The Syrian regime continues to secure more real estate, including Aleppo, as they propagate the perception of their victory. Despite his recent promises to establish “safe zones” for civilians caught in the fighting, President-elect Trump may have limited options at hand for Syria. Syria is a quagmire; everyone knows it. But that instability and chaos has begun to sort itself out—and not for the better. It’s gotten to the point where we see Russia and Turkey meeting offline. They’ve entered talks without the U.S. It’s a signal that the world order may be changing. But, more so, it’s a signal that stakeholders feel impatient with U.S. policy on the war in Syria.
What options remain for President-elect Trump? Syria will not be settled by any unilateral agreement or partition. The regime cannot quell the unrest that will undoubtedly follow their reestablishment. However, the regime seems to be the only player capable of governance. The U.N. can play a role for the better if we let them. The U.S. and Russia are the strongest military powers and can clear Syria of ISIS.
Some sort of combination effort from of all the stakeholders may be required for a final solution in Syria. It may require a UNSC resolution that informs the world the global community is finally going to attempt to clean up the mess. That mess won’t be contained—not by U.N. peacekeepers. But a combined effort aided by the U.N. Security Council Security Forces might be able to eradicate the ISIS virus from northeastern Syria. At this point in time, the U.S. cannot go it alone into Syria. The Syrian government becomes more legitimate by the day as they bring cities and large areas of Syria under their control. If they truly control Aleppo now, it’s only a matter of time before they move toward re-governance of that area. It may suffer from a constant resistance, but the regime holding the city is key to the battle for Syria. In addition, the regime’s taking of Aleppo puts the opposition that much farther from the country’s center of gravity in this conflict—Damascus.
Still, the world’s focus remains on ISIS. The fight to eliminate ISIS is organized, and whoever leads the charge will inform how the world order will develop moving into the future. Hopefully, our politicians and the president-elect are willing to accept the limited options on the table for a unilateral effort, because if we go into Syria—even to destroy ISIS—without coordination, Syrians may view that as an invasion. Their Russian backers would mirror that sentiment in the U.N.
Featured image courtesy of Al-Masdar News