The Unlikely Ally

One of the first heads of state Ronald Reagan cabled for assistance in the TWA hostage standoff was not a trusted ally of the U.S. but a frequent diplomatic adversary, Syrian President Hafez Assad. As a Soviet-armed Arab state sharing a tense 50-mile border with Israel, Syria rarely, if ever, sees eye to eye with Washington on Middle East policy. But the Administration was betting that in the current crisis U.S. interests converged in many ways with Assad's. By agreeing last week to act as the mediator in the release of 39 U.S. hostages from their Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim captors, Assad...

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