Every Friday, the people of Kafranbel, Syria release photos of a handmade sign designed to draw global attention to the truly awful bloodshed in Syria. This Friday, they've released an understated but powerful message — simply a quote of the late actor Robin Williams' famous line about freedom from Aladdin:
Kafranbel is a town in northwestern Syria, and a bastion of support for anti-Assad rebels (they also hate the Islamic State, aka ISIS). For years, its residents have released these heartbreaking messages to try to make the world do something about the war. Not without risk: Raed Fares, one of the leaders of the media effort, was shot on his way home from the Kafranbel Media Center, the nerve center of the effort, in January. Fares survived, albeit barely, and the signs have kept coming:
Perhaps the most depressing theme of the Kafranbel protests is their plea that President Obama and the United States intervene in the conflict, a plea that the US has largely resisted for years. It's so depressing because there's very little Obama can do to stop the war in Syria — or in most other places in the Middle East:
The Kafranbel criticism of Obama is often pretty biting — like this dig at Obama's recent description of the Syrian rebels as "farmers, dentists, and folks who have never fought before:"
Or this unflattering comparison to Bush:
Despite this extraordinarily brave media effort, Obama has not been able help the people of Kafranbel. Here's why.