September 22, 2006
Syria's Delicate Balancing Act
BY Darren Foster
Syrian traffic police display their support for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in downtown Damascus.
No one puts to the test the Bush administration's post-9/11 "You're either with us or against us" foreign policy challenge quite like Syria. After a month of flaunting its support for Hezbollah, the Syrian regime turned around last week and foiled a terrorist plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Damascus.
It had me, and probably many young Arabs, asking, "What's it to be, Syria? Are you with the United States or against it?"
I had a chance to visit Syria last month to search for some answers.
With the war raging next door in Lebanon, there was a sense of quiet exhilaration on the streets of Damascus. Hezbollah was on parade -- their bright yellow flags hung in storefronts and car windows and around the necks of particularly devoted fans. The ancient streets of Bab Touma echoed with the sounds of "resistance songs" playing out of pirated-CD shops. I even saw some young boys having "Hassan Nasrallah," the name of Hezbollah's leader, drawn on their cheeks and foreheads at the face-painting booth of a children's party.