Obama failed in Syria: What’s next up?
Unlike the other revolutions of the Arab Spring, the Obama administration delayed for nearly six months its declared position regarding the Syrian revolution when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that what is happening in Syria is a revolution against the Assad regime and that Assad should quit power. Through time, it was visible that the evolution of the US position was different from what was shown by public statements. Obama administration never wanted to end the crisis or overthrow Assad, but rather managed the Syrian conflict by controlling the supporters of the Syrian revolution, and leaving the doors open to supporters of the regime.
The US administration prevented key Arab and regional countries from supplying the Syrian opposition with weapons that could tip the scales of the conflict. It even put the names of several Gulf figures in the terrorist list for collecting donations to support the Syrian opposition factions. Additionally, in 2013 the Obama administration established two operations rooms in order to coordinate and adjust the support to the Syrian opposition factions, as well as their operations: the first in Jordan, controlling the factions in the south of Syria (M.O.C.), and the second in Turkey (M.O.M.), which supported the Syrian factions in northern Syria. Several countries were involved in those rooms.
Nonetheless, the Obama administration did not stop at that point. In 2013, it announced that the most important and powerful faction of the Syrian opposition, Fatth al-Sham, formerly known as Al-Nusra Front, was put in the terrorist list. The US began targeting its leaders, most recently Abu Omar Saraqib, the general commander of Fatth Army, who was killed in an air raid by a US drone in September. It is worth remembering that Abu Omar, who is a Syrian, revolted against the Assad regime calling for freedom; he never intended to target the United States and his name was not in the list of terrorists like the name of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who, yet, is protected by the American aircraft to exterminate Sunnis in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Although the Obama administration announced that Assad lost legitimacy, not once in the last five years its forces targeted the regime positions, except in one instance by mistake and apologized for it. Syrian opposition allies were prevented from supplying factions with anti-aircraft weapons, and Turkey was banned from the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria.
Furthermore, the Obama administration supported the PYD and YPG gangs connected with the terrorist organization of PKK with weapons and air cover under the pretext of fighting ISIS. These Kurdish terrorist mafia organizations committed crimes equivalent to those perpetrated by ISIS, through ethnic cleansing in the cities of Tel-Abiad and its suburbs and Manbij and its countryside, under the eyes of the Obama administration.
The Obama administration has given the green light to Russia to intervene in Syria and encouraged Russians to continue the killing of the Syrian people, day after day, through their silence about what is happening there.
Finally, it is the Obama administration that has concluded a peace agreement with Iran, which has been sending arms and soldiers on daily basis to kill the Syrian people. The US is offering air cover to Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi militia that Iran created in Iraq which killed tens of thousands of Sunni Iraqi civilians in Fallujah and Ramadi, but the Obama administration looks at it as the spearhead in the war against terrorism.
While Obama’s term in the White House is ending, the next US president is viewed by Middle East people with suspicion. Among the two options, the sweetest one is bitter, as Arabs used to say.
Hillary Clinton, as former Secretary of State for the Obama administration, has been very keen to support the factions of the Syrian armed opposition with quality portable anti-aircraft rockets, and she supported the idea of establishing safe zones in the north and the south of Syria. She also supported the idea of no-fly zone in the Syrian sky. Yet, Hillary is the leader of the nuclear deal with Iran, which was a major reason for the increasing aggressive activity of Iran in the Middle East in general, and in Syria in particular. But things have changed now in that the Russian presence in Syria has become a fait accompli. Any US military action in Syria could lead to a nuclear third world war. So, Hillary’s options in Syria are very limited.
Donald Trump’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin is very good. Putin’s support to him, through pressure on WikiLeaks to expose Hillary’s confidential information, is no secret. However, Trump, per his public statements, views Iran as an enemy and is opposed to the nuclear deal. On the other hand, Trump believes that Assad does not constitute a danger to the United States and it is not a priority to remove him from power. Therefore, Trump will not be the best option for the Syrian people.
Under these limited options for the Syrian people and the Middle East in general, the future is not promising. The most important question still remains: How long will Middle East countries await changes made by foreign powers to solve their problems?
Eva J. Koulouriotis is Greek political analyst specialized in Middle East. Twitter: @evacool_f, Facebook: @evakoulouriotis