israeli track,” senior State Department official Jeffrey Feltman said after meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem in the Syrian capital. The administration of US President Barack Obama started talks with Syria soon after he was inaugurated in January, ending a boycott of several years under his predecessor George W Bush. Feltman said the two countries still had differences to settle.

Damascus wants the United States to become involved if talks resume, believing this would guarantee any deal would stick. Indirect talks mediated by Turkey were suspended after Israel’s three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip, which ended in mid-January. Feltman is accompanied by White House official Daniel Shapiro. The two officials were in Damascus in March.

Arab peace offer: Syria’s foreign minister on Thursday rejected amending an Arab peace offer to Israel to make it more acceptable to the Jewish state, saying there’s no justification for making another concession. Arab diplomats have said the US has asked Arab nations to amend the 2002 land-for-peace proposal as part of a new approach to peacemaking. Jordan’s king Abdullah II said on Wednesday a new “combined approach” currently under discussion with the US would have Israel, Syria, Lebanon and other nations sitting down together to try to resolve the Middle East conflict.

The idea is the latest indication that the Obama administration is trying to build on the shared interest of its Arab allies and Israel in blunting the threat from Iran. “It is not possible to amend the Arab peace initiative. … I don’t see any justification for amending this initiative,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told a news conference with the foreign ministers of Finland and Estonia. Al-Moallem said he did not wish to comment on Abdullah’s statement, but added: “Is it logical that with every new Israeli government that Arabs would concede and put forth a new plan and new concessions under the slogan of a comprehensive plan?” The Arab peace initiative offers Israel collective Arab recognition, peace and normal relations in exchange for Israeli withdrawal from territory it occupied in the 1967 Mideast war, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Israel initially rejected the initiative when it was first proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002. It was relaunched at a 2007 Arab summit, and in the past year, Israel has said the initiative could be a starting point for discussions. The proposal’s author, Saudi King Abdullah, warned earlier this year after Israel’s military offensive in Gaza that the offer could not remain on the table indefinitely. agencies

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May 8th, 2009, 12:57 am

 

3. majid said:

Norman,
I think Syria is keeping its “sole” intact. What do you think?

http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2937&cp=all#comment-227508

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May 8th, 2009, 1:53 am

 

4. majid said:

I found Dr. Landis’ arguments in favor of lifting the sanctions on Syria not convincing.

I believe President Obama will most probably renew the sanctions for at least one more year. Syria’s behaviour has not changed enough at least according to men in the field like General Petraeus. If the General believed Syria could be of any help in Iraq he would have made that clear. Overall, I find Dr. Landis’s arguments more like a short selling blitz on Syria’s behalf at a time when short selling is so much in disfavor considering all the woes that were caused by it in the world markets.

May be next year when the economy may start to recover.

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May 8th, 2009, 2:07 am

 

5. Marc Gopin said:

This is not a black and white issue, but I have to side with Dr. Landis here. Now is the time to aggressively move forward with Syrian/American relations for a variety of reasons. This will significantly stabilize the region and lead to even greater cooperation on vital matters from Iraq to Lebanon to the Palestinian/Israeli peace process. It can only be good for the Syrian people as it will help further open up the economy to change.
http://www.marcgopin.com

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May 8th, 2009, 2:28 am

 

6. norman said:

Majid ,

I am so glad that i made you happy with writing ((sole)) instead of (( soul)), At least you are smart enough , You understood what i meant to correct that in this note ,http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=2953

As you can see , i read your notes , !

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May 8th, 2009, 3:23 am

 

7. majedkhaldoun said:

contrary to what Majid said, I think USA should lift the sanction against Syria.

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May 8th, 2009, 4:35 am

 

8. Shami said:

I disagree ,these sanctions hurt the people not the regime.

http://s-ec.buzzfeed.com/static/imagebuzz/terminal01/2009/4/21/11/hillary-meets-libyan-willy-wonka-20157-1240328908-6.jpg
When you see this image of the Libyan Bashar Asad and others would be dictators with Hillary,it ‘s clear that the only policy of the americans in the middle east is an illimited support for Israel and a political cover for the Arab regimes that maintain the Arab people weak and humiliated by their worst creatures.

The minority in power and Israel are both happy with this statu quo.

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May 8th, 2009, 6:25 am

 

9. Off the Wall said:

Shami
I am really having hard time understanding your position from your comment above. Do you think the sanctions should be lifted or not.

