Written by Darius Shahtahmasebi
The U.S. has long asserted itself as a peacemaker in the ongoing war in Syria, attempting to paint the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, as the root cause of the conflict. At the same time, the United States government maintains that peace would be impossible without American interference, which, of course, comes with the added aim of ousting Assad.
However, anyone who has been following the conflict closely should know this is not the case – at all. Never mind that the U.S. openly destroyed Vietnam, Korea, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, to name a few; America’s conduct in Syria has been far from peaceful.
Unsurprisingly, the U.S. planned to take out the Assad government well before the conflict began in 2011. According to cables obtained by Wikileaks, the U.S. planned this operation at least as far back as 2006. That proposal sought to force Assad to overreact to the threat of extremists crossing over into the country and manufacture the crisis in order for the U.S. to involve itself militarily. Another leak, this time from the Hillary Clinton email archive, showed the U.S. wanted to topple Assad to undermine Iranian influence and ensure Israel could retain its nuclear monopoly.
Like the gift that kept on giving, Clinton’s leaked emails also showed she was well aware that close allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar were directly sponsoring ISIS. However, ISIS is just one of the groups battling the Syrian government. Reports have shown that the rest of the organizations — which are largely backed by the U.S. — are no better than ISIS, anyway.
According to the Washington Post, under the Obama administration, the CIA was spending at least $1 billion per year training Syrian rebels. A special PBS report found that the CIA was teaching these rebels blatant war crimes and terror tactics.
Without going into too much detail regarding Washington’s contribution to the violence in Syria, the fact remains that the U.S. has had no meaningful involvement in any plans for peace. In 2012, Russia put forward a proposal whereby Assad would stand down as part of a potential peace deal. The U.S. rejected it because they wanted to see Assad fall in a manner similar to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya ( they were certain he was about to fall in a short amount of time, anyway).
A ceasefire was organized in the final quarter of 2016, which was immediately disrupted by the U.S. military’s decision to strike Syrian troops directly in what resulted in an outright massacre. The air strikes also paved the way for a timely ISIS offensive. Given that a recent report by a leading British agency found the Syrian government was the most heavily engaged entity fighting ISIS last year, it should have been no surprise to the U.S.-led coalition that ISIS would benefit from such a strike.
At the end of last year, Russia, Iran, and Turkey brokered an arrangement of their own (completely without America’s input) that was actually appearing to be holding for a time. But at the start of this year, al-Qaeda-linked rebels backed by the U.S. were busy burrowing tunnels into the Syrian capital and wreaking havoc across the country. The U.S. clearly had no plans to honor Russia and Iran’s proposals.
Similarly, before Donald J. Trump’s decision to officially strike the Syrian government in response to a chemical weapons attack — one the president attributed to Assad though experts have seriously questioned if there is any evidence to support this claim — peace talks were supposed to have commenced. They fell completely flat. Instead, Trump struck a Syrian airbase (albeit quite ineffectively), and reports indicated that ISIS again used this strike to launch an offensive of their own.
Evidently, Washington’s “solutions” almost always lead to more violence, not less of it.
America’s problem with peace initiatives to date, of course, is that with the assistance of Russia and Iran, Assad has shown no signs of going anywhere anytime soon. This is a deal-breaker for the anti-Assad alliance, spearheaded by Washington. In their eyes, there can be no “peace” in Syria until Assad is removed — as if Assad’s fall from power is a magic wand that can be waved to produce lasting prosperity for Syria. Has the U.S. even considered how a U.S.-Saudi-installed puppet government is going to be able to hold onto power in Syria without violently confronting al-Qaeda and ISIS? A Saudi puppet is already struggling to hold onto power in Yemen, and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are insisting on his reinstatement with brutal and horrific force.
In recent developments, Russia has borrowed an arrangement previously advanced by the Trump administration. Russia has signaled its intent to create so-called “safe zones” within Syria. On the face of it, the U.S. should welcome the proposal, given they proposed it first. However, the fact is that because the proposal entails that coalition planes cannot fly within these safe zones — so as to provide maximum protection against civilian casualties — the U.S. does not welcome it. Nevertheless, given that Airwars has documented an increasing number of civilian casualties committed by the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria, this proposal appears to be a sound idea.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Washington has completely rejected this proposal even though the benefits of this plan have been almost immediate. As one commentator put it, the violence in Syria has been “sharply reduced” as a result.
Not that it needs explaining to the U.S. military, but if Syria, with the help of its allies, wants to prevent the U.S. from bombing its territory, they are perfectly within their rights to do so. Washington is the one violating international law by bombing Syria without a U.N. mandate or official permission from the Syrian government (how often do you see the media report on this glaring issue?).
So, will Washington accept this legal fact, admit defeat, and allow the violence to de-escalate?
Not quite. Instead, the U.S. is running its annual military drills with an often overlooked member of the anti-Assad alliance, Jordan, on the Syrian border. In fact, a regional outlet reported that U.S., U.K. and Jordanian troops are mobilizing across the Jordanian border with Syria in what looks like preparation for a full-blown invasion.
To add further, the U.S. has also made the controversial decision to arm the Kurdish fighters in Syria with heavy weaponry, a move that is completely opposed by NATO member Turkey, which has spent much of its energy bombing these Kurdish positions.
This is not a solution that fosters peace. People can say what they want about Russia’s role in Syria, but the fact remains that whenever Russia looks more than capable of initiating a peace process of its own, the U.S. is hellbent on destroying such a process outright.
Clearly, it is not in America’s interests to reduce the violence in Syria. If peace were the ultimate goal, it wouldn’t really matter if the brutal Assad government retained its seat for a few more decades. Considering the level of violence that has plagued Syria, if an approach can reduce the level of violence drastically, surely that is the preferred option to be pursued to enable parties to come to the negotiating table to broker a political solution.
The only real alternative the Trump administration is offering is to watch the U.S. attempt to turn Syria into Libya, confronting Russia, Iran, and possibly China in the process.