Is the West turning Syria into a new Afghanistan in the Mediterranean?
US intervention in the Syrian civil war increasingly seems driven by Salafi-Wahhabi interests rather than US national security interests, similar to the Libyan civil war. Before US/NATO intervention, which Germany prudently opted out, Gaddafi was a partner helping the US to fight Al Qaeda, and Libya had the highest living standard on the African continent.
However, after western-backed jihadists murdered Gaddafi, and Libya became a failed state and main exporter of jihad rather than oil, Tripoli is now a threat to regional states as well as to Mideast-energy dependent Asian powers such as India, China and Japan.
Moreover, by backing the Wahhabi agendas of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and an increasingly Salafist Turkey under Erdogan[i], US has helped transform the Syrian civil war into a full-blown war backed by foreign powers of Doha, Riyadh and Ankara to replace a secular autocracy with an extremist Islamic theocracy under their control.
As previously documented, these so called “Syrian rebels” are not even Syrian with German intelligence BND estimating 95% are paid foreign mercenaries, including thousands of death row inmates Saudi Arabia sent to wage Syrian jihad. Even the “Syrian Turkmen” commander who last week committed the war crime of killing the unarmed Russian pilot as he was parachuting down is not Syrian, but actually Turkish.[ii]
Thus it seems Obama’s Wahhabi Syrian policy is attempting to extinguish a once secular and pluralistic Syrian society, and transplanting a “new Afghanistan” under Taliban-like rule. If Syria falls and is overrun by western-backed jihadists, Lebanon and Jordan would follow, and the Levantine basin/Eastern Mediterranean would transform into a Salafist lake in EU’s southern flank.
Transplanting a new Afghanistan into the Mediterranean
Indeed, Professor Brahma Chellaney from Center for Policy Research and former advisor to India’s National Security Council, recently penned an article in The Japan Times rebuking Western myopia in supporting terrorists for short-term goals.[iii]
Warning that western policies driven by Wahhabi interests ranging from Qatar to Pakistan have strengthened international terrorism, he criticized “How can the international community combat the Islamic State ideology when a major Western ally like Saudi Arabia has played an important role in funding the spread of such ideology and Salafi jiahdism?”
Moreover, western Wahhabi policy is a threat to both western and non-western countries.
Chellaney continued, “Islamic terrorism poses an existential threat to liberal, pluralistic states everywhere, not just in the West. So the interventionist policies of some powers that unwittingly bolster Islamist forces threaten not just their internal security but also that of other democracies with sizable Muslim populations” like India.
He noted that many Arab and other jihadists trained by the CIA in Pakistan to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan later returned home to roost, confirmed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010: “We trained them, we equipped the, we funded them, including somebody named Osama bin Laden … And it didn’t work out so well for us.”[iv]
Chellaney also noted large portions of the multi-billion dollar covert US aid for the Islamic jihadists were siphoned off by the conduit—Pakistan’s ISI—to ignite a bloody insurgency in Indian Kashmir. Now there is fear that Turkey’s MIT may use the al-Qaeda infested Army of Conquest to ignite future insurgencies in India, Russia and China.[v]
These jihadists would also return to threaten western countries as recently witnessed in the Paris bombing. Alarmed by this threat, Congress is currently reviewing a bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) to stop the US’ and CIA’s illegal war against the Syrian government by arming jihadists, and to refocus on the legal war against terrorism and Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS and all Qaeda in Syria.[vi]
In fact, David Cloud and Raja Abdulrahim of the Los Angeles Times reported that CIA operatives and US special operations troops have been secretly training Syrian jihadists with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons since 2012. They noted CIA officials declined to comment on the secret training program “which was done covertly in part because of US legal concerns about publicly arming the rebels, which would constitute an act of war against the Assad government.”[vii] This concern is also likely due to the 1986 precedent when Nicaragua won a case in the International Court of Justice against the US for sponsoring paramilitary forces to overthrow the government.[viii]
And while the US and its Salafi-Wahhabi allies war against the Syrian army that along with Syrian Kurds are the only effective ground forces fighting both Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists, ISIS continues to grow and expand. Now it has directly threatened India in its new e-book by naming Prime Minister Modi as “a right-wing Hindu nationalist who worships weapons and is preparing his people for a future war against Muslims,” further underscoring Chellaney’s warning about myopic western policies that end up harming the security of both western and non-western countries.
