No one would claim that, prior to 2011, Syria was a magical paradise. Like most countries in the world, there was difference of opinion regarding politics and government policy. Many Syrians supported the ruling Baath Party or one of the parties aligned with it, while others supported other political forces. Syrians certainly had criticism of the way their society functioned, and there was widespread consensus that some kind of reform was needed as the country adjusted to the changing global economy.
Prior to 2011, however, Syrians were rarely, if ever, killing each other over these issues. Syrians in Damascus and Allepo could walk down the street without expecting bomb explosions or sniper fire. Syrians could expect to find food on the shelves of stores without their cities being under siege. Syrians did not live in terror of their children being kidnapped for ransom or having their schools blown to bits by extremist religious factions.
What has happened to Syria between 2011 and today is nothing short of a crime against humanity. A brutal insurgency has been created and funded. An ugly civil war has been promoted and prolonged. A war that may never have happened has been nurtured by foreign powers and allowed to grow into one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time.
This is not a mere accident. This is not yet another example of flawed human nature. Like the Belgian genocide in the Congo, and the Holocaust of Nazi Germany, this is a deliberate act carried out by forces intending to inflict harm and damage on many helpless innocent victims.
A Manufactured War
How has this crime against humanity been carried out?
1. A deceptive media campaign. Since the fighting began in 2011, western media has sung a chorus of “Assad must go.” FOX, MSNBC, BBC — all have publicized the allegations of the “opposition” without question, while ignoring the undisputed actions of the armed anti-Assad insurgents. The narrative of western media was one about a “Syrian revolution” for “human rights.” The Syrian government has been portrayed as oppressive and tyrannical, the insurgents as benevolent, romantic freedom fighters.
2. Creating base areas for the insurgents. US allies Turkey and Jordan have allowed extremist groups to operate on their soil and utilize their borders to cross into Syria. The Zaatari Refugee camp in Jordan, the most well funded United Nations Relief Camp, has become a recruitment center for the Syrian insurgents. They utilize it for political rallies and recruitment. The Jordanian military trains the insurgents. On the Turkish border, the various insurgent groups have also established base areas of operations. In 2009, Turkish officials even became aware that insurgent groups were developing sarin nerve gas, a chemical warfare agent.
3. Providing weapons and funding. Funding for the insurgents began with US-aligned regimes in the region. Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates began providing weapons and money to the insurgent groups. Soon they were joined by the United States, France, and Britain. The flow of money from US-aligned autocracies to terrorists in Syria has been constant. The effect has been comparable to pouring a can of gasoline onto a small fire. A small conflict has expanded exponentially. US Senator John McCain and other high-ranking US officials have even gone to Syria and met with the armed groups. It is obvious to everyone that a key factor in this conflict is meddling by foreign powers who have a history of opposing the Syrian government.
4. Recruiting foreign fighters. Many of the insurgent forces seeking to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic are not Syrian at all. Youth from Jordan, Qatar, Libya, and many other countries are found among the insurgents. Takfiri religious extremists from as far away as Malaysia have been captured and arrested. The United Nations has confirmed that the Syrian insurgents are actively recruiting child soldiers to help their efforts, and many of the child soldiers are from other countries. Impoverished children from the Arab world and elsewhere are being given weapons, funding, and religious indoctrination, then transported to Syria to engage in a “holy war” against the government.
5. Threatening military force against the Syrian government. The US threatened to destroy Syria with cruise missiles in 2013. Allegations from western media about chemical weapons were used to justify the threat of US military strikes. After a series of desperate acts of diplomacy from Russia and China, the US and NATO did not attack. Syria was forced to surrender its chemical weapons and join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Insurgent forces, however, were not forced to surrender their chemical weapons — which, according to Carla Del Ponte of the United Nations, they have already used in several instances.
6. Diversifying the “opposition.” The Syrian opposition is anything but unified. The Free Syrian Army, the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda in Syria, The Islamic State, and countless other factions are receiving support from US allies in the Middle East. These factions are not only battling the Syrian government, but battling each other as well. When the insurgents seize an area, the result is not peace under a new order, but battles between contending insurgent groups who usually have different interpretations of Sunni Takfirism.
7. Airstrikes from Israel. Israel has launched military attacks against Syria. These airstrikes have targeted the Syrian government as well as volunteers from Hezbollah in Lebanon who have come to support the Syrian government.
The result of all of these combined efforts has been at least 200,000 people dead and over 3 million fleeing the country as refugees. Life in Syria has become unlivable for most of the population.
How much longer will this continue? People are dying every single day. A totally manufactured war is being prolonged.
What is currently taking place has absolutely nothing to do with the protests against the Syrian government during the 2011 Arab Spring. These events are now a historical footnote. An insurgency that is overwhelmingly dominated by armed religious extremists, not secular pro-western students, is attempting to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic.
The Hypocrisy of “Democracy”
The US, Britain, and France demonize Syrian leader Bashar Assad by calling for “democracy.” But the forces with whom they are aligned against Syria are hardly democratic. Almost all of the Syrian insurgent groups call for the creation of an autocratic religious government.
Furthermore, the list of US allies throughout the Middle East is a collection of the most un-democratic and repressive regimes on earth. The Saudi monarchy beheads people on a daily basis, often for crimes like “insulting the king” or “sorcery.” The autocratic regimes in Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan have similar practices.
While the western leaders claim that the recent Syrian elections were illegitimate, they ignore that Saudi Arabia and other US-aligned autocratic monarchies have no elections at all, legitimate or otherwise.
Syria is a majority Sunni-Muslim country. However, Syria also has Christians, Alawites, and other religious groups who have exercised religious freedom.
If the extremists are victorious, this freedom to worship will vanish. The Syrian anti-government fighters often chant “Death to Alawites!” and “Expel the Christians!” at their gathering and rallies. In the areas they control, they behead people for religious offenses or for uttering words that are in opposition to the particular violent sectarian group that is in control.
The face of Bashar Assad is on display throughout areas of Syria still under control of the government. President Assad has become the symbol for the Syria that once existed, when the country was not torn apart by war. The Syrian Arab Army is joined by community militias and Hezbollah volunteers as it battles the foreign-backed insurgents.
Will We Let This Continue?
The crime is going on at this very moment. Crazed terrorist extremists are plowing through Syria at the very moment you are reading this. Their weapons, military training, and transportation has been paid for with the tax dollars of people in the United States, Britain, and France, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Jordan.
Hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches are being destroyed. Children are being kidnapped. Innocent civilians are being slaughtered. People are being forced to flee their homes, and captives are being tortured and beheaded.
How much longer will we let this continue?
Basic human morality dictates that some kind of action be taken to stop what Washington, London, Tel Aviv, and Wall Street are doing in Syria.
A crime against humanity is currently being committed. Something must be done.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.