The Syrian Civil War is about to change. The Assad regime, along with Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, now have a large amount of the western and southern parts of the country under Assad’s control. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurds, both backed by the US, control most of the northern parts of the country. ISIS is retreating on all fronts and will be militarily defeated by 2018. The campaigns have largely remained separate in fighting and have mainly focused on defeating ISIS, with the defeat of which in the near future, both campaigns will have to meet, and when they inevitably do, US will have to decide what actions to take.
Of the options we have, withdrawing is the only sensible one. Regime change or pushing for reform are options that are no longer available to Washington. An independent Kurdish state will not occur because of the impending Assad victory. The US will also have chances to intervene in the future, but those temptations must be suppressed, as it would result in more harm than good for the US and the Syrian people. Even though I am one, neoconservative calls for regime change must be ignored, for it would result in a possible war with Russia or Iran. Libertarians and other neo-isolationist types will push for the US to completely withdraw and do nothing, these must also be ignored, as they would result in more suffering and no relief for the Syrian people. It would also allow for Iran and Russia to expand their influence more than they already are.
There are some options we have that could work if they were fixed. These options include ceasefire zones. Ceasefire zones are currently not working because of the Syrian government’s unwillingness to comply. However, since Russia is creating these zones, it could apply pressure on Assad to actually comply with them. The US should back Russian attempts at ceasefire zones to allow for businesses to reopen and a syrian economy to start developing. Russia will try to convince the West to give aid to the rebuilding Syrian government, but we must not give money to the regime. Since the Syrian government is extremely corrupt, all the money will flow to cronies.
So what should the US do and how can we help? The US can help by accepting Syrian refugees, after proper vetting, as well as supply drops to the country. This would allow many Syrians to escape the horrible situation they are in and the upcoming terrible situation, aka living under the Assad regime. The supply drops would help the civilians that could not leave Syria and would allow less to suffer from the conflict and Assad. By helping refugees, we can allow suffering people to pursue a good life in the United States. It would also rebuild US reputation at a time when it is low, thanks to the current and past administrations. The US will also need to take a stance against the regime and keep a watchful eye for possible human rights violations. Washington also needs to expand US influence in the region to combat the expanded Iranian and Russian influence.
While this solution is not the one I, nor many wanted, it is the lesser evil. The Syrian situation is truly a sad one that the US should have handled better back in 2011, but we cannot change the past. I will leave you with a quote from Robert S. Ford, the US ambassador to Syria from 2010 to 2014, that shows how sad the situation truly is, “Securing even minimal respect for human rights, democratic norms, or good
Submitted by Curt
governance in Syria is now impossible.”