Sadad—battle of a pluralistic Syria vs. western-backed Salafist forces
Both ISIS and Turkey/Saudi/Qatar-backed Army of Conquest with their shared ideology are also a threat to the ethnic and religious minorities of Syria. Just as Kobane was a symbol for Syrian Kurds to defend their freedom and way of life, the current battle in the Biblical town of Sadad is also a symbol for Syrians to preserve their secular and pluralistic society from the onslaught of Arab Gulf Salafism.
In 2013, the Free Syrian Army and Nusra attacked Sadad and even made a video to boast of their massacre of 45 Christians, including children and women who were tortured and executed. The Syrian army took back the town, but now it is facing another onslaught by ISIS due to its strategic location between Homs and Damascus. In fact, Western Syria is where most of the Christians reside—with pre-conflict Christians representing 10% of the 23 million population.
This is the same area currently under Assad’s control. In towns where government forces lost control, Christians have been brutally tortured, crucified, and massacred by western-backed “moderate rebels.”
The remaining Christians fear if Assad falls, there would be genocide by Islamic extremists, whether ISIS or al Nusra-led Army of Conquest. Indeed, over the past years the Syrian Christians have pleaded with Obama to stop arming jihadists that massacre them, but to no avail.[ix] Nor are they able to escape to the US as refugees.[x]
With no hope from the West, Syrians—Christians, Muslims, and Alawites—are all rushing to fight as one to defend Sadad—an emblem of Syria’s secular and pluralistic society that is fighting for their identity in face of foreign-backed jihad against their country.[xi]
Faced with another irreplaceable loss of one of the last remaining center of indigenous Christian presence where remnants still speak Aramaic, the language of Christ, the head of Syriac Orthodox Church said hundreds of Christians, including “Muslims and Alawites are in the ranks of the Syrian army fighting to defend the town.”
However, as the West is now doubling down to fight Russia and the Syrian regime rather than ISIS and al Qaeda, it looks like the underwriting of ethno-religious cleansing in Syria will continue. And before long, EU will see another Afghanistan, but this time closer to home as their neighbor in the Mediterranean.
[i] Andrew Hammond, “Salafism Infiltrates Turkish Religious Discourse”, Middle East Institute, July 22, 2015.
[ii] “Turkish Grey Wolves Killed Pilot from Downed Russian Jet”, Horizon Weekly, November 27, 2015.
[iii] Brahma Chellaney, “How alliances of convenience spur deadly terrorist attacks”, The Japan Times, November 20, 2015, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/11/20/commentary/world-commentary/alliances-convenience-spur-deadly-terrorist-attacks/#.Vl7xmISaJSU
[iv] Brahama Chellaney, “The Western roots of Anti-Western Terror”, Project Syndicate, November 16, 2015.
[v] Stanly Johny, “Turkey knows better how many Indians have joined IS: Syrian envoy”, The Hindu, September 6, 2015.
[vi] Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Austin Scott Introduce Legislation to End Illegal U.S. War to Overthrow Syrian Government of Assad, November 19, 2015, http://gabbard.house.gov/index.php/press-releases/520-reps-tulsi-gabbard-austin-scott-introduce-legislation-to-end-illegal-u-s-war-to-overthrow-syrian-government-of-assad
[vii] David S. Cloud and Raja Abdulrahim, “U.S. has secretly provided arms training to Syria rebels since 2012”, Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jun/21/world/la-fg-cia-syria-20130622
[viii] Nicaragua vs. United States (Summary) on Self-Defence and Use of Force”, Ruwanthika Gunaratne and Public International Law, November 15, 2012, https://ruwanthikagunaratne.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/nicaragua-vs-us-case-summary/; Stuwart Taylor Jr., “Nicaragua takes case against U.S. to world court”, The New York Times, April 10, 1984, http://www.nytimes.com/1984/04/10/world/nicaragua-takes-case-against-us-to-world-court.html.
[ix] Ruth Sherlock, Izraa, Deraa, “Syrian Christians: “Help us to stay—stop arming terrorists’, Telegraph, November 22, 2014; Elizabeth Dias, “Syrian Christian Leaders Call On U.S. To End Support for Anti-Assad Rebels”, Time, January 30, 2014.
[xi] Chris Queen, “Muslims and Christians Work Together to Battle ISIS”, PJ Media, November 12, 2015; “Christians, Muslims, Assad Troops fight as one to defend Biblical town from ISIS”, Brietbart, November 12, 2015.