OSLO, Norway -- Governments closing their borders to Syrian refugees often claim they help Syrians best "in their own region." But it is a myth that they provide Syrian war victims with significant aid. It may be a surprise to many that the assistance to the Syrian crisis has been so halfhearted and halfway compared to the magnitude of the needs.
As Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war against Iran in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, it is determined not to allow Iran free regional reign. By creating the crisis, Saudi Arabia also hopes to disrupt the warming relations between Iran and the U.S., which it views as contrary to its interests. In addition, Saudi Arabia hopes to undermine the EU's drive for rapprochement with Iran, as it otherwise has the potential of becoming the largest trading partner with the EU.
President Barack Obama won election in 2008 promising an end to "dumb wars," and since then, he's vowed to avoid major troop commitments. Yet, even after all the fallout from recent interventions -- including, more recently, the spread of ISIS terrorism to Europe -- foreign policy hawks keep pushing Obama to send ground troops to Syria.
Not a single Syrian has been at the negotiating table -- despite repeated assurances that any future transition would be Syria-led and Syrian-owned. We want protection from the barrel bombs, cluster munitions and chemical weapons that suffocate, maim and kill our children. Unless the participants at Vienna recognize and act on our calls for civilian protection, talks will lack legitimacy and will not secure peace.