The situation that has escalated in the Middle East is very complicated for the United States. Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria, has been in the midst of a civil war since 2011. Many different organizations took up arms against Syria’s government after al-Assad violently tried to put down the rebellions. The Islamist Front and the Free Syrian Army are two major groups in the fight. From the East, coming out of the Iraqi War, is the Islamic State, which is ISIS/ISIL. ISIS controls over a third of Syria and controls major oil and gas productions, thus quickly becoming serious opposition. The Free Syrian Army are the moderates who are trying to break free from Syria’s oppressive government. ISIS is fighting against Syria and has also expanded into Iraq recently in 2014.
After a few be-headings, ISIS has made themselves known to the United States. Since then, the US has sent airstrikes to Northern Iraq where ISIS is mainly in control. This past week, President Obama dramatically expanded airstrikes to cover more of Iraq and to enter Syria.
This is where it becomes tricky.
The United States basically has declared war on ISIS. They are attacking in Iraq. The United States supports Iraq. Iran is also against ISIS. Iran, though, supports al-Assad and the Syrian government. So does Russia, and is even aiding Syria against the rebels. The United States does not support al-Assad and backs the rebels. The thing is that the major player in the Syrian Civil War is ISIL. The situation is fairly clear-cut in Iraq. US supports Iraq and wants to annihilate ISIS, the terrorists. But, in Syria, US wants to undermine al-Assad, but does not want ISIL coming to power. President Obama has sent airstrikes to attack ISIL in Syria this week and is now targeting the root of all evil. ISIS is based out of Syria, where their headquarters are, Raqqa, and where they are gaining more recruits by the hundreds.
President Obama, at the least should continue strategic airstrikes to destroy ISIS in Iraq. In Syria it will be a little more tricky. Obama said that the US will target all safe havens. But Syria is a total mess right now. The United States should leave Bashar al-Assad alone and target ISIL in Syria now, as they are doing. Syria and the US have been rumored to be working together after Secretary of State John Kerry sent a secret letter to Syria about the airstrikes. The US won’t target the Syrian government and Syria won’t attack the US Air-force in the region. More of a mess could ensue because Israel recently shot down a Syrian fighter jet over their skies. Nobody knows yet why it flew in their radar. US is pro-Israel, Syria, not so much.
The United States were allies with Russia during World War II and we can see it happen at a low scale situation now in Syria. Even though the US won’t arm and aid the Syrian government, attacking ISIL helps al-Assad out a lot. Siding with Iran and Russia behind a totalitarian government like Syria will be controversial but better for the US in the long-term.
If the United States defeats ISIL in Syria, the next step might be to go after Bashar al-Assad, like the US originally wanted to do. With that happening, a new Iraq situation will unfold and nobody wants that again. The Syrian government would be toppled and without leadership, and the US might lead the charge, as they did in Iraq a few years ago. The security of the United States is much better off with al-Assad in power now instead of possible terrorists. Even if the US contains and degrades ISIL, there is still a chance they can take power if we take out al-Assad. We all have seen this happen before, not just in Iraq; Islamist leadership come to power, like in Egypt.
Syria could be the next Iraq, don’t let it happen again.