The president who allowed genocide — what Syrians say of Obama
Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, has persuaded most Western elites that he is a moderate worthy of deference. Big-shot journalists respectfully interview him. Former senior US officials dine with him. European foreign ministries accommodate his pious sensibilities.
President Obama and his top advisers are no exception. They, too, go out of their way not to offend Rouhani, particularly since he agreed to the nuclear deal in 2015.
Two people who are not taken in by Rouhani’s charms are Zaher Sahloul and Yahya Basha. They’re Syrian-American medical doctors who have devoted themselves to pleading with diplomats and world leaders to stop the killing in the place of their birth. Sahloul traveled to Aleppo in June and July to treat some victims of the Syrian war.
Last Tuesday, Sahloul and Basha were invited to a meeting in New York with Rouhani for US Muslim leaders. It was the second meeting with Rouhani for the two doctors, and they decided to press Iran’s president on his country’s support for the man tormenting their fellow Syrians.
Sahloul told me that when it was his turn to speak, he told Iran’s president about a 5-year-old boy named Ahmed. Between June 27 and July 1, Sahloul performed surgeries on Ahmed, who suffered shrapnel wounds in his spinal cord and left lung after his family’s home collapsed from a barrel bomb dropped by the Syrian air force. When Sahloul left Aleppo, Ahmed was alive, but on life support. The next day, the young boy’s heart stopped and he died.
“I asked the president, as a Muslim, whether Hussein would be on the side of the people dropping the barrel bombs,” Sahloul told me. Hussein is the grandson of the prophet Mohammed and is the third imam of the Shiite sect of Islam, which is practiced in Iran.
Sahloul said Rouhani heard him out
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