What Is the U.S. Doing in Syria?

March 4 2016

According to Tony Badran, Washington has been pressuring the rebel forces fighting Bashar al-Assad to give in, and pressuring the Sunni states to reduce their backing of these forces. The effect of this administration policy is to aid the Russian military campaign:

From the administration’s standpoint, “there is no military solution” to the Syrian war—meaning, the U.S. president does not support a rebel victory. Instead, the rebels need to de-escalate the conflict and begin a political process that will ostensibly lead to a “political solution.” The administration’s language was not very subtle code for: whether you like it or not, you are going to stop military operations against Assad, and cut a deal with him. . . .

[Secretary of State John] Kerry’s rhetoric [about the importance of finding a diplomatic resolution to the civil war], therefore, was cover for deliberately dragging the rebels into a set-up, and then leaving them out in the cold to be brutalized by Vladimir Putin—with the only possible escape route being to join a government with Assad and stop demanding his ouster. Or, to put it in even more concrete terms, the administration is leveraging Putin’s brutal military campaign to extract political concessions from the opposition that are tantamount to surrender. And if they don’t hurry and sign that surrender now, as Kerry reportedly told them, the Russian bombing is just going to get worse, and in three months they’ll be decimated. . . .

Aside from perpetuating the horrific slaughter of the Syrian people and overseeing a population displacement on a massive scale, one likely result of this policy will be the complete collapse not only of traditional U.S. alliances in the Middle East but also of post-World War II security structures elsewhere. The United States is now partnering with Russia to line NATO’s southern border with a consortium of terrorist militias protected by Russian air power and armed with advanced weapons. The message is hard to miss: the old American security treaties, like NATO, that were once the cornerstone of global security arrangements, are barely worth the paper they are printed on.

Read more at Tablet

More about: John Kerry, NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy


Syria’s Druze Uprising, and What It Means for the Region

When the Arab Spring came to Syria in 2011, the Druze for the most part remained loyal to the regime—which has generally depended on the support of religious minorities such as the Druze and thus afforded them a modicum of protection. But in the past several weeks that has changed, with sustained anti-government protests in the Druze-dominated southwestern province of Suwayda. Ehud Yaari evaluates the implications of this shift:

The disillusionment of the Druze with Bashar al-Assad, their suspicion of militias backed by Iran and Hizballah on the outskirts of their region, and growing economic hardships are fanning the flames of revolt. In Syrian Druze circles, there is now open discussion of “self-rule,” for example replacing government offices and services with local Druze alternative bodies.

Is there a politically acceptable way to assist the Druze and prevent the regime from the violent reoccupation of Jebel al-Druze, [as they call the area in which they live]? The answer is yes. It would require Jordan to open a short humanitarian corridor through the village of al-Anat, the southernmost point of the Druze community, less than three kilometers from the Syrian-Jordanian border.

Setting up a corridor to the Druze would require a broad consensus among Western and Gulf Arab states, which have currently suspended the process of normalization with Assad. . . . The cost of such an operation would not be high compared to the humanitarian corridors currently operating in northern Syria. It could be developed in stages, and perhaps ultimately include, if necessary, providing the Druze with weapons to defend their territory. A quick reminder: during the Islamic State attack on Suwayda province in 2018, the Druze demonstrated an ability to assemble close to 50,000 militia men almost overnight.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Druze, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy