By Andrew J. Tabler – Atlantic – February 11, 2016 – Following is an excerpt of Kathy Gilsinan’s interview with Andrew J. Tabler on what an Assad victory would mean for the Syrian war and the West.
Gilsinan: If Aleppo falls, walk me through what happens next. First, how would it change the balance of power, within the civil war, between the rebels and the regime?
Tabler: I think it would cement the regime’s hold on “essential Syria” — western Syria, perhaps with the exception of Idlib province [to] the south [of Aleppo]. But basically you would have the regime presence from Aleppo the whole way down to Hama, Homs, and Damascus, and that’s the spine of the country, and that’s what concerns the regime and the Iranians in particular. It would then allow them to free up forces, potentially, to go on the offensive elsewhere, directly into Idlib province, most likely, and then eventually into the south. Then after that they could turn their attention finally to ISIS, which the United States is trying to defeat.
But all of these things would take some time, would take probably months or years to fully institute. But I think that’s what the regime and the Russians are going for: They’re going for a whole-country solution to the Syria crisis based on the Assad regime.
Gilsinan: And then what happens to the regional balance of power within that war?
Tabler: It would be a tremendous loss for the U.S. and its traditional allies: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan. It’s already been extremely costly for most of those allies, but it would be a defeat [in the face of] the Russian-Iranian intervention in Syria. This would also be a huge loss for the United States vis-a-vis Russia in its Middle East policy, certainly. And because of the flow of refugees as a result of this, if they go northward to Europe, then you would see a migrant crisis in Europe that could lead to far-right governments coming to power which are much more friendly to Russia than they are to the United States. I think that is likely to happen…
Andrew J. Tabler is the Martin J. Gross Fellow in The Washington Institute’s Program on Arab Politics.