Thanks to Debbie Fugate for linking me to her unit's very nice summary of the year-end review of the situation in Syria, in terms of refugees and internally displaced persons. This of course has spilled over into Iraq with the introduction of ISIS into the mix in the region. The State Department's HIU notes that an estimated 202,000 Syrians have been killed since 2011, and there are now an estimated 12.2 million internally displaced Syrians who need assistance, and 3.8 million refugees in the region needing assistance. This is an almost mind-blowing number of people whose lives have been turned upside down by this conflict.
Since countries in the region are hardest hit by this conflict, it would seem reasonable for them to be the ones doing something about this. Yet, there is evidence that Turkey has been a customer for oil that ISIS has captured and is selling to fuel its expansion. And, as the Economist has noted, Saudi Arabia is not all that different in its view of the world than is ISIS--it just has more oil to sell.
And, for all the kingdom’s harshness at home and fuelling of extremism abroad, the world’s leaders flocked to Riyadh. Barack Obama cut short a trip to India to pay homage to the new king.
This is a craven spectacle from democracies that claim to uphold universal human rights. When authoritarians elsewhere point to the Western silence on Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, and its ruthless suppression of dissent, and cry double standards, they have a point. The West’s relationship with the Al Sauds must change. So must the dynasty itself.The kinds of boots needed on the ground seem to be boots of protest about the role played by Saudi Arabia and others (including Russia and Iran) in allowing Syria to implode as it has, putting millions of people in harm's way.