Editor’s Note: The following is Bruce Riedel’s contribution to a piece in The Daily Beast that incorporates the opinions of a number of experts on the situation in Syria.
The international community with U.S. leadership needs urgently to prepare a stabilization force to save Syria once Assad finally falls. Modern Syria is an artificial French creation. When Assad falls, it will splinter on Sunni-Alawite and Arab-Kurd lines. Al Qaeda and Hizbullah will grab chemical and other deadly weapons. Lebanon and Jordan may be engulfed in the chaos. To save Syria, NATO should plan and lead the force, the Arab League should provide legitimacy, and Turkey should provide the bulk of the troops with token Arab and Pakistani contingents. America and Europe can help with experts and air power. The Saudis, Qataris, and UAE can pay. But the time to organize is now, not when the crisis breaks upon us.
The French might have been presumptuous, or a bit too clever, in seeing Trump only as an opportunity. It comes with a cost. The cost being the division of Europe... [Trump's] clear favoritism [for nationalist-led countries like Poland, Hungary, and Italy can exacerbate divisions within Europe]... Macron wants to be a strong leader that Trump disagrees with but respects for being strong.