Political Scientist Michael Desch Evaluates Impact of Syrian Defections

Author: Kate Garry

Michael Desch

Despite the defections of two high-ranking Syrian officials in the past week and the apparent unraveling of Syria’s government, the fall of President Bashar al-Assad still is not imminent, according to University of Notre Dame Political Science Professor Michael Desch.

“There’s no doubt that the Assad regime is under siege, as Wednesday’s defection of the Syrian Ambassador to Iraq once again highlights,” says Desch, an expert on international relations and homeland security.

“But we need to be cautious in overestimating how much trouble Assad is in. Some of the recent defections—like that of Manaf Tlass, a general in the elite Republican Guard who is the son of a former defense minister—already were under suspicion by Assad, and were not unexpected,” Desch says.

What would the U.S gain in the fall of the Assad regime?

“While there are good reasons to hope Assad fails, it’s not clear that the outcome would advance the interests of the U.S., given the mixed bag of regimes that have emerged from the Arab Spring,” Desch says.

“And do we want to risk a confrontation with the Russians—Syria’s most important foreign ally—by intervening more directly?”

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Originally published at newsinfo.nd.edu.