Thursday, July 10, 2014

Obama caves to conventional wisdom on Syria

By Fareed Zakaria, WashPost, July 10 at 6:52 PM

The Obama administration’s decision to seek $500 million to train and fund elements of the Syrian opposition has been greeted with bipartisan support in Washington. The general consensus is that, if the administration had done this three years ago, the situation in Syria would not have turned into a sectarian civil war. But this conventional wisdom is wrong. The administration is caving in to the classic Washington desire to “do something” in the face of a terrible situation without any clear sense as to whether it would improve things or make matters worse.

“The Syrian people started this revolution through peaceful demonstrations,’’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) — one of many to make the case that the struggle has turned sectarian because Washington was passive while it grew more intense. “These radical Islamists are hijacking the revolution,” Graham explained.

In fact, radical Islamists have been the core of the opposition to the Assad regime from the very beginning, decades ago. Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, came to power in a coup in 1970 and was the first non-Sunni to rule the country. By the late 1970s, he faced an armed Islamist insurgency that spread across the country’s major cities. Between 1979 and 1981, it killed more than 300 supporters of the regime in Aleppo alone. Assad, in turn, ordered crackdowns that killed some 2,000 Islamist opponents.

(More here.)

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