Speaking today in Jordan, President Obama warned that a post-Assad Syria could be a “chilling scenario” where Islamist factions within the rebel movements thrived in a power vacuum, transforming the nation into a “enclave for extremism.”
Though Obama expressed reservations about this future, he still expressed confidence Syrian President Assad would eventually fall, and defended the US policy of backing the very same rebels he is so confirmed about.
The comments were aimed primarily at getting Jordan to agree to accept more refugees, something that also comes with a pledge of another $200 million in aid. Yet it also reflects the growing divisions within the administration about backing an increasingly al-Qaeda-centric rebellion.
This sort of disconnect in policy speeches is nothing new, and the pro-regime change crowd remains a force to be reckoned with in the US, particularly in the Senate, meaning even if the administration is getting cold feet they have to give lip-service to the old policy, for now.