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End America's Illegal Occupation of Syria Now

June 13, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Washingtonians pretend to be shocked by what President Trump
does, but it’s Americans who should be shocked by what
Washington does—such as illegally intervening in
Syria’s civil war and occupying a third of that country.
It’s time for Donald Trump to do the right thing and bring
our troops home.

The fabled “Arab Spring” hit Syria in 2011. And as
the Middle East’s autocracies wobbled, the Obama
administration initially tagged President Bashar al-Assad as a
reformer. But he refused to yield political power in the face of
popular demonstrations.

Not everyone saw the protesters as harbingers of democracy. One
Alawite with whom I spoke while visiting Syria last year said
Assad’s opponents chanted, “Christians to Lebanon,
Alawites to the grave.” The demonstrators’ desire to
oust Assad evidently didn’t mean they desired a liberal
Western-oriented democracy. Earlier in Beirut, I’d spoken
with an anguished Christian aid worker from Syria who exclaimed,
“You Americans have no idea what you are doing!”

Our presence there is a
violation of domestic and international law that’s made a horrible
civil war even worse.

Nevertheless, Washington decided that Assad had to go. And his
regime, beset from every direction, tottered on the brink.
Insurgents gained control of Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta
suburbs, from which they bombarded Syria’s capital.

Despite pressure to actively intervene against Assad, the Obama
administration focused on aiding supposedly moderate insurgents,
with little success. One program spent a half billion dollars to
train fewer than threescore fighters. Radicals hid their views in
order to receive arms from America; supposedly democratic forces
fought with and sometimes surrendered to Islamists, along with
their equipment.

Moreover, reported the New York Times: “Most of
the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply
Syrian rebel groups fighting the government of Bashar al-Assad are
going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular
opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to
American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats.”

One of the indirect beneficiaries of U.S. aid was Jabhat
al-Nusra, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate. Noted National
’s Michael Brendan Dougherty: “We also
funded a group called Nour al-Din al-Zenki, until its members
showed up on YouTube beheading a child, at which point the
‘moderate’ label no longer quite fit.”

With the war largely over and the much-weakened Assad government
mostly in control, roughly 2,000 U.S. personnel occupy about a
third of the country, mostly in the north working with Kurdish
forces. At first, President Trump ordered the Americans home, but
now hundreds or more will stay, according to his aides.

But for what? The goal of shielding civilians was undercut all
along by fomenting civil war and the underwriting of insurgents.
The …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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