The Irony of US Syrian foreign policy

The Irony of US Syrian foreign policy

By Claude Salhani - Trend:

Since US foreign policy decided that helping the Syrian opposition get rid of long-time president Bashar Assad was in the national interest of the United States, the CIA has been actively training rebel fighters, funneling guns, munitions and money amid frail hopes that the regime would eventually collapse and that the good guys would win and that all would live happily ever after.

Is that likely to occur? Well, sort of. Maybe. Err, well perhaps it could first be made a tad clearer as to who are the good guys that will eventually win?

Fact of the matter is that not all would live happily ever after, regardless of who wins. In fact many are sure not to live at all. And even those who emerge victorious from the mad butchery into which Syria has become they are very likely to find little to be happy about, other than the fact that they managed to survive these years of insane slaughter.

Years during which time the entire country fell into a killing frenzy with such horror that it would even put to shame professional dictators such as the Soviet Union's Josef Stalin and Cambodia's Pol Pot. The only reason the Syrians did not match other infamous mass murderers is that they were limited by the size of the country's population. Still, the figures are impressive.

Out of a population of 22 million, in Syria they have managed to kill some 130,000; maim roughly twice that number, turn some six million to seven million into refugees and destroy nearly every major city in the country. Stalin is reported to have killed 100,000 a year.

It is said that war makes strange bedfellows. Once again the US intelligence community finds itself in bed with -- or as the case may be, embedded with -- groups affiliated in one manner or another with Al-Qaida and other Islamist organizations hell bent on bringing Syria (and the rest of the world) into the House of their version of Islam.

You no doubt recall a previous experiment in nation building in Afghanistan? At the time the US wrongly assumed that it could recruit the Islamists to fight the communists and then defeat the "bad guys," instill democracy, declare victory and leave? That did not work out too well. Then they tried it again in Iraq where the results were marginally better, which is to say, not much The US found out the hard way that it doesn't work like that any more. The Middle East is not Europe and the Afghans are not the Germans. And there was no Marshall Plan for the Arab/Islamic world.

The great difficulty remains in trying to identify who is right and who is wrong. A recent statement by Michael Hayden, the former chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency has him admitting that perhaps the best outcome for the rest of the world would be one in Syria where Bashar would remain in charge. The way Hayden looks at it, the Syrian president remains the lesser of all evils. So has the US been backing the wrong side?

Maybe? Maybe not. Time will tell. Meanwhile the death toll keeps rising and the US keeps trying to decide who the good and bad guys are in a war where there fewer good guys but more casualties by the day.

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend Agency in Baku, Azerbaijan. Follow him on Twitter @claudesalhani.

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