The Decay of the Syrian Regime is Much Worse Than You Think

In a recent interview conducted by Aaron David Miller for Foreign Policy, Robert Malley, one of the president’s most trusted advisors on the Middle East, once again enumerated the competing priorities of U.S. Syria policy: the need to balance humanitarian concerns with the desire to “preserve state institutions” and avoid a power vacuum so that the country does not slide into total anarchy.

Over the past three years in particular, this line of argument has not only been a mainstay those supporting a carefully calibrated, limited U.S. Syria policy in line with the current administration but also by a number of commentators writing both implicitly and explicitly in defense of Damascus. In two revisionist articles published recently at War on the Rocks, an author writing under a pseudonym presents the Assad regime as ruthless, but at least secular, pluralistic and — most importantly — as the final bastion of civic, central authority in a tumultuous Middle East. Whereas the indefatigable Emile Hokayem already formulated an eloquent response regarding sectarian dynamics in the Levant, there is an equally important question raised in the piece warrants answering:

What’s really left of the Syrian central state?

h/t XB

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