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After 7 Years Of The US Meddling In Syria, What Have We Learned?

For most empathetic humans, Syria represents everything that is wrong with humanity. This Thursday, the country’s “civil war” hit its seven-year anniversary, but the violence engulfing the country shows no signs of stopping.

However, one glaring problem in the conflict is that Syria means different things to different people. For the U.S. government and its enthusiasts, Syria is an opportunity for the American government to establish its moral high-ground, denouncing the Syrian government’s behavior even though the U.S. has also contributed to the horrors unfolding in Syria’s most violent conflict zones.

For the rest of us, it is the egregiousness of America’s longstanding interventionist foreign policy that causes the most shock and outrage.

Right now, the U.S. military controls approximately 30 percent of Syrian territory, including Syria’s most lucrative oil fields. How can that be? And why do we accept it?


Another NATO ally, Turkey, is also in the process of seizing a sizable chunk of Syria for itself, killing hundreds in the process. Turkey is even slaughtering the very same people the U.S. has celebrated for years as the foundation of the most effective fighting force against ISIS — the Kurds — but the whole world is looking the other way. These violations of international law continually go unreported, yet we are supposed to believe that these same countries want the Syrian government to be dismantled for the betterment of the Syrian people.

Prior to the conflict in 2011, Syria was a middle-income country. It actually ranked 75th on the Global Peace Index in 2008, higher than U.S. allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. and its allies then began pouring massive amounts of money into a monumental effort to destabilize the country. At the peak of what was supposedly a secret CIA program to arm and train rebels in Syria, the U.S. was spending $1 billion a year doing so (one-fifteenth of the CIA budget). According to a PBS report, the CIA was training these rebels to finish off wounded soldiers after an ambush, a terrorist tactic and potential war crime. As we later found out, the majority of these Syrian rebels all shared ISIS’ core belief system, and they all worked together on the ground, including with al-Qaeda’s official Syrian branch, making the Syrian government’s claim that it is in the business of fighting “terrorists” actually conceivable.

Before this happened, the Syrian President actually dined with then-senator John Kerry in Damascus. Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair even recommended Assad for a knighthood. Even at the time, the Syrian president and his father before him were notorious for their human rights abuses. Apparently, that wasn’t an issue for these western powers back then.

Most of us don’t doubt that the various allegations against Assad most likely have some truth to them. Yet we still have open admissions from the highest-level officials in Washington that they don’t actually have evidence of the chemical weapons attacks allegations against Assad, and this signifies the largest problem with the media’s coverage of the war in Syria: its insistence on outright lies.

One Reuters report actually claimed that the Syrian government rarely fights against ISIS:

“After Trump was elected, Assad became more confident because Trump had pledged to end U.S. support for rebels fighting the Syrian regime and direct most American efforts to fighting Islamic State. Assad and his allies have rarely fought directly against the jihadist group, which established its self-proclaimed capital in the eastern city of Raqqa.”


However, according to report published by the London-based IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center, a leading security analysis agency, 43 percent of ISIS’ battles between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017, were fought against the Syrian military and its allies. This means that the Syrian government is actually the most engaged fighting force battling ISIS.

What is this if not an open lie about the Syrian government? If they are openly lying about the fundamental nature of the violence engulfing Syria right now, what else are they lying about?

What is currently taking place in Eastern Ghouta sounds inexcusable beyond belief. However, we do have to bear in mind that the main rebel group holding the area in question is called the “Army of Islam” in English. One would be hard-pressed to find any western country in the world that would sit idly by while the “Army of Islam” took up arms and seized chunks of territory. It pays to remind ourselves that the U.S. is still a country where its current president was elected on promises to ban innocent refugees from its doorstep, not just its extremist adherents.

And this is the truth about the Syrian conflict. No matter how over the line the Syrian government steps, there is mounting evidence that if the goal of the international community is to stabilize Syria, the Syrian government and its allies are perhaps best placed to do so. Despite assurances from western media that Assad was unleashing a genocide in Aleppo in 2016, it later transpired that hundreds of thousands of Syrians returned home to Aleppo after the Syrian government reclaimed the city. A major cathedral famously reopened in Aleppo with a classical concert last year, whereas the rebels previously holding Aleppo did not celebrate Syria’s religious diversity.

There may be a significant number of Syrians who have fled Assad’s leadership, but you can bet there is an equally significant number who have fled the extremist rebels backed by the United States and its regional allies. The U.S., a predominantly Christian country, left its fellow Christians out to dry by pursuing and maintaining this anti-Assad policy in Syria.

After seven years in Syria, we have learned some valuable lessons — namely that the U.S. is once again on the wrong side of history and pursuing an agenda that is maximizing the violence there, all the while continuing to break international law.

“Syria has engaged a great deal of the world’s attention in the last seven years,” Joshua Landis, director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies, according to the LA Times

“The problem is that no one really cares about Syria the country, it’s that they care about the geographic position of Syria and they want leverage. They care about Syria, but not the Syrian people,”



Darius Shahtahmasebi
Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst, currently specializing in immigration, refugee and humanitarian law. Contact Darius: Support Darius' work on Patreon:

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