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World > Middle East > Syria > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Syria - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S.-SYRIAN RELATIONS
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 Bushs invitation to attend a Middle East peace conference and to engage in subsequent bilateral negotiations with Israel. Syrias 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 Clinton met the late President Hafiz al-Asad in Geneva in March 2000. In the aftermath of September 11th 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 lists 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 since the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri have considerably deteriorated. Issues of U.S. concern include the Syrian Governments failure to prevent Syria from becoming a major transit point for foreign fighters entering Iraq, its refusal to deport from Syria former Saddam 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 Mushtapha, and President Bashar Asad, however, blamed U.S. foreign policy in the region as contributing to the incident.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--vacant
Charge dAffaires--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

The U.S. Embassy is located at Abu Roumaneh, Al-Mansur St. No. 2; P.O. Box 29; Tel. (963)(11) 3391-4444, 3391-3333 (after hours); Public Affairs Section Tel: 3391-4162; FAX (963)(11) 3391-3999. More information about embassy hours of operation, and consular and American citizen services can be obtained at the embassys website: http://damascus.usembassy.gov/


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Facts at a Glance
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People
Government
Economy
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Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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