The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces is not much on using a soft touch when it comes to diplomatically sensitive matters. At least, that is the impression one gets from reading the latest statement it issued regarding the death of U.S. journalist James Foley. In that statement, a Syrian opposition leader laid the blame for Foley’s death squarely on the shoulders of President Barack Obama. He implied that his administration’s dithering and backtracking in response to the Syrian civil war is to blame for the current circumstances in the Middle East.
“Mohammed Qaddah, vice president of the Syrian Coalition, said that the terrorist attack on the United States did not begin with the murder of journalist James Foley, as was stated by deputy national security advisor to the White House Ben Rhodes,” the statement began.
Qaddah put the blame on Washington. “Rather, the terrorist attack against not only the United States but against all humanity began with the Assad regime’s murder of the Syrian people amid an unprecedented silence by the international community,” he said.
The United States bears much of the responsibility for this horrible crime when it did not react to the Assad regime’s repeated crossing of the red lines it had drawn and warned against crossing. Therefore it is now imperative for of us to realize that the silence towards the wholesale killings and state terrorism committed anywhere in the world which has produced ISIS and other extremist groups is a real indicator of the expansion of extremism not only to the rest of the region but the entire world. From the very beginning we have many times warned the international community that Assad seeks to carry out its threat and set the region ablaze in case popular uprising against his rule.
The statement goes on to note the many times in which the world was warned that growing instability in Syria would lead to regional violence. The Syrian opposition did, however, express great grief for the United States over Foley’s murder.
“James Foley was also one of our sons, and our grief over his murder was not less than that of the United States,” the statement read. “This horrendous crime is a terrorist attack not only on the Unites States, but also on Syria, the whole region and humanity in general.”
At a time when it seems like Obama will be forced to finally undertake military action inside Syria, although with muddled objectives and conditions on the ground far less favorable than they were a year ago, it seems imprudent of the Syrian Coalition to be antagonizing the president. That being said, if I were engaged in a more than three-year-old civil war characterized by the use of weapons of mass destruction in which nearly 200,000 had died and is only now going to be subject to foreign intervention after an American journalist was gruesomely beheaded, I would be understandably churlish, too.