Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has spent much of the past eight years running afoul of many U.S. policy interests, is now sounding more confident.
David Ignatius, columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, recently interviewed Assad and says the Syrian leader has survived a U.S. pressure campaign.
Ignatius says that over the past two years, Assad has been negotiating indirectly with Israel through Turkey.
"The Israelis I talk to take this seriously, and the Turkish intermediaries think they are very close to having all the basics in line," Ignatius tells NPR's Robert Siegel.
He says Assad wants the U.S. to join the process as a co-sponsor, noting that if that happens, the Syrian leader will be ready for direct talks with Israel.
Ignatius says Assad doesn't know much about President-elect Barack Obama, but — like other regional leaders, he is struck by the changes that may be coming with the new administration.