Kudos to Barack Obama for ending a decades-old arms embargo against Vietnam Monday and setting the stage for the normalization of relations with the United States’ former enemy.
Kudos to Obama for finally initiating a rapprochement with Cuba and making a historic visit to the Communist-ruled island earlier this month in an effort to deepen détente.
But now it is time for the U.S. president to set aside his political differences with Russia and join forces with Vladimir Putin to fight a common enemy that is threatening both Middle East and global stability, Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as the Nusra Front), which was born out of the vacuum of the failed state of Syria and has since exploded to align itself with a transnational syndicate of vehement jihad and religious hate.
Last week, Putin made a shrew proposal that the United States and Russia move past their disagreement regarding the ultimate fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — at least for now — and join forces to stage joint air strikes against Syrian rebels who are not complying with the U.N.-brokered ceasefire.
Those rebels include the Al-Nusra, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda and is responsible for countless bombings and the callous murders of hundreds of Syrian civilians.
But while it would seem to make perfect sense for Russia and the U.S.-led coalition to maximize their efforts and join forces against a common enemy, Obama has been reluctant to accept Putin’s proposal.
Obama’s reasons for rejecting the offer are simple: The United States, Europe, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have steadfastly maintained that there can be no resolution to the Syrian crisis as long as Assad remains in power. Damascus, Moscow and Tehran, on the other hand, contend that Assad is the legitimate, duly-elected president of Syria and that there can be no justification for his ouster by foreign parties.
Consequently, Obama sees helping Russia to neutralize Assad’s enemies (which include Al-Nusra) as an endorsement of the tyrant’s authoritarian regime.
But what Obama is not considering is the fact that Assad, for all his faults and criminal atrocities against his own people, is the lesser of two evils when it comes to trying to find a solution to the five-year bloodbath that has led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people and created the worst global refugee crisis in modern history.
The U.N. ceasefire and peace talks — which to a large extent were the result of savvy Russian statesmanship in the region — are the best hope the world has for ending the grisly slaughter in Syria.
Moreover, Putin’s offer complies with the guidelines for the armistice laid down by the U.N. Security Council authorities, which clearly calls on “member states to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, Al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with al-Qaeda or IS, and other terrorist groups … and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria.”
Since the ceasefire supposedly took effect on Feb. 27, Al-Nusra has not only refused to set down its weapons, but has intensified its gory assaults throughout Syria and has gone about its plan to create its own “emirate” state within Syrian territory.
Obama is so blinded by his hatred for Assad that he is, in effect, endorsing an Al-Qaeda affiliate and disarticulating Syria’s last chance to find stability and peace.
Accepting Putin’s offer to jointly halt the advance of Al-Nusra may be a stopgap measure that could require a certain degree of U.S. political back-peddling at a later date, but when your house is burning, you don’t stop to question who is helping you put out the fire.
Syria is ablaze with sectarian violence and Islamic jihadist terror, and right now, the urgent mission is to stop Al-Nusra and bring a semblance of stability to a nation that is direly hemorrhaging and on its last breathe.
Worrying about whether Assad will remain in power after the war in Syria is extinguished is a bridge that can be crossed when — and if — it is ever confronted.