by Nile Bowie

13 September 2012

from NileBowie Website




Nile Bowie is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer for the Centre for Research on Globalization based in Montreal, Canada. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.




"Indeed, I asked myself, how could this happen, how could this happen in a country we helped 'liberate,' in a city we helped save from destruction."

- Hilary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State [1]

The recent armed attack on a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that took the life of Ambassador Christopher Stevens is an alarming reminder of the disastrous foreign policy direction being taken by Washington.


Tired euphemisms of “liberation” and “freedom fighters” have grossly distorted public opinion into supporting a narrative that has very little relationship with reality. Images of the Ambassador being dragged through the streets of Benghazi are the product of a stark reality that the general public must recognize - one that is absent of the romance and fervor of televised “revolutions.”


For Ambassador Stevens, an early proponent of the no-fly zone and a staunch supporter of NATO’s campaign in Libya, the untimely death he was dealt came delivered by the very militants he enabled in brazen.


The pathological reasoning of bombing a country to “save it from destruction” reflects the unrestrained irrationality of the foreign policy direction being taken under the Obama Administration and its rabid Secretary of State.


While mainstream accounts of the unrest now transpiring in the Middle East credit an incendiary film with provoking attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds, sources have claimed the attack in Libya was well-coordinated and planned in advance, using protests outside the consulate as a diversion. [2]


Regardless of the specifics, the event has provided Washington with a pretext to deploy two warships carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles to the Libyan coast. [3]


As the militant fighters once supported by NATO persecute ethnic minorities, loyalists of the Gaddafi regime, and demolish ancient Sufi shrines and religious sites throughout the country, one wonders what President Obama alludes to in his assertions that “justice will be done.” [4]


It is within reason that the United States, contrasting its prolonged presence in Afghanistan to counter the Mujahideen it once supported, may now attempt to maintain an increased presence in Libya to assist its client leaders in Tripoli with restoring order.

Events in Libya are being framed to heighten the perception that Washington is at war with Islamic militants, not partnered with them to achieve their foreign policy objectives.


Michael Weiss, Research Director of The Henry Jackson Society, argues in a piece published with the Telegraph titled, “The killing of Chris Stevens is not an excuse to attack America's pro-democratic foreign policy,” that Washington should not let the spoiled fruits of its operation in Libya hinder its quest to remove Bashar al-Assad, who Weiss stately refers to as a “mass-murdering tyrant.” [5]


The support given to militants in Libya and Syria have caused tragic violence on an enormous scale for the citizens of those nations - the death of Ambassador Stevens must be a warning that such policy will invariably sow destruction and irreparable damage not only to those nations, but to the United States.


In Syria, the dominant narrative of “an authoritarian government murdering its own people,” as reported by media outlets such as the BBC and Al-Jazeera has proven to be a disingenuous cover for external powers attempting to topple the government in Damascus.


For the past eighteen-months, those nations allied to Syria’s militant opposition fighters have shown nothing but contempt and disregard for the principles of international law.


Although direct intervention has been blocked by Russia and China in the United Nations, the Washington Post has confirmed that the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf States are supplying weapons, funding, and logistical support to rebel forces in Syria. [6]


Despite official claims that Washington has not yet begun equipping Syrian rebels, The New York Times confirmed in their June 2012 article, "CIA Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition," that President Obama approved the deployment of a small number of CIA officers to southern Turkey, who are providing arms to opponents of the Syrian government. [7]


While leaders such as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have scolded Assad’s government for failing to abide by the UN-proposed ceasefire, Washington itself has helped fuel the increasingly belligerent attacks on civilians carried out by Syrian rebels.


Reuters’ April 2012 article titled "Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs," includes admissions from the rebels that they have been behind the spate of bombings ravaging the country. [8]


Western and Gulf nations have supported the rebel “Free Syrian Army” and recognized its political wing, the “Syrian National Council” as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, while media outlets owned by those nations have dishonestly framed their coverage of events to fit their sponsors’ foreign policy.


The BBC has been plagued by controversy for censoring a news story and video showing Syrian rebels forcing a captured prisoner to detonate himself in a suicide bombing, a blatant terrorist tactic and a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. [9]

Human Rights Watch has issued reports condemning Syria’s rebel fighters for conducting a systematic campaign of kidnapping, torture, and atrocities carried out against security forces, government supporters, and civilian victims. [10]


In late May 2012, 108 people were brutally murdered with knives and other short-range weapons in the Syrian village of Houla. Syria’s state-owned news agencies reported that terrorist groups had committed the atrocities, as it consistently maintained throughout the duration of the unrest.


Before UN monitors even arrived in Houla, the United States and its allies were already calling for the "international community" to move against the Syrian government.


Rainer Hermann, a correspondent of the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published an account of the events in Houla, alleging that extremist anti-Assad Sunni militants carried out the massacre, targeting pro-government civilians and religious minorities. [11]

Investigations conducted by the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) confirmed that al-Qaeda terrorists carried out “about 90 terrorist attacks” in Syria between late December 2011 and early July 2012, including the Houla massacre. [12]


Clearly, reports of killings were framed to fit a pre-determined conclusion, in line with the foreign policy objectives of Western capitals by implicating the Assad regime in orchestrating violence in order to build popular support for aggressively toppling the Syrian government.


