Obama has nominated diplomat Robert S. Ford to be the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005. There were reports in the last few days that the nomination might not go through, but it has. Laura Rozen belives it was timed in part to add pressure on Iran to fall in line.
Several friends have told me that Syria has been hosting one delegation of American and European businessmen after another as Western banks scramble to get in on the bottom floor of the Syrian economy. The normalization of US – Syrian relations has been in the air for some time and the reform process in Syria is beginning to reach a critical mass. There remains much to be done in the way of reforming the legal infrastructure and, perhaps even more importantly, the judicial system, but capitalists are taking notice and no one wants to be left out while Syrian assets are undervalued.
Human rights issues continue to dog Syria. The president has shown little inclination to loosen security controls as a response to improving relations with the West and growing economic activity.