Fifty-five Congressional Democrats sent an open letter to President Barack Obama seeking a reversal in his policy towards the ongoing crisis in Syria, which has produced more than 4 million refugees who are streaming into neighboring countries and Europe, and where Russia is now conducting air strikes. The letter called upon the president to engage in international negotiations to bring an end to the conflict that has produced more than 300 thousand of deaths and emboldened the so-called Islamic State terrorist organization since 2011. Obama had set what he called a “red line” beyond which Islamic terror could not strike, only to do nothing in the end.
The letter was sent to the president during the recent UN General Assembly when Obama met with his Russian counterpart, Vladmir Putin.
One of the signatories, Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut, said of the letter and the conflict it deplores, “Two of the most pressing global challenges right now, the bloody civil war in Syria and the international refugee crisis, are inextricably tied together.” In a statement on his website, Himes wrote “These issues affect a huge portion of the global community, so it makes sense for the United States to take the lead in bringing the international community together to craft a solution. We’re writing the president today to urge him to start this process now before the violence and humanitarian crises spiral further out of control.”
The letter called for Obama to “convene international negotiations designed to stop the civil war in Syria, stabilize the country, effect the return to Syria of all refugees, provide for political change towards a popularly supported, accountable Syrian leadership, and develop a cohesive, international strategy for the defeat of ISIL.” ISIL is one of the acronyms used to describe the Islamic State, including ISIS and DAESH. The Democrats recognized that there is an “immense and potentially destabilizing challenge to fragile regimes in the Middle East and is now affecting Europe and the United States.”
Most importantly, these congressional Democrats appear to assert that Obama’s policies toward the region have failed. The letter says, “Sadly, it appears that none of the efforts the U.S. and Europe have made so far in Syria have produced the desired results: a transition away from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the return of peace and stability. In fact, with the introduction of Russian military equipment and personnel, and with increasing Western military efforts directed at both ISIL and Assad-regime forces, there is every possibility that violence will escalate.”
The Democrats foresee continued devastation in Syria and a worsening of the refugee crisis that is sundering Western Europe, and “an increasing probability of expanded military conflict in the region.”
The letter said, “…it is time to devote ourselves to a negotiated peace, and work with allies, including surrounding Arab states that have a vested interest in the security and stability of the region, moving forward with both a peace plan and a coordinated assault against ISIL.”
The letter called for “quick action” from Obama in a situation that worsens from day to day and shows no sign of improvement. International negotiations, the letter said, are a “moral imperative.”
Representative Himes was joined on the letter by Representatives Bernice Johnson, Beyer, Blumenauer, Capuano, Carney, Carson, Chu, Clark, Clarke, Steve Cohen, Connolly, Conyers, Courtney, Cuellar, Danny Davis, DelBene, DeSaulnier, Dingell, Doggett, Ellison, Esty, Farr, Fattah, Foster, Al Green, Grijalva, Honda, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Kaptur, Kilmer, Kirkpatrick, Larson, Barbara Lee, Lowenthal, Stephen Lynch, McDermott, McGovern, Moulton, Pascrell, Pingree, Pocan, Polis, Quigley, Rice, Rush, Schakowsky, Tonko, Veasey, Velázquez, Walz, Waters, Watson Coleman and Welch.