It’s becoming clear that the Syrian crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of our time. However, two recent news items stand out as clear demonstrations of just how dark the conflict has become.
Mass Murders in Syria
Yesterday, the State Department reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses crematoria to hide mass murders.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State to the Middle East Stuart Jones told reporters the crematorium lies outside Sednaya military prison. Located just outside Damascus, this prison is notoriously harsh. Officials there execute an estimated 50 prisoners, usually by mass hanging, every day. Amnesty International believes that 13,000 have been killed in Assad’s crackdown on dissent.
Jones believes that Assad carried these atrocities out with unconditional support from Russian and Iranian leaders. In the presser, Jones claimed that “Russia… ‘has either aided in or passively looked away as the regime has’ engaged in years of ‘mass murders’ and other atrocities.”
This press release comes just one week after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, to discuss a wide range of issues, Syria included. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that, during their meeting, Tillerson pressed Lavrov on Syria. Apparently, Tillerson reminded Lavrov of the influence Russia has on Assad.
Obama Defends His Legacy
On the same day the State Department released its report, Politico released a very different piece on Syria.
Do you remember President Obama’s infamous “red line”? There are plenty of policy arguments to be made that Syria would not be as bad as it is now had the United States intervened. Nevertheless, the former president doubled-down in an interview with John F. Kennedy’s grandson. Obama stated that his decision to not bomb Syria “required the most political courage,” especially in light of Assad’s possession of chemical weapons.
The decision in question took place almost five years ago. At the time, a diplomatic solution may have appeared to be the best option. However, Obama maintained that stance after Assad used the weapons on his own people. Rather than courage, that decision highlights moral cowardice.
Hopefully, global leaders will begin to seriously consider intervening and ending the conflict. Too many have been content, like President Obama, to let the conflict carry on and grow worse.
I’m not sure how much longer the international community can stand by while thousands are being erased from this earth.