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Syria – United States relations
Syria   United States
Map indicating location of Syria and USA
     Syria      United States

Syria – United States relations are bilateral relations between Syria and the United States.

U.S.–Syrian relations, severed in 1967, were resumed in June 1974, following the achievement of the Syrian-Israeli disengagement agreement. In 1990–91, Syria cooperated with the United States as a member of the multinational coalition of forces in the Gulf War. The U.S. and Syria also consulted closely on the Taif Accord, ending the civil war in Lebanon. In 1991, President Asad made a historic decision to accept then President Bush's invitation to attend a Middle East peace conference and to engage in subsequent bilateral negotiations with Israel. Syria's efforts to secure the release of Western hostages held in Lebanon and its lifting of restrictions on travel by Syrian Jews helped to further improve relations between Syria and the United States. There were several presidential summits; the last one occurred when then-President Bill Clinton met the late President Hafiz al-Asad in Geneva in March 2000. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States the Syrian Government began limited cooperation with U.S. in the war against terror.

Syria has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception in 1979. Because of its continuing support and safe haven for terrorist organizations, Syria is subject to legislatively mandated penalties, including export sanctions and ineligibility to receive most forms of U.S. aid or to purchase U.S. military equipment. In 1986, the U.S. withdrew its ambassador and imposed additional administrative sanctions on Syria in response to evidence of direct Syrian involvement in an attempt to blow up an Israeli airplane. A U.S. ambassador returned to Damascus in 1987, partially in response to positive Syrian actions against terrorism such as expelling the Abu Nidal Organization from Syria and helping free an American hostage earlier that year.

However, relations have deteriorated considerably since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Issues of U.S. concern include the Syrian Government's failure to prevent Syria from becoming a major transit point for foreign fighters entering Iraq, its refusal to deport from Syria former Saddam Hussein regime elements who are supporting the insurgency in Iraq, its ongoing interference in Lebanese affairs, its protection of the leadership of Palestinian rejectionist groups in Damascus, its deplorable human rights record, and its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. In May 2004, the Bush administration, pursuant to the provisions of the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, imposed sanctions on Syria which banned nearly all exports to Syria except food and medicine. In February 2005, in the wake of the Hariri assassination, the U.S. recalled its Ambassador to Washington.

On September 12, 2006 the U.S. Embassy was attacked by four armed assailants with guns, grenades and a car bomb (which failed to detonate). Syrian Security Forces successfully countered the attack, killing all four attackers. Two other Syrians killed during the attack were a government security guard and a passerby. The Syrian Government publicly stated that terrorists had carried out the attack. The U.S. Government has not received an official Syrian Government assessment of the motives or organization behind the attack, but security was upgraded at U.S. facilities. Both the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, and President Bashar Asad, however, blamed U.S. foreign policy in the region as contributing to the incident.

Principal U.S. Officials include:

  • Ambassador--vacant (on June 23, 2009, the U.S. State Department informed Syria that it would be sending an ambassador)[1]
  • Charge d'Affaires--Michael Corbin
  • Acting Deputy Chief of Mission—William Roebuck
  • Head of the Economic/Political Section—Todd Holmstrom
  • Head of the Consular Section—Patricia Fietz
  • Management Counselor—John Finnegan
  • Public Affairs Officer—Chris Eccel
  • Defense Attaché--Col. Norman Larson

See also

References

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[1]

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