Trump’s Syria conundrum

Kim Ghattas writes: President-elect Donald Trump’s position on the conflict in Syria has been a confusing assortment of positions, the latest of which – his call for a safe zone in Syria – seems informed by his most recent conversations with candidates he interviewed for the position of secretary of state.

But all of his statements carry within them an inherent conundrum, two contradictory perspectives that will be hard to reconcile in Syria: his stated desire to work with Russia, or at least please Vladimir Putin, and his expected efforts to contain Iran.
Beyond the question of whether Trump will try to rip up the nuclear deal there is also the issue of Iran’s ascendant power in the region.

Trump made no secret of his admiration for Russia’s president during the US presidential campaign, and his willingness to deal with Vladimir Putin.

But Trump’s appointments of Lt Gen Michael Flynn as national security advisor, James Mattis as secretary of defence and Mike Pompeo as CIA chief, form a trio that looks geared for a fight with Iran. Tehran has played a pivotal role in Syria to keep Bashar al-Assad in power and crush the rebels in Aleppo. [Continue reading…]

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