If you think the region, with its ISIL allergy, is in danger today, wait until the Arab Sunnis sympathizing secretly with that terror organization when they rise because of their perception the US is standing firm against Sunni terror but letting Shia terror kill Sunni civilians at will without lifting a finger to help, not even with humanitarian assistance.
If Mr. Obama strikes ISIL without striking Assad, a year from now, some of our staunchest Arab allies will be in danger, hanging for their dear lives. The West does not understand how angry the Arab street is as it watches helplessly the Assad regime cleansing ethnically the Syrian Sunnis.
Obama is about to embark on his biggest mistake yet. The amateurish trend continues.
What very few people understand is that Assad to Arab Sunnis is what 9/11 was to Americans. Terror is striking them at home and in their hearts, and if America could have prevented a Texan from joining the armed forces on September 12, 2001, the Arab regimes will be able to prevent their citizens from joining or sympathizing with organizations like ISIL or what comes next.
The only way to cushion the blow is to strike Assad as well as ISIL to demonstrate the US is impartial to terror, be it state sponsored or rampantly loose. Striking the Assad regime will force it to come to the negotiating table. In Iraq, there is co-existence between the different religious sects and the same is true in Lebanon. As long as Assad insists on ruling singlehandedly Syria, the country will always be a source of terror, Sunni or Shia.
The winner from a war of attrition between the US and the Sunni Arabs on a scale that dwarves its war with al-Qaeda will be Iran. In fact, Iran has Obama in a chokehold because he has become a hostage to the US-Iran negotiations and so have the Europeans.
No one seems to bother to ask the quintessential question here of why ISIL has been so successful recruiting Muslims from 74 different countries. That success is not going to abet unless Assad is punished for his war crimes.
Even when ISIL goes underground, the sympathizers will run in the hundreds of thousands of Sunnis, maybe millions, from the Gulf countries to Morocco. They would occupy important civil and private sector positions that inevitably would undermine the very regimes the US is trying to protect, the result of which because our President refuses to punish Assad for his mass killing just to please the Mullahs of Iran.
Mr. Obama’s commitment to training the moderates is a joke he hopes Arab Sunnis would view as a US commitment to the cause of the Free Syrian Army. The FSA has been fighting Assad for over three years. Offering them training is like asking a Master’s Degree graduate you will help him earn a high school baccalaureate. This is exactly how a Free Syrian Army General phrased it to me this morning. He and his officers are quite angry, but they will not demonstrate that anger to an analyst or a reporter they do not know. They are asking for weapons NOW.
A year from now, I am going to write a Blog to be entitled “I told you so.”
I hope I am wrong. However, given that I know the Syrian opposition well and given that I know personally many who are fighting in Syria today or raising funds for the FSA, I am certain Obama’s actions against ISIL without striking Assad will backfire.
Further, given that I know about the anger seething below the surface due to the suffering of 11 million displaced Syrians thanks to the terror of Assad, I have never been more certain about my warnings.
That knowledge comes from an intimate understanding of the people and the culture that no cold number of any analyst could predict.
Mr. Obama’s inexperience and stubbornness is about to cost us dearly.