Tuesday, July 12, 2011

U.S. Policy on Syria Changes For the Better, Sort Of

By Barry Rubin

It took 2.5 years, months of massive revolutionary upheaval, and a violent attack on the embassy in Damascus but U.S. policy toward Syria is finally changing. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked:“President [Bashar al-] Assad is not indispensable and we have absolutely nothing invested in him remaining in power….”Our goal is to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation occurs.”

Hooray! Hooray! Oops! For despite this major step forward, the Obama Administration can’t stop itself from setting up a new potential disaster. For how are they going about this regime transition effort? Why, with Syria’s neighbor, Turkey. The regime thinks it can create a sphere of influence for itself in Syria. In other words, Turkish interests (as defined by the regime) and American interests in Syria are diametrically opposed! Obama is relying on a mediator who will support an Islamist state in Syria or at least one dominated by Islamist forces.

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