WASHINGTON – The U.S. intelligence assessments that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons intensified pressure Thursday on President Barack Obama to give more help to rebels fighting President Bashar Assad.
But he confronts no easy choices and all are fraught with risk, experts said.
“This is a case where there is nothing but bad options,” said Anthony Cordesman, an expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
One overriding consideration: Anything the United States does to weaken the Assad regime could aid Islamist groups that have emerged as the most effective fighting forces of the divided and poorly organized Syrian opposition. Those groups include Jabat al Nusra, or the Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaida in Iraq, that has been joined by foreign jihadists and seeks to impose Taliban-style Islamic rule on Syria.
Moreover, Americans are weary of foreign entanglements after the more than eight-year U.S. occupation of Iraq and the 12-year war in Afghanistan.