Majid,
To my dismay, I find that your assessment of the possibility that Obama will renew the executive order plausible despite of my full disagreement with your gleeful happiness about such possibility. However, on thing was made clear on a couple of occasions so far is that Obama feels comfortable enough to take decision making initiative from the hands of the generals into where it is supposed to be, in his own hand. Using the generals to justify bad policy has been a bush “mantra” and it is not necessarily a characteristic of Obama’s administration. If he renews the stupid sanctions, it would be because of an advice from Hillary Clinton not from generals in the field. If the president decides to change the policy, the generals will have to follow and to help him accomplish his goals. Not the other way around.

The sanction regime is a stupid policy approach. It will only cause the US’s friends more hard time being her friends and any one who makes the price of friendship a heavy one is bound to have friends acting behind the scenes contrarily to the declared goals.

You may argue that Syria is the one hurt by the sanctions not the US allies, but you have to recall that the abysmal failure of the anglo-american economic model, which i like to call “Thatchoreagavoodonomic” is stressing the global market beyond belief. Even Syria’s mere few billions worth of trade can now affect the ability of few western economies to recover sooner than later and can keep few workers in avionics, spare parts, software, and other industries, on their jobs. Any country in the current economic disaster willing to follow stupid AIPAC sponsored sanction regimes do themselves a great disfavor.

Self righteous knee jerk reactionaries will jump at me and ask if i would have called for ending the sanctions on south africa if the economy was going bad. I say not, for in the first place sanctions against South Africa were forced on the governments by public outcry, the sanctions against Syria, Iran, and others, are ill motivated and are brought only because of the level of corruption and fear that exists in Washington and which is fostered and nurtured by AIPAC and their allies. A far cry from a group with wide public support and from an honorable cause.

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May 8th, 2009, 6:59 am

 

10. Shami said:

OTW as i said above,i’m for sanctions that hurt the regime not those that make syrian people’s lives more difficult.
These sanctions that we have now ,are not acceptable and they should be lifted now before tommorow.

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May 8th, 2009, 7:15 am

 

11. Shami said:

OTW ,that’s also why i cited Libya as example.
Did these sanctions weaken the regime or ,the opposite was true.

The true enemy of Israel are the Arab people not corrupt and criminal regimes that are weak in front of them and strong against a desolated people ,in fact Israel and Arab regimes are incidental allies.The more the Arab people are strong ,the more Israel would be uneasy.

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May 8th, 2009, 7:29 am

 

12. Off the Wall said:

Shami
Thank you for the clarification. You answered me clearly. I happen to believe that sanction regimes always end up hurting people, especially the more vulnerable ones.

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May 8th, 2009, 7:53 am

 

13. Sasa said:

Would he dare? Would Obama really dare to continue one of George Bush’s most hawkish Executive Orders? I can’t see it.

This EO came about after pressure from the extreme wing of the neo-con movement. It came at a time when Cheney and Rumsfeld were still in the ascendence. They were picking their new fight with Syria, which started in April 2003 (with the absurd accusation that Syria was sending night vision goggles across to the Iraqi army).

That era is over.

And besides, would Feltman and Shapiro really be sent to Damascus – AND emerge saying the talks were very productive, in the same week that Obama would give his nod to a punishing sanctions regime?

I can’t see it.

But if he does – it would blow a massive hole through any confidence Arabs have in Obama. And it would make Obama look like a double-crossing hypocrite.

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May 8th, 2009, 9:35 am

 

14. norman said:

The sanctions to continue,

Financial Times FT.com
Middle EastCloseUS renews sanctions against Syria
By Anna Fifield in Beirut

Published: May 8 2009 12:43 | Last updated: May 8 2009 12:43

The Obama administration has renewed its sanctions against Syria for another year, citing a continuing “national emergency” facing the US from Syria’s support for terrorist organisations and weapons trade.

The sanctions were extended after Jeffrey Feltman, a senior state department official, held “constructive” talks on Thursday during his second visit to Syria in as many months, as part of a drive to improve relations with Damascus.

The sanctions, which were introduced by the Bush administration in 2004, will remain in place for another year, a state department official told the Financial Times.

The order mainly affects weapons trade, Syrian Air, and the property of people with links to anti-Israeli groups including Hamas, Hizbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It was introduced to crack down on Syria’s suspected support for terrorism and terrorist leaders, and alleged support for insurgent groups in Iraq.

