The Other Atrocities In Syria
The fighting in Syria has created a “humanitarian crisis of epic proportions,” says U.S. Representative Michael McCaul, Chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. McCaul asserts that the surge of refugees into Europe is due to “the inability to remove Assad from power and also the rise of ISIS. That’s why these refugees are fleeing.”
There is no doubt that many of the refugees from Syria and and Iraq are fleeing because of the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), which was enabled by the botched U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Islamic State has been responsible for terrible atrocities, such as campaigns of ethnic cleansing that lead entire towns of people to flee for their lives.
On the other hand, according to a new Amnesty International report, some of the groups that Michael McCaul wants the United States to send more money and weapons to have also been committing terrible atrocities, such as campaigns of ethnic cleansing that lead to entire towns of people to flee for their lives. Specifically, the Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, a Kurdish group that is part of a coalition that is being supported by the U.S. government, has been forcing non-Kurds to become refugees, demolishing entire villages, and threatening non-combatant villagers if they do not leave. The Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat has been reported to tell peaceful villagers that U.S. aircraft will be called in to bomb them in their homes if they do not leave.
The Islamic State is certainly responsible for much of the refugee crisis. However, Michael McCaul is being dishonest when he suggests that the Islamic State is the only reason refugees are fleeing Syria and Iraq. In fact, Representative McCaul’s plans to increase shipments of weapons and money to militant groups allied with the U.S. in the region is likely to make the crisis worse, increasing rather than decreasing the number of refugees leaving the area.
This mess was started years ago when saber-rattling pro-war members of Congress began depicting one group in Iraq as the epitome of evil, and that group’s opponents as noble “freedom fighters”. Now, those same politicians are describing the “freedom fighters” as the epitome of evil, and they’ve picked out new armed groups to be celebrated as “freedom fighters”.
Their policy of pumping weapons and money into the region, along with U.S. military power, has been a terrible failure. We must deal with the mess that American policy has created in Iraq and Syria, but we must not do so by repeating the failed policies of the past.