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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Worth Remembering The Last Six Years in Syria

We just passed the sixth anniversary of the start of the Syrian civil war.  It began when president Assad decided to stop street protests against his regime by sending snipers to roof tops to shoot random protesters.  Despite the murder unleashed on the protesters, they did not back down.  Instead, the protests quickly changed into armed resistance by the bulk of the Syria people.  The uprising was carried out by poorly armed people facing the full might of the Syrian army.  It was a one-sided battle, but the uprising continued.  The great bulk of the Syrian people opposed Assad and his troops.  Remember, Assad is an Alawaite Muslim, a Shiite related group that comprises only about an eighth of the Syrian population.  More than 75% of the Syrians are Sunni Muslim, and there is no love lost between those two groups.

It was at that point, that the USA could have made a major difference in the outcome in Syria.  Had president Obama just sent weapons to the rebels, they could have toppled Assad and established majority rule in Syria, thereby ending the civil war.  Obama first dithered and then decided to do nothing.

In the face of American and European refusals to help, the rebels turn to others.  It was their only choice (aside from being slaughtered by the Assad forces.)  That let the jihadis gain a foothold in the rebel opposition to Assad. 

Since then, more and more foreign influences have joined into the Syrian fight.  We have ISIS and affiliates of al Qaeda leading forces.  We have Iranians, Russians and Hezbollah helping the Assad forces.  We have Kurds securing their own portions of the country.  There are even American troops in the country; they were introduced to the fighting in tiny numbers after a five year delay by Obama.

And what has been the outcome?

The fighting continues.
There have been about 450,000 people killed.
There are about another 250,000 people missing and presumed dead.
There have been more than a million people wounded.
Roughly ten million people have been forced to flee their homes.
Millions of Syrians are now refugees in other countries.
Russia and Iran both now have bases in Syria.
ISIS was able to gain control of a large swath of Syria, although that is being taken back.

The best summary of the situation in Syria is that it is a disaster, a total disaster.

The truth of all this is that it shows what happens when America refuses to lead.  Obama wanted to lead from behind, but instead he chose not to lead at all.  The USA did not kill these people.  Of that there is no question.  If Obama had been competent, however, most of them could have been saved.

The next time someone tells you about how America has to accept refugees from Syria for humanitarian reasons, ask that person what he or she did to get our government to respond to the civil war in that country during the first two years of fighting when we could have made a difference.  Wait for the blank look that will surely follow.

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