How Samantha Power Deceived a Syrian Refugee about the White House’s Intention to Stop Assad’s Chemical-Weapons Attacks

In 2013, Kassem Eid was present in one of the civilian areas subjected to sarin-gas attacks by Bashar al-Assad. After fleeing the country, Eid wrote a memoir of what he witnessed during the civil war, and tried to call the U.S. government’s attention to the atrocities being committed. He even met with then-UN Ambassador Samantha Power and hoped that she would bring his plea for help to the president. Based on Power’s recent defenses of President Obama’s failure to act at that time, Eid is now convinced of her duplicitousness:

I first met then-Ambassador Samantha Power at the U.S.-UN Mission on April 14, 2014. That was two months after I fled Syria and less than a year after I survived Assad’s sarin-gas attack. When I met Ambassador Power, she told me that she was trying hard to persuade President Obama to act decisively against the Assad regime and that she was ashamed of Obama’s inaction. She then told me about her personal experience as a journalist and activist while she was covering the Yugoslav wars and the genocide in Bosnia.

I was touched by what I perceived to be Ambassador Power’s sincerity and personal experience that led her to write A Problem from Hell, which explained how politicians lie in order to avoid intervening to stop genocide. . . . In [the book], Power explains how the U.S. administration tried to cover up the genocide in Bosnia by instead labeling it a “civil war.” Yet she and President Obama escaped responsibility for the documented and proven war crimes committed in Syria. . . . If Power was telling the truth, she should have resigned; [after all], she chided diplomats at the State Department for not resigning during the genocide in Bosnia.

The Assad regime taught us in schools that there was no Holocaust and hid the truth of the crematoriums and the concentration camps where millions of Jews were brutally killed. But the Obama administration also refused to act on—or reveal—direct eyewitness testimony it received of the crematorium in Saydnaya Prison in Syria, where an estimated 100,000 people were brutally killed and then burned to ashes to hide the truth. I’d begged the U.S. administration during my meetings at the State Department back in 2014 to investigate the Saydnaya Prison and Qasioun mountain because my fellow activists in those areas had repeatedly told me since 2012 how they smelled the awful stench of burning flesh.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Barack Obama, Holocaust denial, Iran, Samantha Power, Syrian civil war

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy