In an email from Anne-Marie Slaughter to Hillary Clinton on the 17 July 2012, she states that arms are flowing from US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Islamist rebels within the opposition.
It highlights the starkly differing visions of Syria among US allied countries and the contradiction at the heart of US foreign policy towards Syria. The US wanting to see a democratic, secular Syria following the removal of the secular Assad government, but its close regional allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar openly supporting fundamentalist groups who do not share the same US view.
Assad’s government is visibly weakening; the opposition is making steady gains in terms of controlling parts of the country and bringing the fight to Aleppo and Damascus.
But the risks of this multi-pronged incrementalism are enormous.
■ The arms that are flowing, at least from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are going to. Islamist members of the opposition, many of whom are strongly opposed to the U.S. and could push a future Syrian government in directions dangerous to the U.S. and to Israel.
■ The longer the conflict rages, the more likely revenge killings will turn a revolution into a sectarian civil war that cannot be staunched even by a political transition, and the more chance al Qaeda has to infiltrate and coopt it.
■ The more Syria fragments, the more danger of conflict spilling over into Lebanon (via the Allawites), Turkey (via Syrian Kurds), Iraq (via al-Qaeda) and even Jordan (via refugees).
■ The more fragmented the Syrian opposition becomes on the ground the more chance of the kind of chaos following regime collapse that will leave chemical weapons stocks unsecured.
The email released on Wikileaks and declassified on the 31 December 2015 shows the US government were fully aware of Saudi Arabia and Qatar funneling weapons and munitions to support fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups (some of which may well be Western deemed terrorist organizations) within the opposition, soon after the conflict began, but portrayed the opposition groups as democratic and secular.
This has continued over the years with no mention of specific fundamentalist groups and coalitions active within Syria other than IS and more recently Jabhat al Nusrah.
This narrative has helped to mask the reality that powerful fundamentalist opposition groups make up a significant part of the armed opposition and Western support will likely lead to a country either run or influenced by fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups.
As stated previously on The WIDER View, US and western politicians and main stream media news outlets have failed to report the entrenched fundamentalist Sunni Islamic groups within the opposition, present on the ground from the beginning of the Syrian conflict.
Their presence and dominance over alleged Western deemed moderate groups has been apparent for some time, present in many major battles and often spear heading attacks. Many groups openly state their wish to see Syria ruled under Gods law and reject the idea of a western style democracy being established.
Despite the clear evidence of what the future of Syria would become should opposition forces be successful in defeating the Assad government, the US and western allies have continued their policy of supporting the opposition. While doing this they have pushed the catastrophically simple narrative to their respective public that the only real players in the Syrian war are Assad and IS who are bad and the opposition groups who are good.
Of course this is another ideologically driven attempt to assist in the spread of democracy throughout the world, regardless of the obvious perils from day one and the very clear precedents set by Western actions taken in other countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and initial support in Egypt.
A simple quote is often used by politicians when catastrophic decisions are made, ‘we will learn the lessons’. Unfortunately this is an empty phrase, certainly in terms of foreign policy, time and again lessons are not learned and situations are made much worse.
In it’s relentless push to spread democracy around the world, the US supported by its allies is willing to try anything at any cost, from invasion and occupation to overt and covert support, all of which has resulted in the large scale suffering of civilians from deaths and injuries to the mass displacement of people.
The chaos created has and continues to directly affect both Western countries and countries neighboring these destabilized regions with flourishing fundamentalist groups and organizations, increased terrorist attacks and the worse mass refugee crisis since World War Two.
Wikileaks link to email from Marie-Anne Slaughter to Hilary Clinton (17 Jul 2012) below: