Three high-level members of the Obama administration recently called for a partition of Syria: Director of the CIA John Brennan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Secretary of State John Kerry. In their view, no peaceful solution can be found for the Syrian conflict.

None of them explain how their chosen solution would actually end the fighting or make Americans safer. In reality, neither would be accomplished.

The conflict in Syria has never been a strictly Syrian conflict. Other powers, including the United States, have been providing funds, weapons and fighters. Congress appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars to help anti-regime fighters. The Washington Post estimates the U.S. contribution to rebel forces opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad is approximately $1 billion per year.

As if mayhem caused by rebel groups and regime forces weren’t enough, a solid portion of Syrian territory is now controlled by the Islamic State. Their thirst for blood has caused millions of Syrians to leave their homes, seeking refuge in other parts of Syria or neighboring countries.

For its part, the Assad regime was not friendless. Assistance came from Shiites in Lebanon, Shiite militias in Iraq, Iran and Russians who intervened on the invitation of Assad.

The American reaction was mixed and hesitant. Some policymakers did not want to see any Russian presence in the Middle East nor accept the likely triumph of the regime. Others wanted to divide Syria roughly along the administrative units proposed by the colonial French in 1922, with the new addition of a Kurdish region.

The professional foreign policy elite, in and out of government, were divided on the question of American involvement. President Obama was opposed to military involvement, but not against arming and training anti-regime Syrians. He wanted Assad to abdicate, but had no alternative in mind.

President Obama did not consider the Syrian civil war as a vital American interest, but American support for anti-regime forces has been crucial in continuing that civil war, killing hundreds of thousands, dislocating millions and fomenting anti-U.S. resentment in the region.

The plan to redraw the map of Syria is being carried out with limited input from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel, but little to no input from Syrians themselves.

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To people in the region, the plan is a reminder of the hated Sykes-Picot plan of a century ago. The overwhelming preference of most Syrians is to respect Syria’s territorial integrity, or even to merge it within a larger political entity in the region (Greater Syria, Fertile Crescent State, etc.).

The most expounded plans foresee divisions of an Alawite state, a Sunni state, a Kurdish state, an Israeli-annexed territory and a Turkish-controlled zone.

But there’s no chance that Syria’s dismemberment can be reached through amicable means. The country’s population is not divided neatly along ethnic or sectarian lines. Partition will cost hundreds of thousands of additional casualties, in addition to the 300,000 who have fallen in the last five years.

There would be large-scale ethnic and sectarian cleansing. Many will be thrown out of their homes to join the already staggering number of refugees. The process itself would be bloody, as would the era following division.

It is easy to predict a long period of violent conflict among the emerging statelets, and equally certain that these conflicts will involve regional and global sponsors. The likelihood of U.S. military involvement in one or more wars in Greater Syria is almost certain.

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Creating a Sunni state, ruled by fundamentalists and supported by Saudi Arabia, will establish another theocratic and despotic regime that will sprout new terrorists. The Kurds present perhaps the greatest opportunity for new wars, especially wars that may involve U.S. forces. Their efforts to separate from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey present three opportunities for future war. Honoring its commitments to the Kurds would likely involve significant and frequent U.S. military involvement.

Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights assures future wars that are likely to force U.S. military deployments.

Prospects for the Turkish-controlled territory are not much brighter. Resentment from the Arab world would lessen over the coming years, as happened when Turkey annexed the province of Alexandretta after France (then the colonial master of Syria) ceded the area to Turkey in 1939. However, Syria has never accepted the loss of what it considers Syrian territory and is highly unlikely to accept further annexations.

Plans to establish a “safety zone” or a “no-fly zone” in this area have not been disclosed in detail, although the idea has been brought up. Such a zone would not accommodate the millions of Syrians now in Turkey or Europe. A no-fly zone demands constant air cover and ground support, which is very costly. Martin Dempsey, a retired Army general, estimated the cost at $1 billion per month. Worse, such a zone might spark a military confrontation with Russia.

There is no partition-based scenario that creates greater security for American interests. Any arbitrary U.S. conduct would not be soon forgiven or forgotten. Terrorist attacks against the U.S. would not subside, but might increase in frequency and scale.

Bloodshed would continue. Extremist groups would not be defeated, but would rule more territory. Militias would continue to mar the political landscape. American men and women would die in a plethora of battles involving U.S. clients, but U.S. prestige would not be enhanced.

Furthermore, partition of Syria is not likely to advance other U.S. plans for the region, be it the creation of an economic market that transcends current boundaries or utilization of Syrian ports to export more of the region’s oil and gas to Europe.

If anyone is likely to benefit from splitting Syria, it is not the United States. The outcomes of previous national partition schemes, especially those based on sectarian or ethnic considerations, do not encourage repetition of those schemes.

Most would find it irresponsible to advocate solutions that are sure to cause untold suffering as soon as those plans are put into action. A solution that is certain to generate misery and war for generations to come is no solution at all.

Dr. Fuad K. Suleiman holds a doctorate in International Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School, Tufts and Harvard universities. He worked for over three decades on behalf of several U.S. government agencies in sixteen Arab countries, most recently Iraq. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

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