An article published by Foreign Policy in late July 2012 titled, "Inside the quiet effort to plan for a post-Assad Syria," lays bare the methodology being used by the United States to establish a client regime in Damascus. Washington, through the "United States Institute of Peace" is working directly with Syrian opposition groups to formulate a new Syrian constitution. [13]


The United States Institute of Peace is a direct functionary of the American government, staffed by acting members of the U.S. State Department, hardly a “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people.


The dubious objectives of the United States are apparent in the New York Times' article, "U.S. to Focus on Forcibly Toppling Syrian Government,” which confirms that the Obama administration has abandoned efforts for a diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Syria, and has instead increased aid to Syrian rebels in an attempt to trigger a “controlled demolition of the Assad regime.” [14]


Throughout the conflict, independent analysts reported the presence of foreign mercenaries and al-Qaeda fighters among Syria’s rebel forces. For months, Western media outlets obfuscated such reports, until their validity could be denied no longer.


Disturbingly, influential think tanks such as the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations have not condemned the increasing presence of terrorist fighters in Syria; it has whole-heartedly embraced them.


Ed Husain, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations argues in his August 2012 article, “Al-Qaeda's Specter in Syria,” in favor of al-Qaeda and their inclusion in the Free Syrian Army:


The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective.


Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime's superior weaponry and professional army. Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale.


The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now. [15]

Husain’s commentary is a testament to the desperate and bizarre illogicality of the U.S. position on Syria, characterized by a willingness to sponsor the very monsters against whom Washington has long cried foul.


Foreign Policy’s Gary Gambill followed suit by publishing an article titled, "Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists," confirming that the violence in Syria is the work of sectarian extremists, not "pro-democracy activists" as reported by the Western media.


Gambill continues his "two cheers" for terrorism in perhaps the most perverse statement found to-date in the Western press on the subject:


Islamists - many of them hardened by years of fighting U.S. forces in Iraq - are simply more effective fighters than their secular counterparts. Assad has had extraordinary difficulty countering tactics perfected by his former jihadist allies, particularly suicide bombings and roadside bombs.


So long as Syrian jihadis are committed to fighting Iran and its Arab proxies, we should quietly root for them - while keeping our distance from a conflict that is going to get very ugly before the smoke clears. [16]


Reuters’ August 2012 report, “Libyan freedom fighters join with Syrian rebels,” confirms that members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) are stationed in Syria, and leading offensives against the Syrian government. [17]


The LIFG is designated as an al-Qaeda affiliate by the United Nations pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999) and 1989 (2011), noting several prominent LIFG terrorists occupying the highest echelons of al-Qaeda's command structure.


The U.S. State Department's own website features a list of designated foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) upon which both al-Qaeda (#37) & the LIFG (#28) are clearly listed. [18]


The misconduct of the United States with respect to aiding and abetting terrorist organizations in Syria and Libya constitute high crimes and treason.


Under the current definition of United States’ anti-terrorism legislation, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John McCain, and UN Ambassador Susan Rice can be charged under USC § 2339A & 2339B - Providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.

Reuters’ August 2012 article, “Securing Syria chemical weapons may take tens of thousands of troops,” illustrates the frightening possibility of direct military intervention in Syria, confirming that the United States is considering sending 50,000 or 60,000 ground forces in Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of President Bashar al-Assad's government. [19]


Washington has long talked of “tipping the balance” of the conflict to their favor, and it appears highly plausible that the threat of chemical weapons and their use may be used to justify forcibly toppling Damascus.


The implications of both foreign military intervention and regime change in Syria hold unacceptable consequences for the Syrian people and the entire region. While Damascus has responded to this campaign of insurgency much like any government would, the lack of restraint and the individual misconduct of members of the Syrian military have regrettably contributed to the loss of life.


Any political transition in Syria must be through dialogue and not through force.


Before any transition occurs, the Syrian government has the responsibility to restore order and safety to the civilian population. As allied nations convene together to decide the fate of Damascus, it would appear that the right of Syria’s own people to decide their political destiny has been overlooked.


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has received harsh criticism from the West for calling Washington’s position on Syria a “direct endorsement of terrorism.” [20]


By acknowledging the reality that Western nations are supporting mercenary fighters and extremists, it is the hope that other nations stand with Russia and China in the United Nations to oppose all forms of foreign military intervention in Syria.


Those who enabled the tragedy of Libya and the continued violence wrought upon its people as a result of foreign intervention must be punished - not by sword, but by gavel.





[1] U.S. warships steam towards Libya coast, Al-Jazeera, September 13, 2012

[3] U.S. officials say 2 warships moving toward Libya, Yahoo! News, September 13, 2012

[4] Obama on Libya attack: "Justice will be done," CBS News, September 12, 2012

[7] CIA Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition, The New York Times, June 21, 2012

[8] Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs, Reuters, April 30, 2012

[10] Syria: Armed Opposition Groups Committing Abuses, Human Rights Watch, March 20, 2012

[11] Abermals Massaker in Syrien, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 07, 2012

[14] U.S. to Focus on Forcibly Toppling Syrian Government, The New York Times, July 22, 2012

[15] Al-Qaeda's Specter in Syria, The Council on Foreign Relations, August 06, 2012

[16] Two Cheers for Syrian Islamists, Foreign Policy, August 23, 2012

[18] Foreign Terrorist Organizations, U.S. Department of State, January 27, 2012