The Obama administration has begun planning how they’re going to prevent Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons from falling into terrorist hands. If they succeed, it’ll be the first time, and meanwhile, the president’s continuing flirtation with the Muslim Brotherhood is chilling the chances for any U.S./Russian cooperation on Syria:
A key problem, however, is that we have put our chips on Muslim Brotherhood groups and the brokerage of the Erdogan government in Turkey. That is a very bad policy move, one guaranteed to generate enemies (Russia, China, Iran) for our non-policy policy while giving nations like Saudi Arabia less reason to endorse our activities… If the U.S. policy were to fence in and discourage the Muslim Brotherhood, while bolstering liberalizing elements instead — elements that exist in every nation of the Middle East – we would make it more desirable for a nation like Russia to collaborate with us on the Syria problem.
The Syrian regime showed a new determination Wednesday to crush its opponents, vowing to “cleanse” a rebel-held district in the besieged central city of Homs after nearly four weeks of shelling. Government troops massed outside the embattled neighborhood of Baba Amr, raising fears among activists of an imminent ground invasion that could endanger thousands of residents, as well as two trapped Western journalists, who have been under heavy bombardment.
It’s a small point in the greater disaster that is Syria, and it’s impossible to prove inasmuch as it is a counter-factual, but: had human rights organizations spent the last two decades focusing on Syria instead of obsessing over Israel, maybe – maybe – some of this could have been avoided. Giving those groups the benefit of the doubt, they merely were spectacularly wrong about where the greatest threat to human rights was centered.
A similar argument holds, by-the-by, for the not insignificant swaths of the Democratic Party who thought Assad was some kind of “reformer.” Their “smart power” foreign policy acumen seems to have gotten this one wrong.