A fascinating shift has happened in the U.S. mainstream media: After a year of anti-Syria war propaganda and lies, glimmers of truth are making their way into the public's view. This may be too little too late: the country is being torn at the seams into the nightmare of ethnic-religious cleansing and massacres.
After non-stop war mongering, The New York Times took a second to wipe the blood off its hands to report the true state of things in Syria. Apparently, the previous, ongoing reports about the Syrian army indiscriminately massacring citizens in the city of Homs was simply a lie, repeated over and over.
It now turns out that the exact opposite was true.
In actuality, many of the refugees fleeing Homs were persecuted Christians, attacked by members of the Free Syrian Army, who have been killing religious minorities in an attempt to recruit hard-line Sunnis in Syria as they wage a religious war against the Syrian secular state.
Because the Free Syrian Army did not emerge from a popular revolution — but instead the pocketbooks and arsenal of Saudi Arabia — the war to destroy the Syrian government had to be waged as an ethnic-religious war. Saudi Arabia has a long history of exporting its rare extremist form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, as a political tool to help overthrow unfriendly governments.
The U.S. has a long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia in this effort, a dynamic that, over the years, has given birth to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The U.S. refuses to stop using this strategy because it's incredibly effective at overthrowing "unfriendly" governments, while keeping large sections of the Middle East stalled in the formative years of Islam, which keeps a good check on any political activity from working people, since in Saudi Arabia protests, labor unions, and civil rights are illegal.
The persecuted religious minorities in Homs view the Syrian government as their ally against the U.S. media-darling "liberators" of the Free Syrian Army, puppets of Saudi Arabia's foreign policy.
The opinion pages of The New York Times laid out the facts better than any previous reporting:
"As Saudi Arabian arms and money bolster the [Free Syria Army] opposition, the 80,000 Christians who’ve been ‘cleansed’ from their homes… in Homs Province in March by the Free Syrian Army have gradually given up the prospect of ever returning home."
"The [Free Syria Army] rebels’ conduct [ethnic cleansing] has prompted at least some Sunnis who had supported the rebels and once-wavering Syrians to pledge renewed loyalty to Assad. Many who once regarded the regime as a kleptocracy now view it as the best guarantor of Syria’s endangered [ethnic-religious] pluralism."
This sudden somersault of facts has been long known to both the U.S. government and the media. The New York Times continues:
"Washington is aware of the scale of the problem [religious fanaticism and minority persecution]. As early as June 2011, Robert Stephen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda’s penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia’s effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States."
To summarize: U.S. politicians from both parties have lied to the public about the true nature of the conflict in Syria, because it benefited them politically to see a non-U.S. ally destroyed by ethnic-religious barbarism.
Finally from The New York Times:
"The seeming indifference of the international community to the worsening condition of Syria’s religious minorities — and the near total absence of censure of the opposition forces by the Western governments arrayed against Assad — is breeding a bitter anti-Americanism among many secular Syrians who see the United States aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the fount of Wahhabism [extremist Sunnis], against the Arab world’s most resolutely secular state."
There you have it. It took over a year but suddenly the Syrian war isn't so black and white, good guys versus bad guy. The Syrian government is by no means to be glorified, but the utter devastation that is being brought to the country was done so on a false premise, by foreign backers — Saudi Arabia and the U.S. — who wanted nothing except to see the country annihilated so that Iran would be isolated and easier to topple. To sell this bloodbath as an advance of democracy — as U.S. politicians and media have done — is beyond hypocritical; it falls under the category reserved for those who are labeled war criminals.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org). He can be reached at [email protected]