Indeed, many feel that Clinton’s reorganization is too little too late. “The opposition Secretary Clinton is trying to unify has become largely irrelevant, even infusing it with elements from inside may not be sufficient,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian exile who is active in the opposition in Washington. “Syria’s current fragmentation necessitates working with local groups, that is, the rebels and whatever political forces are coalescing around them.”
In announcing it the way she did, Clinton also alienated one of the few friends the U.S. has amongst the Syrian opposition, the SNC, which announced it would hold its own meeting just prior to the Doha gathering as a snub to the U.S. “The SNC will fight for its survival, many opportunists will fight for inclusion, seeing a window in Clinton’s announcement,” Abdulhamid says. “It’s going to be a free for all and a freakshow in Doha. The U.S. should have worked on this quietly.”
On Syria, close observers felt neither candidate presented a serious plan toward resolving the bloody civil war that threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East.
“In Obama’s case, this is quite disheartening because he’s been following the situation and been involved in it from the beginning,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s as if he’s putting together a eulogy rather than a policy.”
While Mr. Abdulhamid credited Mr. Romney with doing “some good posturing” on Syria policy, he added that it was “not clear if Romney is going to bring a coherent policy other than saying we’ll throw some weapons at the problem and hopefully it will solve itself.”
The lack of a commitment to military intervention – such as a no-fly zone or airstrikes, but not foreign boots on Syrian soil – is maddening to pro-intervention Syrian opposition figures such as Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington research center.
While Abdulhamid said the Obama administration’s involvement in the Arab protests was “overall a positive one,” Syria is “a nightmare scenario” that was facilitated by government officials’ “lack of resolve, leadership and vision.” Syria, he and other activists say, could end up as a stain on the administration’s otherwise sensible response to the Arab uprisings.
“If they make it through this coming election, I just hope they have plans to give this tragedy the time and resources it requires to be brought to resolution in a manner commensurate with the aspirations of the pro-democracy activists who started this whole thing and were, in effect, betrayed,” Abdulhamid said.
The American Red Cross of Southwestern New York and the Robert H. Jackson Center will host a humanitarian law conference on Nov. 7 at the Robert H. Jackson Center, 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown.
The conference introduce local teachers to the American Red Cross Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum and help local educators learn the skills for teaching International Humanitarian Law in their classrooms.
The event will feature several key speakers, including a live conversation with Ammar Abdulhamid, a leading Syrian human rights and pro-democracy activist. The event will also feature two American Red Cross speakers: Winnie Romeril, an International Humanitarian Law instructor and Kathy Burch, an Exploring Humanitarian Law master educator and assistant director of the Southwestern NY Chapter.
“In truth, we are not talking about major expenditures here,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, cautioning that OSOS was too new to assess its effectiveness.
As President Bashar al-Assad’s forces disintegrate, the Syrian civil war is devolving into a battle between Sunni rebel groups and Alawite-dominated militias fighting in support of the old regime. This may increase the rebels’ chances of victory, but it also means that the work to rebuild Syria after Assad falls will be even more challenging. Continue reading →