As those who follow Syria’s seemingly intractable civil war are no doubt aware, Washington is a big part of why the conflict is now going into its sixth year.
What began as a plan to destabilize the Alawite government by “playing on Sunni fears of Iranian influence” (to quote a leaked diplomatic cable from then-Deputy Chief of Mission in Syria William Roebuck) gradually metamorphosed into a overt and at times absurd effort to arm and train a series of rebel groups in an attempt to bring about regime change in Damascus.
Those efforts have thus far failed, in part because of how poorly the programs were orchestrated and implemented and in part due to Russian and Iranian intervention on behalf of the SAA.
But even as the US hasn’t succeeded in overthrowing Assad (which, incidentally, may mean that Washington has finally met its Waterloo when it comes to meddling in the affairs of Mid-East politics), America has done an admirable job of exacerbating an already hopeless situation by funneling billions in funding and arms to the mishmash of Sunni rebels battling for control of the country.
You’ll recall that the US effort to supply Syrian rebels with weapons went full-metal-retard in October when the Pentagon resorted to dropping 50 tons of ammo into the middle of the desert on 112 pallets.
As Vladimir Putin dryly noted at the time, that’s probably not the best idea considering there’s really no way of knowing who is going to pick the arms up.
On Friday, in a hilarious example of Washington and Riyadh’s penchant for blatant hypocrisy, John Kerry and Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters after a meeting with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council that they are concerned about Iran’s support for “terror groups” and specifically about Tehran supplying Hezbollah with rockets.
“The United States remains concerned about some of the activities that Iran is engaged in in other countries,” Kerry said, with a straight face.
“Iran remains the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism,” Jubeir said. “Overall I think the United States is very aware of the danger of Iran’s mischief and nefarious activities… I don’t believe the United States is under any illusion as to what type of government Iran is.”
It’s difficult to overstate how absolutely ridiculous that is. Jubeir is the top diplomat for a state that just beheaded 47 people not three weeks ago and which has a human rights record so abysmal that it’s become something of a standing joke in foreign policy circles.
Worse still, the sponsorship of terror isn’t just an explicit foreign policy aim in Riyadh, it’s actually enshrined into the country’s collective psyche via the promotion of Wahhabism. Remember, ISIS and al-Qaeda follow Riyadh’s brand of Islam, not Tehran’s.
But the real kicker came when Kerry decided to comment on the supply of weapons to Hezbollah through Syria.
“These are concerns that we share, which is why the arms component, the missile component, the human rights component, the state sponsor of terror component are all part of the continued sanctions of the United States and the agreement,” Kerry remarked before posing the following question: “I mean, Hezbollah has 70-, 80,000 rockets. What do they need that for?”
Well John, for one thing they are mired in a prolonged war of attrition with the Israelis who possess one of the most efficient militaries on the face of the planet. That conflict had quieted down since 2006 but when the IAF assassinated Samir Qantar late last month, hostilities escalated anew.
But on top of that, Hezbollah is also fighting to stabilize a country the US and its regional allies thrust into chaos. Thanks to the fact that the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar are sending weapons to the rebels, Iran has to send weapons to Hezbollah. Why arming Sunni extremists counts as “supporting the democratic resistance” while sending rockets to Hezbollah is “mischievous and nefarious” is a complete mystery.
Indeed, we might ask Kerry the very same question he’s asking us.
“I mean come on John, Sunni militants in Syria have thousands of TOWs. What do they need that for?”
Oh, that's right.
They need them to destroy Russian search and rescue helicopters.