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Does the US want a war with Iran over Syria?

Despite Trump’s initial caution about an indefinite military commitment, the risks of the United States getting drawn into the Syria conflict are growing.
Syrians wave Iranian, Russian and Syrian flags during a protest against U.S.-led air strikes in Damascus,Syria April 14,2018.REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1815671B90

In February, we wrote, “Although the Islamic State (IS) is near defeat, Syria now risks a confrontation among the major regional and world powers. This turn of events can only be characterized as a failure of imagination and leadership, requiring an urgent rethink of the endgame in Syria … a turnaround in Syria requires a change of mindset. The final chapters of the battle against IS should have been a transition of opportunity rather than crisis. But the situation today is nonetheless in crisis. The ‘proxy war’ approach has turned into something more ominous. US, Russian, Turkish, Iranian and Israeli forces are now all active parties to the conflict. The Syrian actors, and their regional backers, have the potential to become the tail wagging the dog, unless the United States and Russia can turn things around.” 

That risk of escalation, including accidents, has only grown over the past 10 months. US President Donald Trump has stepped back from his previous hesitancy about an open-ended commitment in Syria, perhaps distracted by the special counsel investigation over Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, political fallout from the Republican loss of the House of Representatives and transitions in the White House staff. Although he said April 14 that “America does not seek an indefinite presence in Syria, under no circumstances,” national security adviser John Bolton set the circumstances for an indefinite presence when he declared Sept. 24, “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”

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