If one was only to read mainstream news in the West, you would probably be inculcated with the myth that Islamic State (ISIS) appeared almost out of thin air and many governments in the Western world have been completely shocked by the rise of this terror group. Perhaps you would correctly blame the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq as a major reason why such extreme groups gained power in the region, in addition to blaming certain governments for supposedly marginalizing Sunni’s.
But what most mainstream readers will be miserably ignorant of is the fact that one of the main opposition groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad government in Syria has been itself, a group that has been trained, funded, aided and armed by NATO countries in collusion with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel (to name a few). This reality has been completely omitted in numerous corporate media publications, once again demonstrating the inept and deceptive nature of mainstream news.
Some Western news outlets are still peddling the fallacy that the Obama administration misjudged the threat of , and was taken by surprise by the groups rise. Obama himself claimed in 2014 when responding to a question asking whether the US underestimated ISIS: “That their advance, their movement, over the last several months has been more rapid than the intelligence estimates and I think the expectations of policy makers both inside and outside of Iraq.”
This narrative runs in stark contrast to a recently declassified US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document from 2012 which was released by Judicial Watch after the watchdog group filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The DIA document warned:
ISI [the Islamic State of Iraq] could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria.” (p.5)
In a recent interview with Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera, the former head of the DIA, Michael T. Flynn, reiterates that the Obama administration was warned about the potential of extreme groups gaining influence in the region but instead of halting the support for the Syrian opposition, the administration took the “wilful decision” to support the rebels anyway:
Hasan (Interviewer) (From 11.15 onwards into the interview): “In 2012, your agency was saying, quote: “The Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Iraq [(which ISIS arose out of)], are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” In 2012, the US was helping coordinate arms transfers to those same groups. Why did you not stop that if you’re worried about the rise of Islamic extremism?”
Flynn: “Well I hate to say it’s not my job, but… my job was to ensure that the accuracy of our intelligence that was being presented was as good as it could be, and I will tell you, it goes before 2012. When we were in Iraq, and we still had decisions to be made before there was a decision to pull out of Iraq in 2011, it was very clear what we were going to face.”
Hasan (Interviewer): You are basically saying that even in government at the time, you knew those groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?”
Flynn: “I think the administration.”
Hasan (Interviewer): “So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?”
Flynn: “I don’t know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision, a willful decision.”
Hasan (Interviewer): “A wilful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?”
Flynn: “A wilful decision to do what they’re doing… You have to really ask the President what is it that he actually is doing with the policy that is in place, because it is very, very confusing.”
It is quite obvious that NATO countries in conjunction with regional allies have been funding, arming and training an array of rebel bandits to overthrow the secular Syrian government for years now, although they have been unable to force regime change in Damascus so far.
In the 2012 declassified report from the DIA, the document reveals that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” – wanted to create a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria in order to isolate the Syrian regime”:
Opposition forces are trying to control the Eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to the Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar), in addition to neighbouring Turkish borders. Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts… If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran). (p.5)
Shipping Weapons from Libya to the Syrian Rebels
Numerous reports in 2012 alleged that the US was sending heavy weapons from the military stockpiles of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Qaddafi, to the Syrian rebels. Another formerly classified document released by Judicial Watch from the US Department of Defense (DOD) reveals that the White House was at least aware of arms shipments from Libya to Syria, although the document does not disclose who was shipping the weapons:
Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles… The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles [200 ea – 125mm and 200ea – 155 mm.] (DOD Document)
This is all part of a long term strategy by the West to overthrow regimes that are not subservient to Western interests. NATO’s 2011 war in Libya has already forced regime change in the North African country, with the West still working on bringing down the Syrian regime. Both countries were listed as enemies of the US by the neoconservative thinktank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in their 2000 report, long before the illegal 2011 war in Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria. Iraq, Iran and North Korea were also onPNAC’s hit list.
Further illustrating the fact that many of the wars and proxy wars we have witnessed in recent years were premeditated operations by imperial powers, the former French minister of Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, revealed that the war in Syria was “prepared, preconceived and planned” at least “two years before the violence” erupted. Dumas said he was approached in the UK by “top British officials” to see if he would participate in “organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria”, a proposal Dumas refused, but it is clear that many others within the Western establishment did not.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.