As the Syrian civil war escalates, the United States and its allies must adjust to the likely reality of a protracted, multiyear conflict. Even President Bashar Assad’s eventual demise should not be taken for granted. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war is spinning out of control and beyond its borders with mounting human carnage, increased sectarian overtones, and direct interventions by Iran, Hezbollah, and Israel. These trends have encouraged a parallel process of opposition radicalization, with segments of Syrian militancy aided by inflows of foreign fighters and financial support. Regional stability and US interests are increasingly strained by the disintegration of Syria.
The United States and its allies should adopt an approach that acknowledges mitigation and containment are, while decidedly suboptimal, the best results that can be hoped for at this juncture.