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US Looks For More Muscular Response To Syria; Damascus Sells Gold In Sign Of Poverty – OpEd

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Syria seems to be trying to sell Gold from its reserves in Dubai. A sign that it’s money is running low due to sanctions and revolt.

The Obama administration insists that it is about to make some important changes to its Syria policy. Everyone expects that it will assume greater leadership by helping to arm the opposition. So far Washington has raised the rhetorical bar while refusing action. Sanctions have been the most was willing to offer. The other countries — Turkey, Saudi and France – have refused to take the lead. They want to see an American commitment before taking their hands out of the pockets.  On the NSC, Steve Simon, who has not been keen on military involvement, seems to be making way for Derek Chollet, whose old boss was Anne-Marie Slaughter. She is for military intervention in Syria, as she made clear on the Charlie Rose Show that I appeared on with her and Thomas Friedman.

The new push includes adjustments in personnel handling the portfolio. Before March, National Security Council Director Steve Simon headed up the internal interagency process. Now, multiple officials confirm that NSC Senior Director for Strategy Derek Chollet has been added to the leadership of the Syria policy team and has been coordinating the interagency process for several weeks. Simon, Assistant Secretary of State Jeff Feltman, and State Dept. Special Advisor Fred Hof are still active on the Syria portfolio. (Obama searches for a ‘Plan B’ in Syria By Josh Rogin)

Clinton says Syria is at a “crucial turning point”. She will be in Paris tomorrow to try to figure out what the Western states can do that won’t suck them into another Iraq, but that will show some teeth. Right now, Russia is calling the shots in Syria. Ironically, the last country we pushed Russia out of,  because we demanded greater control over its affairs, was Afghanistan. Most American policy makers today would probably agree that Russian controlled Afghanistan was much better than what came after. Ammar Abdulhamid suggests that Syria is more liberal and less Islamist than Afghanistan or even Egypt and Tunisia. He believes that US caution about the rise of Islamists in Syria is ill-founded. Amal al-Hanano hares Abdulhamid’s determination to promote secular and pacifist Syrian interests.  She is calling on secular Syrians to organize and counter-balance the Islamists.

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Syria Comment - Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.

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