The discord, of course, is not only confined to the Syrian opposition. Over the last few weeks, disagreements between top officials in Washington over what to do -- or not to do -- in Syria have come to light. The heads of the CIA, State Department, and Defense Department agreed many months ago that the United States should arm the moderate rebel groups. But in the heat of his reelection campaign, Obama disagreed. An estimated 20,000 people have died since then --providing a stark reminder that the U.S. policy of inaction has real consequences.
How will Syria shape the legacy that Obama leaves behind? The Nobel Peace Prize-winning president may write off his inaction during what will later be called "the Syrian years" with a few lines of regret in his future memoir, but those lines will not erase the tragic fact that there were thousands of lives that could have been saved -- but weren't, because of an election, or a close ally's interests.
Meanwhile, the Syrian regime, as well as its loyalists and allies, has been steadfastly implementing only one strategy: Assad or we burn the country. The procrastination of the opposition's supposed international allies has given Assad time -- time to strategically leave Syrian borders open to the wolves at the door, who rushed in armed with weapons and ideologies foreign to the diverse fabric of Syrian society. Time to kill more Syrians.
And so Assad burned card after Syrian card, along with innocent people, children, homes, and cities. Along the way, he burned the cards of justice, liberty, and dignity held by hundreds of original revolutionaries like Kurdish leader Mashaal Tammo, young pacifist Ghiyath Matar, and leftist intellectual Omar Aziz.
international community's dismal track record so far, one cannot help but hope
that this time, just maybe, someone will decide it's time to do the right
thing. It's time to end the murdering of a country. It's time to use all the
cards available -- to negotiate and to fight, to move the political opposition
into a protected zone within Syria, to deliver aid to the people suffering from
hunger, cold, and disease, to fight sectarianism and extremism, and to shake
off the world's apathetic, paralyzing ambivalence. That would be a legacy that
everyone from Husseini to Obama could be proud of.
Time is running out on Syria. Time has already run out for more than 70,000 Syrians. Two cruel years unfolded in front of our eyes -- and we still worry about legacy and personal interests, about power, about saving face and political feuds. We still worry about the worthless cards we clutch to our chest while hundreds of Syrians die every single week.
Burn the cards. It's time to go all in.