Back in February environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote a piece for Politico called “Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria.” It concluded that the war in Syria is the result of a U.S.-Qatari plot owing to the fact that Syria spurned a plan for a Qatar pipeline that would cross Syria. The piece was pretty much demolished by Craig Claiborne in late April yet it has been recently sent around again by a Peace Council activist.
Claiborne made the following points: a) U.S. support for Syrian opposition started before Assad rejected the pipeline; b) U.S. monetary support was tiny and mostly for a video station based in England; c) Qatar was considering another pipeline route that avoided Syria completely; d) Kennedy’s sources are all from the West, none from Syria; e) Kennedy gets the story about soldier defections all wrong; f) Kennedy decides Assad is best for “us,” that is the West. A tyrant with his torture and murder is safer for “us” than the risk of Arab “anarchy.”
I’d make a few more points
- Robert F. Kennedy is a lawyer and environmentalist, but his expertise about the Middle East seems lacking. This appears to be his first article on the subject.
- He quotes Robert Parry “. “No one in the region has clean hands, but in the realms of torture, mass killings, [suppressing] civil liberties and supporting terrorism, Assad is much better than the Saudis.” In fact his torture to death prisons are much worse than the Saudis. Remember the “Caesar photos” alone showed 6,786 corpses of people murdered in prisons.
- His phrase “their pipeline proxies were radical jihadists” is an nasty insult to the thousands of Syrians who tried to defend their homes from Assad’s killers and perished in the effort.
- He writes “But in 2014, our Sunni proxies horrified the American people by severing heads and driving a million refugees toward Europe”. ISIS killers are Obama’s proxies? This is conspiracist nonsense.
- Regarding the last quote, it isn’t true that the Syrians were running mostly from ISIS. People have taken surveys of the refugees and most say they’re running from Assad.
- The whole thesis that Obama in 2009 decided to overthrow Assad is preposterous. Obama had just taken office on a promise to get the U.S. out of Iraq and he also had immense problems with the Great Recession and the war in Afghanistan. That he would decide to engage in a major effort to overthrow the Syrian government at that time is not believable.