BLOG 306 June 13, 2016
Presidential Campaign 2016 keeps pushing international news to the side. However, important events are unfolding in Syria.
Some years ago I visited Syria and stayed a number of days in Damascus. After eating in one of their better restaurants, I spend several days in the hotel recovering from food poisoning. Does that tell you anything?
One thing is for sure. The disease hasn’t stopped. The sectarian warfare tearing Syria apart isn’t likely to end soon. Secretary John Kerry means well but his efforts at creating a cease-fire aren’t going anywhere fast.
Second, don’t look for any big changes on the battlefield any time soon. Trudy Rubin, reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently visited northern Syria and talked with Syrian Kurdish leaders. With the help of U.S. air power, the city of Kobani was taken back from ISIS. She spoke to military leaders in Kobani and found the current focus is on recovering the city of Raqqa with a heavy Sunni Arab population. Key to recovering the city will be the number of Sunni Arabs who will join with the Kurds because the Kurds do not want to be seen as occupiers. The local Arabs need to be the victors.
Here’s the news that Trudy Rubin discovered. The battle for Raqqa has a better possibility for success than the current struggle to take Mosul. American Special Forces will be a key element.
Yes, yes, I know President Obama said we aren’t in the war anymore – accept for bombs, airplanes, special troops, advisors, etc. At this point Washington can’t seem to make up its mind. There is no clear policy toward the Syrian Kurds while the USA worries about angering Turkey. (Turkey fears Kurds are creating a new government on their border.) Only when Washington is clearly serious about taking Raqqa will the campaign be successful.
The continued indecision in Washington remains the big problem in ending the Syrian struggle. President Obama appears to have an unshakable belief in progress. Unfortunately, past history does not support the American dream. History tends to be cyclical, not moving forward in an unbroken line.
Look at Russia. The Soviets disappeared along with Stalinism. A new day dawned! Really? Putin has turned out to be a son of Stalin. History continues to repeat itself as Russia makes its own forays into the Middle East and the Syrian war.
In fact, the Syrian upheaval strangely reflects the Spanish Civil War in the l930s. Francisco Franco’s Nationalists fought Spain’s Republicans, but the war was only a front for testing Hitler’s weaponry against the Soviet Union. Today Syria is the same with Saudi Arabia actually contending against Iran. The war is a proving ground for new weapons system just as Spain was. The Basques in Spain have now been replaced by the Kurds. Here we go again!
At this point, the big loser is America’s talk of democracy and human rights. The over-riding hesitancy from Washington has reduced the US role to virtually nothing. The United Nations and a dozen human rights organizations also have done nothing to stop the butchery in Syria. They are no better off.
Come on, Washington. Get with it.