“The national emergency with respect to Syria remains in effect because Syria continued to not meet its international obligations. We continue to have serious concerns about Syria’s actions,” the US official said.

Amid tentative steps towards détente with Syria, some members of Congress had been lobbying President Barack Obama to renew the order.

“Unfortunately, it remains Syrian policy to continue a destabilising agenda in the region,” representatives Mark Kirk (Republican-Illinois) and Eliot Engel (Democrat-New York) wrote in a letter to the president.

“Weakening sanctions now, just before the Lebanese parliamentary election in June, would embolden Syria’s attitude toward Lebanon and potentially cause certain factions to question the new administration’s resolve regarding Lebanon’s independence,” they said.

However, Washington stressed that the extension of the order should not impinge on the two countries’ recent efforts to improve relations.

“The president has noted we will continue to use dialogue with Syria to clearly communicate our differences, advance US interests and fund ways to make progress on a number of issues,” the official said. “Going forward, we will be looking for Syria to play a constructive role through actions that demonstrate its commitment to regional stability and security.”

But Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at Oklahoma university, said that renewing the sanctions sent the wrong signal.

“It was promulgated by the Bush White House, which believed that it could break Syria through a combination of economic, judicial, military and diplomatic pressure. Intimidation did not work,” Mr Landis wrote in a posting on his Syria Comment blog.

“Obama has promised that he will change the nature of US relations in the region. If he renews the Bush sanctions it will be a step in the wrong direction. What impression will it leave in Damascus or the Arab street? Certainly not a good one,” he wrote.

Mr Feltman met Walid Moallem, the Syrian foreign minister, in Damascus on Thursday and said they had “constructive” talks. Mr Moallem, however, stressed it was still early days. “This is a time when US intentions towards Syria will be put to the test,” he said.

The Obama administration’s efforts to improve ties with Syria are still at a “fact finding” stage, diplomats say, but are picking up speed.

Underscoring Washington’s difficult relationship with Syria, Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the Iranian president, was feted during a visit to Damascus on Tuesday. Iran is Syria’s closest ally in the region and the two have been working on a number of industrial projects, many of which appear to amount to little but are an attempt to present a united front to the west.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2009.

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May 8th, 2009, 12:13 pm

 

15. Sasa said:

Done and dusted, he’s renewed the sanctions.

Nice to see the FT copying and pasting from your posting Josh!!

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May 8th, 2009, 12:28 pm

 

16. Amir in Tel Aviv said:

Haha… I like stories with good endings. It makes me sleep better.

Any way, Obama simply had no choice, because they left him with
no such choice.

In the same week, when he is manifesting his contempt to the
old world order ( Ah’njad ), he is being invited to Damascus, to
the grand meeting of the ‘Victors’ ( Ah’njad + Asad ), where they
have healthy giggles (live on TV), and ridicule the Egyptian people for being poor.

So what would you expect from Mr. Obama ?
.

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May 8th, 2009, 12:53 pm

 

17. norman said:

To continue with the sanction for the time being is the logical move for the Obama administration ,

AIPAC is meeting in the US , the Israeli leaders are coming to the US in addition to Mubarak , Abbas , Obama can not afford to look weak or to look like giving something for nothing , that is if he wants to be credible when he tries to push Israel on peace with Syria and the Palestinians , he needs also to show that he got something from Syria , in public like good comments from the American military leaders in Iraq , the smooth election in Lebanon , no matter who wins , these things can be credited to Syria , then lifting the sanctions will have more impact ,

I believe MR Feltman went to Syria to explain that and cool the heads in Damascus.

And that is my take,

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May 8th, 2009, 1:34 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

…Obama can not afford to look weak or to look like giving something for nothing…

Norman,

Can you think of something else? Obama’s first 100 days have pretty much rendered your analysis obsolete.

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May 8th, 2009, 1:50 pm

 

19. norman said:

AP,

i think you are wrong , he only gave lip service but changed no policy .

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May 8th, 2009, 2:39 pm

 

20. majid said:

OTW,
I don’t understand how you came to think that I was gleeful or happy in my comment about the sanctions. None of that is true. I was simply looking at the Dr.’s case and found full of holes. So, I concluded that on the basis of this case the President will probably renew the sanctions, which I believe now he actually did, unfortunately of course.

