US President Barack Obama speaks during a press conference following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May (not pictured) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou on September 4, 2016.
G20 leaders confront a sluggish global economy and the winds of populism as they open annual talks, but the long war in Syria and the South China Sea territorial dispute hang over the summit. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB

Gareth Porter – Behind the real US strategic blunder in Syria

President Barack Obama has long been under fire from the US national security elite and the media for failing to intervene aggressively against the Assad regime.

But the real strategic blunder was not that Barack Obama didn’t launch yet another war in Syria, but that he decided to go along with the ambitions of America’s Sunni allies to create and arm a Syrian opposition army to overthrow the regime in the first place.

Now a former Obama administration official who is knowledgeable on the internal discussions on Syria policy, speaking to this writer on condition of anonymity, has shed new light on how and why that fateful decision was made.

The former official revealed that when Obama made the first move toward supporting the arming of Syrian opposition forces, the president failed to foresee the risk of a direct Iranian or Russian intervention on behalf of the Syrian regime in response to an externally armed opposition – because his advisors had failed to take this likelihood into account themselves.

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