If you need evidence that simply throwing money at a problem is not only unproductive but counter-productive, just take a look at Syria. Humanitarian aid designated for ISIS victims is actually going to… ISIS instead. While the report from the Daily Beast’s Jamie Dettmer focuses exclusively on ISIS confiscation of non-lethal aid, is it really a leap to see armaments approved by both Houses of the U.S. Congress going the same route?
While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “Caliphate.”
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship.
The Bible says if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him something to drink—doing so will “heap burning coals” of shame on his head. But there is no evidence that the militants of the Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, feel any sense of disgrace or indignity (and certainly not gratitude) receiving charity from their foes.
Quite the reverse, the aid convoys have to pay off ISIS emirs (leaders) for the convoys to enter the eastern Syrian extremist strongholds of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, providing yet another income stream for ISIS militants, who are funding themselves from oil smuggling, extortion and the sale of whatever they can loot, including rare antiquities from museums and archaeological sites.
“The convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: the bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs,” says an aid coordinator who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition he not be identified in this article. The kickbacks are either paid by foreign or local non-governmental organizations tasked with distributing the aid, or by the Turkish or Syrian transportation companies contracted to deliver it.
Dettmer includes a quote from an interesting figure from a prominent think tank:
“I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a Mideast expert with the Washington D.C.-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”
This is a rather interesting choice for a source on the topic. Schanzer’s alarm is as equally interesting. In 2012, he was a signatory to a letter addressed to Barack Obama that called for U.S. aid to go to “the Syrian opposition” and to “hasten the end of the Assad regime.”
That same year, Shoebat.com published several articles arguing against Assad’s removal. One such article started thusly:
Those who think that the U.S should help the rebels in Syria oust out Bashar al-Assad, do not know anything about the Middle East. Within this region of the earth, people have been living under dictators for thousands of years. In a nation like Syria, as is most of the Near East, they are only two forms of dictatorship which can be implemented: first, Arab nationalism; second, Islamic fundamentalism.
Both are brutal, but the former is so because it wants to remain in power, prevent coups, and keep Islamism from taking over. The latter is also brutal, but for a different reason: Islamic fundamentalism wishes to implement massacres for the sake of a collectivist ideology, which calls to unite the world under one creed, Islam; one language, Arabic; and, in the future, one leader, the Mahdi or the Islamic messiah. This is a simple explanation as to why the West needs to not intervene in Arab nationalist governments.
Of course, to save face, experts that called for the removal of Assad will argue that had he been removed, Syria wouldn’t be in the state it is today. It’s a typical political tactic of pointing to a reality no one can prove would exist. It’s a weak defense when looking through the prism of reality.
Really? How’s that working out in Libya? After Gadhafi was removed from power, four Americans ended up dead in Benghazi and the U.S. embassy in Tripoli has been abandoned.
Schanzer’s superiors at FDD, to include former CIA Director James Woolsey and Clifford D. May, both signed the letter as well, as did Karl Rove, Elizabeth Cheney, Robert ‘Bud’ McFarlane and other prominent political figures.
A year later, after the Chemical attack in Syria that is increasingly being shown as having been an operation sponsored by Turkey in an attempt to generate the political will to declare that Assad had crossed Obama’s “Red Line”, a similar letter was sent to Obama, signed by many of the same people. Rove and May signed it; Woolsey, McFarlane and Schanzer did not.
Nonetheless, when May puts his signature on a letter like that, it’s about as close to speaking for FDD as you can get, right behind Woolsey.
The political will sought was not obtained; no strike on Assad came.
Ironically, according to Seymour Hersh’s sources, the 2012 attacks in Benghazi dried up a “rat line” of weapons trafficking and raised the level of urgency to remove Assad.
What seems so inexplicable to conservatives is why such people would call for Assad’s removal considering what would fill the power vacuum. There is evidence to suggest that all of this originated from a long-term strategy after 9/11/01 to isolate Saudi Arabia, and surround it with jihadists who would ultimately take down the House of Saud. Much of that thinking was actually laid out by Woolsey himself in 2006.
Of course, the group that has benefited most from the dysfunctional foreign policies of the U.S. since 9/11 has been the Muslim Brotherhood. Rove’s signature on the letters is further evidence that he’s been a disaster that just keeps on giving.
It was recently reported by the same Daily Beast that Rove covered up the fact that U.S. troops found WMD’s in Iraq. It’s also known that Rove was a key figure in Bush’s inner circle who thought embracing leaders of groups with Muslim Brotherhood connections was a good idea.
With the gift of hindsight, a short term strategy of dealing with Saudi Arabia after 9/11/01 would have been the better course. After the attacks, Bush had a 90% approval rating and could have done whatever needed to be done, to include identifying all Muslim Brotherhood front groups as terror front organizations; inform the American people which ones are funded by Saudi Arabia; put the gears in motion for U.S. energy independence (loosen regulations for Big Oil); and put Saudi Arabia on notice.
Instead, the administration played Rove-style political games and was clearly too cute by half.
Bush left office with a 34% approval rating.
13 years later after 9/11, the U.S. is not just aiding ISIS; it is helping the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey usher in a return of the Caliphate in the process.
The worst part is that none of these people will come clean about their role in facilitating policies that gave the world Barack Obama.