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In a recent interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, Baker Institute founding director Edward P. Djerejian said that given a rapidly changing Middle East, the United States must realize that it cannot direct the course of political events in the Arab world. "We can influence those events because we still have many resources and many important interests in the region, but we have to do it collectively, with as many international partners as we can muster," he said.  "Whatever we can do to influence the evolution of these societies under more stable, democratic and free economic paths is where the United States should be crafting its policies."

Djerejian, U.S. ambassador to Syria from 1988 to 1991, also noted that the regime of Bashar al-Assad never implemented the reforms promised at the start of the conflict. "The regime simply didn't understand the thrust of the Arab Awakening and the Arab Spring," he said. While there was once "political space for a negotiated political transition," the situation quickly deteriorated into bloody confrontations. Now "there's no middle ground where a negotiated settlement may be achieved," he said.

Read the Council on Foreign Relations interview "The U.S. role in a changing Mideast" with Baker Institute founding director Edward P. Djerejian.