Shami,
The sanctions actually will hurt the corrupt members of the regime and the Assad family more than the ordinary Syrian. I don’t see what benefit an ordinary Syrian will gain by easing international financial transactions on Syria. How many ordinary Syrians have a bank account to begin with? Was the ordinary Syrian left with any money to open such an account? All of Syria’s wealth belongs to the clan as you well know. So why give them the freedom to enrich themselves further? If they start importing goods from the west, we know who will make the orders and who will make the profit.

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May 8th, 2009, 2:55 pm

 

21. norman said:

US envoy in Syria tries to repair relations By ZEINA KARAM, AP

DAMASCUS, Syria -An Obama envoy in Syria to try to repair strained relations assured the government in Damascus Thursday that the U.S. is committed to pursuing a comprehensive Middle East peace that would include the Syria-Israel track.
The visit to Damascus by Jeffrey Feltman, the State Department’s top Middle East envoy, coincided with talk of a new U.S.-backed approach to revive peacemaking between Arab nations and Israel.
“We came here today as part of President Obama’s commitment to use diplomacy, to use dialogue in order to try to see where we can move forward, where our interests overlap, and to see where we can try to work together to bridge the differences that remain in some of our policies,” Feltman said.
He was accompanied by White House official Daniel Shapiro, both visiting Damascus for the second time since March. Their trip is part of the Obama administration’s outreach to nations shunned by former President George W. Bush, including Syria’s close ally Iran.
After meeting Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, Feltman said he conveyed “President Obama’s sincere commitment to pursue Arab-Israeli peace on all tracks including on the Syria-Israel track.”
Syria held indirect talks with Israel last year mediated by Turkey. But the discussions were halted during the Israeli offensive on Gaza in December and January. Syria has since said it was ready to resume indirect talks with Israel’s new hard-line government as long as they focus on a complete Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in the 1967 war.
But drawing Syria into a broader Middle East peace effort presents the U.S. with a significant challenge. Despite some signs that the country is interested in engaging with Washington after being shunned by the Bush administration, its alliance with Iran could present problems.
The U.S. withdrew its ambassador to Syria in 2005 to protest Syrian actions in neighboring Lebanon. Washington has criticized Syria and Iran for supporting Islamic militant groups such as the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The U.S. also has accused Syria of not doing enough to stop the infiltration of militants to fight U.S. and allied forces in neighboring Iraq.
Syria is Iran’s closest Arab ally and the U.S. accuses the Tehran regime of seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies it.
On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Damascus, where he and the Syrian president reaffirmed their support for “Palestinian resistance,” a defiant message to the U.S. and its Mideast allies. The Iranian president also met with Palestinian militant groups headquartered in Damascus, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Before meeting the American envoys on Thursday, al-Moallem said Syria was still “testing the American intentions toward Syria.”
Both Israel and U.S. Arab allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have expressed concerns about Washington reaching out to Iran for a dialogue, saying Tehran is a destabilizing force in the Middle East.
Jordan’s king Abdullah II said Wednesday a new “combined approach” under discussion with the U.S. would have Israel, Syria, Lebanon and other nations sitting down together to try to resolve the decades-old Middle East conflict. The idea is the latest indication that the Obama administration is trying to build on the shared interest of its Arab allies and Israel in blunting the threat from Iran.
As part of the new strategy, Arab diplomats said this week that the U.S. has asked the 22-member Arab League to amend a 2002 peace initiative to make it more palatable to Israel. The plan offers Israel collective Arab recognition, peace and normal relations in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from territory it occupied in the 1967 Mideast war, the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Several Arab diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said this week that the Americans are asking Arab nations to drop demands for a right of return for Palestinian refugees and agree to either resettle them in the host countries or in the Palestinian territories.
Arab foreign ministers meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo Thursday rejected the request, said Jordan’s foreign minister.
“The ministers renewed their (countries) commitment to the initiative as it is without change,” Nasser Judeh said.
In Damascus, al-Moallem also publicly rejected the idea before meeting with Feltman and Shapiro.
“I don’t see any justification for amending this initiative,” he told a news conference. “Is it logical that with every new Israeli government that Arabs would concede and put forth a new plan and new concessions under the slogan of a comprehensive plan?”
Israel initially rejected the initiative when it was first proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2002. It was relaunched at a 2007 Arab League summit, and in the past year, Israel has said the initiative could be a starting point for discussions.

