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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Air strikes can't beat ISIS but Free Syrians can!

US President Obama is being forced to order air strikes against ISIS in Iraq this August because he failed to order air strikes against Assad in Syria last September. His failure to make good on his "red-line" threat after Bashar al-Assad's Syrian army killed more than 1,400 Syrians with sarin last August was a great bonus to jihadist Islamists like ISIS and their ranks grew as a direct result. All those who looked westward as they battled against Assad felt stabbed in the back when Obama reneged on his promise. Some left the fight entirely. Some joined the anti-western jihadists. While Assad gave ISIS safe-haven in Syria, Obama's betrayal of Assad's democratic opposition so shifted the balance of forces in Syria that ISIS could make its triumphal "return to Iraq" with the resulting need for air strikes.

Cokey Roberts spoke the truth on ABC News "This Week" today when she said:
I agree with Hillary Clinton, as you quoted her earlier, saying well, if we had gotten into Syria when the rebels were begging us to come in and saying here we are, trying to secure our freedom, where is America, then you wouldn't have had this group filling the vacuum.
Relying on regional strongmen to stop the Islamic State won't work. They have helped create it. In Syria, Bashar Al-Assad let the jihadists out of jail as soon as the revolution began because he needed a fake opposition. Many of the jihadists and criminals he freed went on to become founding members of ISIS. After the Free Syrian Army liberated Raqqa, Assad bombed them mercilessly. After ISIS took it over, there were no air strikes on them. Assad gave them safe haven. They were his poster boy "enemies" but he never attacked them. He left them to grow and flourish until they were ready to spread to the fields so well prepared by Maliki in neighbouring Iraq.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has led the Iraqi government the United States left in charge when it ended its occupation in such a sectarian fashion that much of the Sunni community has been in open revolt against his Shiite regime. His sectarianism has led to such desperation among these Sunnis that they have been willing to ally themselves even with the likes of ISIS if it promises a change in the situation. He has obviously been unable to build a national army willing to stand and fight for its country with the sorry result that many of the arms with which he has been so generously supplied are now in the hand of ISIS, making it better armed with US weapons than any group fighting against it.

In Egypt, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's criminalization of the Muslim Brotherhood, the executions of their members, banning of their legal organizations and exclusion from electoral politics will only fuel the growth of jihadist terror groups. Throughout the region we can see that these secular fascist strongmen do more to engender than discourage the growth of these religious fascist organizations. They are two sides of the same coin. The solution to both is a free people operating in an atmosphere where all views can be aired and government is by and for the people.

For more than three years there has been a little drama going on in Syria that has been too little noticed by the world. As a component part of the Arab uprisings in the Spring of 2011, a large section of the Syria people, composed of and representing every sect and religion, rose up to demand an end to the forty-year-old Assad Baathist dictatorship. With the full support of Putin's Russia, and regional support from Iran and Iraq, Bashar al-Assad has responded with the genocidal policy of wholesale murder against any group that opposes his rule.

The response of US President Obama and other world leaders with the power to intervene against this slaughter has been to look the other way and make statements. Because the struggle in Syria has been so one-sided, Assad won't step down and enjoys an endless weapon supply from his allies, while the Free Syria Army gets little from its so-called allies; the Syrian conflict became a festering wound in which ISIS could grow to become the danger it is today.

If the FSA had been given just a little help in the past, if Obama's CIA had even allowed it access to MANPADS and other heavy weapons from Libya, Qatar, China and other sources, the struggle in Syria would have been decided long ago and ISIS never would have had a chance to take root there. Still today, the best way to defeat ISIS now is to fight them in both Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, Obama should be encouraging reform in the government and support Kurdish forces confronting ISIS. In Syria he should be supporting and arming forces allied with the Free Syrian Army.

Air strikes alone can't defeat ISIS. That job will require boots on the ground and those ground forces can only be supplied by the freedom fighters in the neighborhood.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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