Question: Who is it that takes a country with millions of citizens, billions of dollars’ worth of natural resources, beautiful cities that have been actively occupied since antiquity, stunning vistas, and puts out the ‘For Sale’ sign?

Answer: Bashar al-Assad.

Not being satisfied merely to insist that he is fighting “terrorists” and therefore can justify his murderous lust for the total destruction of Syria, what else is he doing to Syria? Besides being a very poor general of his troops, an interesting detail which is being largely ignored by the Western media is that Bashar is actually in bed with these so-called “terrorists” he claims to be eradicating. What proof do I have? One fact. Someone I know recently had his wife kidnapped by Bashar’s soldiers who then promptly “sold” her to ISIS. After they had their way with her for almost a month, she was ransomed to her family, now pregnant, for a staggering amount of money–$30,000. Thankfully, her combined families were able to scrape the funds together and free her. She knows of other tales by other victims. She knows names, places and facts.  It begs the question:  how many more stories like it exist? The media are only now starting to cover the plight of other Kurds, such as the Yezidis, who tell similar tales of torture, kidnapping, rape and murder.  However, here is the strange thing: ISIS was not operating in this area at the time with any great strength of numbers. This means Bashar’s troops would have had to physically make contact with ISIS — that same ISIS they claim to be now fighting to the death. According to the United Nations, there are approximately three million Syrian refugees. Half of the country’s population is now considered “displaced.” It is believed that ISIS makes approximately $3-8 million a day from their gangland-style of attack and conquest, pillaging and plundering their way across the Middle East. Frankly, as a historian, I am mystified. I never heard of anyone engaging in direct commerce with one’s active enemy. It is simply a moral perversion which we can now add to Bashar’s lengthening list of war crimes.

Consider this: If the various units of Bashar’s gangsters — I cannot in all good conscience call them “soldiers” — collectively kidnap one hundred women or children per day throughout the areas of Syria they now control, at the end of one month their partners in crime, ISIS, will have made approximately $900 million, minus the kickbacks to Bashar, assuming, of course, that everyone can afford to pay a ransom in the first place. This is how an optometrist turns into not only a war criminal, but also a pimp.