US Lacks Responsible Foreign Policy To Deal With ISIS
On August 29th, President Obama addressed the United States (and the rest of the world) regarding various issues. The primary issue on his agenda, and the agenda of most Middle Eastern listeners was ISIS (aka The Islamic State). ISIS has been growing like a cancer in Syria for the past two years. They leave death and destruction wherever they go. Due to their inscrutable relationship with the Assad regime, ISIS has been able to develop a strong hold in Syria which they consider the base of their caliphate. A strong hold that continues to grow and that no one has been able break.
The Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front have been fighting ISIS and the Assad regime on what they thought was two separate fronts, but now it is clear that the two fronts have been colluding. This explains why it has been so difficult to cage the monsters. It isn't only ISIS and Assad that the Syrian Freedom Fighters are faced with, because Assad and ISIS participate in a Terror Network that is lead by Iran. Iran has supplied their Revolutionary Guard into the warscape; as well as, arms, munitions and vehicles. The other terror network member is Hezbollah which also routinely supplies men well armed, with their own transportation.
Syrians Know Obama Does Not Have Their Back
During his press briefing, the President of the United States announced to the world the US has "NO STRATEGY" for dealing with ISIS. In Syria, the suffering has been so costly ... physically, emotionally, economically, as well as, for infrastructure, and history. Hearing the "NO STRATEGY" announcement, after having asked the US repeatedly for leadership and direct assistance was like "the straw that broke the camels back" for many Syrians.
This statement especially took Syrian Americans by surprise:
What has become painfully clear to Syrians (Muslims, Kurds. Druze, and Alawites (many of whom are standing up against Assad) is that the US does not have their back. If the US decisionmakers do not start listening to "the right people," the US will continue being the foreign policy fool, and lives throughout the Middle East and North Africa will continue to perish. Or Russia will fill the vacuum.
Who Are the Right People?
The right people are those who actively listen to the people on the ground in Syria and Iraq before making assumptions or taking actions that may have a harmful result. The people who are fighting against ISIS every day who understand their movement and their path must be consulted. The Syrian Activists and the FSA have deep knowledge about ISIS which is up to the moment.
What Do Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham Have to Say?
In an opinion piece that Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham published on August 28th, they called President Obama's statement about ISIS "startling and dangerous." They said "the threat posed by The Islamic State requires a far greater sense of urgency than the administration is showing." In fact, they suggested that the "Authorization to use Military Force" should be modified so that no there would be no need for members of Congress to to approve specific actions related to terrorism. This is quite a turnaround and may give President Obama more leash than he wants.
Syrians, and people who empathize with their struggle, are constantly befuddled at how quickly President Obama jumped into the ISIS situation in Iraq. Syria has been suffering under the corrupt tyranny of Assad who routinely colludes with ISIS. This isn't something new. It has been known since ISIS moved into Syria that there is collusion. However, the larger the atrocities on the Syrian people and the more complex the games they play with the Assad regime - the sense of urgency goes up exponentially.
Syrians want to know why Iraq is more important than Syria. Why are Iraqis more important than Syrians? Does it really come down to sects? President Obama talked about Yazidis and Kurds in his speech. Syrians do not wish harm on anyone and are happy help could be found for these people. But the question remains, what about Syrians?
In order to highlight the issue with one example, the story of the al-Sheitaat tribe in Deir Ezzor is important. It certainly demonstrates how callous the US appears to the plight of Syrians. Months ago, the people of Deir Ezzor warned the Obama administration about ISIS's signature for mass murder, torture and brutal rape; and that they were moving into Deir Ezzor. With no response from the US, ISIS moved into Deir Ezzor which became their staging ground for the Iraq invasion. This demonstrates that the US either discounted the intel being shared or just doesn't know how to listen, as all reports coming from Washington DC talk about Raqqa but do not mention Deir Ezzor.
As ISIS systematically overtook the Deir Ezzor region, they ran into the al-Sheitaat tribe who lived in this area. The tribal leaders dared to oppose ISIS which resulted in the entire al-Sheitaat tribe being declared as infidels. ISIS then executed 700 members of the tribe over a two week period. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 100 of these tribal members were fighters, but the rest were civilians including women and children. The whereabouts of an additional 1800 tribal members is also unknown.
Nobody mentioned Deir Ezzor in recent press briefings. Not Obama, not Kerry, not the State Department. No wonder they don't have a strategy, they don't know what is going on. McCain and Graham didn't mention it either, but like Western media, they probably rely on the State Department for their intel.
There has been a continuous request to arm the moderate opposition in Syria since the revolution escalated into armed conflict. If this had happened early on, ISIS may never have evolved. The US was so afraid of arms getting into the wrong hands, the issue was argued to death. Now look who has the US arms [ISIS] and the Syrian opposition are still fighting with light arms, in most cases. Since the US could not be "guaranteed" weapons would never get to the al-Quaeda fighters, weapons influx remained non-lethal when what the Free Syrian Army and Islamic Front need are heavy weapons and MPADS. These freedom fighters are not fighting for themselves, they are fighting to save their country from a Tyrannical Dictator who has sold out to Russia and Iran; while protecting their people from the satanical ways of ISIS.
Result Of Obama Non-Commitment
What may come of President Obama's non-commitment to the Middle East and North Africa? According to Vladimir Ahmedov, a Russian Analyst with the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, "no matter how sharp and clear were the statements made by Western leaders about cooperation with Assad in confronting with ISIS and regardless of the intensity of its objections and its rejection of coordination with Damascus to strick ISIL (aka ISIS), the West will final come to Assad at the end of the day."
Ahmedov reports that Syria has been having on-going talks with Russia, where "Damascus has been pushing Moscow to take part in the military air operations against ISIL." He said that the following was read in Damascus as a formal Moscow agreement to coordinate with the west on one hand, but also coordinate with Assad from another side with military actions against ISIL in Syria. "Moscow has agreed with Washington DC on the need to confront ISIL in principle, but under some additional conditions such as obtaining approval from concerned countries [Syria] and respecting their sovereignty and international law."
Questions That Should Be Asked
Has the United States really considered talking with the Russians again about military strategy in Syria?
How can we talk with Russia about Syria - when we know that Russia is in collusion with Assad - who is in collusion with ISIS?
Would anyone consider Assad a viable negotiating partner on terror or anything else? If the US has a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists, isn't it true Assad should be at the top of the terrorist list along with everyone in his inner circle?
Thousands of Syrians have been martyred in the last month. The death rate in Syria attributed to the war is logged at about 190,000+, but that doesn't consider those missing who are likely dead in Assad prisons or buried under piles of building debris. It is possible the number could double based on some Syrian estimates, considering people missing that are presumed dead.
Postscript: Jim Foley
The news of Jim Foley's death was horrible news and the impact on his family, friends and the entire world has been devastating. It is with careful consideration that we continue to open the question: Are ISIS and Assad using Jim Foley to play another game? Why would we ask the question? ISIS is a satanic type of terrorist group that likes to put on a scary show. When ISIS executes someone, especially a high value target, they have an audience, make sure it is bloody and they hold the head up as they almost dance with sick pleasure. Afterwards, ISIS likes to display the heads of their victims on poles or fences for their public to see as trophies and as warnings. The beheading of Jim Foley just doesn't add up from the perspective of the behavior of ISIS. We hope we are right and there is another chance to free Jim Foley.
Thank you to Syria Live Update News @YallaSouriya for access to their up-to-the-minute news service.
Kimberly Jones is a global nomad who writes about international issues, however, she has a special interest in Middle East and North Africa affairs. Read more stories by Kimberly Jones.
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