Can Trump’s presidency overturn Hillary’s bloody legacy in Syria?
Syrians have a lot of riding on the election of Donald J. Trump as president, owing to the dark legacy of death, destruction and terror left by Secretary Clinton in their beloved country. There is indeed reason to be hopeful. In his election night victory speech, Trump committed to building good relations with other nations and to refraining from the warmongering that had characterized previous presidencies. In his extensive nomination acceptance speech back in July, he also vowed to address the growing threat of terrorism and ‘defeat the barbarians of ISIS’, and to ‘abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton had pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria.’
It would be useful at this time of transition to take a step back to review the Obama Administration’s Mideast policy in greater detail, for a straightforward assessment of the mess left for President Trump to clean up.
To be sure, one has first to agree with Trump that ‘the world is far less stable than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America's foreign policy. ‘
In Syria, it was Secretary Clinton who organized the effort to fuel the armed insurgency, initially through Libya. Many islamist fighters who had fought with NATO to bring down Gaddafi in 2011 were subsequently transferred from Libya to Syria to combat the Syrian government. The CIA, with the approval of President Obama, organized weapons shipments into Syria via Turkey and Jordan, with Saudi Arabia footing the bill for that clandestine operation.
From 2012, Secretary Clinton took the lead role in a ‘Friends of Syria’ Group that she mobilized for the stated purpose of rallying “friends of democratic Syria against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime.” The group brought together NATO, Arab League members and the “Syrian Opposition” -- a hand-picked puppet government-in-exile called the “Syrian National Council.”
The Friends engaged in the usual panoply of honorable pursuits, cease fires, peace plans, the building of democracy and the protection of human rights in rounds of meetings held around the globe. But behind the noble proclamations, several Friends were vying for a piece of Syria -- chief among them Qatar and Turkey, angered to have been cut out of a juicy gas deal with Assad. They were conspiring to arm militants to advance their respective agendas and to overthrow the Assad government that stood in their way.
As for Clinton, she was, according to diplomatic accounts, the obstacle to the ceasefire being negotiated by UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan in 2012, through her unbending insistence that a US-led regime change should precede or at least accompany a ceasefire. As such, she bears heavy responsibility for the Syrian bloodbath.
Clinton’s role was also pivotal in giving political legitimacy to the “moderate rebels,” as she insisted on calling the terrorists, and in raising money from her Gulf partners for the training and arming of those “vetted moderate rebels” in the war effort against the Syrian President.
But she did not stop at funding the moderate rebels, she also funded ISIS - or allowed ISIS to be funded by her allies, which amounts to the same thing. In a recently released 2014 WikiLeaks email, Clinton openly discussed with John Podesta, her campaign chair and President Obama’s former White House advisor, their common knowledge that the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar were funding ISIS terrorists:
“We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” Clinton wrote.
With respect to that email, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange explained the following in his recent interview with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and filmmaker John Pilger:
“All serious analysts know, and even the US government has agreed, that some Saudi figures have been supporting ISIS and funding ISIS, but the dodge has always been that it is some rogue princes using their oil money to do whatever they like, but actually the government disapproves. But that email says that it is the government of Saudi Arabia, and the government of Qatar that have been funding ISIS.”
Thus, it can be said that ISIS was largely created with money from the people who were also giving money to the Clinton Foundation. And Hillary knew that these countries were supporting ISIS, supposedly a US enemy, but she knowingly accepted millions of dollars in “charitable” donations for her family Foundation from the same Gulf states which were funding ISIS, Al Nusra (the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda) and others.
President Obama was also doing his bit to support ISIS by selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia than any other President. His arms sales to the Kingdom topped $115 billion, more than any U.S. administration during the 71-year U.S.-Saudi alliance. If Obama and Clinton knew that the Saudis were funding ISIS, didn’t they also know that they were actually helping terrorism instead of defeating it?
An August 2012 DIA classified memo, released in April 2015 and published by Judicial Watch, revealed that this was no blunder but deliberate policy. That piece of classified intelligence stated that Obama was supporting AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq, the group that changed its name into ISIS). The plan was in fact to support the terrorist group until it overthrew Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
That same report was received by Hillary Clinton, as seen from the recipient marking: ‘RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC.’
Para 8-C stated that 'If the situation unravels, there is the possibly of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria', and that 'this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition (read: 'the Obama coalition') want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).’
Para 8-D-1 was equally explicit: 'This will provide a new momentum under the presumption of unifying the Jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world, against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.’
