The terrorist organization known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh is hated across the planet. Its crimes have horrified and shocked people in Iraq, Lebanon, France, and the United States. However, no people have suffered more from its atrocities than the people of Syria. The crimes of ISIS in Syria, including torture, beheading, and other monstrous violations of human rights have been massive.
On Syria’s battlefields one of the broadest coalitions in history has been formed in order to beat back the monstrous terrorist onslaught. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the military of the Syrian government, is playing the most prominent role. The SAA is led by the Baath Arab Socialist Party, and while it contains soldiers of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds, the majority of its fighters are Sunni Muslims. The new Syrian constitution, ratified in 2012 in the aftermath of massive protests, gives special recognition to the importance that Sunni Islam plays in Syrian society.
Alongside the SAA, which has incurred most of the losses in the battle against Daesh, is Hezbollah. While the majority of the SAA are Sunnis, Hezbollah is a Shia organization from Lebanon. Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), also Shia Muslims, are on the battlefield as well. The religious differences between the SAA fighters, the majority of whom are Sunni, and the IRGC and Hezbollah fighters, who are foreign Shia volunteers is irrelevant. They stand together on the battlefields, both recognizing the importance of defeating the murderous, beheading, fanatics who are menacing not just Syria, but the entire world.
Not Since the Second World War…
But the Muslims fighting ISIS, both Shia and Sunni, are not alone. Adherents of another faith, Christianity, have also taken up arms. Across Syria, Christian militias have emerged to defend adherents of this faith against forces like Daesh and Al-Nusra, that have attacked and bombed churches.
Not only have Syrian Christians gotten involved, but Orthodox Christians from yet another country, Russia, have also provided military assistance to the Syrian people. Russian soldiers and air support, requested by the Syrian government, has been vital in the battle to defeat ISIS and Al-Nusra terrorism, and return Syria to stability.
The Christians and Muslims of Syria, along with the many Orthodox Christians in the Russian military, have been joined by Chinese Communists. While the ruling Chinese Communist Party rejects religion and embraces dialectical materialism and atheism, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, is providing military training and assistance to the Syrian people in their fight against ISIS and Al-Nusra terrorism.
Not since the global, anti-fascist alliance during the Second World War, which eventually gave birth to the United Nations, has such a broad alliance been formed. Sunnis, Alawi, Shia, Christians, Communists, Baathists, and many others are joining together to stamp out the menace of Wahabbi extremism, and hold the once peaceful Syrian Arab Republic together.
These forces are fighting to prevent Syria from descending into the kind of chaos that now exists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. If the Syrian Arab Republic falls, and yet another country becomes a nest of chaos and haven for terrorism, the entire world, not just the Syrian people, will suffer.
The American people must be included in any list of those who are horrified by ISIS crimes. Americans, just like Syrians, Iraqis, Russians, and Chinese people do not want to see their friends and relatives killed by terrorists. They reject the primitive, intolerant political model, based on Wahabbism, which ISIL seeks to impose on the world. A society that forces conversion with the threat of death, beheads people for religious differences, and prohibits women from driving cars is something that a clear majority of Americans, just like Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and Syrians can loudly agree to stand in opposition to.
Disarming ISIS Enemies?
So, Americans must now ask the question, why is their government actively working to take weapons away from those who are fighting against ISIL? Shouldn’t we be doing everything in our power to support, not oppose, those who are risking their lives to fight the emerging terrorist menace?
When the US State Department announced on March 24th that it was sanctioning 30 entities as an “arms control” measure, not a single one of them was accused of providing arms to Daesh. While there is widespread speculation about ISIS’ apparent links to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, and other US aligned regimes in the Middle East, none of these regimes were sanctioned.
The 30 entities that were subject to new sanctions were specifically targeted under a law making it illegal to supply arms to Iran, the Syrian government, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The Syrian government is ISIS primary enemy. Iran’s IRGC are on the battlefield against ISIS each day, and Iran has taken other measures to support Syria. If defeating ISIS is the stated goal of the United States, why disarm their opponents?
The new sanctions target entities in Russia and China that allegedly supported Iran and Syria. Russia and China are also actively working to ensure the defeat of Daesh. Thus, the new sanctions are an attack on these two anti-ISIS world powers as well.
In addition to the new sanctions, Kassem Tajeddine, a wealthy Lebanese man, was arrested in Morocco. He is now being extradited to the United States to face charges of funding Hezbollah. Tajeddine maintains his innocence, and his lawyer has stated that he has “no terrorism ties.”
How many thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars must have been spent on Tajeddine’s arrest? How much did it cost to locate him, not in his home country of Lebanon, but in Africa, to arrange for him to be apprehended, and now to prosecute him in what will likely be many months of legal proceedings?
What is the crime of which Tajeddine is accused of? He is charged with supporting one of the primary organizations that is fighting against ISIS. Let’s remember, military support for Hezbollah is military support for the defeat of ISIS. Supplying weapons to Hezbollah, is supplying weapons to one the primary forces fighting on the battlefield to defeat ISIS.
Of all the priorities of US the government, why is cutting off the weapons of the Syrian government, Hezbollah, Iran, and other anti-ISIS fighters taking such priority? Is any similar action being taken in order to cut off the weapons supply of ISIS or Al-Nusra? Is any investigation taking place into Saudi Arabia’s alleged ties to Daesh?
While Al-Queda and ISIS are actively plotting to kill Americans, Hezbollah is clearly not. Hezbollah’s primary activity at this time is fighting against Daesh. The Syrian government, Russia, China, and the Islamic Republic of Iran, have never killed any Americans. What logical sense does it make to focus the efforts of the US State Department and other federal agencies on disarming them?
US Policy & “The Producers”
Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of ending “regime change” and “nation building” policies. Millions of Americans voted for him, in part, because he promised to “put America first” and stop US efforts to overthrow independent governments. Furthermore, Trump promised to “bomb the hell” out of ISIS. Yet, these actions from the US State Department, and the arrest of Tajeddine seem to serve the cause of helping ISIS, not defeating it.
Furthermore, Trump was loudly critical of Saudi Arabia throughout his campaign. However, Trump and the Saudi Monarchy now seem to be on friendly terms, despite widespread rumors and suspicions that the Saudi government is connected with ISIS and Al-Nusra terrorism.
One is forced to think of Mel Brooks’ popular 1967 film “The Producers” which was eventually turned into a successful Broadway musical. The film portrayed two crooked theater owners, who find the most offensive and non-commercial play they can imagine, in the hopes that it will close after its first performance. The intention of “the producers” in Mel Brook’s drama is to run off with the excess money raised from their investors after the play flops. The beloved film points to a good observation about the world: when people are visibly working against their stated interest, and doing so in what appears to be a quite conscious and calculated way, they are probably not being honest about their real goal.
While US leaders from both major parties scream at the top of their lungs about the need to defeat ISIS and end their campaign of terrorism, US policy, first under Obama and now under Trump, tells another story. Washington loudly calls for ISIS defeat, while vigilantly and tirelessly working to cut off the arms supply of Daesh’s leading battlefield opponents.
You don’t have to be an expert military strategist to know that cutting off the weapons supply of one side in a war almost always benefits the other. Americans who fear the danger of rising instability, and worry for their own safety in the face of rising terrorist attacks and a mass crisis of refugees, should be asking themselves ‘What’s really going on here? What’s the real agenda of US leaders? Why are they disarming the forces who actively working to defeat the most hated and dangerous terrorists?’
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”.