A renowned professor brings the West’s Syria propaganda crashing down, live on air
Renowned Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs has brought the Syria propaganda spread by Western governments crashing down, live on air.

Sachs, who has won numerous awards and honours, was speaking to MSNBC about the ongoing Syrian conflict on 12 April. And he said:

This is a US mistake that started seven years ago…

The CIA and Saudi Arabia, together – in covert operations, tried to overthrow Assad. It was a disaster.

He also insisted:

This is the CIA, this is the Pentagon, wanting to keep Iran and Russia out of Syria. But no way to do that. And so we have made a proxy war in Syria. It’s killed 500,000 people, displaced 10 million. And I’ll say – predictably so.

In the full interview, Sachs went on to summarise:

This happened because of us… We started a war to overthrow a regime. It was covert… a major war effort, shrouded in secrecy, never debated by Congress, never explained to the American people… And this created chaos, and so just throwing more missiles in right now is not a response.

US-led destabilisation

The US and its allies had very different responses to the 2011 Arab Spring depending on the country in question. Drake University’s Ismael Hossein-zadeh has argued that they were caught off guard initially, but quickly reacted by: “instigating fake instances of the Arab Spring” in Iran, Syria and Libya; “co-opting revolutionary movements” in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen; “crushing pro-democracy movements against “friendly” regimes” in Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia; and “playing the sectarian trump card of Sunnis vs. Shias” elsewhere.

Washington was reportedly planning to destabilise the Syrian regime from as early as 2006. But when the Arab Spring provided a chance to intervene, its tactic was very similar to the CIA’s 1980s support for anti-communist jihadi fighters in Afghanistan (who would later become the Taliban and al-Qaeda). In Syria, the US relied mostly on its ultra-conservative regional allies to create and strengthen anti-Assad groups. The Century Foundation thinktank explains how weapons entered Syria in 2011 “with increasingly overt support from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia”, and how – after 2012 – these countries “delivered thousands of tons of military equipment” to their proxy forces. By 2015, reports were claiming that at least 60% of anti-Assad fighters had similarly extremist views to Daesh (Isis/Isil) and al-Qaeda.

There have been limited reports on the covert US operations in Syria – but that may be in part because even top CIA operatives would later claim:

There were no moderates.

Even a Conservative MP recently warned that bombing Assad now would be tantamount to “helping al-Qaeda”:

(As Lewis notes, the Kurdish-led forces of northern Syria (aka ‘Rojava‘) are an exception – because their focus has long been on self-defence rather than the fight against Assad.)

Stop the war games!

Jeffrey Sachs is right. The horrific extent of the Syrian conflict is a clear result of foreign intervention. So Western governments and their regional allies must share the blame.

For peace in Syria, their war games must stop. Because hypocritical posturing helps no one. There’s nothing “humanitarian” about more bombs. And even British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has admitted that airstrikes will not “turn the tide of the conflict”.

The Syrian war must stop. But for that to happen, our governments must stop wasting our money on destruction, and spend that money on constructing peace instead.

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