What is the United States' goal in Syria?

A Syrian refugee walks among severely damaged buildings in downtown Homs, Syria, on June 3, 2014. | Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘

After almost a full seven years of war on Syria, the United States administrations, both Barack Obama's and Donald Trump's, continue with their illegal presence in Syria. What started with their full political support of violent demonstrations, continued with the training and arming of terrorist groups closely-affiliated with al-Qaeda, and ended with a practical invasion of northeast Syria and constant violations of Syrian airspace. Obama said (lied): “No boots on the ground.” 500 US military personal contradicted this claim. Trump increased “no boots on the ground” to several thousand with a lot of armaments and equipment.

The regime change project against Syria was on the table for decades, and finally with the so-called “Arab Spring” the project started under the guise of people seeking “freedom and democracy”. How noble. Among protesters in the first weeks were many who really wanted the changes in the society and reforms in Syria, and that is their legitimate right, but no one has the right to destroy government and private property, or to kidnap and kill people. Demonstrations led to the full armed insurgency.

In the first months since the protests started, it was crystal clear that the “freedom” seeking people of Syria was led by no other than radical members of the terrorist organizations of Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda. It was convenient for the US to use such terrorist groups because the “popular uprising” in Syria lacked what should be the essence of such uprising – the popular support. The Western governments and the Arab league knew that fact, but yet they sent enormous amounts of funds and armaments into Syria. Corporate media followed with pure fakery of events in the early stages, and even today their reports are based on unconfirmed reports by biased and unreliable sources deeply connected to the worst terrorist groups, very often with those closely related to al-Qaeda.    

In 2016 when the Russians demanded that “moderate groups” distance themselves from designated terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda's Jabhat al-Nusra, the US accepted that scenario. The “moderates” failed to do so, leaving the US in despair. The failure was obvious because all groups fighting against the legitimate forces in Syria shared the same ideology and goals, and in fact the biggest differences in those groups is just how they name themselves. Eventually, Trump's administration dropped the support for such armed groups, and fully supported new established Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and increased their illegal military presence in Syria under the pretext of fighting the so called “Islamic State” (Daesh/ISIS/IS).

Da’esh is still attacking the SDF and Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Deir Ez Zor province using guerrilla tactics. The remnants of the failed and fake caliphate are also present in the triangle of bordering areas of Hama, Idlib and Aleppo provinces. It will take some time until every last one of the terrorists are eliminated. What will come after the total eradication of Da’esh criminals, we can see in multiple statements from the US officials.  

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his speech at Stanford University's Hoover Institute, which was full of blatant lies and pure fabrications, showed perfectly in which direction the US policy against Syria is going. What should be shocking and preposterous was in the beginning of his speech when Tillerson stated that, “in 2012 the Assad regime’s military forces began to struggle badly against armed opposition,” even though the strongest opposition forces were no other than Syria's al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, and back then every single group under the umbrella of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) were fighting along with al-Qaeda. Even more, the former commander of the FSA, Colonel Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi went so far as it explicitly called al-Nusra ‘brothers’.

Tillerson continued “by August 2015, Syrian rebel forces have made a substantial progress against Assad's regime,” failing to mention that in fact Syria’s al-Qaeda were those who led the “substential progress”. Tillerson strongly supported al-Qaeda in their mutual effort to topple “Assad's regime” hiding behind the very well known narrative of “opposition forces”. Later Tillerson showed “concern” for al-Qaeda's presence in Syria, but he should first look himself in the mirror and see the real supporter of al-Qaeda in Syria.

Tillerson's speech was just the sequel of US president Donald Trump's speech at the UN General Assembly in September 2017 which left no one indifferent. In more than 40 minutes of bragging how America is the greatest nation in the world which could serve as a shining example for all nations, the question of sovereignty in the first part of his speech later showed a huge hypocrisy threatening the sovereignty of North Korea, Venezuela and Iran.

Trump in his speech stated: “This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is the foundation for cooperation and success. Strong sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect. Strong sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny. And strong sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God. In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.”

Looking at Trump's words, one could think that it might be some kind of a sick joke, given the fact that US foreign policy for decades has been all about interfering in other countries’ internal politics. Violating the sovereignty of other nations is a pattern which has constantly prevailed until the present, with no change in that policy in sight.

The US officials very often present themselves as high moral figures and leaders of the “civilized world” even though everything they did only in this century is paved in blood and destruction. The US officials might call Iran a “rogue regime” and despicably lie about how “Iran is the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism”, but that will not change the fact that the United States brought suffering to tens of millions of people across the Middle East.

The US never got over the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in late 1970s. It must have been pretty painful for them to see their stooge Reza Pahlavi running for his life, and after they lost their influence in Iran, the US goal for decades has been to inflict maximum economic damage to Iran and their system.

The US will support anyone who will serve their interests, no matter how brutal or unjust they are, and that can be seen in the US support to Iraq when they decided to invade Iran in September 1980. Or was it the US decision since Saddam Hussein was a strong ally back then? Moreover, the US supplied Iraqi forces with chemical weapons which have been used against Iran on many occasions. That is why all of the lies of Syrian forces using chemical weapons is hypocritical and frankly pathetic.

The US policy in Syria remains the same:  removing Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and countering the Iranian influence in Syria. Even if the US succeeds to topple Syrian president, which is highly unlikely, it would only create a hole in the Syrian political process since there are no real alternatives to al-Assad. Chaos would go even deeper and it would turn Syria in a failed state. And from there the US thought to start with their real goal in Syria – reaching the doorsteps of Iran, to completely turn Iran into the puppet state as it was 40 years ago.

Matija Lukač

Matija Lukač is a pro-Syrian activist and researcher of the Syrian conflict; he is also a Special Assistant and Contributor for the Middle East and Syria at the GlobalCIR website.