US foreign policy towards Syria under Obama: strategic patience and miscalculation

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Abstract

The US publicly tied its Syria policy to the Syrian rebels from an early stage of the uprisings. In doing so the US sought to be viewed as champions of democracy and popular movements in the Middle East, in alignment with the US's longstanding role conception, its hegemonic willingness to lead and more specifically with Obama's public rhetoric. This early policy and rhetorical support for the Syrian opposition, however, clashed with the US's strategic and material interests, which saw no pressing need for direct US involvement. The incongruence between US claims and and growing unwillingness to lead, coupled with a decline in economic capacity and global legitimacy, produced an incoherent Syria policy that prolonged and exacerbated the conflict. The US's Syria policy also undermined the US's global image, facilitated a rise in competing global and regional powers in the Middle East, and ultimately undermined the rebel forces they were claiming to support. The chapter focuses in particularly on two turning points in the Obama administration's policy on Syria: the chemical attacks in Ghouta in 2013 and the US counter-terror campaign against the Islamic State in 2014.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe War for Syria
Subtitle of host publicationRegional and International Dimensions of the Syrian Uprising
EditorsRaymond Hinnebusch, Adham Saouli
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Chapter13
Pages209-228
Number of pages19
Volume2
Edition1st
ISBN (Electronic)9780429201967
ISBN (Print)9780367193713, 9780367193706
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge/St Andrews Syrian Studies Series
PublisherRoutledge

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