On May 28, Syria was invited to attend a U.S.-sponsored seminar on
threats to the Horn of Africa, Middle East Newsline reported. The four-day seminar took place in Istanbul,
Turkey and discussions included security and regional instability in the
"The seminar included representatives from U.S. Africa Command, U.S.
Central Command, the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Africa Center
for Strategic Studies, and the countries of Burundi, Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya,
Oman, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey and Yemen," a statement by
U.S. Africa Command said on June 2.
In all, more than 80 representatives from Africa, the Middle East, and
the United States attended the Horn of Africa seminar. The seminar was
conducted by several institutes, including the Near
East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, Africa Center for Strategic
Studies, the Cairo Center for Training on Conflict Resolution and
Peacekeeping in Africa and the Regional Defense Combating Terrorism
The seminar was addressed by a senior State Department official,
identified as Reuben Brigety, deputy assistant secretary of state for the
Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. It was not known whether
Brigety met the Syrian delegation.
Over the last month, the United States imposed two sets of sanctions
on the Assad regime amid its crackdown that killed a reported 1,200
civilians. The sanctions focused on freezing assets and preventing business
dealings between Americans and regime leaders.
On June 2, Africom was asked whether it was restricted from dealing with
the Assad regime. The military command did not provide an immediate reply.
Administration officials, however, acknowledged that U.S. and
international pressure on Assad has been limited. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton has insisted that Assad could remain in power.
"The legitimacy that is necessary for anyone to expect change to occur
under this current government is, if not gone, nearly run out," Clinton told
a news conference on June 2. "If he's not going to lead the reform, he needs
to get out of the way. Where he goes, that's up to him."