To crush IS, make a deal with Assad

President Obama has virtually declared war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. But it is hard to reconcile the seemingly urgent need to confront the threat posed by this organisation with the chosen means of doing so. By opting to support the "moderate" Syrian opposition and running the risk of an open confrontation with President Bashar Al Assad's regime, the West appears to be primarily appeasing Arab Gulf allies that have turned the overthrow of Assad into a policy that runs against any rational calculation of how to defeat terrorism.

The persistent belief in Western policy circles that there is a "moderate opposition" in Syria warrants serious scrutiny. The very notion of a "vetted" opposition has an absurd ring to it. It assumes that moderation is an identifiable, fixed element that can be sorted out from other, tainted characteristics.  It further presumes that the vetting process will not stain...

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