Why the U.S. Prefers Assad to ISIS in Syria
By Aaron David Miller
15 Jan 2015
The news that the Obama administration supports Russian efforts to convene negotiations between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and opposition forces is a stunning reminder of where U.S. policy on Syria has devolved. As happened with the Russian chemical weapons proposal of 2012, Vladimir Putin is once again rescuing U.S. Syria policy from itself. The Moscow talks are not likely to succeed. But the announcement reflects a growing view in Washington that Mr. Assad, while a huge part of the problem, may also now be part of the solution. Washington will not abandon President Barack Obama’s “Assad must go” trope. But the administration clearly is moving to accept that Mr. Assad isn’t going anywhere. And here’s why.
As Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, wrote in 2013, getting rid of Mr. Assad is likely to produce “a major country at the heart of the Arab world in the hands of Al Qaeda.” The notion that there’s some Alawite general willing and able to replace Mr. Assad and pursue peace with the Sunni opposition is highly improbable. Should Mr. Assad depart the scene and the regime collapse, ISIS and other Islamists would benefit. Islamic State would take over its first major Arab capital, and recruitment would skyrocket. Alawites and other minorities would flee, further stressing neighboring Lebanon and Jordan, which are already burdened with refugees.
The Obama administration seems to have already voted with its feet on this issue. The president long avoided militarizing the U.S. role in Syria. Yet he chose to do so last year not in response to the Assad regime’s mass killings and atrocities but in response to ISIS crimes. Indeed, the administration has identified ISIS as an imminent terrorist threat, far more likely to strike U.S. interests than is Mr. Assad. Washington seems to be pursuing a counterterrorism strategy, not an approach designed to remove Mr. Assad and rebuild Syria. As much as our regional allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey want the U.S. to attack the Syrian regime, President Obama rightly understands that weakening Mr. Assad–let alone removing him without an alternative–would make an already bad situation much worse. More...
RT @whereshumanity1 #Syria Stop barrel bombs killing #children everyday @AustraliaUN @SenJohnMcCain pic.twitter.com/GnenydmKe2 //New Year 2015
— Anthony Carpenter (@Carpe177) January 20, 2015
While NATO focuses in ISIS, Assad remains, far and away, the biggest killer of civilians in Syria. ISIS doesn't have an air force and now Assad has two.
For the current Israeli perspective from Ara News:
Assad is the least harmful: Israeli official
15 Jan 2015
Beirut, Lebanon – The Former Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, Dan Halutz, said that the Western countries should strengthen the Syrian regime’s steadfastness in the face of its opponents, especially after the recent terrorist attacks in France.
Halutz’s statement came in a press interview on Wednesday morning with an official Hebrew radio.
“The Western countries should be more pragmatic and put their own interests and those of Israeli at the forefront of their priorities and seek reconciliation between the Syrian regime and the moderate opposition, rather than enabling radical Islamist groups to achieve victory against the regime,” Halutz added
Halutz argued if the Western countries allowed the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, “they would have committed the most egregious mistake”, adding that this has become recognized by many political elites in Europe and the United States. More...
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