Kassem Eid’s case

We got a glimpse of Kassem Eid when he appeared on CNN blowing up in anchor Brooke Baldwin’s face. Eid was a 2013 victim of Assad’s sarin gas attack on a suburb of Damascus; Baldwin was looking for Eid to denounce President Trump for calling a timeout on the emigration of Syrian refugees to the United States. Instead, he denounced President Obama and thanked Trump for the American military reprisal he ordered against Assad’s sarin gas attack of last week. I posted the video of Eid on CNN in “Blues for Brooke Baldwin.”

Today the Wall Street Journal publishes a column by Eid that is placed behind the Journal’s subscription paywall. In the column Eid recounts his own experience being gassed and reiterates the points he made to Baldwin. He relates his move to the United States, his disappointment in Obama and his subsequent move to Germany, where Baldwin found him.

Eid wonders pointedly where all the protests of recent days against Trump have gone:

Only two months ago, American airports became protest zones because President Trump attempted to bar entry temporarily to refugees and travelers from seven nations, including Syria. Where is all that outrage today? How come protesters didn’t pack the streets in front of the White House and the United Nations last week to demand military action against Assad?

Eid expresses gratitude to Trump and pleads for additional action by the United States against the Assad regime “if you really care about refugees” and “if you really care about human rights.”

I want to thank President Trump for his brave action in striking the Assad regime and holding it accountable for its massacre of civilians. This is the first step in saving the lives of Syrians being killed every day, helping them stay where they live, and allowing refugees like me to return home. But more needs to be done.

America, if you really care about refugees, then take to the streets, call your representatives, and ask for even further action against the murderer who displaced us. President Trump could order strikes to fully ground Assad’s air force, whose bombing forces civilians to flee. The Assad regime still has more than a dozen operational military airports from which to continue its attacks. Help civilians by creating safe zones and no-fly zones.

If you really care about human rights, work to remove Assad, the tyrant who has killed, raped, gassed, burned, tortured and displaced millions of civilians. If you really care about eliminating Islamic State, oust the dictator who for years has supported extremist terrorist groups like al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah and who buys oil from ISIS.

Eid’s makes a powerful case. Whether or not Assad were to be removed, our reprisal could have gone further but was calculated to deter the use of chemical weapons without an elaborate campaign.

Eid’s plea is not framed narrowly in terms of the American national interest. The situation in Syria has become so complicated it is difficult to do so and Trump has made it relatively clear that he is unlikely to follow up on it. Rather, it seems to me a plea that is addressed mostly to opportunistic Democrats and their media adjunct — “if [they] really care…” If only.

Last week the New York Times published Eid’s personal account of the 2013 gas attack that almost killed him. In August 2014 the Times profiled Eid in an article by Anne Barnard. One of the photos accompanying the profile depicts Eid “listen[ing] to Samantha Power, the American ambassador to the United Nations, urge the Security Council in May to take action on Syria.” As I say, if only.


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