The Century Foundation: “Suppose America Gave a Proxy War in Syria and Nobody Came?”

New from me for the Century Foundation:

Last Wednesday, the New Syrian Army—America’s best, maybe only, hope to challenge the self-proclaimed Islamic State in its east Syrian stronghold—launched a daring attack on the heart of Islamic State territory.

By Thursday, it had gone wrong. Islamic State had been waiting, and the New Syrian Army only barely avoided being annihilated by circling jihadists.

For the United States, it was just the latest in a series of mostly unsuccessful attempts to field a Syrian Arab proxy force against Islamic State. The defeat was yet another example of how America’s agenda has run up against the factional and personal politics of Syria’s rebels, as well as the basic disconnect between the U.S. priority of combating Islamic State and most rebels’ aim of toppling the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

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