Under pressure from the United States, and specifically theÂ White House, members of theÂ Free Syrian ArmyÂ just releasedÂ 48 Iranian hostages toÂ AssadÂ in return for over 2,100 captiveÂ FSAÂ prisoners. The deal was struck by proxy usingÂ QatarÂ and Turkey to facilitate the swap. The hostages harbored a trove of intelligence treasure because of their knowledge about IRGC procedures and targets. I would imagineÂ IranÂ would only dispatch the crÃ¨me of the crÃ¨me of its IRGC men to save its most important Ally inÂ Assad.
Why such pressure from theÂ White House? Because if you read Michael Ledeen”™s Blog titled “The New Iranian Hostage Crisis” you would realize the conditionsÂ IranÂ imposed onÂ ObamaÂ to continue negotiating; this comes on the heels of four years of negotiations leading the US down the same path others have taken, on top of over 30 years before the last four thus turningÂ Foggy Bottom”™sÂ NEAÂ into one happy ferret on a Ferris Wheel.
As soon as those 48 Iranian hostages were released, The PentagonÂ leakedÂ whyÂ ObamaÂ drew his infamousÂ Red LineÂ threat againstÂ AssadÂ in early December 2012. Why the detailed leak now? Is it possible that some unhappy officials in The Pentagon are sending veiled warning to theÂ Free Syrian ArmyÂ to beware ofÂ AssadÂ using gas against whole cities after this swap? I cannot help but question the timing even though the article refers to Russia securing Assad‘s chemical weapons in return for a promise by Secretary Clinton not to militarily interfere in Syria. Putin can, at any time, take advantage ofÂ Obama‘s weakness by interpreting arms flowing to the rebels as foreign military intervention.
But shouldÂ AssadÂ believe thatÂ Obama”™sÂ Red LineÂ is just grandstanding and thatÂ Obama”™s commitment to negotiating withÂ IranÂ is as absolutist, then nothing will stopÂ AssadÂ from using Sarin Gas against our people. Assad needs to end the fighting as quickly as he can because he is running out of cash as well as options.
If this happens, then the Syrian blood is on the hands of Erdogan and al-Thani ofÂ Qatar, both of whom are happy to play the role of errand boys for Obama without any consideration for Syria”™s long-term survival. Both had the opportunity to pressure Obama to deliver weapons to the FSA in return for the 48 IRGC fighters and both ignored the reasonable thing to do. I hope I”™m wrong about this because the end goal here is to stop Assad, including the minimization of any danger to use WMD against the Syrian people as well as others. Grant you, theÂ FSAÂ swap was conducted with people thinking with their hearts rather than their brains, but now that the mistake is behind us, all of our focus should be on whatÂ AssadÂ will do with the Sarin and what wouldÂ Obama”™s reactions be.
Unfortunately for me, I trustÂ Obama’s Red LineÂ as much as I trustÂ Assad’sÂ commitment to political reform or a peaceful resolution to Syria’s tragedy.