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RELEASE: Preparing for Potential Responses and New Threats in the Wake of a Possible Strike in Syria

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Contact: Anne Shoup
Phone: 202.481.7146
Email: ashoup@americanprogress.org

Washington, D.C. – As the United States prepares for a possible military strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria in response to the Assad regime’s large-scale use of chemical weapons on its own people last week, the Center for American Progress released an analysis planning ahead for possible responses and new threats to security interests should the United States move forward. The reported elements of this proportionate response are designed to respond to the Assad regime’s chemical weapons violation and to avoid enmeshing the United States more deeply in Syria’s multisided conflict.

In response to the first reports of small-scale chemical weapons use in Syria last April, CAP advocated a multifaceted approach to guide a U.S. response. This response included three major components:

  • Demand an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on the Assad regime’s likely chemical weapons use to help validate the facts.
  • Engage NATO and regional partners in planning the U.S. response, which would aim to destroy “appropriate military targets, including delivery systems, logistics, and applicable command and control.”
  • Request that NATO and other allies begin planning for a major multinational refugee relief mission in Jordan.

These components should be undertaken prior to military action, which always carries both risk and uncertainty. As such, the United States and its partners should perform a risk assessment of possible reactions to a strike against the Assad regime and prepare for these possible contingencies. This risk assessment will neither be perfect nor predictive, given the uncertainties involved. Nonetheless, it is worth conducting some speculative analysis and contingency planning about some possible threats that the United States and its partners might face, however likely or not, in the wake of strikes.

Possible threats in the wake of strikes include:

  • Threats from terrorist networks with a regional reach
  • Worsening conflict in Syria
  • Additional chemical weapons attacks
  • Cross-border rockets and missiles
  • Increased numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons
  • Increased tensions and instability in the Persian Gulf

Together, these risks show the need for a multifaceted approach to guide the U.S. response. They are not reason for paralysis, but rather for robust preparation as the United States and its partners seek to hold the Assad regime accountable for its actions.

Read the full analysis: After a Possible Strike in Syria: Planning Ahead for Possible Responses and New Threats to U.S. Security Interests by Rudy deLeon, Brian Katulis, and Peter Juul

For more information, contact Anne Shoup at ashoup@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7146.

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