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Syria
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Issues:
International Relations, War & Conflict
 

General David Petraeus told the White House that he wanted to visit Syria in order to speak with the Syrians about the problems with the Iraqi-Syrian border earlier this year.

Petraeus wanted to meet Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but was rebuffed by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and the Pentagon, the American news channel ABC News had learned.

A Syrian protester holds an anti-American placard during a demonstration against the last U.S. raid... Expand A Syrian protester holds an anti-American placard during a demonstration against the last U.S. raid on a village near the Syrian-Iraqi border, in Damascus, Syria, today. ABC News has learned, Gen. Devid Petraeus proposed visiting Syria shortly after taking over as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East. The idea was swiftly rejected by Bush administration officials at the White House, State Department and Pentagon. (AP Photos)

Syrian protester holds an anti-American sign during a demonstration (AP Photos)

The General who has widely been credited with the success of the surge in Iraq and who became CENTCOM chief earlier Friday asked the White House whether he could visit Syria shortly before the strike against a target in Syria earlier this week.

According to ABC News, sources said that Petraeus believes diplomacy can be used to drive a wedge between Iran and Syria. Even though his idea to visit Damascus was rejected, he plans to “continue pushing the idea.”

“When the timing is right, we ought to go in there and have a good discussion with the Syrians,” said a Defense Department official close to Petraeus. “It’s a meaningful dialogue to have.”

The Bush administration opposes all negotiations with Syria, accusing the Syrians rightfully of supporting terrorist organizations. Washington believes that talking to Damascus will not only be useless, but may even be counterproductive.

However, Petraeus’ ideas seem to make more sense right now. We have seen in Iraq that diplomacy can work, especially when backed up by military force. Additionally, Syria is ruled by the Baath party, which is not rooted in extremist Islam but in Arab socialism. There is certainly room for the U.S. to drive a wedge between Damascus and Syria for the two are certainly not ideological allies.

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