Paul Adams writes that Stephen Harper is now Bashar Assad's newest ally. The coalition he has joined strengthens Assad's hand:
- Most obviously, it strikes directly at the most potent rebel force that rose up in opposition to his regime — the one that has acquired the most territory and has the strongest fighting force.
- By targeting Islamic State, it allows Assad to divert military resources to fight other rebel groups, including the al-Qaida linked Al-Nusra Front and the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels we supposedly support.
- The anti-Islamic State mission also creates a diplomatic opening for Assad to begin rehabilitating his regime from pariah state to unlikely Western ally.
And Adams offers a few facts for comparison:
The U.S. government recently said that Islamic State had abducted between 1,500 and 4,000 Yazidi women, some of whom were apparently sold as “brides”. That’s awful — but how does it compare with the record of the Assad regime?
Although it’s notoriously difficult to assemble statistics on sexualized violence, there is substantial evidence that the Assad regime has used rape as a weapon, and on a scale yet to be matched by Islamic State. It also has a ghastly record of torturing and murdering civilians — including children.
Best estimates of the number of people killed in Assad’s war so far are in the neighbourhood of 300,000. The number killed by Islamic State to date may be in the tens of thousands.
None of this means that Islamic State is a victim. They are beyond the pale. The question is: Is the Harper mission the solution to the problem? Past history suggests it isn't. But Stephen Harper is no student of history -- even recent history.