News Release

Why is Syria Burning?


NBC News is reporting: “Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. will begin ‘direct action on the ground’ against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, aiming to intensify pressure on the militants as progress against them remains elusive.”

The Guardian reports today: “Iran says it will attend international talks over Syria’s future in Vienna this week.”

CHARLES GLASS, charlesglassarticles at
Glass was recently in Syria for the New York Review of Books and was on assignment in Iraq for Harper’s Magazine. His latest book is the just-released Syria Burning: ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring. He was ABC News Chief Middle East correspondent and recently wrote the piece “In the Syrian Deadlands.”

He said today: “The problem is that the two main parties backing the factions in Syria — the United States and Russia — have not budged from their positions. Russia’s position is that Bashar al-Assad must remain as president, and the American position is that Bashar al-Assad must go as president. And they haven’t seemed to have reconciled these two points of view. …

“If you look at a map of the Arab world, there are about 22 members of the Arab League stretching from Mauritania all the way to the borders of Iran. Almost every one of those countries is an American client state. Only one is a Russian client state. That’s Syria. …

“On the surface, the United States is fighting against the Islamic State mainly because it went into Iraq. They didn’t seem to mind it when they were just in Syria. But they’re still allowing Turkey to keep its border open for men and supplies to come into the Islamic State. And they still — if they’re fighting the Islamic State, they’re still allowing the Saudis to provide the Islamic State and…other similar jihadist groups [like] al-Qaeda to receive weapons, including anti-tank weapons, from the Saudis. And this is fine with American policy and consistent with it, or they’ve simply lost control over the course of events.” See interview with Democracy Now! here and here.