President Barack Obama’s announcement on Wednesday to strike the Islamic State militant group in Syria overlooked the other side of Syria’s double-barreled threat: President Bashar Assad. In taking out the Islamic State, experts say, Obama’s U.S.-led coalition might help Assad make territorial gains.
“One of the many things the president didn’t answer is if we attack ISIS (Islamic State) what are we going to do with Assad,” said Kori Schake, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. Destroying the Islamic State “will make it easier for Assad to retake ground in Syria. The president needs to have a two-front war in Syria that destroys ISIL (Islamic State) and creates an alternate government,” Schake said.
Obama’s strategy to combat the Islamic State in Syria, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is two-pronged: arm the moderate rebels who are facing attacks from both the Assad regime and the Sunni militant group, and conduct an aerial campaign. And, while Obama called on Congress to approve further funding to train and arm the rebels, he emphasized the point that his strategy was in no way intended to help the Assad regime.