The report admitted at the outset, under 'THE GENERAL SITUATION', that:
A. The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
And in section B that:
B. AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media.
This declassified report established that Obama and Hillary were indeed made aware of the risks in 2012 - before ISIS morphed into a Caliphate in June 2014 - but were unmoved and went ahead with their policies. General Michael Flynn confirmed as much in September 2015, in an interview to Al-Jazeera, saying that the Obama Administration willfully allowed ISIS to be born. See here for General Flynn’s interview and here for a former senior Pentagon official’s analysis.Accordingly, Clinton and Obama absolutely can be said to have been enablers in the creation of ISIS.
And then, there was the problem of the Clinton Foundation, to which Qatar donated between $1million and $5 million, and the Saudis up to $25 million overall. The Kingdom’s government donated $10 million to $25 million - donations came in as late as 2014 as Hillary prepared her presidential run. This was supplemented by an additional amount of between $1million and $5 million, given by a group called “Friends of Saudi Arabia,” co-founded ‘by a Saudi Prince’. And the Kingdom also funded 20% of Hillary’s presidential campaign.
Trump was apparently aware of all those underhanded tactics and he consistently lashed out against the political system that sold out to corporate lobbies for cash, and the powerful special interests that rigged it for their exclusive benefit. He accused major donors of lining up behind Hillary and throwing money at her because they had total control over their puppet.
This blood money has caused untold suffering to civilians and still does to this day. The terror in Syria is still fueled by tens of thousands of mostly foreign militants, who form a myriad Takfiri terrorist groups - ISIS (called Daesh in the Mideast and Europe), Al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Jaish al-Fatah, and many others. They occupy strategic civilian areas throughout Syria - including East Aleppo, which has lately been the focus of much Western attention and where the civilian population is used as human shields.
On this particular point, see here a leaked video from East Aleppo, where locals say that militants demanded 150,000 Syrian Pounds ($300 US, an exorbitant amount for them) to let them leave their besieged neighborhoods. Also, this report from Pierre Le Corf, a courageous and selfless 27-year old Frenchman, who left the comfort of his life in France and sold his worldly possessions to move to Syria and help there.
Also see here a recent photo reportage on West Aleppo by the brave Eva Bartlett, an independent Canadian journalist, which allows us a glimpse into what media coverage consistently omits. And to get an idea of the horrors to which ISIS and other terror groups subject targeted communities in Syria, here is a video from Yvette Isaac, the founder of Roads to Success, a non-profit organization for the defense of human rights in the Middle East. The story was picked up by a Christian publication, which added some text but replaced the video by a photo.
According to one ISIS survivor in Syria whose son had perished, ISIS terrorists took over the town’s bakery, rounded up the six bakers working there and baked them in their own ovens. Then they gathered Christian children inside the bakery, at which point local soldiers attempted to rescue the kids, so to deter the soldiers, the terrorists started throwing children off nearby balconies. The horrifying tactic worked and allowed the terrorists to kill 250 kids by kneading them into the bakery’s dough machine.’
Archbishop Jean-Clément Jeanbart, the Melkite Metropolitan Archbishop of Aleppo, made a poignant appeal in his October newsletter that can be fittingly addressed to the new President-elect of the United States and to the American people at such a momentous time:
For five years, the terrorists imposed their law wherever government authorities were not present. They spread terror everywhere, killed hundreds of thousands of innocents, women, clerics, priests, even bishops. They destroyed thousands of factories, businesses and public service institutions, reduced houses to rubble, and shamelessly robbed the people and the country. Can this mayhem ever be stopped? We long for it and count on God’s grace, which alone could awaken the conscience of the world decision-makers.
We ask all men and women who care about human dignity and freedom to pray for us so that we may be spared the subjugation of a fundamentalist regime. Have mercy, and help us continue to live in dignity in the land where we were born and raised!’
Will that yearning crystallize into tangible reality under Trump’s presidency? There are indications that it may well do. It will not be easy, because the ISIS cancer has spread so far throughout the region and beyond. But Trump seems sincere, and he said that he had no patience for injustice, that when innocents suffered, he was not able to “look the other way.” In contrast, one remembers how Secretary Clinton had burst out laughing when watching footage of the ruthless lynching of Libya’s leader Gaddafi.
Trump also declared his intolerance for the lies and duplicity that were the hallmarks of his predecessor and that he would “honor the American people with the truth and nothing else.” He further stated his aversion to a political system based on bribery and corruption, putting his money where his mouth was by financing his campaign partially from his own funds.
Empathy, truthfulness, integrity are the three qualities that have been conspicuously absent in the current administration, but which Trump appears to be bringing to the table, This is as auspicious a beginning as can be - for America, and for Syria.