For review, the U.S President Barack Obama did err in his executive decisions regarding Syria. He should never have publicly insisted on the demise of the Syrian leader in 2011, if he had NO intention of ever backing up his words by proffering assistance to the moderate opposition forces who had the same goal.
In summary, around the early part of 2012, the U.S. had a choice of deciding to render substantial assistance to the moderate rebel forces fighting to end the brutal regime of their Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to also stem ISIS from establishing a stronghold in the area or to end its insistence on requiring the exit of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad as a precondition for doing anything. This would have placed the U.S. military in a better position to pro-actively degrade and destroy ISIS at its inception in Syria (2012). The U.S. did not take either route.
Instead, the U.S. had been cow-towing to Turkey and Saudi Arabia, our supposed allies who had been financing these same insurgents behind the backs of U.S. officials because both nations have different priorities. Turkey’s focus has been in fighting their arch enemy, the Kurds. As a sunni nation, Saudi Arabia’s intent has been to curb the shia (Iranian) influence in the area. Their mutual goal has been to dethrone President Assad ( Alawaite shia) and NOT in fighting ISIS.
However, if the U.S. relents on toppling President Assad, there are those with goals more aligned with the U.S. objective of degrading and destroying ISIS which include our foes, Russia and Iran. Our allies, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been attempting to overthrow President Assad for over four years with no victory in sight, instead of fully supporting the U.S. military action against ISIS.
In a 2009 memo revealed by WikiLeaks, the then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a main source of funding for militant groups including Al-Qaida. Riyadh was not acting to stop this money flow and this policy continued into the Syrian War. Private sources provided hefty funding for extremist anti-regime groups including Al-Qaida into the early months of the Arab Spring uprising, often channeling cash donations through intermediaries in Turkey. Gulf States including Saudi Arabia allowed the transfer of funds to these militant Sunnis groups, viewing the militias as an effective way curb the expansion of Iran’s Shia Muslim influence.
In recent months, Israel has backed away from demanding the ouster of President Assad. No one is denying that the President Assad’s Bath regime in Syria acted grievously and with malice to curb civilian protests after the 2011 Arab Spring but as Israel’s neighbor, they have been a more secular country which did not have a history of aggression towards Israel. After the examples of Iraq and Libya, it becomes clear that any replacement governing body with a more conservative Islamic inclination may not act likewise.
It’s time for the U.S. to take advantage of Russia’s hard-line recent presence in the region by working with them and others towards a political solution which means that President Assad will probably continue to remain in power for now, and until an agreeable governing transition team can be established. The pertinent question is that if President Assad goes, then what? A coalition of countries can then be formed to tackle the real threat to western countries, ISIS.
Those who supported intervention in 2011-2012, by arming those Syrian rebels intent on the ouster of their President Assad included the then CIA Director David Petraeus, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and most of the foreign-policy establishment in Washington, both Democrat and Republican.
On the other side of this issue, were President Obama, top members of the national security staff and most of the America peoples, based on 2011 polling data.
The following story as per a 9/18/15 Levant Report by Brad Hoff and a 8/8/13 NY Times article by Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt, reflects on difficulties the U.S. had in discerning who were the good guys from those who were ISIS affiliated:
“After the battle (Battle to take the Menagh Air Base in Aleppo Province, after 10 months of trying) Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Okaidi; the head of the U.S.- backed opposition’s Aleppo military council, appeared in a video alongside Abu Jandal, an ISIS leader in Iraq and Syria. In camouflage, Colonel Okaidi offered thanks to our brothers al-Mahajireen Wal Ansar and others, adding, “We’re here to kiss every hand pressed on the trigger.” He then ceded the floor to Abu Jandal and a mix of jihadist and Free Syrian Army leaders who stood together, each praising his men.”
BBC News published a 10/10/15 article by Tara McKelvey, titled, “Arming Syrian rebels: Where the US went wrong.” Ms. McKelvey tells the story about President Obama’s lack of decisiveness between the crucial time period of 2011- 2012, from the point of view of the U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford.
Ms. McKelvey synopsis:
“US President Barack Obama never seemed to want a train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels. Now, government officials admit that the program is pretty much over. Here’s what happened behind the scenes at the White House.”
“After the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011, rooting for the rebels was, for many in the West, synonymous with rooting for democracy and freedom.”
“In the US, White House officials offered the rebels humanitarian aid and some military gear. But they argued over whether they should provide heavy weapons and help in a more serious way.”
“The philosophical discussion at the White House was heated and fierce, leading to stalemate.”
“For years Obama and his deputies refused to say categorically: we’re not doing this. Instead a decision was postponed.”
Feb 28, 2016 – Bombshell: Russian Military Reveals Details of ISIS-Daesh Funding, Turkey’s Role in Supporting the Terrorists…
Nov 24, 2015 – 2) Turkey Provided Logistical Assistance to ISIS Fighters…