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Syria as a Proxy Arena for the Obama Administration’s Campaign Against the Islamic Republic of Iran
Yesterday, Flynt appeared on Al Jazeera’s Inside Story to discuss Syria, regional politics, and U.S. policy in the wake of Kofi Annan’s resignation as the UN/Arab League special envoy for Syria. Click here to view the segment or on the video above. Flynt argues that possibilities for achieving a political resolution to what has become a civil war in Syria have been undermined not by Russia, China, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s intransigence, but, first and foremost, by the United States. Washington has been supporting Syrian oppositionists for years; from the outbreak of unrest in Syria in 2011, the Obama Administration has focused not on what might actually benefit Syrians but on the prospect of regime change in Damascus as a way of weakening Iran.
In particular, Annan and his staff understood, from the beginning of their mission, that there needed to be a contact group for Syria, encompassing all the relevant regional and international players. By definition, such an initiative needed to engage the Islamic Republic. But the Obama Administration torpedoed the possibility of Iranian involvement, undercutting the viability of Annan’s contact group idea from the outset. And, of course, the United States has been working with other countries—e.g., Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia—to fund, equip, and arm the Syrian opposition. In effect, Washington is fueling one side in Syria’s civil war—which could only be damaging to Annan’s efforts. It is surely more than coincidence that Annan announced his resignation the day after Obama Administration officials back-grounded the media that President Obama signed a covert action finding authorizing CIA support to Syrian rebels.
Flynt also criticizes Annan directly: while the former Secretary-General verbally advocated a comprehensive and inclusive political process to mediate Syria’s internal conflict, including all relevant Syrian, regional and international players, as the only way to address the problem, he bought into the argument that Assad’s departure had to be stipulated at the outset. This meant that there could not be a serious political process.
The situation in Syria can only become more dangerous—for Syrians, for others in the region, and for America’s real long-term interests—as the United States persists in supporting the sectarianization of Syria’s internal conflict. And Washington is doing this as part of a broader strategy to play a Sunni “card” against the Islamic Republic and its allies.
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett