Why was Saddam Hussein captured but Assad is still spared by America?

6

There were 2 major reasons for capturing Saddam:

• Possessing WMDs (Never proved completely)
• Killing Shias by Chemical Weapons

In the neighbourhood of same Iraq, Bashar Al Assad has been doing exactly the same to Sunni/Christians by using both Chemical Weapons and Barrel bombs (which are banned by UN - correct me if wrong).

On the other hand, US proclaims it is Anti-Assad and all that crap, so why it has spared Assad to date and Saddam was captured?

NOTE

I would appreciate if there would be some research before posting an answer. Those who are still living in ISIS hoax are suggested to read following three articles, two by Kenneth Roth (Ex Director, Human Rights Watch) and one by Dr. Annie Sparrow of Mount Sinai Hospital

UPDATE

Many commentators and couple of answers have pointed out the change in regime in US and Obama following a different policy to Bush, but under the same president, there has been an invasion in Libya. Needless to mention their Drone policy

Main reason is because Saddam was a meaningful large scale threat, and Al-Assad is a minor insignificant one. Also, technically speaking, Americans didn't kill Saddam. Iraquis did. – user4012 – 2016-05-24T12:47:56.717

Reference please!! – Failed Scientist – 2016-05-24T13:29:39.153

Just objective evaluation of two countries size/capability. IIRC, Iraq's military was considered 4th largest in the world. Syria is... not exactly a powerhouse, with all due respect to Syrians – user4012 – 2016-05-24T13:48:51.127

3Well there's the fact that the campaign in Iraq went poorly, and the situation in Syria happened shortly after that campaign. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2016-05-24T17:51:05.613

1Note the difference in character between the two presidents of the United States that were in charge at the time. – sabbahillel – 2016-05-24T18:23:01.703

5There has been an invasion in Libya If there are no troops, there is no invasion... Really, you are not asking a question but making an statement and modifying it when you do not like the answers. – SJuan76 – 2016-05-25T08:33:28.857

@TalhaIrfan Libya was easier. It was, as SJUan76 points out, primarily accomplished through air assistance. Assad had Russian support which made it a more difficult situation. I've also heard it said that Obama wasn't happy with the outcome in Libya and he re-thought his policy regarding Syria and interventions in general. I can't verify how true that is, but the person interviewed who said that sounded trustworthy. – userLTK – 2016-05-27T22:32:45.870

2I agree with you on Human Right's watch. Assad's killed more people since Obama took office than anyone else in the world, but that's not the only factor in staging an invasion. The difficulty, the proximity of American bases, the number of American lives that might be lost, the popularity of the event and the length (over 60 days needs congress approval), the stability of the region after pulling out are all factors. I find it tragic that nothing was done to aid the anti Assad forces, but it was also a very difficult situation especially Russia an ally of Assad. – userLTK – 2016-05-27T22:38:38.573

You left out the most important reasons. #1 - 18 UN Violations with no intent to ever live up to those resolutions. #2 - Sadam's sponsoring of terrorism. #3 - It was not a very wise decision to give the finger to the USA after what happened on 9/11. The WMD issue was simply used to convince other countries to do something now versus later but wasn't the reason for ousting Sadam. The chemical weapons usage on the Shia was all the proof needed to show that Sadam had access to chemical weapons but likewise wasn't the reason for ousting Sadam. – Dunk – 2016-05-31T20:12:06.740

Hussein was captured by the US but killed by the Iraqi govt. – Colin – 2017-05-31T02:59:40.800

1@Dunk all your reasons are easily contradicted: #1 would speak for a massive invasion of Israel, which also continuously ignores UN resolutions. #2 Saddam sponsored anti-Turkish, anti-Iranian and Palestinian groups, not al-Qaida. Besides the PKK one hardly has heard anything about terror attacks from them #3 the US needed no proof that Saddam had WMD, they sold them to him and backed him using them by blocking UNSC resolutions condemning the use of CW until the Halabja attack where over 7000 people have been killed. – jjdb – 2017-05-31T08:23:43.607

