Good News (For A Change)

Daniel Drezner finds evidence that a US presence in Iraq is already causing Syria to pay attention.

With tens of thousands of U.S. troops positioned just to the east and U.S. officials warning Syria it could be the next object of American ire, Syrians acknowledge they are feeling vulnerable. These regional developments — nothing less than an "earthquake," according to Khalaf M. Jarad, editor of the state-run Tishrin newspaper — have prompted Syria to alter its foreign policy to accommodate U.S. demands, while rethinking its domestic affairs.

"When your neighbor shaves, you start to wet your cheeks,” said Nabil Jabi, a political strategist in Damascus, citing an Arabic proverb. “It means you must study the new situation in your neighborhood."

Some of the highlights of the changes include opening two private universities and four private radio stations, along with reforming the Syrian Ba’ath Party. These changes are things that will slowly move Syria towards a more open economy and society, and would not have happened without the impetus of a US presence in Iraq.

As Ralph Peter points out, we’re "destablizing" the Middle East in some ways, but "stability" in this region is undesirable at best. The status quo in the Middle East must change, and Iraq is only the beginning of that process.

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