The horrific pictures we have seen from the recent chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime on its own citizens speak thousands of words. Yet, we have been witness to these heartbreaking images for the past six years. This fact also raises thousands of questions. Maybe the most important one is this: Why has the enlightened world been silent on Syria?
Whereas the US military strike on a Syrian air force base sent an important message to the Assad regime, that message will soon be forgotten unless it is reinforced with a clear demonstration of outrage in the west.
Why are there no demonstrations in the streets of Europe or on American college campuses? Where are those who are so quick to organize protests against Israel (e.g. the BDS movement) when it comes to the war crimes of the Syrian regime?
Not only have there been no protests outside Syrian embassies in European capitals, there have been no protests outside the embassies of the two countries that have enabled Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to commit crimes against humanity. It is now obvious that the Syrian regime and its backers, Iran and Russia, have interpreted this silence as a green light for mass murder. As a result, there are now more than 500,000 dead Syrians and eleven million refugees, in large part due to Iran, its loyal proxy, Hezbollah; and Russia.
Since 2013, Iran has provided the Assad regime with massive financial support, an endless supply of ammunition and weapons and tens of thousands of fighters from its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Hezbollah and loyal Shia militants from Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.
Absent such support, Assad would have fallen from power (even before Russia put its military on the ground), and the Syrian tragedy would have long ago come to an end.
The world cannot claim that it does not know about Iran’s pivotal role in Syria. Reporters like Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker have
written extensively about this, and United Against Nuclear Iran has provided a detailed report about it.
Because the international community has failed to hold Iran accountable for aiding and abetting the Syrian regime in committing war crimes, Iranian leaders have felt emboldened to continue and even increase their support for Syria.
Unfortunately, the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), relegated Iran’s support for terrorism and the Assad regime to a euphemism called “non-nuclear issues” that were left outside of the scope of the deal.
As a result of the relief in sanctions, Iran now has more money and resources to channel to Bashar al-Assad so that he can murder even more innocent civilians. Moreover, major multinational companies are lining up to return to do business in Iran.
Those who claim to care about peace and human rights must be silent no more. Yet what is needed now are not only protests in the streets and demonstrations on college campuses. What is needed is action that will send a clear message to the eladers of Iran: End your support for the slaughter in Syria!
It is possible to hold Iran accountable both for implementing the terms of the nuclear deal and for adhering to norms of international behavior. To achieve that goal, it is crucial that American citizens urge members of the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration to designate the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
Following the chemical weapons attack in Syria, the Chairman of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) former Senator Joe Lieberman said, “The IRGC is the main means of support – financial and otherwise – for the Syrian regime and terrorist organizations throughout the region… The gas attacks in Syria demonstrate the urgent need to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization and show that this behavior will not be tolerated by the United States.”
Since the IRGC also controls key sectors of Iran’s economy, this designation would mean that foreign companies who choose to do business with companies controlled by the IRGC would not be able to do business in the United States.
Iranian leaders demand that Iran be treated like a normal nation. Yet normal nations don’t sponsor terrorism or aid brutal dictators in committing war crimes. Designating the entire IRGC as a terrorist organization would make it clear to Iran that it can’t have it both ways.
Most importantly, designating the IRGC would tell Bashar al-Assad that he can no longer depend on Iran for an endless supply of money, ammunition, weapons and Hezbollah fighters to commit mass murder. And we would be telling the people of Syria that we are no longer ignoring their cries for help.
Over the past year, the Twitter messages of a young Syrian child named Bana Alabed have caught the attention of more than 360,000 followers. On April 5th she tweeted, “The people of Syria don’t want condemnation, they want to be saved. Condemnation doesn’t save lives but actions do. #EndSyriaWar now.”
It’s time for the enlightened world to show Bana Alabed, and all the children of Syria, that we not only hear their message, we are ready to act now.