Back the Assad Regime
By: Shyam Goswami
Student Writer for The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, Vol. 18

Rubble and War-torn Area in Syria
President Obama announced last week that we will begin an open ended military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Whether or not it is a legitimate goal for America to “degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as [ISIS]” is debatable, but if we concede that it is, the strategy announced by the President is a poor means to that end. The best way to destroy ISIS and restore some order to the region is an unsavory one. The United States should back the Assad  regime to destroy ISIS and regain full control of Syria.

Syria, with the support of Russia and Iran, has proven to have a capable military. The Syrian Rebels enjoy strong support from regional players, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Despite the support, they remain a fractured group that cannot capture  substantial portions of the country. The Syrian military, on the other hand, remains  largely in control. ISIS, unlike the moderate rebels, has carved out large swaths far  from Damascus.

There is no single group of moderate rebels with widespread support. In fact, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the two gulf powerhouses, cannot agree on which group to back. A lack of international consensus arises partly out of the nature of the rebel fighters, who have questionable allegiance and have committed horrible atrocities. The situation has led the Syrian people back President Assad for leadership. 55 percent of Syrians want Assad to stay in power. The Syrian people want stability, yet the world refuses to listen.

Assad may be unsavory, but he is nothing like Sadam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi. Prior to the outbreak of civil war, Assad was a popular leader. There is no doubt he violently oppressed political dissent and human rights, but the scale of Assad's crimes are nowhere near that of Hussein and Gaddafi. The unfortunate reality is that Assad is a dictator the world can tolerate.

The issue of chemical weapons is one that must be addressed. Despite strong rhetoric from the West, no evidence exists proving the Assad regime used chemical weapons. Chemical weapons were used, but we do not know what side they came from. President Obama made clear he would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons. It makes more sense that someone hoping to draw the United States into the war used the chemical weapons. Assad has no interest in the United States joining the fight against him.

The United States has a history of backing our future enemies. From Bin Laden to Gaddafi to Saddam Hussein, the United States and its allies provided our enemies with weapons that were later used against us. There is no reasons to expect the moderate rebels will be any different. With Assad, at least we know what to expect. There is good reason not to support Assad: he is a war criminal. However, so are Israel, Bahrain, and Yemen, who the United States continues to support. Some have argued that Assad allows ISIS to control regions of Syria in order to draw support back to him once people see how terrible the alternative may be. Even if this is true, he will defeat ISIS once he has the support behind him.

In order to destroy ISIS, stabilize the region, and provide justice and calm to the Syrian people, the United States should back the Assad regime to regain control of Syria.