The Syrian Humanitarian Crisis: another cost of the Iran nuclear deal

Faysh khabur, Iraq. 14th August 2014 -- Displaced members of the Yezidi community carrying goods and food cross the Tigris river on the Faysh Khabur bridge crossing as they make their way from Syria into Iraq. -- As the evacuation of displaced members of the Yazidi community from the Sinjar Mountains continues, thousands of displaced people cross the Iraq-Syrian border at Fishkhabur bridge over the Tigris in Northern Iraq.
Faysh khabur, Iraq. 14th August 2014 — Displaced members of the Yezidi community carrying goods and food cross the Tigris river on the Faysh Khabur bridge crossing as they make their way from Syria into Iraq. — As the evacuation of displaced members of the Yazidi community from the Sinjar Mountains continues, thousands of displaced people cross the Iraq-Syrian border at Fishkhabur bridge over the Tigris in Northern Iraq.

When Obama launched his ill-conceived plan to rid the world of Bashar Assad, he set into motion a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. We’ve covered that recent tragedy unfolding in southern and central Europe in some detail here (LeonErickMoe). As tragic as it is we must never lose site of the fact that this crisis exists and it will get worse because of the way the Obama administration got involved in this conflict and the way it has managed it. More importantly it looks as though the Obama regime accepted the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocents as the price for reaching a deal with Iran.

The conflict started when Obama and Hillary Clinton decided that they could topple Bashar Assad as easily as they did Muammar Gaddafi. That didn’t turn out to be the case. What ensued was a rebellion that resulted in a slaughter of the rebels who were, in turn, supplanted by ISIS imported from Iraq where Obama’s policy let it grow and fester.

Then, adhering to his blindingly stupid ‘lead from behind‘ strategy, he let what was supposed to be a coalition run completely amok. Why did the bodies of those dead Kurdish children wash up on a beach in Turkey? Because our ostensible ally in the fight against ISIS, Turkey, has collaborated with ISIS to attempt to crush Kurdish nationalists in Kobane, Syria.

Women and children are among 120 civilians massacred as ISIS fired at ‘anything that moved’ after re-entering the key Syrian city of Kobane.

The 24-hour killing spree in the town, which has become a symbol of Kurdish resistance, was widely seen as vengeance for a series of defeats inflicted on the jihadists by Kurdish militia in recent weeks.

Jihadists attacked the town on three sides after reportedly coming across the border from Turkey, a group which monitors the country’s bloody civil war said

In fact, Turkey is much more fearful of an autonomous Kurdish enclave in Syria than they are of ISIS. The Turkish government is openly discussing a military intervention in Syria to prevent that from happening:

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning a military intervention into northern Syria to prevent Syrian Kurds from forming their own state there, despite concerns among his own generals and possible criticism from Washington and other NATO allies, according to reports in both pro- and anti-government media.

Turkey has also worked with ISIS to eliminate US trained rebels:

The kidnapping of a group of U.S.-trained moderate Syrians moments after they entered Syria last month to confront the Islamic State was orchestrated by Turkish intelligence, multiple rebel sources have told McClatchy.

The rebels say that the tipoff to al Qaida’s Nusra Front enabled Nusra to snatch many of the 54 graduates of the $500 million program on July 29 as soon as they entered Syria, dealing a humiliating blow to the Obama administration’s plans for confronting the Islamic State.

Rebels familiar with the events said they believe the arrival plans were leaked because Turkish officials were worried that while the group’s intended target was the Islamic State, the U.S.-trained Syrians would form a vanguard for attacking Islamist fighters that Turkey is close to, including Nusra and another major Islamist force, Ahrar al Sham.

Turkey has obviously taken Obama’s hands-off-eyes-closed-ears-plugged style of neglect as a sign that it can do whatever it wishes. US airstrikes have also been a mixed blessing.

The little girl was home in northern Syria at around 8:30 on a recent summer night when the missile streaked down from the sky. Her uncle, 21-year-old Talha Amouri, was outside when the explosion ripped through the house, knocking him off his feet. He dug through the wreckage for hour after frantic hour, pulling out members of his family. He found five of his nieces — ages 8, 7, 6, 5, and 3 — dead. But the youngest, 2-year-old Nariman, clung to life, her arms locked around her mother, who had also survived. Nariman was rushed to a hospital across the nearby border with Turkey, in the seaside city of Iskenderun, where she now lies helpless beneath a web of tubes and bandages.

“The girl is close to death right now,” Talha said outside the hospital on a muggy afternoon last week, his eyes welling with tears. He had been keeping vigil there around the clock, waiting to learn whether his niece would live or die.

Nariman’s fate has been shared by countless children in a civil war that has seen tens of thousands of civilians massacred by the Syrian government’s airstrikes. But in her case there was one crucial difference: According to witnesses and monitoring groups, the missile was fired by the U.S.-led military coalition whose jets now cut through Syria’s skies.

Nearly one year after the Obama administration launched its campaign of airstrikes to target ISIS and other extremists in Syria, claims of civilian casualties are piling up. The Syrian Network for Human Rights, a local monitoring group, said there have been 242 civilian casualties from strikes by the U.S.-dominated coalition bombing the country, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also puts the civilian death toll at more than 200. Airwars, a U.K.-based project to collect and evaluate claims of civilian casualties in Syria, has identified 86 events during which coalition-inflicted civilian deaths are alleged, said Chris Woods, the investigative journalist who runs it. Of those, he said, 53 incidents had at least two credible sources and warranted further investigation. These incidents alone accounted for between 280 and 340 reported civilian deaths, he said.

But why did this happen? Because it didn’t have to. Michael Gerson gives one take on it:

This was not some humanitarian problem distant from the center of U.S. interests. It was a crisis at the heart of the Middle East that produced a vacuum of sovereignty that has attracted and empowered some of the worst people in the world. Inaction was a conscious, determined choice on the part of the Obama White House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus advocated arming favorable proxies. Sunni friends and allies in the region asked, then begged, for U.S. leadership. All were overruled or ignored.

In the process, Syria has become the graveyard of U.S. credibility. The chemical weapons “red line.” “The tide of war is receding.” “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” These are global punch lines. “The analogy we use around here sometimes,” said Obama of the Islamic State, “and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Now the goal to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State looks unachievable with the current strategy and resources. “The time has come for President Assad to step aside,” said Obama in 2011. Yet Assad will likely outlast Obama in power.

What explains Obama’s high tolerance for humiliation and mass atrocities in Syria? The Syrian regime is Iran’s proxy, propped up by billions of dollars each year. And Obama wanted nothing to interfere with the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran. He was, as Hof has said, “reluctant to offend the Iranians at this critical juncture.” So the effective concession of Syria as an Iranian zone of influence is just one more cost of the president’s legacy nuclear agreement.

If Rahm Emanuel’s motto is ” never let a serious crisis go to waste,” then Barack Obama’s could very well be “one death is a  tragedy; one million is a statistic.” We know with great certainty that Obama was instrumental in the deaths of several hundred Mexican citizens at the hands of drug cartels as a side effect of Operation Fast and Furious. The purpose there was to create facts to justify enhanced gun control legislation. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see Obama figuring that the death of a few hundred thousand Arabs was a small price to pay for a legacy-making agreement.