‘Experts’ Demand That U.S. Actively Oppose Arab Countries’ Normalization of Relations with Syria
March 28, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Forty so-called Syria “experts” and former government officials who ran policy on Syria in previous administrations, are demanding that the White House do more than just pay lip service to preventing the normalization of relations with Syria by many Arab countries. “Unconditional regime normalization is not inevitable,” they wrote in a letter on March 27 to President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “Opposing regime normalization in word only is not enough, as tacitly allowing it is short-sighted and damaging to any hope for regional security and stability.”
Signers to the letter, obtained by Al-Monitor, include former U.S. special envoys to Syria Frederic Hof, James Jeffrey and Joel Rayburn and former Assistant Secretaries of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman and Anne Patterson. Also signing on were former CENTCOM chief Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin, and William Roebuck, former U.S. deputy special envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, who coordinated the letter, accused the administration of publicly opposing normalization while privately giving Arab states a tacit yellow light. The U.S. “message is, we will never normalize and we discourage normalization,” Lister complained. “None of that is, ‘Don’t you dare normalize with the regime.’ ”
The letter argues that regional normalization “erodes the international community’s capacity to shape a political process aimed at meaningfully resolving the crisis.” It lays out several recommendations for “an alternative and actionable vision” for Syria, including maintaining a light U.S. military footprint in northeast Syria in partnership with the (Kurdish dominated) Syrian Democratic Forces ostensibly to sustain the campaign against ISIS.
In other words, the letter demands that the Biden administration keep doing what the U.S. has been doing in Syria: maintain an illegal military occupation in the country along with the genocidal sanctions and encourage separatism among Kurdish militias.