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Are we negotiating with Syria?

Austin Bay points out a very interesting piece from Reuters

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria is facing a violent campaign by Islamist militants and six border soldiers died in attacks launched from inside Iraq, a senior Syrian security official said on Thursday.

This is the first time Syria has publicly disclosed details of the fight against militants, which has intensified this year.

"We are conducting operations against terrorist cells and we have taken martyrs," Mohammad Mansoura, head of the Political Security branch of Syria's intelligence apparatus, told a closed door session of an international security conference on Iraq.

That has to be AQ, but dag. Have they decided that targeting the US is a little too painful? I can understand their wanting to attack a secular state it just seems a little bold. But they have never lacked for hitting above their weight class. Ok but what does this mean for us? If Syria has a shared enemy with us and is a secular state (tool of Iran) are they a friend, can we work with them?

Western diplomats have questioned whether Syria has softened its stance against militants as a way of countering U.S. pressure and showing that its secular system is the only guarantor of stability.

Mansoura said Syria was resolutely against the spread of militant Islamist influence in the region.

I can understand the whole against the spread of militant Islam thing that seems t be simple common sense and Damascus is a much more likely candidate for sharia than we will ever be. The question is how tight a hold does Teheran have on Assad; we know they just took him a satchel full of cash for his efforts. Aside from the loot there is not a lot of common ground, Arab v. Persian, secular v. 12th Imam Islam so an alliance between Iran and Syria doesn't start on very strong ground.

So if our goal is to strengthen security in Iraq and the region as a whole, then doesn't co-opting Syria's ties with Iran make perfect sense. I mean if we would just talk with them everything would be peachy but you know that Bush administration they never talk to anybody. Heck Condi Rice mostly just practices her piano and I heard she took up golf.

Officials from Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Britain and the United States ended closed talks aimed at coming up with security cooperation measures to help stop the violence in Iraq and attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces.

The conference concluded with a call to set up intelligence hotlines with Baghdad and take practical measures to stabilize Iraq, delegates said.

It's too bad that W never listens to the smarty pantses who tell him to do the very things he is obviously already involved in. The efforts discussed here are always ongoing but sadly for the insatiable beast that is our press are better left out of the limelight.

Now we can obviously write a bigger check than Mahmoud and the Mullahs so we have at least a shot at working Assad, but what do we want, and more importantly what can he or will he deliver? A border that is more than a rest stop for inbound jihadis would be a good start, then we can talk about quite a bit less mucking aboot in Lebanon, and maybe even Syrian peacekeeping troops under a UN flag.

All right I'm done, I couldn't even type that last bit without laughing. But keep in mind I have always said we should be at the table with all our enemies because we are better at so many more things that we should gain something from every interchange. This is another example of the changing dynamic due to early success with counter-insurgency. Viva le Surge!

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