David Schenker

David Schenker is a senior fellow in Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. From 2002 to 2006, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as country director for Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He is a member of the Board of Advisers of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Publications by David Schenker

Is Israel Facing War with Hizbullah and Syria?

In February, Syrian President Bashad Assad hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Damascus. Afterward, Hizbullah’s online magazine suggested that war with Israel was on the horizon. Damascus’ support for "resistance" was on full display at the Arab Summit in Libya in late March, where Assad urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to abandon U.S.-supported negotiations and “take up arms against Israel.” Read More »

Syria and Turkey: Walking Arm in Arm Down the Same Road?

Two factors have led to Turkey’s shift away from Israel and toward Syria. First, Turkey no longer needed Israeli assistance to pressure the Syrian government to change its policy of providing safe-haven to the terrorist Kurdish Worker’s Organization (PKK). Second, in the past seven years, once secular Turkish politics have undergone a profound Islamist transformation. Read More »

Syria and Hizbullah After the Lebanese Elections

The desire in Washington and Riyadh to repair damaged relations with Damascus is admirable, but should not come at the expense of Lebanon and the larger U.S. strategic goal of weakening Iranian influence in the Levant. While a diplomatic rapprochement with Syria might result in some marginal improvements in its behavior, this would likely have little impact on Syria’s thirty-year strategic relationship with Tehran. Read More »

The Obama Administration Reaches Out to Syria: Implications for Israel

In early March, two senior U.S. officials traveled to Damascus for the highest-level bilateral meeting in years, part of the new administration’s policy of “engagement.” Based on Syria’s track record, there is little reason to be optimistic that the Obama administration will succeed where others have failed. Damascus today remains a brutal dictatorship, which derives its regional influence almost exclusively through its support for terrorism in neighboring states. Read More »

Decoupling Syria from Iran: Constraints on U.S.-Syrian Rapprochement

While moving Syria into the Western camp would be a great accomplishment, it’s not clear that this development would necessarily constitute a long-term strategic setback for Iranian efforts to undermine U.S. policy in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, and Iraq. In the absence of Syria, Iran would still be capable of supporting Hizbullah, Hamas, and its Shiite allies in Iraq. Read More »

Syria: Between Negotiations with Israel and the Iranian Axis

When Israel announced on May 21, 2008, that it had officially resumed negotiations with Syria in Turkey, not surprisingly, the Assad regime merely pocketed this diplomatic gain, providing no sign that it had any intention to meet Israeli requirements. It does not make sense for Israel to be pushing ahead with negotiations now. Read More »

Syria’s Role in Regional Destabilization: An American View

In the aftermath of Israel’s air operation over Syria, Dr. Andrew Semmel, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy and Negotiations, warned that Syria might have a number of “secret suppliers” for a covert nuclear program. Syria is reported to have thousands of rockets with ranges of up to 56 miles positioned along Syria’s southern border with Israel. Read More »