Although the Syrian opposition includes citizens of Syria and defectors from the Assad regime, a large portion of the fighters are blacklisted by US officials.
Britain is set to introduce a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action in Syria as the United States and it’s allies gear up for expected strikes on the Assad regime.
The British resolution condemns the Syrian government for allegedly using chemical weapons in Ghouta last week and authorizes “necessary measures for protecting civilians.” Russia is expected to issue a veto. The measure is being introduced as the Obama administration moves closer to launching air strikes on Syria, with reports suggesting an attack within days.
The U.S. continues to say that regime change is not on the menu, but anyone who watched our intervention in Libya can’t definitively say that assertion is accurate. Removing Assad is not a simple case of making bad guy go bye-bye so good guy can take his place – even though at times many of our politicians have made it sound as childish as that.
The other side in this conflict appears to escape the attention of the Western media and in our political discourse and thus our specious definition of terrorists and terrorism continues.
U.S. Syrian duplicity
Although the Syrian opposition includes citizens of Syria and defectors from the Assad regime, it also includes elements that have been condemned and blacklisted by the American government as terrorists. As recently as December of 2012, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on leaders of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, hours after the State Department moved to blacklist the rebel group as a foreign terror organization linked to al Qaeda in Iraq.
Similarly, the US State Department changed the Foreign Terrorist Organization(FTO) and Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 designations of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) to include the following new aliases: al-Nusrah Front, Jabhat al-Nusrah, Jabhet al-Nusra, The Victory Front, and Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant.
Now here’s the tricky part, in an interview with Barbara Walters – approximately two weeks later – President Obama stated that “We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime.”
Al-Nusra is not a bit player in the Syrian conflict. It is considered one of the most effective groups as one in the Syrian resistance – with the ability to pull in foreign fighters, from places such as Iraq, with combat experience and training. So, how is this position rationalized in light of the drone wars that rage in other parts of the Muslim world, in an avowed mission to uproot and eliminate those the US deems terrorists?
Brief history of America‘s relationship with terrorism and terrorists
In 1864, U.S. cavalry attacked an encampment of mostly Northern Cheyenne Native-Americans at Sand Creek, Colorado. These Native-Americans had recently negotiated with the government and assumed they were a détente had been reached with the U.S. There weren’t many fighting men among them and as a result between 150 and 200 Native-Americans were estimated killed. Of those killed, nearly all were women, children, and elderly men. This is just one of the many atrocities committed against the indigenous peoples of this land.
From 1899 thru 1902, the U.S. fought an imperialist war against the people of the Philippine Islands. The U.S. army, faced with a guerilla army supported by the local population, resorted actions tantamount to terrorism. Whole villages were destroyed by our army, with women, children, and elderly men killed. Tens of thousands of civilians died from disease or starvation when they were driven out of their homes. Prisoners were tortured. Some scholars have postulated that this conflict became the blueprint that America used in the Vietnam conflict.
In 1915, in a tip-of-the-hat to the American terrorist group the Klu Klux Klan, the American silent film, The Birth of a Nation, was the first movie to be shown at the White House. President Wilson, at the time, stated that D.W. Griffith’s epic was like history being written with a lightning bolt. The film is also credited as one of the events that inspired the formation of the “second era” Ku Klux Klan at Stone Mountain, Georgia, in the same year – The Birth of a Nation was used as a recruiting tool for the KKK.
The 1968 My Lai Massacre, in which American soldiers murdered over 340 unarmed Vietnamese villagers, including many women and children. My Lai was not an isolated occurrence. A 2006 LA Times article revealed from declassified documents that:
• Seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died.
• Seventy-eight other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted.
• One hundred forty-one instances in which U.S. soldiers tortured civilian detainees or prisoners of war with fists, sticks, bats, water or electric shock.
Of the 203 soldiers that investigators deemed guilty of wrongdoing against Vietnamese civilians and prisoners, only 57 were court-martialed and just 23 convicted.
What will be asserted is that the other side was just as – if not more – indiscriminate in their treatment of civilians, but this is hardly an argument that can and should be made by any nation that continually claims the moral high ground.
We come to the 1980s when on Nov. 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan provided the Central Intelligence Agency with $19 million in military aid to support guerrilla groups fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government – this decision led to the 1986 Iran-Contra affair.
Contra guerrillas who were armed – and directed – by the U.S who, according to Human Rights Watch, waged a bloody terroristic war against their own people. The International Court of Justice ruled in 1986 that the US actions were a violation of international law – a $17 billion settlement was also awarded to Nicaragua at that time.
Absent from the aforementioned accounts is the rape and murder of four U.S. church women in 1980 by members of El Salvador’s U.S.-backed military; CIA-backed Haitian death squad leader Emmanuel Constant who terrorized his native Haiti all on the American-dime in the 1990s. The above reports are free from the stories of Orlando Bosch who blew a Cuban commercial airliner out of the air killing 73 people and was protected by the George HW Bush Justice Department. And what of the Honduran victims attacked by CIA-backed death squad Battalion 316 – a conflict fueled and financed by the US?
And let’s not forget the biggest elephant in the room… a pretext for war fabricated to bring down a brutal dictator who was placed into power by this nation; an individual who attacked his own citizens with chemical weapons with “Made In The USA” stamped across them – no, the irony is not lost.
So, the skepticism that this writer feels when Syria is being discussed is a well-deserved and rightly-earned. Every time this government climbs up on its high-horse in regard to terrorists and terrorism, it’s not nearly high enough to distance itself from its own direct and orchestrated acts of violence against innocents and civilian populations.