Barack Obama set the expectations during his presidential campaign, and now he gets to deal with the consequences.  Syria’s Bashar Assad, one of five leaders Obama declared ready to meet without preconditions, says he’ll be happy to meet with Obama, but only on those terms:

Syrian President Bashar Assad said in remarks broadcast Monday that he wants a dialogue with the United States but there should be no preconditions by the Obama administration.

Assad told Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV that the new American administration sent officials close to it to Damascus, Syria’s capital, to start such a dialogue. He did not name them but said they visited before President Barack Obama took office on Jan. 20.

Syrian-U.S. relations deteriorated sharply during the administration of former President George W. Bush, which accused Syria of allowing foreign fighters to cross its border into Iraq. Syria denied doing so, while saying it was impossible to control its long desert border with Iraq.

Washington also pulled its ambassador out of Syria after the 2005 assassination in Beirut of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Damascus was widely accused of being involved in the killing but has denied the accusation.

Obama tried to retract the statement during the July 2007 YouTube debate on several occasions, at one point declaring that “preparations” would be required, if not “preconditions”.  Assad shows no inclination to allowing Obama that out.  He won’t end his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, two of the worst terrorist networks in the region and both proxies for Assad’s Iranian bosses.  If Obama wants to talk with him, Obama has to accept the relationships with Hamas and Hezbollah.

Will Obama bite?  He may not have much choice.  First, Syria — unlike Iran — still has diplomatic relations with the US, although strained and below the ambassadorial level.  Second, Obama wants to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and having been schooled by Samantha Power and Robert Malley, won’t see Hamas (or Hezbollah) as the big problem.  The big problem, according to Power and Malley, are the yahouds.  Expect Obama to seek “change” by tacitly accepting the Iranian-Syrian terrorist axis of Hamas and Hezbollah in order to pursue a peace that none of the four actually want.