Posted by Joshua on Tuesday, December 29th, 2009
Airbus’ refusal to sell planes to Syria is a clear sign of how bad relations remain between Washington and Damascus, despite a year of Obama engagement.
The French promised the Syrians that they would try to get the sale OK’ed by Washington. Some 10% of Airbus parts are bought from the US, making the sale of Airbus planes to third parties subject to US sanction laws. The decision by European governments to purchase Airbus parts from the US may have seemed like good business and political practice in the past. It has EU politicians gnashing their teeth today. Sarkozy must be considering changing Airbus’ purchasing percentages. Little wonder that today’s headline about Sarkozy is: Sarkozy cool on relationship with Obama.
Syria’s support for Hizbullah has Washington diplomats flummoxed. Assad insisted that its Shiite ally be accepted as a part of the Lebanese government, despite Washington’s insistence that Hizbullah terrorizes Israel and the US. Washington foreign policy mavens want Israel safe at any price. No Arab resistance to Israel is acceptable even as the US refuses to punish the Jewish State for continuing to push Palestinians off what land remains to them. Even more important to Damascus is Washington’s refusal to challenge Prime Minister Netanyahu’s assertion that Israel will not return the Golan Heights to Syria even for peace and security guarantees, which President Assad has made clear he is willing to provide. The only conclusion he can make is that resistance alone will win back the Golan. Israel is counting on unwavering US support and its military superiority to convince the Syrians to abandon their claims.
One can only repeat that such a policy makes the US enemies it doesn’t need. It also convinces people around the world that Washington is not smart or a good leader.
US rejects Airbus jet sale to Syria’s national airline
Dec. 28, 2009, Associated Press in THE JERUSALEM POST
The US has turned down a request by Airbus SAS to sell aircraft to Syria to modernize the country’s aging national airline, Syria’s transportation minister said Monday.
The Tishrin newspaper on Monday quoted Yarob Badr as saying that an Airbus delegation recently informed Syrian officials that the US Commerce Department rejected a request to lift an embargo on selling planes to Damascus.
The US imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria in May 2004 because of what Washington says is its support for terrorism, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and other activities including undermining US operations in Iraq. Syria denies the allegations.
The sanctions have grounded much of Syrian Air’s fleet, leaving less than ten planes in operation.
DAMASCUS, Syria – Syria will buy two Russian-made Tupolev passenger jets to modernize its national carrier’s aging fleet after the United States rejected a bid by Airbus SAS to sell planes to Damascus, Syria’s transportation minister said.
Yarob Badr was quoted in Tishrin daily’s Monday edition as saying a deal with the Russian plane manufacturer was imminent, and that Syrian Air would first lease the two jets for a year and later purchase them.
Badr said the decision came as the U.S. Commerce Department turned down a request by Toulouse, France-based Airbus to lift the U.S. embargo affecting the sale of planes to Syria. Badr said an Airbus delegation recently informed Syria of the decision by Washington.
Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined to comment on the specifics of the request, but said “In any case Airbus acts in accordance with the law.”
The U.S. imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria in May 2004 because of what Washington says is its support for terrorism, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and other activities including undermining U.S. operations in Iraq. Syria denies the allegations….
Laura Rozen: Damascus envoy speculation: cold and colder
December 21, 2009, POLITICO
Damascus envoy speculation: cold and colder. Just fyi, since there’s lots of speculation around. Have been very reliably told by two senior administration officials that Adam Ereli, U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, is not going to be nominated to be the Damascus envoy. If you want to see him, you will have to go to Bahrain.
And separately was told by a third source that the speculation about a Syria envoy is all a bit premature, and that nothing has been forwarded to the White House yet. UPDATE: Another senior official says a name has not been forwarded to the White House yet.
Finance Minister Hussein talks about the 2010 budget: (Syria Steps in Arabic)
260 public sector companies exist. They contribute $3.6 billion to the treasury. Hussein says that they are not therefore all losers, he then admits that the treasury wrote off $11 billion in loans to them ($7 billion to sadkob and $2 billion to the electricity distribution business). It seems that they also decided to scrap the idea of regular issuance of treasury bonds and securities (an idea that has been floated around for a while). Instead they will issue paper to fund specific projects when needed.