by Janet Babin
The Syrian Embassy says the trip’s purpose is to tap into its growing IT market. And the high-tech firms on the trip — Dell, Cisco and others — would certainly benefit from doing business with Syria. Right now, they can’t because of U.S. sanctions.
Edward Djerejian, a former U.S. Ambassador to Syria now a director of the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, says the U.S. is betting IT could be a more effective diplomatic tool than sanctions. “There is a very burgeoning information generation in Syria,” he says, “especially in the universities, amongst the youth and young businessmen.”
But the high-tech mission is controversial, says Princeton professor Dan Kurtzer served as U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt. “There are some dangers in providing access to advance technology to a country that is producing weapons of mass destruction and still remains in a state of enmity with Israel,” he says.
Some human rights groups and Republican lawmakers oppose the trade mission.
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