Washington’s plans for regime change in Syria and Iran suffered a serious setback in September of 2013 when their attempt to frame the Syrian government with the use of sarin gas against civilians backfired and both the political left and the political right unified against proposed air strikes. Though the fighting has continued, the U.S. and its NATO allies have made no major moves in several months, essentially licking their wounds while putting on a show of diplomacy in Geneva. This week during a visit with king Abdullah II of Jordan Obama hinted that recess is almost over, promising to ‘Apply More Pressure’ on Assad.
This increased pressure will include supplying the rebels with more powerful weapons such as anti-aircraft missiles. Other “options” (read air strikes) are also on the table, though Obama continues to insists that these options do not include American boots on the ground.
The fact that Obama made these statements at the same time as he announced an increase in financial aid to Jordan is likely more than just a coincidence. The U.S. has been using camps in Jordan and Turkey to train Syrian fighters since 2012. Any escalation of the conflict will require the cooperation of the Jordanian government. That cooperation may or may not have been purchased outright with a bribe, but it would be a bit naive to assume that one billion dollars did nothing to grease the wheels.
So round two in the quest to topple Syria is about start, but does this mean we’ll start seeing the fireworks right away? Perhaps, but there is another variable in this equation that complicates things somewhat, and that’s the midterm elections. It’s hard to imagine that the main show (as in another attempt at air strikes or something comparable) will happen before the elections in November. Professional politicians usually don’t like to gamble on unpopular moves right before the polls. However taking down Syria and Iran is clearly a high priority item for those who own the U.S. government, so anything is possible. Time will tell.