Bashar Asad sought closer relations with the West but the U.S. was planning to remove him as early as 2006, eventually leading to war in Syria, says As’ad AbuKhalil in the second & last part of this Consortium News commentary.
You can read part one here.
By As`ad AbuKhalil Special to Consortium News
Bashar Al-Asad did not intend to declare enmity with the U.S. when he took over from his father in 2000. On the contrary, he was keen on impressing Western leaders and governments, and incorporated many of the Western-promoted economic “reforms” ( a mere code word for neo-liberal policies which dismantle state social programs, end subsidies to the poor, and initiate privatization plans which benefit MNCs).
Bashar also continued a previous regime policy of security-intelligence cooperation with the U.S., especially since Syrian intelligence kept comprehensive files on Islamists after their past anti-regime activities (with the support of the Jordanian government by the admission of King Husayn in December 1985). Bashar was keen on pleasing Western powers perhaps in the hopes of obtaining Western investment and political pressure on Israel over the occupied Golan Heights.
Hoping most likely to ingratiate himself with Western powers, Bashar accepted the Saudi peace plan ( or so-called “Arab Peace Plan,” the name which came to then Crown Prince Abdullah bin `Abdul-`Aziz’s mind upon meeting New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman). Bashar not only gave the Syrian regime’s approval, but pressured the Lebanese to approve the plan as well, despite the misgivings of then President Emile Lahoud. The plan was later officially adopted (on behalf of the Arab people) in the Beirut Arab League summit in 2002.
September 11 had hit shortly after Bashar’s ascension to the presidency. A list of U.S. demands was then handed to him by then Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Americans were unhappy with Syrian violations of the cruel, U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iraq, as well as the Syrian regime’s support for Hamas and Hizbullah. At the behest of Israel, the U.S. kept demanding that Hamas be expelled from Syrian territory.
The crisis in U.S.-Syrian…