By Barry Rubin
Let’s assume that it’s the middle of the Cold War. In an Asian country there’s a revolt against a dictator. The opposition wants international recognition so it seeks U.S. help. And the American government turns over direct management of this process to…Communist China! The resulting coalition is largely dominated by Communists, China’s allies, far exceeding their proportional role in the revolution. Some anti-Communist activists walk out in protest but it makes no difference.
Wouldn’t you be shocked that a U.S. government has done something so stupid, indeed, disastrous for U.S. interests? Treason or gross incompetence? After all, that means U.S. aid is going to be funneled into a largely Communist-led movement and it becomes more likely that Communists would run the country if the revolution wins.
Oh, and not a single mass media organ pointed out the above situation even though it was a matter of public record.
Well, that’s just what’s happened with Syria.
The names of nineteen of twenty-nine members of the Syrian National Council has just been announced and as I explained in this article
10 of the 19—a majority—are identifiably Islamist. At least 4 of them are members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover two-thirds of the 15 Sunni Muslim Arabs are Islamists. Note that the Sunni Muslim Arabs are only 60 percent of the population. Making the reasonable assumption that no more than 20 percent of the Sunnis are Islamists that means Islamists are overrepresented by 500 percent. You can challenge that assumption but I believe that you’d end up with at least a 400 percent over-representation.
Let’s remember that the U.S. goal should be to push down Islamist representation even below a level that would be proportionate with its base of support within the country. That is how effective diplomacy would work.
At most, only 4 of the Sunni Muslim representatives—just one-quarter—are liberals or leftists! And the non-Sunni Muslim Arabs are underrepresented by 300 percent.
Remember, this is not some spontaneous choice made by the Syrian masses or even by external opposition groups. This was stage-managed by the Turks on behalf of the American government.
It should be well known by this point that the current Turkish regime is an enemy of the United States. That government not only rejected sanctions against Iran last year but tried to sabotage them. It has consistently supported Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and—until recently—the Syrian regime. And the Turkish regime has also become so hostile to Israel that some observers in Turkey think it is going to the verge of war with the Jewish state.
But that’s not all. Wikileaks show that the U.S. Embassy in Turkey has repeatedly warned about that regime’s radicalism, anti-Americanism, and Islamism. Yet despite this, the Obama Administration continues to treat the Turkish government has a valued ally. For example, the Obama Administration chose Turkey of all the world’s countries on September 11 to be co-founder of an international counter-terrorist group described as the main U.S. initiative in that field marking the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks on New York and Washington DC!
Now the U.S. government and its Turkish Islamist friends have produced a largely Islamist council to represent the Syrian people, manage incoming aid, and perhaps to be the future government.
There are two issues here. First, why is the Obama Administration so in love with the pro-Islamist, anti-American Turkish regime? Because despite State Department warnings the White House refuses to comprehend what’s going on here to a point that has gone far beyond stubborn blindness into the realm of willful self-sabotage.
The “Turkish model” that it is trying to spread is a design for disaster. It means installing anti-American, anti-Western regimes that are allies of some or all the following list: Iran, Hamas, Hizballah, and the Muslim Brotherhood. They will move their domestic societies toward Islamism. Their only virtue is that they aren’t al-Qaida. And in Afghanistan the administration is even willing to work with the Taliban.
Second, why has the administration just empowered a largely Islamist Syrian leadership when Syria a country where Islamism is relatively weak in regional terms? Why didn’t it insist on more Kurdish, Druze, Christian, and Alawite representation? Why are there only two (one might argue there are three or four) moderate Sunni Arab Muslims on the list?
Again, the administration is oblivious to the fact that the great threat to the Middle East today and to U.S. interests (perhaps globally) is revolutionary Islamism. Until this situation changes, the world, the Middle East, and the United States are going to be heading toward increasingly dangerous trouble.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, will be published by Yale University Press in January. Latest books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com