The Sunni Genocide in Syria
The Sunni population in Syria is facing extermination. Obama's policy of non-intervention has allowed Shia militias to proliferate and facilitated their expansion into previously Sunni controlled areas. The missed opportunity for democracy means that crucial safeguards against genocide have been dismantled. It is certain that the Sunni communities will suffer from the consequences stemming from domestic repression and global inaction.
Five years of the Syrian war is testament to the notion that Western countries have never been interested in an outright victory for Sunni rebels in Syria. Instead, they allow the war to continue until embattled parties are exhausted and rendered impotent to wage any further wars against their allies. They deliberately choose to remain aloof from the Syrian tragedy even after witnessing the death of over half a million Syrians, thousands of who perished in Assad's torture chambers. The rationale western countries develop is simple: stay away from the war and let the enemies of enemies eliminate each other. This may seem shrewd policy making, but they have chosen to forget their moral obligation to humanity. Moreover, they have squandered the opportunity of regaining American influence in the region!
The ambiguous stand of the Obama administration opened the window of opportunity for decisive Russian intervention in Syria. Syrian opposition all along the course of the war had been begging the US for direct help to protect ordinary Syrian lives against Assad's bombs - that help never came! It remains puzzling why Obama's administration chooses to let down Syrians. Unlike in Libya, Syria could have proven to be a successful project not only in bringing democracy to the heart of Arab world, but also a precursor to rejuvenating faith in American ideals. Decisive military action once Assad had over stepped the Obama's redline would have had beneficial consequences: not only would have it stemmed the flow of refugees into Europe, but it would have helped counter the rise of ISIS. Indeed, the danger that the West faces today might have been avoided altogether and we might have also witnessed as of now an inclusive democracy in Syria. A democratic Syria could have helped to stabilize a situation in Iraq that continues to bleed and for which thousands of American and Iraqi lives were wasted.
Obama's policy of non-intervention against Assad regime and, at the same time, selectively eliminating Sunni terrorists, including innocent children and adults alike, has exposed its European allies to a grave danger. While insufficient safeguards have been built to protect Sunni populations, Shia death squads and militias have proliferated.
American inaction in Syria leaves Sunni Arab partners in an uneasy position. They watch the slaughter of ordinary Syrians but are helpless to end it. What has made matters worse for the Sunni Arab States is the lack of empathy shown by the Western countries for Syrian Sunnis. Western countries have been speaking passionately about the genocide of Yazidis and Christians, what is obviously absent from their narrative is the "genocide of Sunnis".
Genocide of Sunnis, American role and Syrian end game
The end game in Syria will have sectarian dimensions to it - not because revolution wanted it to be that way, but Iranian-Russian interference and American-Sunni States inaction must be held largely responsible for such a disastrous outcome. Iran chooses to deal with the Syrian crisis inherently on sectarian terms and ensures relentless support for Assad's brutality against Syrian Sunnis. On the other hand, the failure of Sunni states to support the Syrian moderate opposition, has facilitated unrestrained Shia expansion. In combating extremism, Western powers together with the Syrian Regime, Iranians and Russians have relentlessly bombarded the Sunni heartland in Iraq and Syria. This has contributed significantly to the overall scale of devastation of Sunni communities leaving Shia and Alawite controlled areas mostly intact. The net result is the killing of close to a million Sunnis in Iraq and Syria combined. It has also uprooted nearly 12 million Sunni Arabs from their homeland. With conflict still far from over, it is certain that more death and devastation can be expected for Syrian and Iraqi Sunnis. The displacement of Sunnis provides huge expanses of waste land in Syria and Iraq for Shiites and other players in the region to control and expand. This leaves displaced Sunnis at the mercy of Iranian backed Shia militias and their allies.
Dr. Mumtaz Y. Balkhi is an assistant professor based in Boston, MA. Views expressed in the article are personnel and does not represent that of the institution author works for. Author routinely writes on social and political issues.
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