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Linking the Syrian Conflict to the Iranian Nuclear Agreement

Middle Easterners fear the White House will return to bad American habits.

9:15 AM, Dec 13, 2013 • By DAVID SCHENKER
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For at least a year, Sunnis have seen Washington’s Syria policy as a subset of American policy on Iran. Most recently, this understanding was seemingly confirmed when the strike on Syrian chemical weapons facilities was aborted, apparently because Obama didn’t want to scuttle prospects for a nuclear deal.

Today in the Middle East, Sunnis are concerned that if the Iranian nuclear issue is linked to the Syria crisis, it would represent a return to 1991—when Lebanon was tacitly ceded to Syria in return for then President Hafez Assad’s participation in the first Gulf War. In this case, Syria would be handed over to Iran.

No doubt, the region is predisposed to conspiracy theories, but given the administration’s equivocating policy on Syria, there is the likelihood that should Iran find itself at the table in Geneva, Syria and Lebanon may be served up as the main course.

David Schenker is director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington institute for Near East Policy.

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