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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

While America slept

It was 2011, and there was a tide of revolution across the Arab world.

Much like the fall of the Soviet Union, longtime dictators and military strongmen were finally seeing their oppressive governments in shambles.

But one of the worst results has been the debacle in Syria.

For three years now, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has held onto his once-tenuous grip on power in Damascus.

With the West paralyzed in fear at the prospect of embroiling themselves in another conflict in the Middle East, the military stalemate continues to fester.

But in avoiding one conflict, the United States might have reopened the door to further conflict in Iraq.

I wrote earlier in the summer that unless we are willing to face the Balkanization of the Middle East, the United States will continue to be involved in global affairs.

But since the Obama Administration’s decision to wash our hands and sweep Iraq under the rug, the rapidly deteriorating situation in northern Iraq, kept only in check through American airstrikes, can be squarely attributed to Bashar Al-Assad.

During his turbulent first years of revolt, Al-Assad quickly realized his most dangerous enemies were those of the Free Syrian Army, who called for liberalization and democracy.

Knowing full well that these rebels would be embraced and funded by the West as well as the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia, Al-Assad quickly found a solution in a group we know as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

In Al-Assad’s defense, he did not purposefully send them direct aid, as ISIL was also against the idea of him governing Syria.

The Wall Street Journal reported that by focusing his energy on wiping out the FSA forces while leaving ISIL untouched, Al-Assad effectively allowed ISIL to metastasize.

In addition, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s face-saving agreement to preserve Al-Assad’s presidency made it virtually impossible for America to strike the true perpetrator of this disaster, never mind the hypocrisy of Putin’s aggressive moves to combat Islamic extremism in Chechnya.

It was a masterstroke for the dictator, as he was able to de-legitimatize the greatest threat to his power and distract America from the true reason ISIL has run roughshod over Iraq in one fell swoop.

It was yet another case of divide and conquer, but one that Al-Assad will rely on America for the conquering, leading to the airstrikes in Iraq and talks of additional action against ISIL in Syria but not against Al-Assad.

And even worse, our failure to act may put us in the disastrous position of working with Assad out of pure necessity to combat ISIL, which legitimizes a regime that we were intent on toppling only a year ago.

We’ve been had.

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