We Need to Rethink Our Policy on Syria

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Syria’s ongoing civil war is both a humanitarian catastrophe and a major threat to U.S. national security interests at a time of great uncertainty and turmoil in the Middle East. The conflict continues with no end in sight; growing numbers of refugees are flowing into neighboring countries; and the instability within Syria threatens to spread throughout the region. The United States has sought Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power without the result of a failed state. More than two years into the conflict, however, the state is collapsing, the country is fragmenting, and Assad remains in power.

Given the negative evolution of the Syrian conflict, current U.S. policy is not sustainable and does not effectively advance U.S. regional interests and values, as witnessed in February when three senior American Progress staff—Michael Werz, Tom Perriello, and Winnie Stachelberg—took a weeklong trip to the region.

It is time for a change in policy. The United States needs to increase its assistance to the Syrian opposition with the goal of supporting an alternative opposition government that is better organized than at present.

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