Foreign policy is an incredibly important part of any administration; while the Democratic primary has been focused mostly on domestic issues, there are pressing global issues unfolding. Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, has been touting her diplomatic expertise as a former Secretary of State to bolster her resume as she introduces her vision to the American people. Clinton has been boasting about her support for the Syrian opposition in the past, her visceral hatred for President Assad, and promoting a no-fly zone. However, this very same chain of events happened in both Libya and Iraq (both of which Clinton supported) with total disasters following. Her policies are not too different from the neo-conservatives she claims to oppose.
In 2011, the year that the Syrian revolution had shifted into a full-scale war, Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, wrote to Al-Jazeera “it was the United States that destroyed Syrian democracy in 1949 when the CIA sponsored the first coup d’état in the country ending democratic rule. It is again the United States that has destroyed the possibility of a democratic outcome of the current popular uprising. My deep condolences to the Syrian people.”
Irene Gendzier stated that “CIA agents Miles Copeland and Stephen Meade... were directly involved in the coup.” This was a claim that Copeland admitted was true during a BBC interview in 1967; a fact that is now well-established. Copeland noted that at this time the State Department was aware of clandestine activity.
“We believe Bashar’s weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as a the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists.”
“The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rif’at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime’s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.”
“If we are ready to capitalize, they will offer us opportunities to disrupt his decision-making, keep him off-balance, and make him pay a premium for his mistakes.”
Some years later, the Arab Spring had begun; the opportunity discussed by Mr. Roebuck had presented itself and Clinton saw the opportunity to support opposition groups. Waves of protests sprang around the Middle East. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a television appearance in which he said that Syria would not follow the same fate. He would, as promised, deliver democratic and economic reforms, that were met with opposition within the Ba’ath party. There were some concessions made including a restructuring of several bureaucracies and an end on anti-assembly provisions. Bashar has been hailed by millions within Syria as a reformist, and originally Secretary Clinton had viewed him in that very same light as she had stated on the record.
Last month, the Indian ambassador to Syria from 2009-2012, VP Haran recalls the initial uprising:
“The opposition could not get the people of Aleppo to protest, so they sent busloads of people to Aleppo. These people then burned things on the streets and went back. Journalists then reported it and said Aleppo had rebelled.”
Noted has been the presence of radical groups in Syria for some time, including the Muslim Brotherhood, who was stamped out during a failed insurrection in the 1980s. This has been the basis of Assad’s suspicions along with specific parts of the citizenry’s concern with a close relationship with Iran as well as the people’s distrust of the ruling clique. Utilization of radical groups has been standard operating procedure for clandestine activities headed by Washington. We cannot, however, deny that the Syrian government reacted inappropriately; as per Mr. Roebuck’s cable we can see that this was anticipated.
As the conflict has turned into disaster, Clinton’s opposition is refusing to negotiate. Currently in Geneva, there is a one-colored peace process where the men (and I mean men, no women of course) that are attempting a negotiation are starting at the non-position of the removal of President Assad. Negating the pesky facts, that in a poll the majority of Syrian people stand by the President. This seems antithetical what is supposed to be a democratic movement. One does not need to look farther than the 2014 election to see how much the likes of Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Nusra, Jaysh Al-Islam, and others think about democracy. At this time, the rebels boycotted the elections and even proceeded to kill some 50 people at polling locations. Amazingly, Syria was able to turnout 70% of the vote (the first election to involve multiple parties), with Assad having over 90% of the vote.
The 2012 constitutional amendment that modified the role of the President and of the Ba’ath party was definitely a half-measure. However, it was not the government that barred voting- it was the opposition. How can the opposition claim that they support democracy when they don’t even participate in the democratic process? The Latin American Study Association released a study decades ago that implied the same typical clandestine activities in the 1984 election of Nicaragua; it was not a genuine boycott by opposition groups but actually the compulsion of Washington telling their man, Arturo Cruz, to continue militant activity instead of formal democratic measures. Similarly, the Syrian opposition boycotted the first day of the Geneva Talks and instead lead an offensive in northern Hama.
