More than a year and a half into their tenure, the Biden administration studiously avoids having a Syria policy. The Obama administration veterans who came to regret investing significant policy bandwidth on Syria from 2011 to 2016 returned to office in January 2021 apparently assuming that if the United States shut its eyes to the Syrian conflict, then the Syrian conflict wouldn’t be able to see the United States. Alas, the world doesn’t oblige a superpower in this way. Pretending not to see risks doesn’t make them disappear.
The same dangers that compelled the Obama and Trump administrations to adopt a hands-on approach to Syria are still present. Terrorism, genocide, refugees, chemical weapons, ISIS detainees in weak northeastern Syrian jails, Iranian regime aggression, great power competition involving Russia, a Turkey-PKK conflict: any of these could escalate into a regional or international crisis within Syria in any given week.