The United States should not ever do a deal with the “butcher” Bashar al-Assad, who is evidently exploring the possibility of asylum, according to Elliott Abrams, who held senior foreign policy advisory positions with Presidents Reagan and George W Bush, for whom he was also a Special Assistant at the National Security Council.
Speaking exclusively to LawFuel during a visit to New Zealand, the man who was heavily involved in
Latin American affairs and is a Mid-East expert and senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations also saidthat the development of the International Criminal Court also meant that dealing with tyhrants like Assad
The ICC’s reach meant that asylum, such as that granted during the 1970s to dictators like “Papa Doc”
Duvalier of Haiti was no longer possible. The ability to tyrants to retire into oblivion in sunny villas
some place was no longer an option, but in the case of … Assad who had slaughtered and barrel-bombed
so many of his own people, the US should avoid doing any deal with him.
Recent reports indicate that al-Assad may be exploring the possibility of seeking asylum in Venezuela.
Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the US is prepared to negotiate to have Assad removed and to end the
Syrian crisis. Elliott Abrams has clearly laid the blame for the crisis at the feet of the Obama administration and
its lack of leadership in the region, which has substantially contributed to the rise of the Islamic State and the
continuation of the brutal Syrian civil war.
He said that the vacuum created by the fast withdrawal of the US from Iraq had left the largely Sunni-populated Syria at the mercy of Assad’s forces. “If Islamic State or al Qaeda come forward to protect them, what are they going to say?”
“We’re not there. We’re not backing Syrian rebel forces. Its a Sunni majority country, they’re being slaughtered so they’re saying ‘whose going to protect us?’ They’re going to get a lot of takers.”
The result was the rapid development of the IS with its calamitous consequences for the region and the world.
“The Gulf Arabs they say that we appear to have chosen the Shia – and that we are indifferent to slaughter of Sunnis.” The apparent clinching of the Iranian nuclear deal is a further sign to them that the US has chosen the Shia side of things in what he sees as a “bad deal” that can not just release massive amounts of money to the Ayatollahs, but also to nuclear proliferation.
The fact that the deal can be set aside, unlike a treaty, such as those undertaken with Russia and others, is the one hope that he sees for a future, re-asserted and strengthened America.
He believes boosting the withered US military budget is critical to a reassertion of American leadership both in the Middle East and elsewhere, which he firmly believes will come. His criticism of the Obama presidency’s lack of leadership is equally firm. The pursuit of the Iranian nuclear deal, his problems with Congress and Israel and other factors have lead to a desire to withdraw rather to confront key issues in the Mid–East and elsewhere.
The American withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 soon lead to disastrous consequence. “In 2012 Assad started killing people.”
The US foreign policy situation – Elliott Abrams talks of lack of leadership rather than weakness – has also carried over into other regions.
“You have a more aggressive Putin, a more aggressive China in the South China Sea. The Islamic state runniing wild
in Syria and Iraq.
“It (the withdrawal) was a mistake. When three Americans were beheaded by ISIS Americans looked at that and said”those people have to be hit.”
But it was the lack of action in the vacuum left following America’s rapid exit from Iraq and the developing crisis
in Syria that has lead to the murder of hundreds of thousands in Syria and the mass exodus of those seeking refuge
in Europe that most concerns him.
“Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Petraus head of the CIA unanimously advised Obama to build the Syrian defense. These were all Democrats – “this was clearly a mistake. What happened. The regime in Syria has killed hundreds of thousand of people.”
Doing deals with tyrants is out of the question in his view, but a foreign policy that provides leadership, as well as restoring a damaged relationship with Israel and nixing the Iranian deal are all options to create a safer world.
He’s equally strong in condemning the Iranian nuclear deal.
“This deal has been an outlaw program with many UN resolutions against it. The deal will make it a legitimate program and within 10 years they can build whatever they want. I don’t see why that’s a good deal”
The Sunni world sees the growing hegemony of Iran, he notes that four Arab capitals under Iranian domination: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa.
“There is a sense (among Arabs) that Iran is on the rise. The Americans in particular seem to be saying live with it rather than resisting it”.
Putin and China
He is also wary of Putin’s adventures and Russia’s increased nationalism, along with the more aggressive role undertaken by China in the South China Sea. China, he believes faces some severe economic, environmental and other issues, including a significant demographic issue arising from its one-child policy which will lead to economic and social issues.
For Putin, he recollects what was said about the Russians by his former boss Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson:
“Putin is an opportunist – he sees an opening here (in the Middle East).
Scoop Jackson used to say “Russian are like burglars going down the hotel hall seeing which rooms are unlocked. Putin just saw one unlocked.”
He’s not picking winners, Republican or Democrat, but believes the future for an America that plays a stronger role
in world affairs is ahead. It will, he says, make is a safer world, too.