In Syria, America Loses If Either Side Wins

(New York Times) Edward N. Luttwak - It would be disastrous if President Assad's regime were to emerge victorious after fully suppressing the rebellion. Iranian money, weapons and operatives and Hizbullah troops have become key factors in the fighting, and Assad's triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hizbullah, posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel. But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the U.S. and for many of its allies because extremist groups, some identified with al-Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria. If the jihadis were to triumph in Syria, Israel could not expect tranquility on its northern border. The war is now being waged by petty warlords and dangerous extremists of every sort: Taliban-style Salafist fanatics who beat and kill even devout Sunnis because they fail to ape their alien ways, Sunni extremists who have been murdering innocent Alawites and Christians merely because of their religion, and jihadis from Iraq and all over the world. There is only one outcome that the U.S. can possibly favor: an indefinite draw. By tying down Assad's army and its Iranian and Hizbullah allies in a war against al-Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington's enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America's allies. The writer is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

2013-08-26 00:00:00

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