@jjdb: I think all this is really irrelevant. What mattered was that Saddam was believed (let's not argue about the correctness of that belief) by many Americans to be directly supporting jihadist attacks on the US. (As was Libya's Gadaffi) AFAIK there is no reason to think that Assad has done so. A better comparison might be to bin Laden. – jamesqf – 2017-05-31T18:49:46.060

@jamesqf well, that's the problem of mass media propagating lies of the government instead of challenging them critically (but fairly, of course). If a lie is repeated just often enough and from different sources, you and I believe it - even if we know it is false. That's what psychologists have confirmed over and over again. There is no need to repeat the lies here, therefore the correction. Wrt Assad: he supports Hesbollah, so he is in the same league as Saddam Hussein. – jjdb – 2017-05-31T19:36:35.643

@jjdb: Well, I DID ask that we not debate the correctness of the belief, you know. I'll just point out that your point about believing repeated lies works both ways, and AFAIK Hezbollah has not carried out any attacks on the US. – jamesqf – 2017-05-31T20:53:35.347

@jjdb - There are UN resolutions and then there are UN resolutions that the USA agrees with. The ones that matter to the USA tend to only be the ones the USA agrees with. So it doesn't matter how many UN resolutions Israel violates if the US thinks the resolutions are stupid. However, it does matter who violates UN resolutions if the USA thinks they matter. In the eyes of any objective person, paying the families of suicide bombers is most certainly sponsoring terrorism. It gives incentive. What evidence do you have the US sold WMD to Sadam? Weapons, sure...WMD...no. – Dunk – 2017-05-31T23:01:31.067

@jjdb - So you expect truth from the mass media? What planet do you live on? – Dunk – 2017-05-31T23:08:09.547

@jamesqf So did neither of the groups supported by Saddam (Mujahedin-e-Khalq attacked the Iranian mission to the UN in New York, I wouldn't count that as attack on the US; no attacks by PKK, PLF and ANO afaik). Let's settle this by just saying that both, Iraq at the time of Saddam (first 1979, removed during the Iran-Iraq war, then again since 1990), and Syria (since 1979) are on the US State Department's list of "State sponsors of terrorism". – jjdb – 2017-06-01T07:13:08.240

– jjdb – 2017-06-01T13:09:03.033

@Dunk if you prefer reading books instead of news articles, see https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/jcs/article/view/11683/12423 or http://www.kentimmerman.com/tdl.htm, or if you dig only the pure sources, there is this report of the congressional hearing on that matter which is cites in the works above.

– jjdb – 2017-06-01T13:13:15.713

@jjdb: The "state sponsors of terrorism" (and indeed the whole "terrorism" thing) is nothing but a smokescreen. The real issue is jihad. The point here is that Saddam set himself up as a supporter of jihad (however it might be carried out) and an enemy of the US. Assad AFAIK has not done this. – jamesqf – 2017-06-02T04:32:37.880

2@jamesqf Well, I agree with you that terrorism is a unclear and contested concept, but so is jihad. Do you have any resources of Saddam, who was an atheist himself, supported "jihad" (whatever you mean by that) that goes beyond the embracing of Sunni groups by allowing more religious practices in Iraq as a means to consolidate his rule - dīvide et īmpera. Remember there were Shia and Kurd uprisings before the start of his Faith campaign, so this turn was a calculated move to broaden his supporter base. – jjdb – 2017-06-02T11:39:10.623

The US realizes that all unseating assad would do is hand syria to ISIS and start a war with russia. They also still feel the unpopularity of the Iraq war and don't want a repeat of that. – mag – 2017-06-07T12:40:43.117

There was never an invasion of Libya by the US, NATO or UNSC forces. -1 for making stuff up in the update. Question needs re-stating - the obvious reason is because Saddam was thrown out of power, Assad has not been. If the questioner wants to know why actions were taken to throw Saddam out, but not Assad, that's different than asking why one was caught and/or killed, but not the other. – PoloHoleSet – 2017-06-07T22:04:43.373

23

Here are a couple easy ones.

