(NNPA) I ‘get’ that ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) are a criminal, fascist outfit. I also ‘get’ that they are vicious. I further ‘get’ that they can eventually be a global danger.
Yet, here is the problem. Syria has been in the midst of a horrific civil war in which the government of Bashar Hafez al-Assad repressed a peaceful, democratic opposition using various instruments of violence. This is the same Assad government that refused, until recently, to go after ISIL despite the fact that both Assad and ISIL claimed that they were the enemies of one another. Instead, ISIL encroached upon and attacked other forces that are actually struggling against the Assad dictatorship.
ISIL, by the admission of President Obama, had been largely ignored by the U.S., though that is not really the full story. When the Bush administration lied the U.S. into a war of aggression against Iraq, it opened up the doors to hell, encouraging and unleashing sectarian violence. Shiites were placed in positions of power and some of them, such as Al-Maliki, decided to do what they could to exclude the minority Sunnis and to consolidate a religious bloc. This played into the hands of Sunni extremists such as Al Qaeda and, now, ISIL. In other words, ISIL is the monster that the U.S. helped to create.
ISIL threatens Iraq, and much of its population. To address ISIL a government of national unity will need to be built that guarantees genuine democracy for the Shiites, Sunnis and the ethnic Kurds. Most people seem to be clear on that. Air strikes against ISIL, while deadly, will have a limited impact if there is no political settlement.
But then there is Syria. U.S. air strikes are not only taking place against ISIL, but reports are that they are being flown against other Islamists in operation on the ground, groups that are quite different from ISIL and have actually been fighting Assad. In other words, the U.S.A. is actually helping the Assad regime, which is why representatives of the Assad regime are crowing with support for the air strikes.
So, let’s sum up at least part of this. The Assad regime of Syria has been repressing its population and destroying its cities. It has conspired with ISIL in order to undermine the legitimate opposition to the dictatorship. The U.S. is not bombing ISIL along with other members of the opposition, thereby strengthening the Assad dictatorship.
Is this a policy that is going to win the U.S. the friends who matter?
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the host of The Global African on Telesur-English. He is a racial justice, labor and global justice writer and activist. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.