In testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Robert Satloff, executive director of the non-partisan Washington Institute for Near East Policy, urged that the United States not lead from behind but rather to strongly lead the international community in taking specific steps to weaken the Assad regime as part of a two-pronged approach to overthrow both Assad and the Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While the entire testimony rewards the reading of it, the major underlying premise is this:
“…at stake is more than the survival of a regime [the Assad regime] that has been a consistent source of tension, threat, and challenge to U.S. interests on numerous fronts for nearly all of the Assad family’s decades of control—though that too is a key aspect of U.S. concern for the fate of the country. Rather, at stake is the opportunity to strike a painful, perhaps decisive blow to the axis of anti-peace, anti-Western, anti-American regimes that is headquartered in Tehran, runs through Damascus, then on to Beirut and Gaza, and has aspirations to extend its reach to Baghdad, the Gulf, and beyond. [Emphasis added]
“Syria is the weak link in this axis. Ethnically, religiously, and ideologically, its secular Alawite Baathist leadership is the outlier in an otherwise Shiite-led, radical Islamist coalition. Despite the odd pairing of Baathist Syria and Islamist Iran, the Damascus-Tehran connection has proven to be the most resilient and enduring political alliance in the modern Middle East. Breaking that alliance, and thereby severing a critical link in the Tehran-to-Beirut-to-Gaza chain that is vying with America and its friends and allies for regional influence and domination, would be a strategic achievement of immense proportions.”
Rather than blather on in generalities, as is the norm among politicians from town aldermen to the current Commander-in-Chief, Satloff’s careful analysis includes precise recommendations for exactly what the United States can do in a peaceful but concerted effort to weaken and ultimately destroy these two grotesque and existentially dangerous regimes. Highly recommended reading—especially for the President and his coterie of advisers, as well as for all Americans concerned with the Middle East and the West Coast—and all points in between.