Conclusion—Discrete Deal with Iran, Invest in Syria’s Outcome, Restore Regional Confidence, Enable Israeli-Palestinian Settlement
With congressional support, the president should seize the initiative and give his negotiators the requisite leverage to secure, as soon as practicable, a comprehensive but discrete nuclear-for-sanctions agreement with Iran. Isolating that issue will guard against policy paralysis in other areas deemed to be sensitive for Iran, and empower the Administration to go to work repairing its frayed standing in the Arab world.
The dismantlement of Syria’s chemical arsenal will be of little benefit if, thanks to US inaction, Hezbollah emerges strengthened and emboldened, Syria’s Kurds break away, and the Sunni majority embraces the only ‘help’ currently on offer—from radical Sunni religious extremists drawn to the sectarian fight from all over the region. What began as an idealistic ‘Arab spring’ moment is deteriorating into another potential Afghanistan, placing enormous new security and economic burdens on Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and, by extension, Israel. Rather thanletting extremists maintain the initiative, the President should challenge his national-security team to devise a whole-of-government strategy worthy of the name for Syria, one that does not place US forces on Syrian territory or pilots in Syrian airspace.
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