Did the democratic world ‘fail Syria’?


The democratic world failed Syria, argues Fadi Azzam, a Syrian writer and the author of the novel Sarmada. “I don’t mean the West’s politicians, foreign ministers and generals. I mean its cultural elites, civil societies and human rights organizations. Those are the people who failed us,” he writes for The New York Times:

Can democracy be achieved through the use of military force? The answer is yes. If the West had intervened in support of the Syrian revolution, democracy would have had a chance. Instead, the Syrian people have been left with democracy’s slogans and lies — and more destruction and extremism.

Over the past six years, millions of Syrians have experienced self-government and civil society for the first time, notes Atlantic Council analyst Frederic Hof:

Yes, this novel (for Syria) exercise of basic human rights has been seasoned with barrel bombs, sarin gas, starvation sieges, illegal detention, torture, and rape. Yes, millions of Syrians trying to remove a regime’s hands from their pockets and throats found themselves doubly victimized by Islamist extremists: the Assad-enabled primitives who, in turn, enabled Assad to claim—without a trace of irony—that he was fighting terrorists.

Yet these millions—while living daily with regime terror supplemented by ISIS, al-Qaeda, Iran, and Russia—also broke the bonds of fear so patiently and expertly woven during forty-five years of family rule.

In recent months, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the al-Qaeda-linked successor group to Jabhat al-Nusra and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, has established a stronghold in Syria’s Idlib province, notes analyst Ruwan Rujouleh. In order for outside parties to prevent further jihadist control over the province, especially in its northwest section, they will have to split civil society from HTS as well as from another extremist group, Ahrar al-Sham (AS), he writes for The Washington Institute.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has become a lightning rod for a fierce debate over the Obama administration’s role in the Syrian civil war. The museum is facing withering criticism after pulling a study commissioned by a think tank within the museum, the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide which is overseen by the museum’s Committee on Conscience, The New York Times reports:

The report examined whether alternate strategies could have lessened the bloodshed, now in its sixth year… Museum leaders and the study’s authors had sought lessons on how a future president could mitigate similar crises. Though the authors found much to dislike in President Obama’s decisions on Syria, they also concluded that no single American action would have guaranteed a significant reduction in the violence there….

Several members of the Committee on Conscience said they did not know about the Syria study until it was published online. Another member, Elliott Abrams [a National Endowment for Democracy board member]…. said he learned about it the day before it was posted. Mr. Abrams said he called Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum’s director, to criticize its framing and warn her about a potential backlash.

The museum did the right thing by pulling the report — a move first reported by Tablet magazine – said Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“The Holocaust museum, if it stands for anything, stands for the idea that we should always act against genocide and that there’s something forever wrong and unsatisfying about the idea that we can do nothing to alleviate radical evil,” Mr. Wieseltier said in an interview. ……

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