As the civil war in Syria becomes more acute, the United States must reassess its strategy toward that key Middle Eastern state, in particular, its stance on the role that Saudi Arabia has been playing in the Syrian conflict. Continued Saudi influence in Syria will only further destabilize the situation on the ground, undermine U.S. interests in the region and dim the prospects for a future democratic Syria.
In the wake of the Bush administration’s interventions in Afghanistan and, more disastrously, in Iraq, the Obama administration has been circumspect in its involvement in the Middle East. It has lent rhetorical support to the Arab Spring, while calibrating its policies to circumstances on the ground and U.S. interests. It has properly been reticent to add a third armed conflict in the Muslim world to the U.S. agenda. The administration acted militarily in Libya only with a mandate from both the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League, and then allowed others, notably France, to do the heavy lifting. This approach has been criticized as “leading from behind,” but it reflects a proper understanding of the limits of U.S. power and influence in the region. ...
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