"Prospects and Developments in Syria Under a New Administration" with Ambassador James Jeffrey

Prospects and Developments in Syria Under a New Administration with Ambassador James Jeffrey

14 Apr 21

On April 14th, THO partnered with the Syrian American Council and Americans For A Free Syria to organize a discussion on the Prospects and Developments in Syria Under A New Administration. The event’s moderator, Elena Pokalova led panelist Ambassador James Jeffrey in this discussion. With 2021 being the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Syrian conflict, Ambassador Jeffrey explained that the Biden administration, which is adjusting to the new landscape, will need to create stable Syrian policy that 1. prioritizes managing the American-led regional security system with its partners and 2. addresses the challenges to regional security. However, before a Syrian policy, the United States needs an Iran policy, so he urges the administration to contest Iran in the region while developing a Syrian policy. 

On the US-Turkey relationship, Biden will continue to work with Turkey on Syria to balance the ceasefire, but on the larger relationship as a whole, the relationship is at its worst due to concrete issues as well as the removal of normal buffers. Until the US-Turkey relationship is on better footing, our Syria cooperation will be at risk. If Assad and Turkey fight, then Biden will take the side of Turkey, but if the administration doesn't come up with an overall policy to the Syrian conflict, then there is a real risk that Assad will convince Russians and Iranians to launch a new campaign in Idlib.The ceasefire in Idlib, however, would be sustainable, given the cost of not maintaining a ceasefire would be high for all players involved. 

Ambassador Jeffrey argued that the UN Security Council would try to revisit the issue of closed border crossings to provide Syrians humanitarian aid, although Russia and its allies would oppose it. The YPG will continue oil sales to the Assad regime due to the consequences of canceling such a deal, and Syria will retain its original borders, although Turkey will maintain a presence there until a political settlement on the conflict is made.  

Finally, on Iran, both the United States and Iran agreed that the return to the JCPOA will only address the JCPOA, although ignoring the potential of a Western confrontation with Iran would be unwise. Former President Obama thought you could separate Iran from JCPOA, and he thought that the agreement would be transformational, which appears to have not been the case.