The Syrian-Americans Who Stood Up to Iran (When Obama Wouldn’t)

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 U.S. officials dine with him. European foreign ministries accommodate his pious sensibilities.

President Barack 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. Last week at the U.N. General Assembly, Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry did not call out Iran by name, as they did with Russia, for supporting the slaughter in Syria. And even though Iran’s president has declined Obama’s requests for a face-to-face meeting, the U.S. president had kind words for Iran in his big speech at the U.N. on Tuesday.

Two people who are not taken in by Rouhani’s charms are Zaher Sahloul and Yahya Basha. They are 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.

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