If the Obama administration’s goal is to convince Alawites, Christians, Kurds and Shiites to unite against the Assad regime, it does not make sense to arm a Syrian opposition; these groups view it as the biggest threat to their future in a post-Assad Syria. Washington should instead encourage reconciliation between the factions, which is precisely what the administration did recently when Vice President Biden endorsed Syrian opposition leader Moaz Al-Khatib’s overture to Assad on negotiations. There are many obstacles precluding a successful agreement. But it is better to continue to try to hammer out those issues now, while all sides still have an incentive to compromise.
Ian Garner and Jeremy Presto are Research Associates at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies. Please note that the views expressed in this article do not represent the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the US Government.