President Obama's Shift on Syria and Western Strategy

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Jonathan D. Halevi - The Syrian regime is far weaker than most observers think. Rebel forces are continuing to gain momentum in all districts. The regime's dire situation is manifested in its ever-increasing reliance on irregular and volunteer forces from Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon (Hizbullah). The Muslim Brotherhood is making a huge effort to establish an organizational infrastructure within Syria that will allow it to lead the opposition and take over after the overthrow of the Assad regime. It has placed its battalions within the Civilian Protection Committee under Free Syrian Army leadership, unlike the organizations affiliated with al-Qaeda, as the Brotherhood strives to take control from within the official groups. If the U.S. attacks, the rebels will not express any gratitude and will view it as an imperial force attempting to promote its own narrow interests in the region and assist Israel. If it fails to attack, it will stand accused of keeping silent in the face of genocide, in practice abetting the Assad regime. A limited military move has advantages. It will allow the Syrian regime to maneuver, yet will provide fresh impetus to the rebel forces to step up their military pressure without the need for foreign intervention. The true test for the U.S. will be in its ability to influence the outcome of the conflict so that a responsible leadership replaces the Assad regime, and prevents chaos and the takeover of chemical weapons stockpiles by terrorist organizations. Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi is a former advisor to the Policy Planning Division of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

2013-09-04 00:00:00

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