Syria: An Open Letter to President Obama

US Representative to the United Nations Samantha Power said that the Assad regime has “apparently grown reliant on the repugnant use of barrel bombs as an instrument of terror against innocent Syrian civilians.” Over 2,000 barrel bombs dropped on Syria since the first week of July. It is within this context that Ambassadors Frederic Hof and Robert Ford alongside humanitarian leaders and activists have urged US action.

This group of individuals sent a letter to President Barack Obama on August 6, 2015 urging the United States make protection of Syrian civilians a centerpiece of its foreign policy. They state, “We believe it is imperative for the United States to step up its diplomatic efforts and implement a strategy for protecting civilians in Syria that includes the potential for a limited use of force.”

In the letter, they describe not only “the displacement, death and dehumanization endured by millions of Syrians”—which should be a sufficiently compelling humanitarian crisis on its own—but also the consequences for the rise of violent extremism. The authors describe the images of despair that social media spreads across the world and the lack of an international response to such blatant atrocities. They choose to forgo the details of policy planning to the experts in President Obama’s administration and present a simple demand: “The barrel bombing of residential neighborhoods must be stopped.”

Top signatories of the letter include leaders of well-respected humanitarian organizations—Refugees International, GOAL, and the Syrian American Medical Society. All of the signatories know the complexity of the civilian protection issue. While a call for military intervention is not an ordinary appeal among this constituency, the humanitarian imperative and the need to address the root causes of terrorism compel extraordinary measures.

Please read the letter to President Barack Obama here.

Related Experts: Frederic C. Hof