While President Obama’s administration weighs overt military aid to Syrian rebels, the true character of the revolution underway in that country is becoming horrifically clear. Numerous press reports are providing details of a massacre perpetrated by the Free Syrian Army that annihilated the entire population of a Christian village.
As the New York Times reported last December, anti-American sentiment has grown among the rebel organizations even as the American government has played a key role in propping up the rebellion. A crucial step in that support was the administration’s decision to give formal recognition to rebel organizations — a step just short of recognizing them as the legitimate government of Syria. But now, those rebels Obama has vehemently supported are now proving that in Syria — as in Egypt several years ago — the rebels may prove worse than the tyrants they struggle to overthrow.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), forces of the Free Syrian Army massacred the village on May 27: “The armed rebels affiliated to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) raided the Christian-populated al-Duvair village in Reef (outskirts of) Homs near the border with Lebanon today and massacred all its civilian residents, including women and children. The Syrian army, however, intervened and killed tens of terrorists during heavy clashes which are still going on in al-Duvair village.”
Although the United States had opposed the involvement of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front in the rebel coalition, it did not express such reservations in December when Obama lavished his praise on the coalition. As the New York Times reported at that time:
But Mr. Obama praised the opposition, known formally as the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, for what he said was its inclusiveness, its openness to various ethnic and religious groups, and its ties to local councils involved in the fighting against Mr. Assad’s security forces.
“At this point we have a well-organized-enough coalition — opposition coalition that is representative — that we can recognize them as the legitimate representative of Syrian people,” he said.…
The United States has played an active role behind the scenes in shaping the opposition, insisting that it be broadened and made more inclusive. But until Mr. Obama’s announcement, the United States had held off on formally recognizing the opposition, asserting that it wanted to use the lure of recognition to encourage the rebel leaders to flesh out their political structure and fill important posts.
Now Obama’s inclusive opposition has allegedly slaughtered the entire population of al-Duvair, which is the type of crime that the U.S. president has previously purported was sufficient reason for the people of Syria to rise up and overthrow their government. And the massacre is hardly an isolated incident; for example, only several weeks ago, rebels attacked the St. Elijah Orthodoxy monastery. As Voice of Russia reported on May 12: “The militants ransacked the cloister, destroyed the sanctuary, blew up the belfry and tore down the statue of St. Prophet Elijah who is equally revered in Syria by both Christians and Muslims, Syria’s SANA news agency reports, quoting the head of the monastery, hegumen Gadir Ibrahim. The hegumen believes the attack to be the work of foreign mercenaries.”
Reports of foreign mercenaries are nothing new in the war against the Assad regime, and the “Syrian” character of the rebellion has been in doubt for some time. As the Independent reported on December 20:
Fighters from as many as 29 countries have filtered into Syria to join a civil war that has split along sectarian lines, increasingly pitting the ruling Alawite community against the majority Sunni Muslims, UN human rights investigators said today.
The deepened sectarian divisions in Syria may diminish prospects for post-conflict reconciliation even if President Bashar al-Assad is toppled. And the influx of foreign fighters raises the risk of the war spilling into neighbouring countries.
“As battles between government forces and anti-government armed groups approach the end of their second year, the conflict has become overtly sectarian in nature,” the investigators led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro said in an updated report.…
Most of the foreign fighters slipping into Syria to join rebel groups, or fight alongside them, are Sunnis from other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, the UN investigators found. “They come from all over, Europe and America, and especially the neighbouring countries,” said Ms [Karen] Abuzayd.
Even as the American government has expanded its involvement in the war in Syria, the radicalization of the rebel forces has continued. While Syrian rebels perpetrate their own atrocities, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was still insisting “We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people.” As Reuters reported on May 29:
U.S. Senator John McCain said on Wednesday, two days after meeting with rebels in Syria, that he is confident the United States can send weapons to fighters in Syria without the risk they will fall into the wrong hands.
"We can identify who these people are. We can help the right people," McCain said on CNN's program "Anderson Cooper 360." …
Critics of some lawmakers' push to arm the rebels have expressed concerns that weapons could end up in the hands of militants who might eventually end up using them against the United States or its allies.
But McCain said such radical fighters make up only a small part of the rebels forces.
For example, he said, Syria's Islamist al-Nusra Front, identified as an alias of al Qaeda in Iraq, accounts for only about 7,000 of the 100,000 fighters battling the government of Assad.
"Every single day, more and more extremists flow in.... "They're flowing in all the time, these extremists. But they still do not make up a sizeable portion," the Arizona senator said.
When 7,000 members of an al-Qaeda front are acknowledged to be part of a US-backed coalition, one wonders how McCain and his allies are now defining “small.” And as McCain’s and Obama’s purported “right people” are busy massacring Christians — and others — in an “overtly sectarian” war conducted by foreign mercenaries and religious fanatics, the latest phase in the “perpetual war for perpetual peace” has moved on to the phase where its proponents will soon, once again, be "shocked" by the actions of their allies.
Photo of Syrian rebel fighters: AP Images