Flashback. August 18, 2011. The height of Hillary Clinton’s masterwork in Middle East policy. A statement by Barack freakin Hussein Obama.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing, and slaughtering his own people. We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
As a part of that effort, my Administration is announcing unprecedented sanctions to deepen the financial isolation of the Assad regime and further disrupt its ability to finance a campaign of violence against the Syrian people. I have signed a new Executive Order requiring the immediate freeze of all assets of the Government of Syria subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. persons from engaging in any transaction involving the Government of Syria. This E.O. also bans U.S. imports of Syrian-origin petroleum or petroleum products; prohibits U.S. persons from having any dealings in or related to Syria’s petroleum or petroleum products; and prohibits U.S. persons from operating or investing in Syria. We expect today’s actions to be amplified by others.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Syria’s government and its backers in Moscow and Tehran on Tuesday that they face an August deadline for starting a political transition to move President Bashar Assad out, or they risk the consequences of a new U.S. approach toward ending the 5-year-old civil war.
But given the various, unfulfilled U.S. threats throughout the Arab country’s conflict — from declaring Assad’s days “numbered” five years ago to promising military action if chemical weapons were used — it was unclear what effect Kerry’s ultimatum might have.
And it’s unlikely that the Obama administration, so long opposed to an active American combat role in Syria, would significantly boost its presence beyond the 300 special forces it has authorized thus far in the heart of a U.S. presidential election season. More feasible might be U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia giving the rebels new weapons to fight Assad, such as portable surface-to-air missiles.
“The target date for the transition is 1st of August,” Kerry told reporters at the State Department. “So we’re now coming up to May. So either something happens in these next few months, or they are asking for a very different track.”
This is just bullsh** from start to finish. The United States has absolutely no clout in dealing with Syria. Syria is in a military alliance with both Russia and Turkey. We’ve estranged Israel. Iran is committed to propping up the Assad regime. If Saudi Arabia becomes involved it will be to arm ISIS to keep the Iranians at bay. The alliance with Russia ensures UN sanctions are off the table. Europe doesn’t trust us and they damned sure aren’t going to do anything that would provoke Assad into creating more refugees.
In fact, when we last tried this a) we actually had some clout, b) the president made the threat, and c) nothing happened. That Kerry thinks we are in a stronger position to day than five years ago can only be put down to his cycling shorts being too tight.
Kerry also appeared to undermine his own selling of a truce by stressing that the opposition would never accommodate Assad’s leadership. The current U.N.-endorsed transition plan for Syria says nothing about Assad relinquishing power or being prevented from running for an eventual re-election as president. His family has ruled Syria for four decades.
“If Assad’s strategy is to somehow think he’s going to just carve out Aleppo and carve out a section of the country, I got news for you and for him: This war doesn’t end,” Kerry said.
“As long as Assad is there, the opposition is not going to stop fighting,” he said.
New flash. We’ve known for quite a while that absolutely none of the belligerents in Syria want the war to end because all of them need it.
… In a way, ISIS is a reaction to the observed failure of al-Qaeda — and I would argue the comparison of the failure of al-Qaeda to the success of Saudi Arabia, which is merely ISIS with better grooming and table manners. Al-Qaeda was a transnational movement but without a geographic base it could effectively control it was always at a disadvantage. ISIS is trying to rectify this situation by carving out a Sunni statelet. And, either knowingly or surreptitiously, it has hit a sweet spot where there is virtually no one who want the ISIS state to disappear. Let’s review the bidding:
Syria and ISIS cooperate against the less-radical-but-just-as-Islamic US supported rebels in Syria. This makes a reconciliation impossible and gives Assad a firmer grip on the more highly populated parts of Syria he controls.
The Russians like ISIS because it gives them a reason to be seen supporting their ally, Assad. Note that even after ISIS dropped that Russian airliner in the Sinai, Russia is still flying strikes mostly against the US supported rebels.
The Iranians like ISIS because it gives them a reason to be in Syria and extend their influence in Iraq.
The Kurds like ISIS because it is keeping the Iraqis pinned down and their long game is Kurdish independence.
Assad is not leaving because no one in the region wants him to leave. There is no way anything approaching a popular election can be conducted inside of Syria and no reason the losers would agree to abide by it.
Is is disheartening to see how low the US has fallen in international regard under the criminal regime of Barack Obama. The inbred cocker spaniel we have for secretary of state is reduced to making threats neither he nor anyone else believes. Our enemies are laughing in our face. Our friends are, for now, confining themselves to laughing behind our backs when we haven’t done something to give them the vapors.