The Edmond Sun

Opinion

November 7, 2006

Will Syria change its tune?

EDMOND — In recent days, there has been discussion of the possibility of an American overture toward Syria as a way of bringing some form of stability to Iraq and the Middle East. A panel led by former Secretary of State and Bush family friend James Baker has been studying Iraq, and it is widely believed a report will be issued soon that will recommend the White House consider that option.

A recent article in the influential Council of Foreign Affairs publication by Richard Haass suggested the United States reach out to Syria as a way to lessen the influence of Iran in the region. While Syria currently has a close relation with Iran, Haass, who serves as president of the council, argues the United States could make Syria an ally of the West if it made a serious effort to do so. Sen. Hillary Clinton also has proposed such talks as a way to begin a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, and it has been reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair has sent a high-level emissary to the Syrian capital of Damascus recently.

One of the most knowledgeable people regarding Syria is Professor Joshua Landis of the University of Oklahoma, who serves as co-director of the Center For Peace Studies at that university.

Landis explains he developed his fluency in the difficult language of Arabic at an early age since his father, who was a banker, took his family to Beirut, Lebanon, and later Saudi Arabia. He also speaks French and Turkish. He received his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College, his master’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from Princeton University in Middle Eastern studies.

Prior to beginning his advanced academic work, Landis taught in Beirut and also studied at the University of Damascus in Syria as a Fulbright Scholar, the American University in Cairo and at Bosporus University in Istanbul. Earlier this year, Landis reports he returned to the Norman campus after spending two semesters in Damascus as a Fulbright Senior Research Fellow.

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Opinion
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Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results