20 Syrians were killed in a failed missile test aided by Iran, and North Korea in May, Japan’s Kyodo News reports. The launch was an attempt to test a new short-range ballistic Scud missile, jointly developed by the three countries.
The news is a setback for the Obama Administration, which had hoped that Damascus would end its close ties with Tehran. Since January, American envoy George Mitchell has been tasked with wooing Syria. Last month, he traveled to Damascus, where he held consultations with Syrian President Assad that he called “very candid and positive.”
The missile test report raises questions about Washington’s strategy. Indeed, Syria expert Tony Badran believes Damascus is incapable of divorcing itself from Tehran. Badran’s analysis appears in the spring ’09 edition of inFocus.