The Silver Lining of Trump’s Ownership of Regime Change Policy in Syria


On a positive note, it has been a good development that the Trump administration has owned the “regime change” policy of the Obama administration in Syria by launching cruise missiles strike against the Syrian air force in al-Shayrat air base. Because over the decades, it has been a convenient stratagem of the Western powers with two-party political systems, particularly the US, to evade responsibility for the death and destruction brought on the hapless Middle Eastern countries by their predecessors after the elections.

For instance: during the Soviet-Afghan jihad of late ‘70s and ‘80s, the Carter and Reagan administrations nurtured the Afghan jihadists against the Soviet-backed government in Kabul with the help of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. The Afghan jihad created a flood of millions of refugees who sought refuge in the border regions of Pakistan and Iran.

Moreover, the Reagan administration’s policy of providing training and arms to the Afghan militants also had the unintended consequences of spawning al-Qaeda and Taliban and it also destabilized the Af-Pak region, which is still in the midst of lawlessness, perpetual anarchy and an unrelenting Taliban insurgency more than three and a half decades after the proxy war.

After the signing of the Geneva Accords in 1988, however, and the subsequent change of guard in Washington, the Clinton administration dissociated itself from the ill-fated Reagan administration’s policy of nurturing Afghan militants with the help of Gulf’s petro-dollars and Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and laid the blame squarely on minor regional actors.

Similarly, during the Libyan so-called “humanitarian intervention” in 2011, the Obama administration provided money and arms to myriads of tribal militias and Islamic jihadists to topple the Arab-nationalist Gaddafi regime. But after the policy backfired and pushed Libya into lawlessness, anarchy and civil war, the mainstream media is now pointing fingers at Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia for backing the renegade general, Khalifa Haftar, in eastern Libya even though he had lived for two decades [1] in the US right next to the CIA’s headquarter in Langley, Virginia.

Moreover, if we were to draw parallels between the Soviet-Afghan jihad of the ‘80s and the Syrian proxy war of today, the Western powers used the training camps located in the Af-Pak border regions to train and arm the Afghan jihadists against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies.

Similarly, the training camps located in the border regions of Turkey and Jordan are being used to provide training and weapons to Syrian militants to battle the Syrian regime with the collaboration of Turkish, Jordanian and Saudi intelligence agencies.

During the Afghan jihad, it is a known historical fact that the bulk of so-called “freedom fighters” was comprised of Pashtun Islamic jihadists, such as the factions of Jalaluddin Haqqani, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf and scores of others, some of which later coalesced together to form the Taliban Movement.

Similarly, in Syria, the majority of so-called “moderate rebels” is comprised of Islamic jihadists, such as Jaysh al-Islam, Ahrar al-Sham, al-Tawhid Brigade, al-Nusra Front and myriads of other militant groups, including a small portion of defected Syrian soldiers who go by the name of Free Syria Army (FSA).

Moreover, apart from Pashtun Islamic jihadists, various factions of the Northern Alliance of Tajiks and Uzbeks constituted the relatively “moderate” segment of the Afghan rebellion, even though those “moderate” warlords, like Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abul Rashid Dostum, were more ethnic and tribal in character than secular or nationalist, as such.

Similarly, the Kurds of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces can be compared with the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan. The socialist PYD/YPG Kurds of Syria, however, were allied with the Baathist regime against the Sunni Arab jihadists for the first three years of the Syrian civil war, i.e. from August 2011 to August 2014.

At the behest of the American stooge in Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani, the Syrian Kurds have switched sides in the last couple of years after the United States policy reversal and declaration of war against one faction of the Syrian opposition, the Islamic State, when the latter overstepped its mandate in Syria and overran Mosul and Anbar in Iraq in June 2014.

Regarding the Western powers’ modus operandi of waging proxy wars in the Middle East, since the times of the Soviet-Afghan jihad, during the eighties, it has been the fail-safe game plan of the master strategists at NATO to raise money from the oil-rich emirates of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait; then buy billions of dollars’ worth of weapons from the arms’ markets [2] of the Eastern Europe; and then provide those weapons and guerilla warfare training to the disaffected population of the victim country by using the intelligence agencies of the latter’s regional adversaries. Whether it’s Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya or Syria, the same playbook has been executed to perfection.

More to the point, raising funds for proxy wars from the Gulf Arab States allows the Western executives the freedom to evade congressional scrutiny; and the benefit of buying weapons from the unregulated arms’ markets of the Eastern Europe is that such weapons cannot be traced back to the Western capitals; and using jihadist proxies to achieve strategic objectives has the advantage of taking the plea of “plausible deniability” if the strategy backfires, which it often does. Remember that al-Qaeda and Taliban were the by-products of the Soviet-Afghan jihad, and the Islamic State and its global network of terrorists is the blowback of the proxy war in Syria.

On the subject of the supposed “powerlessness” of the US in the global affairs, the Western think tanks and the corporate media’s spin-doctors generally claim that Pakistan deceived the US in Afghanistan by not “doing more” to rein in the Taliban; Turkey hoodwinked the US in Syria by using the war against Islamic State as a pretext for cracking down on Kurds; Saudi Arabia and UAE betrayed the US in Yemen by mounting airstrikes against the Houthis and Saleh’s loyalists; and once again Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt went against the “ostensible” policy of the US in Libya by destabilizing the Tripoli-based government, even though Khalifa Haftar is an American stooge, as I have already described.

If the US policymakers are so naïve then how come they still control the global political and economic order? This perennially whining attitude of the Western corporate media that such and such regional actors betrayed them otherwise they were on the top of their game is actually a clever stratagem that has been deliberately designed by the spin-doctors to cast the Western powers in a positive light and to vilify the adversaries, even if the latter are their tactical allies in some of the regional conflicts.

Regarding the Pax Americana which is the reality of the contemporary global political and economic order, according to a recent infographic [3] by New York Times, 210,000 US military personnel are currently stationed all over the world, including 79,000 in Europe, 45,000 in Japan, 28,500 in South Korea and 36,000 in the Middle East. By comparison, the number of US troops in Afghanistan is only 8,500 which is regarded as an occupied country. Thus all the European, Far Eastern and Middle Eastern states mentioned in this list are not independent countries but the colonies of the US.

Fighting wars through proxies allows the international power brokers the luxury of taking the plea of “plausible deniability” in their defense and at the same time they can shift all the blame for wrongdoing on the minor regional players like the Syrian government, Turkey, Saudi Arabia et al. The Western powers’ culpability lies in the fact that because of them a system of international justice based on sound principles of morality, justice and fair play cannot be constructed in which the violators can be punished for their wrongdoing and the victims of injustice, tyranny and violence can be protected.

The neocolonial powers only pay lip service to the cause of morality, justice and humanity in the international arena and their foreign policies are solely driven by the motive to protect the Western national interests without any regard for human suffering in the remote regions of the world.

More often than not, it isn’t even about protecting their national interests, bear in mind that the Western powers are not true democracies; they are oligarchies catering to the needs of their business interests that wield a disproportionate influence in the governmental decision-making and the formulation of public policy. Thus the real core of the oft-quoted “Western national interests” is mainly comprised of the Western corporate interests.

Sources and links:

1- Leaked tapes expose Western support for renegade Libyan general.

2- Billions of dollars of weapons flowing from Eastern Europe to Middle East.

3- What the U.S. Gets for Defending Its Allies and Interests Abroad?

Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and Middle East regions, neocolonialism and petroimperialism.


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