Recent calls by the likes of Fareed Zakaria and Ryan Crocker for the West to ally itself with the regime of Bashar Assad to fight the terror group ISIS, ignore some very practical reasons why such an alliance would do nothing to safeguard Western lives or rollback the Islamic State. Proponents of an alliance with Assad are acting less like hard-nosed realists, and more like daydreamers where cold-hard facts and realities must be ignored in order to sustain the fantasy.
If the threat of ISIS demands cold-hearted “realpolitik”, then “realpolitik” demands that we ask who has the best chance of defeating ISIS in Syria. Recent events have shown that the answer isn’t “Bashar Assad”, and for reasons that are both military and practical. The regime’s most recent defeat to ISIS at the Tabqa airbase was an even bigger political disaster than a military one, coming so soon after Bashar Assad had all but declared “victory” in the Syrian conflict.
Considering the abysmal performance of the regime’s forces against ISIS to date (even with massive Russian & regional assistance), the massive political ransom that will be extracted from the West (the lifting of economic, financial & military sanctions) in the event of such an alliance, and Assad’s utter inability to prevent a potential ISIS attack in Europe or North America, the inevitable conclusion must be that the regime brings precious little to an “alliance” with the West, when weighed against the price such an alliance would entail.
Simply put, it is more viable to light the beacons of Gondor and wait for the Riders of Rohan to come to the rescue against ISIS, then there is in relying on the Assad regime to rollback the Islamic State.