[9/11/17 RACHEL BLEVINS] When the Syrian War began, the United States claimed to only be concerned about the innocent civilians. Now, as the war comes to an end, the ones who have suffered the most are the innocent civilians, and the victor is the same “tyrannical dictator” the U.S. has spent years trying to overthrow.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed that according to a leaked cable from William Roebuck, U.S. Ambassador for Bahrain, the United States began plotting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2006—which happens to be the same year Assad’s government dropped the U.S. Dollar.
“That plan was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup,” Assange said. “So in theory it says ‘We have a problem with Islamic extremists crossing over the border with Iraq, and we’re taking actions against them to take this information and make the Syrian government look weak, the fact that it is dealing with Islamic extremists at all.’”
The U.S. began openly pushing for the overthrow of Assad in 2013, after he was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people. Before an investigation could be conducted into whether Assad was, in fact, responsible for the crimes he was being accused of, President Obama went to Congress to ask for its approval to launch an airstrike directed towards Syrian government forces. When Congress refused, the administration’s strategy changed.
The same “Islamic extremists” Assange mentioned came into play with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria, a group of radicals who seemed to come out of nowhere, yet were well-equipped with weapons, technology and expertise. Their rise coincided with the United States’ decision to pour massive amounts of taxpayer dollars into arming and training “moderate Syrian rebels.” Leaked documents later revealed that the strategy of pushing to overthrow Assad by supporting the groups in his country who opposed him was done despite concerns that many of those groups were made up of radical extremists.
As the war against Assad shifted to a war against ISIS, the U.S. was named in report after report that appeared to show it was helping the same terrorist group it claimed to be defeating. In October 2014, the Pentagon admitted that the U.S. airdropped weapons to ISIS, and blamed “the wind” for the fact that those weapons were not delivered to Kurdish fighters in Kobani.
In October 2016, the Pentagon was caught paying a PR firm $540 million to create fake terrorist videos—much like the ones purported to show ISIS militants beheading innocent civilians. Then in a 2016 audit, the Department of Defense admitted that it could not account for $1 billion in weapons and equipment that was meant for forces in Syria, but likely ended up in the hands of ISIS.
In 2017, Assad’s government is regaining ground in Syria and ISIS is suffering crucial defeats and losing strategic strongholds. Recently, after the Syrian government regained control of Deir ez-Zor, “dozens of Isis members have fled to towns and villages along the Euphrates valley” in preparation for a “last stand.”
While the United States has celebrated and will continue to celebrate the defeat of ISIS—as it blatantly ignores evidence of its attempts to help the group wreak havoc and stay in power—it is refusing to acknowledge the main goal that got the U.S. into the War in Syria in the first place.
The same “tyrannical dictator” the U.S. sought to overthrow four years ago is regaining power, and the areas under his control look like paradise compared to the war-torn cities that have received more than their fair share of “freedom” from the U.S.
In addition to losing their homes and being forced to evacuate from their cities, thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by the United States and the groups it funds in recent years. While the Obama Administration’s offensive against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria resulted in an average of 80 civilian deaths each month, which led to a total of 2,300 civilian deaths, the Trump Administration has increased the civilian death toll to an average of 360 per month, which is around 12 killed per day. In just six months, Trump’s war against ISIS has resulted in 2,200 civilian deaths.
While the war in Syria may be coming to an end, it is important to remember that it has impacted countless innocent civilians, wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, and the original mission of the U.S. was never accomplished, raising serious questions about how United States–Syria relations will look in the future.