By Robert G. Rabil, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Robert G. Rabil is associate professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University.
The popular uprising in Syria against the Alawi-led minority regime of Bashar al-Assad poses a serious challenge to U.S. national security in the Middle East.
As it fights for its survival amid escalating violence, the Syrian regime risks not only the deepening of civil strife in the country, but also provoking sectarian strife in the region, potentially drawing in U.S. military involvement. Washington has thus far been cautious in dealing with Syria, favoring strong words and sanctions against the regime and supporting Arab efforts to stop the violent military crackdown. But this could change as conditions in Syria deteriorate.
The recent arrival in Syria of Arab observers, as part of a Syrian-endorsed Arab League plan to stop the violence, has been met with mixed emotions. Syrian opposition members rejected the plan, which was mediated by Iraq, on the grounds that it will give the bestial regime another chance to continue its brutal policies.
Read Rabil's full opinion piece in CNN's Opinion section