Swoop: Washington’s World: April 23rd – 29th, 2012 – The Syrian Crisis

Swoop: Washington’s World: April 23rd – 29th, 2012 – The Syrian Crisis
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Swoop: “The rapidly deteriorating crisis in Syria is causing serious alarm among policy-makers. Although President Obama’s political advisers are counseling against any US engagement on the ground, the humanitarian case is gaining saliency among his foreign policy team. Part of the coalition that prompted the Libyan intervention, notably Permanent Representative at the UN Susan Rice, is coming together again to advocate a more forceful US approach.

We doubt that the US will want to take a leadership role in either carving out aid corridors or enforcing no fly zones, but it is becoming increasingly difficult for Obama to stay disengaged.  Allied to concern about Syria but with larger geopolitical consequences is the mounting political uncertainty in Egypt. This is worrying top Administration officials. The disqualification of a number of front-line candidates from the May 22nd-23rd presidential elections poses awkward questions for US policy. While officials are not shedding any tears about the elimination of those they regard as radical Islamists, they are concerned that heavy-handed interference in the election by the Egyptian military could lead to wider popular discontent. As a senior NSC official explained to us: “Egypt is the centerpiece of the Arab democratic revolution. If it fails there, the prospects for reform throughout the region will be compromised.”

On Iran, tensions continue to ease – at least temporarily – as the US starts to engage in a more detailed negotiation process. One obstacle ahead are divisions inside the P5+1 group about what, if any, concessions to offer Tehran. Our Administration contacts tell us that an offer allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium at low level while ceasing enrichment at the 20% level is under consideration. In the meantime, sanctions will continue to be tightened. Israel, not part of the talks, continues to be the unpredictable element.

In Asia, the Administration reacted calmly to the Indian missile test. Indian military strength is seen as a positive addition to the US posture in East Asia. By contrast, China is coming under suspicion for continued military sales to North Korea. Finally, Afghanistan, despite being by far the largest and most expensive US overseas engagement, attracts little public interest, even in the face of what many insiders describe to us privately as a relentlessly deteriorating situation.

Source: Swoop / Videos added by Cap Falcon

Photo Credits: Cairo-sunset1  – Sunset over Cairo Jan30 2011 By darkroom productions / FlickR