If you step back to analyze the situation in the Levant today, it is not hard to conclude that all the mayhem, terror, and violence are mostly the results of four men. Two anti-Assad men who recklessly helped his regime to maintain its grip, one who believed that amongst the Syrian population of 23m, Assad is the best man for the job, and one who could care less unless Syria helped lower his Golfing handicap.
Mr. Obama never met with the liberal Syrian opposition or attempted to study the alternative to Assad. From the start of the Syrian Uprising, he outsourced that task to Erdogan of Turkey who chose Istanbul, not Ankara or a neutral ground, to concoct an Islamist opposition a stone throw away from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople representing the very same Christians Assad protects in Syria using whatever means are necessary. From securing all of Constantinople up until 1453, the Church today occupies about one acre of land because of Muslim conquests. How else would they interpret Erdogan’s poke in the eye, not only geographically but constitutionally as well?
Erdogan’s arrogance provided Assad with a gift that will come back to haunt all Syrians. The Christians of Syria rallied even more around Assad. Even the US State Department missed that little detail of where the Syrian opposition was meeting (Wonder if history is part of Georgetown University’s International Affairs Department most of the US foreign career officers graduate from). Had the US State Department consulted with the liberal Syrian oppositionists more, they would have warned them. Further, US State never objected to the make-up of the Syrian opposition until they witnessed the actions of Morsi of Egypt when it was too late.
In Russia, Putin saw what Erdogan was doing as not only threatening the very same Church he has her full political support at home, but he also saw the Islamists rising at the expense of the new Russian interests they were beginning to build in the eastern Mediterranean. It is 1453 all over again and Muslims are ransacking an order on the eastern shores Putin was unwilling to yield to its destruction. His visit to Israel must have carried that tone of the lurking danger of Islamism in the Levant. However, his alarm sounding took on a life of its own when Morsi of Egypt resorted to the thuggery and the violence Putin warned the West about.
Between Erdogan and Morsi, Syria’s fate was sealed. History must credit both men with safeguarding Assad and maintaining the status quo in Syria. It was never about how smart Assad was; rather it was about how stupid Erdogan and Morsi were.
The White House reluctantly abandoned Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood and relegated the title of the Levant’s Czar unto Putin, which also was a convenience Obama found useful because Putin played a role in the US-Iran Deal that has immense ramifications to US interests. Putin is out to destroy these interests while Obama sleeps at the helm. His obsession with Obamacare is indirectly harming the US internationally. With all the violence and the spread of al-Qaeda in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, Obama has yet to utter the word “Syria” in any of his conversations. It is now in Putin’s hand, and the violent Putin is using blanket punishment tactics to include the barrel bombs Assad is dropping on civilians.
We saw that same violence against civilians in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and now Syria. In each of these cases, Russia not only lost to that violence, it helped multiply and I believe the US should not lose sight of this fact because it may come back to haunt us later. There is no good outcome, for the West as a whole, when violence against civilians becomes the norm. It emboldens the extremists and leads to a culture of violence with 11-years old as its flag bearers.
Not only our President handled Syria wrong when violence erupted, but he contributed to that violence because of his ignorance of history. Had the Antioch Orthodox Church been involved in the deliberations of the Syrian opposition and its make-up, Syria might look different today. As I often said before, Syria and Lebanon share similar demographics and if Lebanon, in the safe hands of the Maronite Church, can prosper and co-exist with a majority Muslim population, there is no reason to believe a similar peaceful political arrangement cannot be engineered in Syria without the violence of Assad. However, Obama is too busy golfing and there lies yet another proof he is not a leader, he is but a speaker.
Why can’t we have in Syria a Christian President, a Sunni Prime Minister, a Shia Speaker of the Parliament, and an Alawite head of a professional army with constitutional powers to protect Syria and its people collectively? Assad was never the answer in Syria, nor is Islamism or secular violence in whatever chameleon color they either one wear.
It is truly unfortunate that the Syrian Uprising, turned Revolution, turned into a civil war, turned into the formation of the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria, turned into al-Qaeda spreading like wild fire could have been avoided if we had a US President with enough commons sense, knowledge, and leadership skills to take advantage of the opportunities Syria offered.
Let history judge Barack Obama for the man he is, not for the man we all hoped he will be, nor the man the far left is portraying. Let history judge him for his immense shortcomings and vapid performance because of the way he handled Syria.
History judging Assad the terrorist, Obama the inept, Putin the violent, Erdogan the vindictive, and Morsi the loser all correctly is our only consolation now as Syrian-Americans.