The Syrian civil war has drawn in actors and interested parties from the Middle East and beyond. In this podcast, Center for Global Policy senior fellow Kamran Bokhari and Middle East Institute senior fellow Charles Lister discuss the conflict, its implications and the Trump Administration’s likely approach to the war.
Turkey and Russia have come together to try to resolve the conflict, though each country is doing so out of its own interests, Lister says. Those two countries and their occasionally conflicting priorities have, in their way, shaped the course of the conflict. U.S. President Donald Trump’s theories on what to do in Syria are not yet clear. Though he has said he wants to reach out to the Russians on the issue, many of his advisers are against the idea. Lister says that working with Russia on a solution for Syria could have the unintended consequence of empowering Iran, which Washington has no desire to do.
The United States is, of course, interested in fighting ISIS, whose “caliphate” includes territory in Syria. Lister says that to fight ISIS, or any other terrorist organization, interested parties must create social, political and religious alternatives for the local populations. Lister points out that the Syrian opposition has had many successes in fighting ISIS. If the United States wants them to continue pushing back against the terrorist group, Washington must create those alternatives and provide protection to build the opposition’s trust and desire to work with the United States. That is one of dozens of challenges that Trump will face in the fight against ISIS.