Henry Jackson Society| Analysis: ‘Assad’s Crimes Against Humanity and Trump’s Options in Syria’
by Kyle Orton
"Perhaps the Trump administration will realize the contradiction in trying to partner with Russia and degrade Iran in Syria. Perhaps the futility of relying on Russia as a counterterrorism partner will become obvious. Perhaps the incapacity of the Assad regime, even to hold a politically significant town like Palmyra, and the regime’s record of consciously facilitating the rise of terrorists it now offers to fight if its crimes against humanity are ignored, will be brought to the President’s attention. Perhaps Trump can be brought to see that airstrikes in isolation cannot defeat al-Qaeda, which is embedding itself further into Syrian society every day, forming a dangerously durable base from which it can attack the West; that locally-accepted rebel forces will be needed to uproot al-Qaeda. Perhaps it will dawn on him that publicly partnering with the pro-Assad coalition, something repeatedly tried by his predecessor, will not only stain him and the United States morally but will vindicate and empower al-Qaeda, pushing rebels further into al-Qaeda’s camp in order to continue the anti-regime battle. Perhaps this Amnesty report will help him understand why those rebel forces regard Assad, not the jihadists who fought in the same trenches as the rebellion, as the main enemy, and will see that being a better partner to the rebels in their main struggle is the easiest way to pull them away from al-Qaeda. Or perhaps not. Doubtless time will tell."