Associated Press Writer Salah Nasrawi contributed to this report from Cairo.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
2009-05-07 12:33:18

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May 8th, 2009, 3:42 pm

 

22. Off the Wall said:

Anyone cares to explain how the sanction works. Can they not see that the primary beneficiary of one side of these sanctions is the target of another side. How Dumb. I thought Obama was smarter than that. But he is not the first American politician to suspend his intelligence when it comes the Israel Lobby. I guess we are willing to forgo multi-billion dollars deal for Boing, who will desperately need these deals as some reagan era weapon systems get phased out.

Article published first on Feb 10, 2009 (It may have been posted by someone else here)

AIRTRAFFIC SANCTIONS

http://www.javno.com/pr.php?id=232904

Syria Says US Approves Syrianair Boeing Overhaul

The issue is politically sensitive since Airbus is competing along with a U.S. partner for a $35 billion Pentagon tanker refuelling deal.

The U.S. government has granted Boeing permission to overhaul two 747 aircraft belonging to flag carrier Syrianair in a step that could herald an easing of U.S. sanctions on Syria, official media said on Tuesday.

But a source familiar with contacts over the repair of the grounded planes said U.S. sanctions in any case allowed the supply of spare parts under specific conditions that Syrianair met.

“This was a purely technical decision taken by the U.S. authorities after a long review. It does not represent any change in the sanctions regime,” said the source, who requested to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Syria is hoping for a rapprochement with Barack Obama’s administration after U.S. sanctions imposed under George W. Bush damaged the economy and hampered plans to expand the tiny fleet of Syrianair by buying planes from Airbus.

The government received a letter from the U.S. Commerce Department on Feb. 5 informing Damascus that Boeing could go ahead with a requested repair of the two jets that were taken out of service in 2008, official media quoted Transport Minister Yarub Badr as saying.

“The minister expressed hope that the permission will reflect positively on the current negotiations to import Airbus planes to Syria,” the official news agency said.

There was no immediate official U.S. comment.

Airbus and Syrianair signed a letter of intent last year for a multibillion dollar order, which involved the possible lease and purchase of a total of 54 aircraft until 2028, and help by Airbus to restructure Syrianair.

The first phase called for Syrianair to buy or lease eight Airbus in 2009. But the U.S. sanctions complicated the deal, since the planes use American components.

Airline executives said the initial cooperation agreement between Airbus and Syria could only progress if a legal way was found to conform to the sanctions.

FRENCH “OPTIMISTIC”

French officials assured the United States that Airbus had no intention of breaking the sanctions but initiated contacts with the U.S. government to see if an exemption could be granted to Airbus, diplomats in the Syrian capital said.

“The French are optimistic about a breakthrough under the Obama administration,” one of the diplomats said.

The issue is politically sensitive since Airbus is competing along with a U.S. partner for a $35 billion Pentagon tanker refuelling deal.

Damascus and Washington are are on poor terms because of Syria’s support for the Palestinian group Hamas and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah. The United States also accuses Syria of allowing Islamist fighters to infiltrate Iraq.

France started re-engaging Damascus after the Syrian government embarked on now stalled peace talks with Israel and a protracted political crisis eased in Lebanon.

Syria, which has endured years of isolation by the West, would view a deal to renew its sanctions-hit fleet as a further boost to its rehabilitation on the world stage.

Syrianair has 5-6 operating planes and more than 5,000 employees. Rami Makhlouf, a Syrian tycoon who is under specific U.S. sanctions for alleged corruption, granted Syrianair a 25 percent sake in an airline he is setting up with Gulf investors.

Objavljeno: 10.02.2009. u 20:37h

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May 8th, 2009, 4:37 pm

 

23. AIG said:

So, the sanctions were renewed.
The Americans want to see quid pro quo. What has Syria got to give?
Not much.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, Asad has to decide soon if he wants “resistance” or economic development. Even with Obama he can’t have both. The longer Asad waits, the more difficult it will be to take Syria out of its economic funk, especially with the current global recession. In the next 10 years, Asad needs to create about 10 million jobs or will face a social disaster. Currently, he is not even close.

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May 8th, 2009, 4:44 pm

 

24. Akbar Palace said:

Anyone cares to explain how the sanction works.

OTW,

Considering the sheer number of posts on this subject (on this website), I can only conclude the sanctions are working well. We all know how important perceptions are.

BTW, I didn’t draw the graphic in the new thread above showing the “strangle-hold”. Someone else has this perception.

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May 8th, 2009, 5:15 pm

 

25. norman said:

I think that there is a problem with the HOME Page , can you fix it?.

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May 14th, 2009, 3:25 pm

 

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