ICYMI – FPI and FDD Outline U.S. Policy Options To Assist the Anti-Regime Syrian Opposition

January 4, 2012

January 4, 2012

Media Contact:
Elise Stefanik, 202-296-3322 or estefanik@foreignpolicyi.org

ICYMI – FPI and FDD Outline U.S. Policy Options To Assist the Anti-Regime Syrian Opposition

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  In December 2011, fifty-eight former U.S. government officials, foreign policy experts, and Syrian dissidents signed an open letter organized by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) urging President Obama to act more assertively to halt the Assad regime’s continuing atrocities against Syrian civilians.  And in November 2011, FPI and FDD jointly released Towards a Post-Assad Syria, a discussion paper outlining policy options for the United States and like-minded nations to further assist the anti-regime Syrian opposition.

Recent events have only made these FPI and FDD-led efforts more relevant.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that over 5,000 Syrian civilians have been killed, and 14,000 more detained, since the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on protestors began in March 2011.  To date, however, the international community has been unable to muster a collective response.

The Arab League recently sent observers into Syria, but President Bashar al-Assad’s war on the Syrian people has continued unabated.  This should come as little surprise, given that the Arab League’s observer mission is being led by General Mohammad Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi—a booster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, whom the international community has accused of perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

With the threat of civil war looming now over Syria, the United States has a moral obligation to work with like-minded nations to stop the escalating humanitarian crisis.  But it also has a powerful strategic interest in seeing not only the collapse of the Assad regime, but also the emergence of a post-Assad Syria with a moderate, representative government that respects human rights, upholds the rule of law, promotes stability in the Middle East, and dramatically weakens the region’s Iranian-led anti-American bloc. 

It is high time for the United States to act.  The December 2011 open letter calls on the President to impose crippling multilateral sanctions on the Assad regime; form a contact group of like-minded international partners to further pressure President Assad to step down; establish direct contact with the Syrian National Council and other anti-regime Syrian groups; and work with Turkey and other regional partners to establish safe havens for Syrian civilians and no-go zones for the Assad regime’s security forces.  And in Towards a Post-Assad Syria, FPI and FDD examines in greater detail these and other U.S. policy options, including the use of limited retaliatory airstrikes against select Syrian military targets.

In addition, FPI believe that these recent op-eds and blog posts may be useful for policymakers in formulating a more assertive U.S. response to the situation in Syria.

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The Foreign Policy Initiative seeks to promote an active U.S. foreign policy committed to robust support for democratic allies, human rights, a strong American military equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and strengthening America’s global economic competitiveness.
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