It's time to acknowledge that United States foreign policy has been manufacturing imperial wars and contributing to Middle East turmoil including arming Syrian rebels through Qatar and Saudi Arabia since June 2012. There is (finally) justification for President Obama to publicly support aiding Syrian rebel groups after the Obama administration reached the conclusion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and forces under his command deployed chemical weapons, crossing the U.S.'s arbitrary "red line." An estimated 93,000 Syrian casualties have resulted from the civil conflict since April 2011, but how long has the United States really been arming these "rebel" groups?
According to the BBC in April 2011, "Political unrest in Syria developed after revolts elsewhere in the Arab world, which saw the downfall of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents and an ongoing civil war in Libya." The uprising of "rebel" resistance in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya was facilitated in part by United States foreign aid or weapons deals. The Telegraph reported in November 2011, "Post-conflict Libya is awash with arms, many of them taken from the vast military stores maintained by Col. Muammar Gaddafi's regime. Kalashnikov assault rifles, modern missiles and even tanks found their way into Libya."
Flash-forward to June 2012, and the New York Times reported that C.I.A. officers were operating in Turkey to help allies decide which Syrian "rebels" will receive arms to fight the Assad regime. The article pointed out that since March 2012 there had been an "influx of weapons and ammunition to the rebels."
In March 2013, the New York Times provided a Syrian arms pipeline map that showcased the C.I.A. involvement in providing a substantial amount of weapons to Syrian "rebel" groups. The map suggests that there had been over 160 military cargo flights, mostly from Saudi Arabia and Qatar that have channeled weapons since January 2012.
Image Credit: New York Times
According to Hugh Griffiths of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which monitors illicit arms transfers said this about the Syrian arms shipments: "A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment," and "The intensity and frequency of these flights are suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation."
The United States has played a large role in regional conflict in the Middle East, including providing the Syrian "rebels" with arms even before the official announcement by the Obama administration earlier this month. It's important to be skeptical of United States duplicity in a foreign policy narrative which propagandizes humanitarian and peaceful efforts. In the case of the Syrian conflict, the United States has been portrayed as a leader in stepping in to provide humanitarian aid in the form of arming rebel groups that supposedly fell victim to the al-Assad regime's use of chemical weapons (of mass destruction). Sound familiar?
There are signs of hope that Americans are becoming more aware of United States interventionist policies contributing to Middle East conflict and blowback. In studies reported by Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans did not support military intervention in Syria and in another poll conducted during the same time period, Americans responded to a survey indicating that they think the Iraq war was a mistake.