Would U.S. Partner With Assad To Defeat ISIS?

U.S. officials have hinted they may expand their mission against ISIS in Iraq to Syria. Will this require cooperation from the Assad regime?
Posted at 9:36 AM, Aug 25, 2014

​As U.S. airstrikes continue to pound ISIS targets in Iraq, the group's growing threat could clear the way for the unlikeliest of partnerships next door — with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad emerging as the lesser of two evils.   (Video via U.S. Central Command

The same man the U.S. says killed over 1,000 of his own people in a chemical gas attack last year. (Video via Euronews

Here’s why an Assad-U.S. collaboration could be in the cards. Even though ISIS’s moves in Iraq have captured the world’s attention, the group’s stronghold is in neighboring Syria. The argument is ISIS can’t be defeated — or even constrained — without coming at it from both sides.

U.S. officials haven't ruled out expanding their mission into Syria. Thing is, doing so would likely require some level of coordination with the Syrian regime, which also badly wants to defeat ISIS. (Video via Press TV)

MARTIN DEMPSEY, CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS: “Can they be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no.” (Video via MSNBC)

Both Assad and ISIS are declared enemies of the U.S. The difference being, ISIS is seen as a direct threat to the homeland — as the group made clear with the beheading of American journalist James Foley. (Video via Channel 4)

That’s the point Northeastern University professor Max Abrahms makes in this op-ed for The New York Times. He writes: “If Assad perceives ISIS as an existential threat, he will tolerate — even secretly welcome — U.S. military assistance. This is an opportunity Washington should seize not for him, but for us.”

President Obama has long been resistant to getting involved in Syria's now three-year-long civil war. Any sort of collaboration with Assad would represent major reversal in U.S. policy. But counterterrorism expert Richard Clarke says the U.S. may not have a choice.  (Via The White House) ​

​​RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER TOP COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISOR:​ "If we want to eliminate this ISIS we are going to have to deal with people we don't like. The president said we wanted Assad out. Well, we are going to have to say something to the Syrian government if we are going to start bombing in Syria." (Video via ABC)

Others argue this could play right into Assad's hands. One Syrian opposition activist wrote for the nonpartisan think tank Atlantic Council: "It will prove to Assad that his manipulation of time and terror has once again worked."

There is another option for the U.S., and that's working more closely with Syria's moderate rebels — those fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS. A spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army told The Daily Beast "We are Syrians, we know how and where and when to move in this country ... But we need support." 

The United Nations recently released an updated death toll for the war in Syria. At over 191,000 people, the number of casualties is double what was a year ago.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.