The US Strategy In Syria

The United States has a great stake in Syria due to its geopo­lit­i­cal and strate­gic inter­est. It is very crit­i­cal for any politi­cian or activist to under­stand the inter­ests and strate­gies employed by the world pow­ers in a spe­cific polit­i­cal scene. In the pre­vi­ous post, we have shed some light on the geopo­lit­i­cal inter­ests of the US in Syria and now we will con­cen­trate on the strate­gies employed by the US to pre­serve its influ­ence in Syria due to this pop­u­lar upris­ing that has shook its agent regime.

Look­ing back­wards to the begin­ning of the upris­ing, the US has changed its pos­ture toward the rev­o­lu­tion three times, uti­liz­ing dif­fer­ent strate­gies due to changes on the Syr­ian polit­i­cal scene.

The first strat­egy, which was uti­lized from the begin­ning of the rev­o­lu­tion for lit­tle less than one year, can be termed as the “hands-off approach.” The US pol­icy mak­ers, like many skep­tics who knew the vicious­ness of the Syr­ian regime, had no doubt that the regime will be able to crush the masses and return them to their homes. The Syr­ian regime was very stern since the begin­ning, stat­ing that it is very dif­fer­ent from all of the other rev­o­lu­tions and Syria is not vul­ner­a­ble to pop­u­lar upris­ings. The US was con­vinced by the regime rhetoric and there­fore pro­vided it with the nec­es­sary polit­i­cal cover through the Arab Sum­mit and later on the UN res­o­lu­tions, which gave it lots of time to crack down upon the peo­ple. The regime was advised by the US to uti­lize what was termed as “smart killing”, which is the killing of less than 50 peo­ple a day, so as to not enrage the world pub­lic opin­ion against the crim­i­nal silence of the West­ern, so called Demo­c­ra­tic and Free, world.

The resilience and deter­mi­na­tion of the Mus­lims of Syria has flab­ber­gasted the whole world and sent shock waves through the pol­icy mak­ing cen­ters of the West­ern admin­is­tra­tions. That is when the US admin­is­tra­tion came run­ning with a dif­fer­ent strat­egy to save its agent regime in Dam­as­cus, its sec­ond strat­egy, which we can call the “Yemeni approach.” The US started through the Arab League and later on through the spe­cial envoy from the UN, Kofi Annan, to pro­mote the “polit­i­cal tran­si­tion” in sim­i­lar steps as Ali Abdal­lah Saleh has taken in Yemen to trans­fer his pow­ers to a so-called “oppo­si­tion” tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment. The deal was, in sum­mary, the step­ping down of Bashar al-Assad, secur­ing his exit from the coun­try and the appoint­ment of his vice pres­i­dent, Farouq al-Shar’a, as his suc­ces­sor to lead a tran­si­tional gov­ern­ment formed by giv­ing some seats in it to an approved set of Syr­ian oppo­si­tion fig­ures, mainly from the Turkish-based Syr­ian National Coun­cil (SNC).

Due to the hor­ren­dous blood­shed and sav­agery of the regime’s mili­tias on one hand and the aware­ness of the Syr­ian peo­ple on the other, such a mid­dle ground com­pro­mise that was set to pre­serve the whole regime, except for a face change, was tram­pled by the rebels. After 6-months of try­ing this Yemeni approach, the US had to change gears for a third time. The third strat­egy which hap­pens to be the cur­rent one employed by the US against the rev­o­lu­tion can be sum­ma­rized in the proverb, “if you can’t beat them, join them.” This “infil­tra­tion approach” is based on two pil­lars, the first is to get some of the loyal ele­ments from the regime to defect and join the oppo­si­tion to steer it away from their goals. The sec­ond pil­lar is to try to buy out some loy­al­ties from the cur­rent oppo­si­tion through money, weapons sup­ply, intim­i­da­tion, psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare, etc. The goal is to main­tain as much of the old regime as pos­si­ble while at the same time give the illu­sion of change to the masses to calm the streets and main­tain con­trol of the country.

We have seen lots of defec­tions from the top ech­e­lon of the regime that would be play­ing such a role, most notably the close friend of Bashar al-Assad, Brigadier Gen­eral Manaf Tlass, and the Syr­ian ambas­sador in Iraq, Nawaf al-Fares. There has been many news leaks about CIA oper­a­tives on the Turk­ish bor­ders with Syria and even inside Homs and Idlib try­ing to fil­ter out the FSA fac­tions so sup­port can be given to the appro­pri­ate ones. It is in the Syr­ian vital inter­est not to allow some of the doubt­ful char­ac­ters from the top of the regime, who are defect­ing now, from lead­ing the rev­o­lu­tion or have any role in influ­enc­ing the future of Syria. 


  1. Salaams, very good stuff, well writ­ten and con­cise. I think the role Qatar, Turkey as well as Saudi Ara­bia have played need to be exposed. I think another aspect that could be addresed I what the Mus­lims can and should do and high­light some of the essen­tial ele­ments of this

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