The ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS held in Washington, DC was an important milestone on the path to the Trump team’s mission to fully defeat the would-be caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson opened the proceedings by unequivocally stating that the ISIS threat would be the first priority of the new administration, and that in achieving that overarching objective, the United States would be invested in securing the stability of areas conquered from ISIS. Tillerson correctly identified Syria as a priority for stabilization after ISIS.
The challenge for the Trump administration in Syria is that the United States could be a victim of its own success: by prosecuting the campaign against ISIS, the U.S. military is building out an American zone of control on the ground in a large area of eastern Syria. Unlike in Iraq, where Baghdad is a state actor that the U.S. military has chosen to work by, with and through to take the fight to ISIS, the United States refuses to formally work with Damascus. It will only deconflict military operations targeting ISIS and Al Qaeda that the Russian military occasionally carries out on behalf of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Under both Obama and Trump, the United States has operated under the assumption that Syria is a geographic space, not a functioning state with sovereignty over all of its territory, and for all intents and purposes cutting al-Assad out of the process.
Read the full article at The National Interest.
More from CNAS
CommentaryOn Iran, the Next Administration Must Break With the Past
The United States can address its discord with Iran and calibrate a smart and clear-eyed policy for the Middle East....
By Elisa Catalano Ewers, Ilan Goldenberg & Kaleigh Thomas
PodcastEpisode 118 | A Historic Day in Washington
Following the formal ceremony marking the normalisation of relations between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain at the White House, Richard Pater speaks to Ilan Goldenberg, the Direc...
By Ilan Goldenberg
PodcastLooking Back At 9/11, Nineteen Years Later
Today, we reflect back on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, 19 years ago. Nearly 3000 people died when hijacked passenger jets slammed into the World Trade Center and ...
By Ilan Goldenberg
ReportsToward a More Proliferated World?
U.S. policy must adapt unless Washington wants to be faced with a more proliferated world in the future....
By Eric Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon & Kaleigh Thomas