With Aleppo on the brink of liberation from US-supported ‘moderate’ jihadi rebels, Barack Obama’s White House is in damage control mode — but it’s about time they admit it’s game over.
After major advances by Syrian forces into rebel-held areas of Aleppo, Washington suddenly came to the Russians with a plan last weekend. The US would do its best to get the rebels out of eastern Aleppo and any remaining would be designated as terrorists and thus become legitimate targets for Syrian forces.
The proposal floated around for three whole days before Washington retracted it to reportedly work on some new ideas.
At the rate the Obama administration moves with regard to Syria, you’d think there was no urgency attached at all. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has repeatedly aired his exasperation during breaks in talks that go on for hours longer than necessary, while his counterpart John Kerry seemingly checks with all and sundry in Washington before saying yes or no to anything.
The fact that the White House can’t seem to stick to one plan for more than three days — this isn’t the first time they’ve retracted their own proposals — indicates not only their desperation as the clock runs out on Obama’s presidency, but also highlights a general incoherence and total lack of clarity or consistency that has characterized the America’s Syria “strategy” for years.
But while the US side has been trying to decide which way is up, the war hasn’t waited for Obama’s foreign policy circle to all start singing from the same hymn sheet. The latest victories for the Russian-supported Syrian army are proving decisive and it’s predicted that government forces may have complete control of Aleppo within days. That certainly won’t be the end of the war, but it may be a step in the right direction in terms of weakening the Islamist opposition.
A different war
Western media, predictably, is painting the liberation of Aleppo from radical Islamist rebels as “the fall of Aleppo” or the “collapse” of Aleppo, as though Bashar Assad’s secular Syrian army driving out jihadi militants is a bad thing.
But what can be expected from such a duplicitous bunch? Their insincerity and shaky commitment to caring about things like diplomacy and human rights has been on display for some time, although perhaps never more so than in their reaction to the rebel shelling of a Russian military hospital earlier this week.
The op-eds and editorials condemning disgraceful war crimes and the murder of medical professionals were nowhere to be found. Why could that be? Well of course, the hospital was Russian and was hit by shelling from US-supported militants, so the heartfelt outrage and respect for the medical profession miraculously came to an abrupt halt. Even the International Committee of the Red Cross issued a bland statement as though nothing significant had happened.
Then there was the feigned disgust at the decision by Russia and China to block a UN Security Council draft resolution for a ceasefire in Aleppo.
Headlines screamed that the international baddies were preventing a ceasefire, the implication being that the peace-loving rebels were simply trying their best to stop the bloodshed. In reality, of course, while it might sound nice, a ceasefire at this point would have been used by the rebels as an opportunity to regroup and recover and ultimately would have prolonged fighting in the city.
Remember, these “moderate” rebels are people that the US has supported financially and militarily, but who they can neither identify nor locate most of them time — and who they certainly can’t control. They are groups who fight alongside Al Qaeda-affiliated forces and who stand accused of beheading a child and putting women in cages to be used as human shields.
But again, no major Western editorial boards found time this week to condemn US support for these lunatics or the policies Washington has implemented to prolong the war while Obama tries to find a way to salvage his foreign policy legacy.
While Western governments condemn Russian action in Syria and shed crocodile tears over the US’s failed diplomatic efforts, it’s worth skipping back a few years to remind ourselves of Washington’s role in provoking this war.
The fact is, the US promoted civil unrest in Syria. They pushed it. They encouraged it. They spent years encouraging division and sowing the seeds of instability in ways that could only have resulted in the outbreak of violence. Syria was simply another piece in the puzzle of Washington’s geopolitical master plan; another opportunity for control and influence in the region. Assad was a leader that didn’t play ball the way Washington liked, so he had to go. If an uprising wasn’t going to happen fast enough organically, they would happily help it along.
Skeptical? Just take a look at documents released by WikiLeaks that prove in black and white how determined the US was to spark unrest in the Middle Eastern country from as early as 2006. One cable listed a number of steps the US could take to weaken Assad and strengthen the opposition against him. Some of the suggestions included encouraging rumors of external plotting to weaken the government, discouraging FDI to hurt the economy and highlighting the failures of some of the country’s reform efforts.
The cable also admitted that “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” were a threat to Assad’s power. Fast forward to the present day and these “anti-regime Syrian Islamists” are Washington’s “moderate” rebel friends. It makes for a truly sickening read in light of what has happened in that country.
It’s clear that the US government was encouraging an anti-Assad uprising for years. It’s also clear that they were unsure what the consequences of their actions would be, but that they didn’t seem to care. Now they’ve got the instability they wanted and it hasn’t gone their way, so naturally, everyone else is to blame and we’re supposed to believe hearts are breaking in Washington for the children of Aleppo.
By Danielle Ryan