Unannounced to the general public, two U.S. officials met with Syrian government officials in Damascus last summer. They risked entering the hostile area for a high-stakes meeting concerning American hostages who they believe are being held somewhere within the country. One of the supposed hostages, journalist Austin Tice, if still alive, is likely to have been in Syrian custody for eight years.
The meeting didn’t go so well. In exchange for the hostages, Syria’s demands were outrageous. They demanded that all sanctions against them be removed, that all U.S. troops be immediately withdrawn, and that normal diplomatic ties between them and the U.S. be fully restored. Without these demands first being met, they would offer only limited information about the fate of the hostages, including where they were being held.
Kash Patel, a senior White House aid who was one of the two at the meeting, said, “Success would have been bringing the Americans home and we never got there.”
Just this past October, the White House, saying very little about what transpired at the meeting, at least finally acknowledged that it took place. But new details are emerging as the result of the Associated Press interviewing a few people with knowledge of how things went down. Because of the situation’s ongoing sensitivity, they would only speak under the condition of anonymity.
As a precursor to the meeting, the Trump administration attempted a show of goodwill. Through efforts with a U.S. ally, cancer treatments, not available in Syria, were offered for President Bashar Assad’s sick wife. Considering how he was already gonna be stuck providing for 72 new virgin wives when he dies, Assad declined the generous offer.
The Trump administration stayed actively involved with secretive efforts for the release of hostages being held worldwide, regardless of their statuses or who they were. They were successful at times but they also met lots of dead ends. But. They at least tried.
It remains foggy concerning Joe Biden’s hostage stance. Thus far he hasn’t shown much interest in Tice or any other American citizens being held by hostile nations. One thing is for certain though. Biden will not allow the demands of any nation to interfere with White House policies, whatever they may be, even if it means slightly bending a rule or two to save a life. He would just as soon let them rot in prison. No skin off of his wrinkled a**.
The Damascus meeting was the highest level of diplomacy between the U.S. and Syria for many years, and it still baffles many how Trump was able to pull it off. This is particularly impressive since the Syrian government has never admitted to even holding Tice.
Even though the meeting yielded no success, it was nonetheless promising. Trump made the return of hostages one of his top priorities. He even offered the withdrawal of U.S. troops as a bargaining chip though unbeknown to the Syrian’s he intended to do this anyway. This of course this wasn’t good enough for Syria, but it did open up a previously closed line of communication with Assad.
A few months following the Damascus talks, Trump had a note delivered to Tice’s parents just to let them know that he would never stop trying for their son’s release. But as of Jan 20 of this year, it’s no longer Trump’s ball game so Tice’s fate remains in question.
Biden vowed to continue vying for hostage releases as a top priority, but as far as Tice goes, he’s kind of blowing the whole deal. His calling out Syria for human rights violations hasn’t done anyone any favors by setting the previous dialogue back to square one and causing the Assad regime to once again close up tighter than a clamshell.
Will Biden come to his senses and realize how much easier it is to catch flies with honey? You tell us.