WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- Damascus was deeply insulted by a Washington decision to renew economic sanctions while U.S. diplomats pursued an engagement strategy, a scholar said.
U.S. President Barack Obama renewed diplomatic sanctions against Damascus in early May for its support of militant organizations in the region and other actions, following a visit by acting U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Daniel Shapiro, U.S. National Security Council senior director.
"The national emergency with respect to Syria remains in effect because Syria continued to not meet its international obligations," Feltman said. "We continue to have serious concerns about Syria's actions."
University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor Joshua Landis, author of the revered Syria Comment blog, described Syria as being "at the center" of Washington's Middle East policy, saying it lies at the crossroads of issues pertaining to Lebanon, Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Damascus reacted with outrage to the renewed sanctions, calling Washington's actions "foolish." In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Landis said the sanctions' renewal ran counter to Syrian hopes for engagement.
"They want the United States to stop treating Syria like a rogue state and start showing it respect," he said. "Give us some hope; don't just use the big stick."