“I don’t know whether or not Syria can be put back together again”-CIA Chief John Brennan, July 29th, 2016
On November 24th 2015, a Russian fighter jet was shot down by Turkey on the Syrian-Turkish Border. According to Turkey, it had warned Russia before about the border incursions and prior to shooting down the plane, had sent out ten warnings. On the other hand, Russia said its jet never crossed into Turkish airspace and it was attacked inside Syria. Vladimir Putin, the Russian President condemned the attack and called it a planned provocation. Months after the attack, the tension still hasn’t dissipated and many believe that this conflict could eventually lead to the Third World War. But where and why did it all start?
Syria is a middle eastern country which gained independence in 1946. It has been led by the Al-Assad family for 45 years. First it was ruled by Hafez Al-Assad and since 2000, his son Bashar Al-Assad has been in power. The Assad government was secular and had promoted social and educational reforms. The country had no external debts and the minorities enjoyed equal rights. Still, the rule was an authoritarian one and the nation struggled with widespread corruption and cronyism.
In 2011, many North African and Middle Eastern nations experienced anti-government protests and armed rebellion in a movement which came to be known as the Arab Spring . The protests soon turned ugly with the government brutally cracking down on the demonstrators.
As the clashes between the government and the protesters became more frequent and intense, things escalated into a civil war. The rebels were soon joined by other jihadist and opposition forces mainly, ISIS and Al-Nusra. The US intervention in the war came in September 2014 by bombing ISIS and exactly a year later, Russia followed suit. But this is where the similarities end. The US and allies support the rebels whereas Russia, Iraq and Iran-backed Hezbollah support the Assad regime. The difference in stands has complicated the Syrian crisis further. The west and it allies did not respond positively to Russia’s intervention. Turkey even threatened Russia with serious consequences, and hence shot the Russian jet down.
It is natural to side with pro-democracy US and allies and the Syrian rebels. But a close examination presents a completely different picture.
Since late 2012, CIA and US Special Forces stationed in Jordan and Turkey had been had been training anti-government rebels, and months later began arming them to fight against the goverment backed forces. Though the States claims to support the pro-democratic rebels, there is an absence of any democratic opposition on ground. The Free Syrian Army, the only moderate rebel groups,has lost ground to other extremists, mainly Al-Nusra and ISIS. Both groups have different aims to achieve from the war. The Al-Nusra front joined the rebel groups with its own agenda ie. to topple the secularist Assad regime and establish a pro-sunni extremist Islamic regime, while ISIS wants Syria to expand its Islamic caliphate. It goes without doubt that if the Assad regime is defeated, the fate of the country would be left in the hands of the two extremist groups, which are already fighting for power. In a situation like this, it is questionable whether the arms and funding by US is actually reaching the pro-democracy rebels or not.
Iran and Russia back the Assad government due to many reasons. Mainly because Syria is an ally of both the nations and they see the US intervention as an excuse for weakening and exploiting the country. This is something it has previously done in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. Also, the Syrian opposition is dominated by religious fanatics who, in future could pose a threat to their security.
“How can the United States and its allies fight terrorism or ISIS in Syria and Iraq while their closest allies in the government of Erdogen and Davutoglu are supporting terrorism and enabling them to cross the borders and bring weapons, money, and volunteers through Turkey?”-Bashar Al-Assad, October 4th, 2015
Turkey’s role in the war is questionable. Russia accuses Turkey to be an accomplice of terror and dealing with the ISIS for oil. It shot down the Russian jet for the same reason. Many experts say that if the speed of the Russian jet is taken into account, it could’ve been in the Turkish airspace for only a few seconds. It is hence impossible for Turkey to send out warnings ten times. Previously, a Syrian jet had been shot down by the Turkish air force under the same pretext, when it was responding to a major offensive launched by relegious rebels to capture an Armenian town of Kessab.
Two months into the war, the Russian army was able to destroy oil refineries under the control of the ISIS, something the US couldn’t accomplish for over a year. It is to be noted that oil refineries are a chief economic source of ISIS, which if destroyed could severely cripple it. This coupled with the fact that the US Special Forces haven’t been able to coordinate with the rebel groups on the grounds for more than a year and have refused to work alongside the Russian army to fight against the ISIS raises doubt over its strategy.
In the past couple years, the US and allies have been remarkably ushering in democracy in a similar manner- first they use military power to overthrow goverments while killing innocent civilians to establish pro-imperialist, extremist puppet regime. Also, they bring in development in the nation by mainly introducing industries which siphon oil and natural resources. The process only involves training and arming rebels, who by some coincidence always turn out to be terrorists. To understand what is happening in Syria and how it could end if the rebels are successful in bringing down the Assad regime, it is important to look at America’s similar conquests in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. It armed and funded the Taliban in the 1980’s, along with Saudi Arabia and UK, to fight against the Soviet troops. They fought alongside other moderate rebels and were successful in defeating the Soviet troops. But what followed was a series of nightmares for an entire nation. It was only after 9/11 that the US and Uk went to war with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, which they helped create.
The Syrian government today, is ready to ready to introduce reforms and negotiate with unarmed forces, but only with national rebels. It is surprising as to why the US would still fund and arm rebels when the government itself is ready to negotiate.
The media accuses mainly Bashar Al-Assad’s government of committing war crime. What it fails to report is that similar, in many cases more brutal, crimes have been committed by the rebel groups as well. Stories reported widely by the media are designed for an external audience. But despite the various attempts to demonise Assad , he still remains a popular figure, not only in his own country but in the other Middle Eastern states as well. The assad regime is the only force that can bring stability to Syria right now. The other two extremists groups, if come to power, would do anything but normalise the state of affaits in the country.
More nations are expected to join the war in the coming time, with Australia, France and Germany already deploying troops and sending aircrafts. It is worth questioning as to why so many nations are getting involved in the anti-ISIS crusade in Syria.
“We have just dropped our 50,000th bomb in the war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. What progress has been made?” -Ron Paul
What started as a movement for freedom has been hijacked by extremists and international forces in a bloodthirsty acquisition of power. Today, the war is anything but a fight for freedom. Syrian masses have been dragged into a war that they did not even start and have nothing to gain from. Millions are dead, many by bullets and bomb, some by starvation. Young girls and women are being raped daily and sold as slaves. Those left with strength, fight against the jihadists while thousands flee their homes for safer lands. Syria today is destroyed. A problem which could easily have been solved by dialogue and international pressure, today threatens to become a potential third world war.