The Early Overture to Assad

The Bush Administration has explained its alliance with brutal Syrian dictator Hafez Assad as a move to bolster the Arab coalition against Iraq. But government sources have disclosed that the U.S. forged an opening to Syria more than nine months before the invasion of Kuwait. The quiet initiative began with a letter from President Bush delivered to Assad by special envoy Vernon Walters in 1989. The Administration then reached an understanding with the Syrians that Damascus would not obstruct U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israeli officials and Palestinians. In return, Walters pledged that Washington would tolerate Assad's strengthening of his influence over...

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