The Saban Center for Middle East Policy joined with the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War in June 2012 to host a one-day crisis simulation that explored the implications of spillover from the ongoing violence in Syria. The simulation examined how the United States and its allies might address worsening instability in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, and elsewhere in the Middle East as a result of the internecine conflict in Syria.
The Saban Center’s Middle East Memo, “Unraveling the Syria Mess: A Crisis Simulation of Spillover from the Syrian Civil War,” authored by simulation conveners Kenneth M. Pollack, Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, and Marisa C. Sullivan, presents key lessons and observations from the exercise.
Among the key findings:
- A humanitarian crisis alone is unlikely to spur the international community to take action in Syria.
- Turkey is a linchpin in any effort to end the fighting in Syria, but Washington and Ankara may not see eye-to-eye on what the end game should be.
- U.S. history in Iraq and Lebanon make intervention there unlikely, even if spillover causes a renewal of large-scale violence.
The simulation suggested a tension between U.S. political antipathy toward greater involvement in Syria and the potential strategic desirability of early action.
[Trump has] given Iran the moral high ground and that is an exceptionally difficult thing to do given the history and reality of Iran's misdeeds at home and in the region. It's just malpractice on the part of an American president.
The way the Trump administration is moving forward [with its Iran policy] is just so hostile to all aspects of Iran that it’s unlikely to produce any traction with the Iranian people or to encourage divisions within the system.
The intent of [any U.S. action] to do with the IRGC is basically to cast a very broad shadow over sectors of the Iranian economy and exacerbate the compliance nightmare for foreign businesses that may be considering trade and investment with Iran.