Today’s ‘moderate,’ tomorrow’s ‘radical’
The U.S. Senate on Sept. 18 approved a bill authorizing President Barack Obama to provide equipment and training for Syrian rebel forces, in order for them to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), both in Syria and in Iraq.
The budget for the authorization will reportedly be a part of a more than $1 trillion worth omnibus bill. Two days before, the House of Representatives had voted for the same bill; Republican enthusiasm for the bill was higher than that of the Democrats in both cases.
Although the bill did not use the term, the American media and politicians chose to promote the bill as being in aid of “moderate” rebels.
A day after the Senate’s vote, another bill was announced, this time for the United Nations to stop “foreign terrorist fighters” - that is, U.S. and European passport holding jihadists - from traveling to Syria (partly through Turkey) to join ISIL. Russia did not raise any objections this time, and neither did China.
The idea of helping the Syrian rebels against the oppressive Bashar al-Assad regime was actually suggested by Turkey back in 2011 when the Syrian civil war had just started, and before “radical” groups like the (al-Qaeda affiliated) al-Nusra Front and ISIL had yet been founded.
There are a number of conspiracy theories flying around about the “new radical” organization ISIL. Some in the East, considering Republican enthusiasm for the latest measures, claim that ISIL could be part of a “neo-Con plot” to drag the Obama's Democratic administration into another war in the Middle East, in order to keep the “military-industrial complex,” in Dwight Eisenhower’s words, running.
Some in the West, meanwhile, claim ISIL is a product of Turkey’s desire to assist the Syrian rebels without making a distinction between them. This allowed the radical Islamist militants to grow, financially supported by Saudi and Qatari sources, as a part of a Sunni-plot.
These conspiracy theories can neither fully explain, nor help to solve the awful humanitarian and political crisis on the ground.
One of the crucial parts of the solution found by the Obama administration is to give weapons and training to Syrian “moderate” rebels to fight against Syrian and Iraqi - and German, British, American, and French - jihadists. It is as if these jihadists do not have comrades who can strike back in their homelands, and as if this strategy has not been tried and failed before. It failed in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq and now it is being tried in Syria. How hard can it be to understand that it is you who are training and equipping today’s so-called moderates into tomorrow’s radicals, who will ultimately turn those arms on you?
To play with political Islam for Western interests is insane. And you know what "insanity" means in the words of Albert Einstein: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
* This piece was written before 49 hostages in the hands of ISIL were freed by a Turkish intelligence operation as President Tayyip Erdoğan announced on September 20.