So, it’s official. Not even 12 years after 9/11, US President Barack H. Obama has decided to arm Al Qaeda so that it may destroy Syria, the last secular Arab country in the world! Well, not Al Qaeda directly, that would be too unpopular at home, but the Islamist terrorists, a.k.a. “rebels” or “activists” in western media, who can be considered as the political arm of the terrorist Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria. How did this ridiculous mind boggling policy come to pass?
Why Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Causes…
To understand the West’s obsession with Syria and its deep hatred towards her, we need to summarize all the grievances that Syria caused in the last 60 years or so.
Syria has been a long time enemy of the United States. She belongs to the “Axis of Refusal”, better known as the “Refusal Front”, a group of countries which adamantly refuse to recognize Israel and to sign a Peace Treaty with her. While other Arab States endorsed a proposal by Saudi Arabia for a kind of land-for-recognition deal, Syria remained staunchly opposed to any plans of normalization with the Israel (until she regains the Golan Heights that she lost to Israel in the Six Days War and that Israel annexed in 1981). So, to dismantle the Refusal Front would require to destroy and then to remodel Syria as a pliable pro Western country. And to this end, Bashar el Assad has to go. Or so the naive thinking goes. (Update 2013-06-18: Or is the Greater Middle East more than just a conspiracy theory?)
Indeed, as a member of the Refusal Front, Syria has been a constant headache to the US and to Israel. It supports the Lebanese Chiite militia Hezbollah which perpetrated 1983 a terrorist attack against US and French Forces in Beirut, Lebanon, and which is involved in a decade long war of attrition with Israel. Syria also offered refuge to many sought after terrorists and terrorist organizations, and was long considered as a heaven for all terrorist groups (communist, islamist, etc…).
Furthermore, Syria has been an irritant to many western countries for many other major or minor reasons. One of them is Syria’s long-term relationship with Russia, and Russian Navy’s sea port of Tartus. Quite obviously, allowing Russia a permanent Sea Port in the Mediterranean, NATO’s backyard, is totally unacceptable for strategic reasons. Another reason is Syria’s alliance with Iran: many people believe that the way to Tehran goes through Damascus, i.e. one has to destroy the little sister (Syria) before going after the bigger brother (Iran).
To better understand the Western hatred towards Syria, one could read a free book by Prof. Barry Rubin: The Truth about Syria. Rubin, an Israeli scholar with a deep knowledge of Syria, albeit with an understandable anti-Syrian bias, has summarized all what angers the West w.r.t. Syria. Even more interesting, is that despite his harsh criticism of both Assads (Hafez and Bashar), Rubin has warned constantly for quite some time now of Obama’s anti-Assad stance and the dangers of replacing Bashar, a predictable foe that can be dealt with, with utterly unpredictable foes, i.e. with Sunni Islamists and their terrorist backers who could turn the whole Middle East into an even worse inferno than it already is.
Psywars, and Orwellian Newspeak
In the West, politicians and mainstream media have been preparing public opinion for a war against Syria for a long time by using the usual tactics of misinformation and psychological warfare. This alone isn’t surprising, and we’re used to it starting with the Iraq wars. I’m amused that it still appears to work so well with many people in the West, including even people in the Arab world who can’t wait to see one of their countries ravaged by civil war! Even the legend of WMDs was repeated, nearly verbatim: “According to reports from its intelligence community, the US are convinced that the Assad regime used chemical weapons, therefore overstepping an Obama-designated red line.” Well, too bad: the UN reported that chemical weapons were being used by the rebels! But why should Obama let facts get into his way? France, who was spearheading the anti Syrian coalition from the start, and who was even one of the first (only?) western countries to recognize the rebels as legitimate Syrian government (!) told him Assad used chemical weapons, and he wanted too badly to believe it. What’s more important: the US were also “convinced” that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and subsequently invaded Iraq. Those alleged WMDs were never found, even though US troops combed the whole country, trying to justify post factum their invasion, but failing to do so. I’m not saying that Syria doesn’t have chemical weapons: in fact, she does, in quite large quantities. What I’m saying is that I have very strong doubts about the US administration’s honesty in all things regarding Syria.
