The Obama administration's Syria policy has fallen apart, and two pithy images from inside the country provide some insight as to why.
At the Friday protests in Kafranbel — considered the "Syrian revolution's heart" and creative center — demonstrators presented an illustration of U.S. President Barack Obama watering a black Piranha Plant that stands for the al-Qaeda-linked international jihadist group Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
The implied criticism touches on what Middle East experts have been saying for months: The Obama administration's reluctance to provide meaningful support to Syrian rebel groups led to a vacuum that foreign extremists capitalized on. In that way the U.S. helped ISIS blossom in Syria.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough had reportedly suggested that a scenario involving Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese proxy, fighting al Qaeda-linked forces in the opposition would work to America’s advantage — boy was he wrong.
ISIS blossomed and took over large swaths of northern Syria, including the largest rebel-held city, and then it focused more on setting up a rudimentary Islamic state than fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
(Last week, other rebel groups began expelling ISIS fighters from areas they controlled.)
Then the Assad government carried out a massive chemical weapons attack in the capital of Damascus on Aug. 21. The U.S. threatened retaliation before striking a deal with Russia to remove Syria's chemical weapons stockpile.
The deal re-legitimized Assad, who suddenly became a necessary military partner for the international community, and weakened the moderate opposition further.
The next image from Kafranbel critiques one of the administration's more recent moves, which was to bank on upcoming peace talks and back away from its demand that "Assad must go."
This graphic nails another major foreign policy flaw : After calling for Assad's ouster but not acting on that conviction, the Obama administration welcomed Assad back into the international community as he continued to bomb his people into oblivion.
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