The conflict in Syria has both regional and global implications that affect not only U.S. economic and security interests, but also those of its regional allies. Of greatest immediate concern to the United States is how the deteriorating security situation will affect the stability of the region. A protracted conflict in Syria will create a vacuum that previous experience tells us provides opportunity for lawlessness, radicalization, and further escalation into sectarian violence. Such violence has the capacity to spill over into neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and even Israel.
The Assad regime is allied with both the Islamic militant organization Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran. In March 2012, Gen. James N. Mattis, the U.S. Central Command chief said in his testimony to Congress that the downfall of Assad would be “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.”