As the Syrian civil war escalates, bringing with it a large death toll, western politicians are making this crisis the top priority on their agendas. Amidst all the chaos, it is important to stop and question the rhetoric used by U.S. politicians and their allies concerning the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
On Dec. 12, 2012, the United States recognized the Free Syrian Army as the representatives of the Syrian people instead of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. This move was taken without any regard to elections or democratic measure of any kind – ironic for a country that criticizes Assad for being anti-democratic. A couple of months later, the United States vowed to supply the FSA with weapons in order to boost its capacity to fight Assad’s regime, in hopes of ending the civil war.
Oddly enough, this measure was met by an increased number of casualties and refugees and recently, by the introduction of chemical weapons. The million dollar question which ought to be asked of the U.S. government is will arming the FSA solve the conflict and reduce the amount of casualties or will it just continue to feed the chaotic situation?
Consider Operation Cyclone, in which the U.S. government armed and financed the mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union, thus instilling one of the most radical Sunni governments the world has ever seen, the Taliban. There are clear resemblances to the current American objectives in Syria.
According to many reports from intelligence coming out of Syria, Al-Qaeda militants are the most armed factions of the Syrian rebels under the name Al-Nusra Front, outnumbering the secular fighters. Their main objective is to create a Muslim Caliphate and unify the Syrians under strict Sharia law. Their arguments have little to do with the Syrian people’s aspirations for freedom, democracy and the rule of law.
The issues regarding the FSA are not just within its radical factions but rather its actions and sources of funding. Thousands of Syrian Christians and Kurds have already left their homes because of the massacres they faced by the Syrian rebels, for the mere reason of being Christian, Kurd or Shia Muslim.
On Sept. 5, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, hundreds of FSA rebels stormed the Christian village of Maaloula and surrounded its main church. A week before, 450 Kurd families were killed in cold blood by the Syrian rebels, yet the U.S. government did not give one comment on that. On top of the strict sectarian mentality that drives the FSA, the Saudi and Qatari Sunni governments keep providing money and weapons to the FSA, which are known to be overwhelmingly Sunni.
The United States and its allies keep supporting the FSA, yet the Syrian conflict escalates daily.The time has come to question American actions based on historical and current evidence. If the United States government was sincere about its intention to instill democracy and the rule of law in Syria, it would have pushed for a democratic solution to the conflict, as opposed to the on-going discourse of military threats by direct intervention and arming the rebels.
The United States emerged in the Syrian conflict not as positive force but a force that embraces a highly sectarian group and aligns itself with its economic interests in the Arabian Gulf, as opposed to aligning itself with the Syrians’ democratic aspirations.