Months after the world watched President Obama announce airstrikes against Syria for its use of chemical weapons against its own people, the country still burns, as civil war continues to ravage the Middle Eastern nation. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s agreement (brokered by the Russian government) to give up his chemical weapons stockpile has staved off any U.S. attacks, but has done little to end the two-year civil war, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced more than a million Syrians.
During the recent stand-off with Congressional Republicans over America’s fiscal crisis, President Obama repeated many times that he would not give in to, nor negotiate with, “hostage-takers.” Whether or not one agrees with the substance of the debate, there should be no disagreement with the basic premise: Dealing with hostage-takers only results in more hostage-taking.
That’s why it’s curious—indeed, quite disappointing—that Obama will play host at the White House today with an honest-to-goodness hostage-taker whose victims are real people whose lives are in serious jeopardy.
In Iraq, the buck stops with the Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, more so than any other country. He is the Commander in Chief, the acting Minister of Defense, the acting Minister of Interior, the acting Minister of National Security and the Head of Intelligence.
Earlier this year, interviewing prisoners in Shaaba Khamsa, Baghdad’s death row facility, I met a 52-year-old woman, one of the thousands of prisoners the U.S. turned over to Iraqi custody when American troops left nearly two years ago. She showed me the scars where security forces had burned her with cigarettes, used electric shocks and beat her so badly that she was still using crutches three years later.
Tomorrow morning, as the House Foreign Affairs Committee holds its “Next Steps on Egypt Policy” hearing, committee members should examine the ongoing violence against religious minorities in Egypt and the urgent need for a new human rights based approach to U.S. policy there.
Last week, I joined small employers, business leaders, elected officials and advocates from across the country to stand with President Obama and call for immigration reform. Like the president, small business owners understand fixing our country’s immigration system will foster a stronger, better-trained workforce, which will bolster their bottom lines and the economy as a whole. The time for smart, comprehensive immigration reform is now.
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.CX.) presence and remarks at the Christians United for Israel Washington Summit this year, whether motivated by political strategy, personal religious belief, or both, undermine U.S. efforts to stabilize the Middle East by demonstrating leadership through political moderation.