The Syria Crisis Has Evolved into an International Power Struggle

The prospect of an accidental military confrontation with Russia and its allies have never been greater

Unfortunately, the American discourse over the relationship with Russia has been strongly affected by Russian meddling in the presidential campaign and the American bureaucracy’s historically deep suspicion of Moscow. The corollary has been clearly a shift toward adopting a hardline position towards Russia irrespective of a sober analysis of the fluid situation in Syria. The struggle for Syria has long crossed the boundaries of the country and has become a regional and international struggle to settle sectarian and geopolitical scores and subsequently shape a new regional order. Unless the United States introduces a significant number of ground troops and imposes its will in Syria, it will inescapably face multifaceted challenges more deadly than those United States faced during its occupation of Iraq. True, the leadership of the Assad regime needs to face an international reckoning; nevertheless, under these circumstances, neither Syrians nor Americans will find solace, safety or justice.

Robert G. Rabil is a professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of Embattled Neighbors: Syria, Israel and Lebanon; Syria, United States and the War on Terror in the Middle East; Religion, National Identity and Confessional Politics in Lebanon: The Challenge of Islamism; Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism; and most recently The Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon: The Double Tragedy of Refugees and Impacted Host Communities. He can be reached @robertgrabil.

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