Obama’s options in Syria

Henri J. Barkey writes: Press reports suggest that President Obama has ordered a review of Syria strategy (though the White House is denying this). He has already made it clear that he does not favor direct U.S. intervention in Syria. While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has lost large swathes of territory to a rebellion that has so far cost the lives of 200,000 Syrians, he shows no signs of giving up. What is worse, the chaos in Syria and neighboring Iraq has given rise to a virulent jihadist movement in the form of the Islamic State (IS), which has conquered vast territory throughout the region.

The options such a review would produce are unlikely to change policy anytime soon. This is not only because there are no good ones out there that can transform the situation, but also because the Syrian crisis has become part of a larger global struggle with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s potential countermoves, especially in Ukraine, serve as a deterrent to American action in Syria.

Here are some of the options Obama’s advisers would likely present him. [Continue reading…]

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