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Obama’s Syrian Blunder

Continuing strife in Syria apparently has President Obama befuddled. There are allegations that the Assad government has used chemical weapons against the rebels that are fighting to oust him from power. A year ago, Obama said the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that the US could not tolerate. Faced with the recent allegations, however, Obama has yet to make a decision. “The president has not yet decided how to respond,” a senior administration official said Sunday. It appears that Obama’s “red line” is really more pink.

More importantly is Obama’s continuing failure to pick the wrong side in the Middle East. In Libya, it resulted in the death of four Americans in Benghazi, a debacle we have yet to fully grasp. In Egypt, he backed the Muslim Brotherhood honcho, Morsi, against more secular and moderate opponents. We now see the results of his choice there. And now, in Syria, he is poised to make the same mistake. If he intervenes, which seems a certainty at this point, it will be on the side of the rebels and against Assad.

Who are the rebels? Predominantly Al Qaeda and its offshoots.  Who says? Well, for starters, the NY Times and USA Today:

“Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of” — New York Times, April 28, 2013

“Syrian rebels pledge loyalty to al-Qaeda” — USA Today, April 11, 2013

This, by the way, is the same Al Qaeda that Obama declared was “decimated.” This is the same Al Qaeda that we have been sending troops to combat in the Middle East for a generation. We’ve been in Afghanistan for 12 years now, and still have no exit strategy other than surrender. We have tried diplomacy, economic and military aid, and military action, and yet Al Qaeda is still a force for evil in the world.

And yet, here we are, poised to aid these rebels that in the same part of the world are killing our soldiers. The Telegraph reports: “Navy ready to launch first strike on Syria,” by Tim Ross and Ben Farmer, August 25.

To be sure, Assad is no saint. But in a part of the world where the murder of Coptic, Assyrian, and Maronite Christians is now a daily occurrence, Assad was one leader that kept a lid on Islamic terrorism against those groups for years.

But Obama seems poised to make the same mistakes in Syria that he made elsewhere. According to one official, the White House believes the Syrian government had denied a U.N. investigative team immediate access to the site of a reported Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs, in order to give the evidence of the attack time to degrade. So, while we have “reports” of chemical weapons being used, we are unlikely to find evidence of it.

On the other hand, Syrian State TV announced Bashar Assad’s government would allow U.N. inspectors to visit the site – a statement later confirmed by the U.N. The mission is already on site.

Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Syrian government that it needed to give the inspectors immediate and unimpeded access to the site “rather than continuing to attack the affected area to block access and destroy evidence.”

“If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it – do we have the coalition to make it work?” Obama said in an interview broadcast Friday. “Those are considerations that we have to take into account.”

Meanwhile, Samantha Power, the newly confirmed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, didn’t attend the Security Council’s emergency meeting on the alleged chemical-weapons attack in Syria on Thursday. When pressed,  the State Department offered little information. U.N. sources revealed to Fox News that she was in the country for a personal trip.

Obama appears prepared to make the same mistake in Syria that his predecessor made in the region. He will likely use military force against Assad based on unclear or non-existent evidence, and use it against the same forces that he continues to war against elsewhere. And he will use it to aid the side that is most inimical to our interests in the region. Resulting in, predictably, greater instability, more massacres of those deemed insufficiently “Islamic,” and emboldened enemies of the US. It’s time to either let the two sides battle it out between each other, or at least support the side that promises the most advantage to our interests.

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