If we are on the brink of a collision between two NATO powers in Syria, the cause can be traced back to U.S. policy decisions. Having decreed in 2011 that Syrian President Bashar Assad must go, President Barack Obama was, first, paralysed by the spectre of Iraq from doing anything to implement this policy, and subsequently reversed course entirely as part of his diplomacy with Iran. This left Turkey, which had acted on Obama’s words and provided support to the anti-Assad rebellion, facing the crisis alone.
Obama was forced to intervene against ISIS in August 2014 after it began marching toward Iraqi Kurdistan, a zone regarded, by consensus in the United States, as one of the few successes of the Iraq war. The genocide against the Yazidis and the murder of Western captives intensified the political pressure to combat ISIS. The next month the intervention was, logically, extended to Syria, since ISIS held territory on both sides of a border.
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