However, what strikes me as truly Orwellian, is the Newspeak used by the group of countries that would rather see Syria destroyed yesterday than tomorrow (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey as the core group motivated by their (Sunni) Islamist ideology and by their fear of Iran growing back towards regional hegemony; USA, France, UK as very strong enemies for historical and other reasons hinted at above; Tunisia, Egypt as enemies because of their Islamist regimes, Morocco as enemy because it must follow its long-term sponsor France everywhere France goes, etc…). Those countries which organize meetings to discuss how to destabilize Syria and overthrow its government (meetings and actions that are probably against International Law), have the gall to call themselves “Friends of Syria“! Just imagine a friend giving two partners or neighbors who are having a heated argument some lethal weapons and inflaming their argument even further, encouraging one to kill the other… Oh vey! With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?
Syria is already ablaze
Through a constant influx of international Jihadists coming from all over the world looking forward to join their murderous and cannibalistic (!) colleagues, weapons pouring in from Turkey and Jordan, electronic equipment being offered by the West (channeled via the CIA into rebel strongholds) on one side; and the mingling of Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, and Russia on the other side, Syria is already ablaze and a burning inferno that is spiraling down the drain and well on its way of being “somalized” (i.e. turned into a failed state). As I’m writing this, the proxy war that the West and Iran/Russia are inflicting upon Syria has already caused more than 90,000 casualties, and there’s no end in sight.
President Obama was wise enough to show restraint from intervening all too openly in the Syrian Civil War (but not wise enough to stick to the Prime Directive of non-intervention!). But, being constantly coaxed by the old colonial powers of the region, France and UK, whose past as predator nations is still showing through; and under internal pressure from the NSA spying scandal at home, Obama now agreed to fan the flames by openly sending arms to the “rebels.”
Heating the furnace even further
It is safe to assume that Obama, Hollande, and Cameron will be sending portable surface to air missiles to their jihadi rebel friends, hoping that they’ll decimate the Syrian Air Force, at least, denying the Syrian government an important asset in its fight against the groups that seek to destroy Syria.
I won’t be surprised though, if some of those portable SAMs will remain unaccounted for in the future, and will land in the hands of some terrorist groups, who will, no doubt, use them to down a couple of civilian airplanes, maybe over Europe or anywhere else in the world a couple of years down the road. This danger will remain real, and will force airplane manufacturers to include flares, chaff and other defensive mechanisms on all airplanes in the foreseeable future.
As Shakespeare put it:
Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot
That it do singe yourself…
That’s exactly the advice that President Obama chose to ignore, and that’s why, like a boomerang, this will come back to bite us all in the tail. And that bite will be well deserved: it’s not our business to meddle in the affairs of other peoples and to destroy their countries, just because we don’t like their governments. That’s those peoples’ business, and they’re already doing it quite efficiently (yeah, I’m cynical).
We’ll see how all this plays out. In the mean time, the enemies of Syria are rejoicing, looking at how Syrians are eagerly killing themselves.
Good luck, Mr. Obama, trying to extinguish fire with kerosene! Or, paraphrasing Ray Bradbury: the fire brigades are coming, there will soon be a fire somewhere.
Update (2013-06-20). In the latest G8 meeting, Russia’s President Putin managed to convince President Obama not to arm the “rebels”, at least not until an international peace conference has taken place. The question remains as to whether Putin managed to buy enough time to the Syrian government to crush the “rebels” once and for all. Right now, it doesn’t look too bad: Syria is making progress and is trying to reassert control over cities like Aleppo that have been in the hands of the “rebels” for quite some time. Will Syria survive? Who knows…
Update (2013-06-26). This blog post briefly disappeared, as my web hoster apparently had to restore from backup. Fortunately, I keep backups elsewhere as well, just in case. ;)
Update (2017-06-01). Of course, Obama isn't the only culprit here. His successor Donald J. Trump isn't any better w.r.t. Syria, despite pre-electoral hopes that he'll leave that poor country alone.