Enemy or victim? Syria and West in ISIS era
Terror is the product of terror and the cycle of terror that has engulfed Libya, Syria, and now Iraq could have been averted if but for the lack of statesmanship in Washington.
Remember the Arab Spring, that joyous mass revolutionary upsurge which toppled the West’s dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia followed by their man in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, before being turned into a counter revolutionary and reactionary process courtesy of the West’s intervention in Libya under the auspices of NATO? It now seems a million miles away, the sunshine of hope supplanted by a dark night of barbarism that descending on the region like a shroud.
The continuing and unfolding disaster that has engulfed Syria and latterly Iraq, as thousands of jihadists with a medieval-type attachment to brutality in service to the objective of turning the region into a graveyard for minorities cause havoc, you might think would give policymakers in the West cause to reflect on the part played by their disastrous intervention in the region over the past decade and more.
You’d be wrong.
Instead, what we are witnessing is yet more evidence of the cognitive dissonance that has underpinned the actions of Washington and its allies when it comes to the Middle East since 9/11. Hard power has succeeded in sowing chaos and carnage, while nourishing the roots of radicalism and extremism from which has sprouted ISIS and various other millenarian Islamic extremist groups in recent years.
Imperialism is a disease which in the words of Frantz Fanon, “leaves germs of rot which we must clinically detect and remove from our land but from our minds as well.”
Over many decades the Middle East has suffered from this rot, a state of affairs responsible for the social, political, and economic dislocation of a part of the world that sits on a sea of oil. Western leaders and ideologues have proved time and again that when it comes to trying to exert control over the region, there is no lie they will not tell, no act of hypocrisy they won’t engage in, and no violation of international law they won’t commit. Even so, the eruption of ISIS across Syria’s eastern border and Turkey’s southern border into northern Iraq these past two months has exposed the aforementioned to a degree never witnessed previously.
Panic has been the order of the day in Washington and London and Paris as men in expensively tailored suits – rich men who carry in their hearts the morals of the gutter – have scrambled to respond to the emergence of a monster created by their own perfidy. It has given rise not to sober reflection but more reactive measures guaranteed to deepen rather than alleviate what is now an enveloping crisis.
It was Nietzsche who wrote that, “Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”
The wisdom in the German philosopher’s words have been reflected in the messages emanating from the Pentagon and White House recently, with talk of airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and the possible redeployment of ground troops in Iraq, without the prior cooperation or permission of either the Syrian or Iraqi governments in either scenario, has come as stark evidence of the madness bordering on insanity which pervades the US political class.
Syria is a nation and a people whose resistance to the forces of barbarism these past three years history will record as heroic. This makes it all the more depraved to listen to the blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty being contemplated by the Obama administration and Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. President Assad’s recent letter to Obama, calling for an alliance to defeat ISIS, was a plea for sanity. A beleaguered but unbowed government, reaching out on behalf of its people to a government whose responsibility for the crisis that has engulfed their country is beyond dispute, is redolent of Carthage reaching out to Rome in a last ditch attempt to forestall its destruction.
Syria is not the enemy of the West, it is a victim of the West, and must be regarded as such.
The colonial attitude towards Syria and the entire region we can trace back to the 1916 Sykes Picot Agreement, probably the most tawdry imperialist lash-up in history, which divided up the Middle East between the Allied powers as the Ottoman Empire approached its collapse as part of the losing side in the First World War. Ever since, the West’s orientation towards the Arab world has involved propping up any government willing to do its bidding while subverting those who dare resist its domination. The human suffering that has resulted as a direct consequence is impossible to quantify, but it has been of biblical magnitude.
If the United States was serious about tackling ISIS in Syria and Iraq, it would be seeking an alliance between both governments, along with the Iranians, in order to do so. Instead, the most powerful nation on earth is behaving like a drunken giant staggering around a china shop causing mayhem as he goes.
When Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008 he came to power pledging a change in US foreign policy, involving a return to diplomacy and respect for international law. Six years on the only thing that has changed are the curtains in the White House. They began his presidency spotlessly clean. Now they are covered in blood.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of UH.