Syria and the American elections
There are those who think this is an opportune time to act without being confronted by Washington
Although the US elections begin on Nov. 8, the elected president will not set foot in the White House before Jan. 20, when he or she performs the oath. During this relatively long period of time, the administration does not manage its work as usual, and the current president will be described as a lame duck. There are those who think this is an opportune time to act without being confronted by Washington.
The Syrian regime, fully supported by Russia and Iran, is expected to seize the opportunity to create a new reality on the ground so it becomes difficult for the next US president to change it. What we have recently seen in Syria is due to this vacuum, which has begun early.
Aid convoys have been attacked, and there has been horrifying destruction in Aleppo. Russian, Iranian and Syrian regime forces have done all this without sensing the least fear of the possibility of an international or regional reaction. Washington’s protests were not enough to be taken seriously by Moscow and Tehran.
This is why, during the next three months, countries that sympathize with the Syrian people face a dangerous challenge. They must not let the regime and Iran seize a single meter in Syria without paying a high price, and they must do so by supporting the rebels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran are working to impose their agendas on the next US president from now.
We hope the next US president will be more courageous in confronting Iranian and Russian encroachment than the current oneAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected, we do not know yet what his or her options will be vis-a-vis the world, particularly Syria, which represents a major regional conflict. However, letting the current hideous aggression against Aleppo last will lead to forcing the next US president to accept the new reality.
Aleppo is Syria’s biggest city and the closest to Turkey. If it falls, the governorate will fall, it will be easy for the regime to destroy the rest of Syria, and at least 1 million more refugees will head to Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.
We hope the next US president will be more courageous in confronting Iranian and Russian encroachment than the current one, not necessarily via a direct American military presence, but by letting other countries support the opposition militarily, logistically and diplomatically.
The coming weeks are important, as Washington will be preoccupied until a new president is elected and a government formed. No matter what happens in the world, Washington will not act unless something dangerous happens that directly affects its security and higher interests.
Iran and Russia know there is no US deterrence policy toward Syria, so American preoccupation with the elections will encourage them to commit more massacres and violate international law to break the resistance of the Syrian people, subjugate them by force, and change the regional balance of power.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 27, 2016.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed