The United States’ policy in Syria has been, as James Jeffrey, the Special Representative for Syria Engagement, explained recently, focused on “one mission”: the destruction of the Islamic State (Daesh).
The US attempted to pursue this counter-terrorism mission in isolation from the politics of the broader Syrian war. This failed, as it was bound to do, and it has laid the ground for a series of sub-conflicts, another of which might be about to erupt.
When the Syrian uprising began in 2011, it consisted for six months solely of peaceful street protests. These demonstrators were mown down by Bashar al Assad’s dictatorship, supported at all stages by Russia and Iran. The Iranians even involved themselves on the ground.
In August 2011, with hundreds of people already dead, President Barack Obama said: “The time has come for President Assad to step aside.” But instead of trying to implement this policy, Obama spent the next five-and-a-half years backing away from his declaration.
When David Samuels profiled Ben Rhodes, Obama’s spin doctor, he noted that “Iraq is his one-word answer to any and all criticism” about the administration’s foreign policy, which was in nearly all theatres resolved only to be irresolute.
Later, the Obama administration became entranced by “realignment” with Iran. Both factors left the Syrians—and the neighbouring states—alone to face the fallout of the regime’s genocidal rampage and the growing power of the Iran-Russia axis.
Read the rest at TRT