Source: The New York Post – by Amir Taheri (Obama caves on Syria, does nothing to help innocent civilians)
Just weeks after Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about a “new initiative” on Syria, details are emerging about what that really means: Handing over the Middle East to the United States’ adversaries.
From the beginning of last week’s Geneva meetings, it was clear that the Tehran-Moscow tandem controlled the agenda, with the clear objective of strengthening the position of the despot of Damascus, Bashar al-Assad.
To their surprise, Tehran and Moscow quickly found out that the Obama administration was prepared to give them even more than what they wanted.
First, rather than insisting on an immediate cease-fire, Obama agreed to a cease-fire produced by unspecified talks at an unspecified date. This means Assad, with the help of Russia, can continue to bomb rebel-held territory. Who does this hurt? Not ISIS. Assad is concentrating on the original insurrection, the real threat to his power.
The remnants of Assad’s air force routinely hit civilian targets, including with chemical weapons, with little or no discernible change in the balance of power on the ground. It’s the massacre of civilians, a war crime, and the US says we’ll talk about it later.
Meanwhile, another 70,000 refugees are headed to the Turkish border, according to reports.
For the past six weeks, Russian air attacks have been part of a broader military strategy designed to create a cordon sanitaire around the enclave controlled by Assad on the Mediterranean and to cut anti-Assad rebels from access to the Turkish border. A number of Iranian elite units are involved in the campaign, leading brigades still loyal to Assad. Best estimates show that less than 10% of Russian airstrikes are targeted against ISIS which has been an objective ally of the Assad regime from the start.
Secondly, after Obama said “Assad must go,” in Geneva the US agreed to have Assad be part of a six-month transition of government.
Emboldened by that concession, the Tehran-Moscow axis decided to ask for more. They now want Assad to complete his current presidential term in 2022 with a promise not to seek a fourth term after that.
The Geneva talks were hardly the result of a genuine desire to stop killings in Syria. They had other purposes.
One purpose was to foster the illusion that the so-called international community had reached a consensus. This was patently untrue.
The Moscow-Tehran axis’s only agenda is prolonging Assad’s phantom presidency in Damascus.
As for Obama, he is only interested in buying time and creating the impression that the great practitioner of “creative diplomacy” has solved another major international problem in the wake of the Iran nuke deal.
The Geneva charade is slated to resume later this month in the hope of working out a cease-fire within three months. If some kind of cease-fire is agreed upon, three months after that, talks will start to form an interim government under Assad.
The next step would be to organize elections, presumably for a parliament, within 18 months. All that would take us into 2017 or 2018 — likely beyond.
By then Obama would have long left the White House and published his memoirs citing Syria as one of his successes. If things have gotten worse by then he would simply blame his successor.
To muddy waters further, the Obama administration gave its blessing to a conference in London on Thursday attended by nations financing funds for aid to Syrian refugees. The US and Great Britain are the two largest donors, accounting for half the total, followed by Kuwait, Germany and Canada. And yet, high table seats were also reserved for Russia and Iran, which have not contributed a cent to the fund.
In London, Kerry lamented that his “Russian partners “did not want peace in Syria.” Yet, always the “creative diplomat,” Kerry added that “we will work with our Russian and Iranian partners to seek a cease-fire in Syria.” He was right the first time.