The Atlantic quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof on the horrors of the Syrian conflict and why ISIS is an easier target in Syria than Iraq: 

Now to the substance of the comments on my Atlantic piece. I am grateful for Fred Hof’s contribution—in the long, ghastly story of the Syrian conflict, he is one of the few people who has consistently stayed focused on the horrors of the war for civilians and on the inadequacy of the Obama administration’s response. Hof offers a devastating summary in his comment: “The four-plus years the United States spent holding Syria at arm’s length, hoping its carnage could be contained while drawing erasable red lines and merely calling on Assad to step aside, have helped spawn horrific unanticipated consequences and narrowed policy options. Decisions America deferred in 2012 came home to roost in 2015. Everything is harder now …” Hof has been arguing for a stronger U.S. policy for the last three years, more clearly than anyone I know.

He makes several specific points that I agree with. First, he argues that protection of Syrian civilians is “the mandatory first step toward the negotiated political transition” that Kerry envisions. I share his view that such protection will be impossible without secure corridors free from Assad’s barrel bombing—let’s call them “safe zones.” One addendum I’d offer: Until Kerry’s Vienna talks collapse, they’re the right venue for discussion of this safe-zone process. If diplomacy fails, one consequence should be an immediate move by the U.S. and its allies to establish the safe zones.

Read the full article here.

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