Wednesday, January 20

The dogs are still barking at Assad's caravan as it moves on

I'm looking at a Washington Post report filed yesterday by Liz Sly headlined Russian airstrikes are working in Syria — enough to put peace talks in doubt. Under different circumstances Liz's confusion about the meaning of a battle plan would be amusing, but an informed reader can only recoil in horror at this interpretation of events:
Peace talks scheduled to start in Geneva next week are already in doubt because of disputes between Russia and the United States, their chief sponsors, over who should be invited.

Russia and the Syrian government are objecting to a U.S.-backed list of opposition delegates drawn up in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh last month that includes representatives of some of the main rebel groups, saying that they won’t negotiate with people they term “terrorists.”
Terrorists? The Post and American administration need to stop hiding behind the term. The groups favored by Al Saud at the Riyadh conference differ only in minor details from Islamic State in their views on government.      

Liz is also carrying water for the administration when she adds:
Russia is pushing instead for the inclusion of a group of government-approved opposition figures who have remained loyal to Assad and also of Syria’s Kurds, who are fighting a somewhat different war on their own behalf in northeastern Syria.
This omits the fact that opposition figures were never loyal to Assad and still aren't. That's why they're called opposition. It's just that several of them realized that destroying their country was a counterproductive way of opposing him. These are the opposition figures Assad approves of negotiating with, which demonstrates that he is sane.

But from Liz's report it's obvious the Obama administration is still feeling its way to the understanding that Riyadh's picks couldn't even govern a chicken coop and that the vast majority of Syrians don't want to be ruled by Saudi Arabia. Or Qatar. Or Turkey. Or UAE. Or Bahrain. Or the United States. Or Iran, for that matter. And they especially don't want their country balkanized. 

Which is to say the Obama administration has demonstrated time and again that it has no understanding whatsoever of Syria. The U.S. handing off the problem of Syria to the Saudis is as stupid as handing off the problem of Afghanistan to Pakistan's rulers. 

The solution to these problems is for Washington to acknowledge that it's not the American government's place to solve a problem it is incapable of comprehending let alone solving. 

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