The Middle East is ablaze, and the Obama administration risks aligning itself with very unsavory company in an attempt to put the fires out.
As the Obama administration backs away from pushing regime change in Syria while siding with Iran and Russia against a Sunni insurgency in Iraq, former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford poises a question on the administration’s mind: Should Washington consider cooperating with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-
Ford, who quit as ambassador after he could no longer defend the administration’s policy of largely ignoring the opposition, argues that actually working with Assad would be a whole new level of fail.
“Those who counsel cooperation with Assad should think things through very, very carefully with their own reputations in mind,” Ford warns, nothing that the Ambassador-at-Large in the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice recently said that not since Hitler’s Germany has there been a regime so eager to document its atrocities.
The enemy of Assad’s enemy
ISIS (or IS), an extremist militant group which now controls 60% of Syria’s oil and spearheads the Iraq insurgency, has thrived in Syria by being bolstered by Assad while fighting the mainstream rebels who have struggled to topple him.
Ford offers the alternative of the U.S. bombing ISIS in Syria, even if it would upset Assad and his primary backers — with whom the Obama administration finds itself working alongside in Iraq.
“Yes, the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia all need ISIS alive and well in Syria to help crush Assad’s opposition. Yes, they would all be quietly appalled by such a step,” Ford notes. “Yet how could they possibly object publicly or even privately to the United States obliterating key pieces of the terrorist entity they all publicly decry? … Would not the battering of ISIS in Syria have salutary effects in Iraq as well?
The alternative, according to Ford, is to accept or even work with Assad. And that risks a historic disaster.
“The administration’s fear of a slippery slope has paralysed it, even as it slides downward and headlong into the dark unknown,” Ford concludes. “If acceptance of and cooperation with a regime neck-deep in war crimes and crimes against humanity should become thinkable, then the amazingly deep extent of the fall will be painfully clear to one and all.”
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