1. Iraq occurred first, and the war in Iraq turned out to be, at the very least, quite unpopular. When the situation in Syria came up, many people were fed up with the idea of war and nation-building because of how Iraq went down. People didn't want Syria to turn into another Iraq.
2. Russia supports Assad's government, and unlike any allies of Saddam, Russia can actually present a serious danger to the USA if we find ourselves at war with them.

1Same Obama regime bombed Libya and ousted Gaddafi if my memory is working right? – Failed Scientist – 2016-05-25T00:31:37.133

3@TalhaIrfan The US played a relatively minor role in the Lybia conflict. It wasn't spearheaded by the US like the Iraq conflict was – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica – 2016-05-25T03:14:52.900

US army's boots are on the Syrian grounds now (http://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/11067/why-are-us-forces-in-syria-wearing-ypg-insignia). So where is American public's unpopularity/reaction?

– Failed Scientist – 2016-05-28T03:36:01.130

@TalhaIrfan if you're correct "boots on the ground", clearly it's different degrees. The biggest public objection to Iraq was because of dead troops. Lesser but real objections were time the troupes were spending there and cost of the incursion and "what is there to gain?". Any US involvement in Syria is currently much smaller and US soldiers aren't on the front lines dying every week, so naturally, any objection is many times smaller. If the US went into Syria like they/we did in Iraq in 2001-2010, then you'd probably see a very similar, perhaps greater objection. Apples to Oranges. – userLTK – 2017-06-08T13:58:55.903

12

There is a significant backlash in the USA about the removal of Saddam Hussein. Note that of the last five major USA presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton; Donald Trump; Bernie Sanders; Ted Cruz; John Kasich), none now claims that removing Hussein was correct. Hillary Clinton is the closest, having voted in favor of the war resolution that lead to his removal. But even she has now said that that decision was incorrect.

Barack Obama ran against the Iraq war in 2008. It was one of the major issues that lead him to victory over Hillary Clinton then.

If you view the USA as monolithic, then you are correct. The two decisions are inconsistent. But the USA is not monolithic. In between the Iraq war and the Syria conflict, there was a regime change (via election). The George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations have different opinions on the proper use of force in international conflicts. Obama believes that Bush was wrong to depose Saddam Hussein. And he believes that he would be wrong to depose Bashar al-Assad.

The results in Libya, where he tried to take a middle path, have reinforced his opinions. Obama is against intervening in foreign revolutions. And there isn't much support for doing so in the US. People are more likely to criticize Obama for publicly supporting Assad's ouster and supporting local groups attempting it than to call for a more aggressive policy to effect it. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump have been quite outspoken on this.

Note: none of this is to say that Assad is a better, more moral ruler than Hussein. The question is why there is different behavior. The primary reasons are changes in USA opinion in general and the specific differences between Bush and Obama. Comparisons between Assad and Hussein don't really come into it.

1What a load of sutff! Obama tried to form an international coallition to directly militarily intervene in Syria similarly to how they did in Libya. The international coalition never materialized and is yet another example of deteriorating foreign policy directive in the united states. Obama has been funding and training armed militias within syria since the arab spring! it's a proxy conflict between US + Israel + Saudi Arabia against Russia + Iran. Syria is a cornerstone in an anti-American regional alliance. – hownowbrowncow – 2016-05-24T19:38:58.307

1@hownowbrowncow Yes, that is discussed in the link that I provided. Obama did form an international coalition and then stopped. If you have a different citation please provide it. And it is absolutely true that Obama is supporting groups in Syria that are anti-Assad. But the point is that they aren't providing sufficient support to actually remove Assad. – Brythan – 2016-05-25T01:51:00.027

3International opinion also undoubtedly played a part as well. A lot of goodwill and resources were (and still is being) expended by the Coalition during Iraq and Afghanistan, and, simply put, the traditional allies just weren't willing to get into another drawn out and costly conflict. America can't do it alone, and the support just wasn't there. That Assad wasn't threatening anything outside of Syria probably made the decision a bit easier to ignore – None – 2016-05-25T09:02:17.767

2

Invading another country requires a UN Security Council resolution authorizing military force. The US took the position that UNSCR 1441 authorized invading Iraq. UNSCR 2009 was used to depose Gaddafi. The governments of Russia and China felt betrayed by difference between what they were told UNSCR 2009 was intended to do and what the results turned out to be. Consequently, they stated on multiple occasions that they would veto any and all Security Council Resolutions authorizing military force against the Syrian government.

