What are the major foreign policy issues facing Syria today? As with all of our neighbors, the American decision to invade Iraq and overthrow a fellow Ba’athist regime in Iraq has presented a variety of new challenges. Contending with a pro-American regime in Iraq is something which we have had to understand since 2004 and this represents an important foreign policy challenge. Lebanon, a neighbor and Arab brotherly state, has recently asserted its independence in regional and domestic affairs and the result has been a lessening of Syrian influence in the region. The invasion of Iraq and the establishment of a pro-US government in that country has had a variety of regional ramifications. Finally, the constant belligerent relationship with Israel remains one of the most protracted foreign policy issues facing Syria today (Bloom, 2005; Zubaida, 2002).
As I see it, there are three major policy options for Syria in the short to long-term. The first relates to Lebanon and the dwindling influence of Syria in this country. While we continue to exert influence in Lebanon through a variety of proxy sources as well as through the Hezbollah Resistance Movement, Syria must maintain its regional supremacy through an active Lebanon policy which ensures that Lebanon remains pliant to the wishes of its Syrian neighbor and remains decidedly pro-Arab in its inclinations as opposed to pro-Western. This will be a challenge to maintain in a new 21st century in which national assertiveness is expressed in Beirut but we must continue to maintain a foothold in Lebanon in order to remain effective. Another important policy option encompasses our relationship with the United States and its aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East. American aggression in Israel is threatening to Syria but after years of isolation we may have little choice but to warm
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