Is Syria Too Big to Fail?

(Foreign Policy) Aaron David Miller - Libya had few significant air defense systems and no friends. Syria presents a profoundly different situation. Syria is a country with a sophisticated air defense system, chemical and biological weapons, and a great many friends - including Iran and Hizbullah, which are capable of striking back. Marshaling support at the UN, mobilizing NATO, and getting buy-in from the Arab League in the way that made the Libya intervention possible are not in the cards. Some of America's closest friends, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, are also not at all sure that Syria without Assad would be better than with him. I could never quite understand my colleagues' fascination with the brutal Syrian regime. To me, Bashar al-Assad was a brutal dictator who wanted to be the Frank Sinatra of the Middle East - obsessed with doing things his own way to the point that he priced himself out of peace with Israel and a relationship with the U.S. Obama knows his options on Syria aren't great. He's being told that American leverage isn't great and that if he calls for Assad's head and the Syrian despot survives, he'll have lost access to a key player in the region. And after all, what could he do that would deter a regime in a fight for its life? Simply put, the Obama administration is worried about creating a worse situation if Assad falls.

2011-05-13 00:00:00

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