U.S. policy paralysis

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announces Citigroup Inc will pay $7 billion to settle a U.S. government investigation into mortgage-backed securities the bank sold in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, during a news conference in Washington July 14, 2014.REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

The attorney general of the U.S. has offered the latest evidence of the dysfunction that guides Washington’s Middle East policy.

Eric Holder was speaking to ABC news about reports that Yemeni bomb-makers have become active in Syria’s chaos and designed the latest nightmare explosive device – small enough to fit in a laptop.

The top law enforcement official in the world’s most influential country called it “something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern,” and the most frightening thing he has seen on the job. Holder also predicted that ISIS militants active in Syria and Iraq would eventually target the West and the U.S.

Several points should be relayed to Holder and his colleagues at the White House, if they continue to voice their concern and fear over what is happening in Syria.

Washington has been consistently and resolutely stuck to a policy of moving the goalposts – backward – when it comes to the Syrian conflict.

The political opposition is always at fault – it’s not inclusive enough, not strong enough, or not something enough.

The armed opposition, meanwhile, can’t receive sophisticated weapons because they could fall into the wrong hands. Now, there is concern that these “wrong hands” are instead busy building bombs, apparently unconcerned with stealing weapons from mainstream rebel groups.

In fact, all of the fears, concerns and other worrying sentiments rumbling around in the White House and the Beltway will probably disappear when Washington comes up with a policy for Syria, one that assigns top priority to the interests of Syrians – those who remain alive.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 15, 2014, on page 7.




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