Facing Reality in Syria
This opinion essay by ISW’s Senior Intelligence Planner Jennifer Cafarella was first published by Fox News on January 29, 2018.
The Trump administration inherited a bad situation in Syria, but it has managed to make matters even worse. There is no better illustration of the problem than the fact that Turkey, a NATO ally, sought permission from NATO’s chief adversary, Russia, to attack America’s local partner in Syria despite U.S. pressure not to do so.
It's time to do more than try to manage this particular crisis. It's time to rethink the fundamental policies that got us here.
The Trump administration has good big ideas. It rightly seeks, for example, to pivot way from Obama’s single-minded focus on ISIS, and refusal to recognize the Iranian threat in Syria.
The Trump White House identifies Iran as a primary threat. It has verbally committed to the departure from power of Bashar al Assad. It claims to prioritize repairing relations with Turkey; seeks to destroy al Qaeda; and wants to refocus the U.S. on Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe.
These are the correct goals for which American policy should strive. In fact they are the minimum essential goals the U.S. must achieve to secure its vital national interests in the Middle East and as part of a global strategy.