How U.S. Foreign Policy Created ISIS And The Syrian Refugee Crisis: In 5 Minutes (VIDEO)
U.S. foreign policy helped create ISIS and the Syrian crisis.
As traumatized refugees flee war-torn Syria and ISIS grows bolder in their terrorist strikes, the world recoils in horror. But the constant turmoil and unrest in the Middle East didn’t just happen: It’s the result of 100 years of European colonization followed by another 100 years of Western meddling and U.S foreign policy.
Who put Saddam Hussein in power before George W. Bush invaded Iraq and had him killed? We did. Who overthrew the Iranian government and handed it to Shah Reza Pahlavi (who ruled until Ayatollah Khomeini seized control in 1979, triggering the Iran hostage crisis)? We did.
Who first armed and trained Al Qaeda? We did…Though back then, Ronald Reagan called them “freedom fighters.” Who helped put Bashar Assad‘s family in power with their incessant meddling? We did. And let’s not get started on Israel and Saudi Arabia (where the toxic combination of wealth and religious extremism combine to feed Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups).
U.S. foreign policy? You built that.
And now we fear terrorist attacks from ISIS. But guess what? U.S. foreign policy created that too. For starters, George W. Bush and company invaded Iraq and left a gaping void of chaos. And now, we’re making it worse. In a stunning video, journalist Ezra Klein picks apart the complex web of the Syrian crisis and brilliantly explains it in just five minutes.
And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, U.S. foreign policy plays a major role in how the Syrian crisis has unfolded.
U.S. Foreign policy, ISIS and the Syrian crisis: A timeline.
In case you can’t watch the video, here’s a quick overview of the timeline Ezra Klein lays out with the events leading up to the current Syrian crisis.
March 2011: Syria’s President Bashar Assad fires on peaceful protesters. This launches a rebel movement that calls itself the Free Syrian Army, which attracts extremists from around the region. Assad secretly encourages this to make his enemies less inclined to help them.
Jan., 2012: Al-Qaeda launches Jabhat al-Nusra, an anti-Assad rebel group. Around the same time, Kurdish groups in northern Syria take up arms and secede.
Summer, 2012: The Syrian conflict escalates into a proxy war, as Iran sends soldiers and supplies to Assad while Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states aid the rebels.
- The battle lines form as Shia Muslims support Assad and Sunni Muslims support the rebels.
- Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militia group, go in to help Assad.
- Led by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states double down on sending aid to the rebels through Jordan, an Assad ally.
April 2013: The Obama administration signs a secret order authorizing the CIA to train the Syrian rebels … While urging the Gulf states to stop funding extremists! How’s that for U.S. foreign policy?
August, 2013: Assad attacks the rebel-controlled city of Ghouta and the surrounding suburbs with sarin, a chemical weapon.
- The U.S. responds by calling for a “targeted military strike” against Syria. Russia lamely makes a “proposal” that Assad surrender his chemical weapons, but continues backing him.
- The CIA finally arrives in Syrian rebel territory and begins training the rebels. Yay.
Feb., 2014: An Al Qaeda-affiliated rebel group in Iraq splinters off, declares itself Al Qaeda’s enemy, and calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Instead of fighting the rebels, ISIS attacks the Kurds in northern Syria and wrest away a chunk of territory they call their “Caliphate.” That’s right. We originally trained Al Qaeda, which then spawns a group that joins the Syrian rebels, whom we also train. The group then splinters off to become ISIS. So basically, U.S. foreign policy has created both Al Qaeda and ISIS.
Summer, 2014: ISIS marches across Iraq seizing territory and terrifying the world with beheading videos.
August 2015: Turkey — which is kind of supposed to be our ally — bombs Kurds in Syria and Iraq while Kurds are fighting ISIS.
Sept. 2014: Obama announces air strikes against ISIS and Syria. Meanwhile, the Pentagon adds to the confusion by launching a program to train rebels to fight ISIS, but not Assad. These brilliant foreign policy moves sow confusion over whether our primary enemy is ISIS or Assad.
Sept. 2015: Russia intervenes in Assad’s behalf by bombing the Syrian rebels…While claiming they were bombing ISIS.
Featured image: Video screen grab/Ezra Klein via Facebook.
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Elisabeth Parker is a writer, web designer, mom, political junkie, and dilettante.