Once again, the dictator of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has committed a crime against humanity and against his own people. And once again, the U.S. government is playing the role of apologist.
On the morning of April 4, while most people were yet asleep, Assad’s air force carried out two attacks on the small agrarian town of Khan Shikhon. Rescue workers reported that more than 100 people died from suffocation from Sarin nerve gas, and more than 200 people were injured.
All of the victims were poor civilians who have been unable to escape the ongoing bombardment. Khan Shikon is part of Idlib governorate on the major highway between Damascus and Aleppo. It was held by the rebels against the Assad regime since 2014, and has been run by its own citizens. But now, the town is not even on the front lines of the current confrontation between the Assad forces and the rebels. Only 30 percent of its population remains, anyone able to flee already having left.
There is something wrong with the minds of our so-called modern leaders. Recent statements by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other Trump Administration officials, including the President himself, accommodate Assad and give him the green light for more killing.
The genocide in Syria has been going on since 2011, with no end in sight. The tepid international response has emboldened Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Assad, all of whom have no fear of punishment for their crimes against the Syrian people so desperate to escape tyranny. President Trump responded to the latest atrocity by blaming former President Obama’s failed “red line” policy, forgetting who is now the President of the United States.
This is the second largest chemical attack by Assad forces since the infamous massacre in Ghouta near Damascus in 2013, after which the Assad regime promised to destroy its chemical weapons. But since then, Amnesty International has recorded systematic chemical use by the regime.
The Assad air force, along with the Russian air force, destroyed the major hospital in town just a few minutes before the chemical attack, and then followed with another strike against a second smaller hospital where victims were being treated. Only a day later, heavy barrel bombardment resumed, killing survivors of the attack, even as the world media watched.
The Syrian people who opposed Assad have been the victims of his “freedom” revolution over the last seven years. First, they were targeted by the brutal Assad regime forces, then, by ISIS and Al-Qaida , and finally by the Iranian revolutionary guard and the Russian air force. Now, more than 50 percent of the population, about 12 million people, are displaced. Whole cities have been destroyed.
Yet President Trump sees ISIS as the only priority. The terrorist organization is a minor thug compared to the monstrous Assad regime. The only possible way to save the Syrian people is to remove Assad. If that happened, it would be much easier to eliminate ISIS and Al-Qaeda from the region.
Although the Syrians have their backs to the wall, they still have hope and they think of the United States as the only power (with basic principles of freedom and dignity) to save them. That is why the Trump Administration response is so tragic. Syrian people deserve to live safely in dignity in their homeland, and the U.S. must act on its own principles, at least, to stop this continuous genocide. If not, then we will see an evil tyranny prevail for a long time. Assad will not stop the killing (with the ongoing on the protection of Putin and Khamenei) until all his people are dead or have submitted.
It is time to bring Mr. Assad to the court of international justice. Mr. Trump, you represent the great American people. You cannot hide by blaming Obama. The free people of Syria will fight against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and extremists of any kind. Now is the time to erase the stain on your presidency that will last forever if you do nothing to help save the Syrian people from this terrible evil.
Hussein Amach is a Syrian Economist who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin.