Syria is the latest country in the Middle East to see its population arise as demonstrators demand reforms. Following deadly anti-government protests, Syria has promised to implement a series of radical measures. But as unrest and protests continue to spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Shadi Hamid says it’s time for the U.S. to carefully consider its policies and actions in the region. And as the spirit of pan-Arab solidarity builds, and as authoritarian regimes push back, U.S. policy has to strike a balance between ideals and interests, he says.
The objective of this kind of [safe zones] project may be described as fundamentally humanitarian, but the reality is that any number of parties, starting with the Assad regime and the Islamic State, are going to see it as a threat, and that’s going to make it a target instead of a safe place.
No vetting system is perfect, but if you look at those who have been arrested for suspicions of being linked to the Islamic State, for example, the vast majority have been American citizens.