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Western policy on Syrian conflict

Apr 30,2014 - Last updated at Apr 30,2014

Having failed to find a “moderate” Syrian insurgent faction, the US seems to have encouraged a young commander to create one to receive a shipment of TOW anti-tank missiles, in the desperate belief that others could break with the radical fundamentalist factions that now dominate the anti-government struggle.

Liz Sly of The Washington Post has reported that a certain Abdullah Awda, 28, has formed Harakat Hazm — Movement of Steadfastness — with the aim of receiving such US weaponry.

Sly says his fighters, based in the northern Idlib province, “wear uniforms, get medical checkups and sleep in bunk beds under matching blankets”.

She makes a favourable comparison of this new faction with the “ragtag rebel” factions that have emerged during the Syrian conflict as their fighters dress in motley outfits, have no doctors to consult, and sleep on the floors of devastated mosques and schools.

The US indirectly provided the missiles via the so-called “Friends of Syria”, the US-sponsored grouping which is behind the political and armed opposition. 

Even now the Obama administration does not want to be seen openly arming insurgents, fearing that US arms could end up in the hands of radical fundamentalists.

Sly quotes Awda as saying: “I want a democratic state that rules over all Syria with equality and freedom for all citizens, freedom of fascism and dictatorship.”

This is perfect public relations crafting from some Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whiz kid somewhere.

Until he formed his own faction, Awda belonged to the Syrian Revolutionary Front, led by Jamal Maarouf, a faction known for, in Sly’s words, “racketeering and thuggery”.

A Maarouf aide accused Awda of pursuing “foreign agendas”.

Indeed.

Having failed to find a “moderate” faction among the hundreds of immoderate groups of fighters, the CIA all too clearly created one which receives “non-lethal” as well as lethal aid.

There is, however, no guarantee that some of Awda’s alleged 5,000 followers will refrain from selling or sharing the precious TOW missiles to one or other unapproved factions, including Al Qaeda’s official branch, Jabhat Al Nusra, or, heaven forbid, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has been rejected by Al Qaeda as an offshoot of its network of franchises.

The creation of Awda and his faction mirrors the establishment of the failed “Free Army” on the paramilitary side and the fraudulent opposition expatriate Syrian National Council and National Coalition on the political side.

The US and its chums cannot seem to understand that these false factions do not a serious opposition make.

This is just one of the flagrant contradictions afflicting Western policy on the Syrian conflict.

A second was revealed in a comment by a reader of Sly’s article who pointed that a 2013 NATO survey revealed that 70 per cent of Syrians supported the regime headed by President Bashar Assad rather than any rival.

Many Syrians back the regime rather than its myriad opponents because they are considered a “worse option”. So much for all that chat about democracy.

A third is the arrest and detention of Western nationals who go to fight against the Syrian government in a war funded and fuelled by the Western powers and their regional allies.

They rightly fear that those who become involved in the Syrian conflict will be radicalised and return home to carry out acts of “terrorism” against their own governments and people.

Western governments, in particular, know full well that Muslims — radical or not — have serious grievances against the policies of these governments and could take action against them.

While there have been intelligent and informative comments on Sly’s Washington Post piece, the vast majority of citizens of the US, the main motive force behind the Syrian opposition — or oppositions — is not only ignorant of what is going on but also knows nothing about the flow of refugees, the body count of more than 100,000, the brutality of this civil war.

A man met at a family gathering in the mid-western state of Michigan — which is home to a very large Arab community at Dearborn — observed that the violence in Syria and elsewhere in the region is caused by age-old “hatreds”, particularly against Christians who will eventually be driven out.

This is, of course, nonsense.

Christians in Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon have been living peaceably with other communities for most of the time since Christianity emerged on the regional scene 2,000 years ago.

When munching on a delicious piece of chocolate bought recently in the Syrian capital, an intelligent, educated woman visitor to my sister’s home asked: “Where is Damascus?”

I replied: “In Syria,” but I would bet she does not know where Syria is. I did not make it easy for her by saying, 

“Next to Israel” which she might, just might, be able to find on a map.

These are the willfully ignorant people who vote in politicians who set ignorant policies that destroy the lives of hapless peoples and wreck countries across the globe.

I have not even mentioned in this piece what is happening in post-US war-torn Iraq, where citizens have just voted in an election that could decide the future of their sad country and the fate of this violent region.

It is ironic, given the flagrant contradictions in US policy on Syria — and elsewhere in this conflicted region — that winding up his visit to the “Far East” in the Philippines — a country formerly occupied by the US — President Barack Obama should claim that in spite of mistakes and reverses, “we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership of folks around the world”.

For a man who began his reign in 2009 by winning the Nobel Peace Prize, he has been a flop at preventing war and violence.

He has, instead, fostered war in Syria, done nothing to prevent violence in Iraq, and ensured that Palestine will suffer Israeli occupation for the foreseeable future.

Any honourable man would have handed the prize back to the Nobel Committee and apologised for accepting the award.

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