Russia used to have a naval base in Libya, gone since Gaddafi was deposed and killed. Russia still has a naval base in Syria. This the last naval base that they have in the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently, they will not permit "regime change" in Syria without a fight.

Do not quote the law to men who have swords – K Dog – 2021-02-20T22:36:36.680

-1

Technically speaking, Iraq was in violation of treaty agreements signed by them with the US at the end of the first gulf war. That was the exact reason given for the invasion. Whether that invasion was a good idea or not is another matter entirely (obviously, it was not a good idea) - that was the exact reason given for the military action.

Syria is not in violation of agreements signed with the US, and US troops are not invading the country with the stated goal of bringing down the regime for failure to meet those agreements.

And we'd be well advised to keep troops out of Syria. Politically, it is a virtual clone of Iraq (without the oil)... a mixed population of Sunni and Shia aligned Alawites, who have been hating each other for centuries. Take out the brutal dictator that keeps them in check, and Syria would explode into violence... just like Iraq did. Not that Syria isn't exploding into violence already... it would get much worse if the current Syrian government was deposed.

Correction: the US did not start the Syrian rebellion. That was started internally after the 'Arab Spring' saw a relatively peaceful transition of power in Egypt. The Sunni in Syria thought they would use that as motivation to rise up against the governing Alawites. The US did fund some of the rebellion groups, including two that were to form ISIS. Oops. What bonehead was in charge of that faux pas?

Correction: Hussein did not use chem weapons on the Shia. He used them on the Kurds.

Just a note - being in violation of those agreements was cause to continue existing sanctions, not a full-on military invasion and occupation. But I don't see that you are necessarily espousing that position, just stating that it was the reason given, which is accurate. – PoloHoleSet – 2017-06-07T21:59:56.337

Syria is clearly in violation of agreements with the manufacture of and use of chemical weapons. If violation of agreements was the only criteria, then, consider the criteria met. I wouldn't call Syria a clone of Iraq either (without the oil). One of the disagreements regarding Syria is a natural gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria that the US and Europe want and Russia doesn't, The big differences with Syria is Russia is involved and Isis is more aggressive. The other difference is time. One could argue that Iraq and Libya were failures, so, why repeat a bad thing? – userLTK – 2017-06-08T13:52:45.293

Take out the brutal dictator that keeps them in check, and Syria would explode into violence That brutal dictator is the one who has killed 0.4-0.5Mn Syrians since Mar, 2011 and now invited Russia to join the party – Failed Scientist – 2017-07-06T12:30:54.710

-2

The world was different in the early 2000s. People were NOT scared of another WW2 (why would they it hasnt happened for 50 years then).

Today (after the war in Iraq) people know better. Especially with the entire Trump Russia scandal plaguing the US.

Removing ASSAD would require an emergency UN meeting and you know Russia will pose a VERY good argument against removing him citing 'where is the proof'.

Truth is, there is no proof besides hearsay on Media that Assad is doing these things (bombing his own people).

If the US goes in and removes ASSAD and a week later there is no proof that he was at fault (in court) it would finally remove US from a position of world influence once and for all (would be two failures now; Iraq and Syria)

Instead of WW2 you might say war with Russia, as that's more to the point. You're correct, there was very little fear of a war with Russia during the Iraq invasion, there's measurable fear of one if the US went into Syria. I wouldn't say "after Iraq" related to that. What was learned after the Iraq "mistake" was that displacing a dictator didn't guarantee democracy, nor a quick and easy incursion, nor even a better situation in the long run. Iraq taught us that replacing a government is complicated "who knew?". And Assad is without question, bombing his own people. It's a civil war. – userLTK – 2017-06-08T13:44:29.877