Friday, 20 May 2016
Why choosing Iran over Syria is a moral and strategic failure for Obama
'For years, Syria’s revolutionaries have suspected America’s lack of meaningful support for their uprising against dictator Bashar al-Assad was tied to President Barack Obama’s desire to re-engage with Iran.
There is one outgrowth of Syria’s civil war that Obama thinks is sufficiently threatening to American security that it must be met with force: the rise of the so-called Islamic State jihadist group. Islamic State’s murderous nihilism is rejected by most Syrians. They also know Assad is the most prolific killer in their country. That America stood by when Assad’s forces used poison gas against civilians in 2013, and that America appears to prioritize improving relations with Iran over stopping Assad’s slaughter, pushes Syrians opposed to Assad into the arms of jihadists, says Hamdi Rifai, director of Arab Americans for Democracy in Syria.
“We understand none of these people are our friends, but when our friends are betraying us, then we are left with no one else but our enemies to help us,” he says. The Americans “force us to play a game of realpolitik just as they have. They’re forcing us into the hands of the very people they want us to fight.”
Obama’s refusal to do much to stop Assad’s mass murder is not just a moral failure but a strategic one. The lives of millions of Syrians have been destroyed. It’s impossible to know how much of that suffering America might have mitigated by forcibly challenging Assad, but—unlike when civilians are threatened by Islamic State—it’s barely tried.'