There have also been many events that nearly lead to a full-scale invasion of Syria by western coalitions, including the 2013 East Ghouta chemical weapons attack. President Barack Obama along with the media did have some basis because they accurately mention that the Syrian government had possession and the capability to launch chemical weapons. However, the diplomatic community pointed out discrepancies in the President’s statement. Pulitzer Prize-winner, Seymour Hersh, called it “presenting assumptions as facts.” It was within our understanding at the time that Jabhat Al-Nusra had the capability to produce sarin in large quantities and also use it. Clinton, as a former head diplomat, knows these facts but has instead used this incident to further commit herself to regime change.
What about U.S. allies supported by the Clinton dynasty? In a Freudian slip- the Vice President, Joe Biden, stated that the Turks, Saudis, and Emiratis funded and armed Jabhat Al-Nusra. Today, this association is unquestionable. The famed Professor Noam Chomsky told me an in an interview in December:
“[Turkey] is playing a very dangerous game in Syria, tacitly supporting ISIS by allowing the borders to stay open, openly supporting Al-Nursa, attacking the Kurds who are the main ground force combating ISIS and defending their own territories and more. Not a pretty picture.”
Turkey is of course a country that was alleged to have been receiving weapons from Libya to arm the opposition in Syria. Clinton has been asked about this on the record and given limited responses. The gulf states, including most prominently Saudi Arabia, have been producing radical Wahhabi groups for some time, shipping away dissidents, and as Patrick Cockburn accurately portrays- this is the most dangerous ideology of our times. Cockburn has noted, as many others have, that the gulf states have been overlooking private support for radical Islamist groups around the world. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia (along with the other gulf states) have been a key part of Clinton diplomacy and she had also used her position as Secretary of State to to pull strings for U.S. allies.
As an English documentary film-maker, Mojtaba Masood, has eloquently pointed out in his documentary titled “ISIS- Islamic Extremism?“. The ideologies of all the opposition groups including Nusra and others are actually quite similar; these groups who have been heavily backed by Saudi and other U.S. allies.
A member of the Free Syrian Army in the Latakia front wrote me:
“I support Nusra because they fight beside us.”
Even so, the Free Syrian Army has remained a small factor. Especially in Aleppo, which is experiencing a miniature World War, where CNN has recently released a video saying that the main forces are the Syrian Arab Army and the Free Syrian Army. Interestingly, they had some weeks ago published an article calling Jabhat Al-Nusra the “kingmaker” for the opposition groups, as they quoted a report. As anyone will tell you, the Free Syrian Army is a marginal force at this point in war, especially Aleppo. Their exploitations have been documented, including attacks on civilians, coercion, and the use of child soldiers. Peter Oborne, a respected British journalist, recently said to Russia Today that the people of Aleppo view the oppositions presence in Aleppo as a jihadi occupation. These are the same groups that Clinton pledges her support to.
The myth of the ‘moderate rebellion’ has been so dispelled that I’ve rarely heard of any candidate for President calling on support for these factions besides Clinton. Generally, it has switched to supporting the Kurds including PYD, YPK, Peshmerga, and others. If you want to know how divided American foreign policy on who to support is then all you have to do is talk to the Syrian Democratic Forces/YPG in northern Syria fighting against the Free Syrian Army who are both backed by the United States.
Syria is undergoing a serious situation that has sucked in the entire world and has been a staging point for the Saudi-Iranian geopolitical rivalry. NATO allies including Saudi Arabia and Turkey have put the United States in a precarious situation with no discernible policy. Through Clinton’s rhetoric, it is painfully clear that she is committed to the continual U.S. policy of regime change, and moreover in escalating tensions with the perceived Iranian threat. Syria will only become more of a ‘quagmire’ if the Syrian government falls as was the case in Libya, and it is something that Clinton apparently takes great pride in. However, the stakes in Syria are far higher with the world’s leading military powers all competing.
A commitment to eliminate the Syrian government may ultimately capitulate into a World War if the United States does not elect a prudent head of state. Clinton’s obsession with regime change, especially in Syria, is an extension of her irrational fear of Iran. The conflict in Syria has proven to not be one of democracy versus a dictator, but rather, foreign influence over a legitimate state. The downfall of Syria would ultimately mean the growth of radical Islam which has been a trademark of the Clinton legacy. Hillary Clinton is not a diplomat; she is a bloodthirsty and deranged woman with no respect for human rights and a true exemplar of corruption.