The Syrian Opposition

Joshua Landis

Joe Pace


For decades, U.S. policy toward Syria has been single-mindedly focused on Syria’s president, Hafiz al-Asad, from 1970 to 2000, followed by his son Bashar. Because they perceived the Syrian opposition to be too weak and anti-American, U.S. officials preferred to work with the Asad regime. Washington thus had no relations with the Syrian opposition until its invasion of Iraq in 2003. Even then, the Bush administration reached out only to Washington-based opponents of the Syrian regime. They were looking for a Syrian counterpart to Ahmad Chalabi, the pro-U.S. Iraqi opposition leader who helped build the case for invading Iraq.
Washington was not interested in engaging Islamists, whom it considered the only opposition with a demonstrated popular base in Syria. As for the secular opposition in Syria, U.S. embassy officials in Damascus considered them to “have a weak back bench,” without a popular constituency or connection to Syrian youth.2 Moreover, contact between opposition members and embassy officials could be dangerous for opponents of the regime and leave them open to accusations of treason. For these reasons, the difficult terrain of opposition figures within Syria remained terra incognita.

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: FeaturedStudies & ResearchesSyriaSyrian MB

Tags:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

Get Adobe Flash player