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America Watches As Syria Crumbles

Author: Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
July 18, 2012
National Review


The Assad regime is coming apart. The defections of the last few weeks, which included a general who is the son of a former defense minister, are one sign. The spread of fighting into Damascus is another. Today, both the defense minister and the deputy chief of the army, Assaf Shawkat, who more significantly was Assad's brother-in-law and for many years a pillar of the regime, were killed in one of the regime's inner sanctums in Damascus.

So the regime will fall, and it may not take the six or twelve months that pessimists suggested. The opposition forces are doing better in July than in June, better in June than May, and so on — presumably in part because outside help is arriving in the forms of weapons, ammunition, and money.

How much credit does the United States get for this happy trend toward regime collapse? Very little or none. As Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Beirut, wrote this week, "In Syria, where the Americans have the capacity to politically cripple a principal regional rival, namely Iran, the Obama administration is still dependent on the goodwill of Russia and China, two countries that want to see American power reduced."

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