Charles Lister is a research scholar who has written extensively about ISIS & the Free Syrian Army (FSA) for Brookings Institute, a conservative think tank. He tweeted a statement today from the FSA heralding the US bombing of the airbase as a “turning point in the fight against impunity” for Assad & Russia in Syria.
According to Lister’s analysis & “Burning Country” by Leila Al-Shami & Robin Yassin-Kassab, the FSA is not a centralized army of opposition to Assad but a multitude of over a thousand militias without a central command structure. So who actually issued this statement in the name of the FSA is unclear, at least to most of us.
If there are a thousand militias in the FSA who have not cohered as one unit, there are at least a thousand points of view about how to defeat the Assad regime. Looking to the US Pentagon to help defeat Assad is one of those points of view & one of the most misguided & dangerous.
The US military is intervening in Syria as part of the counter-revolutionary forces to defeat the popular revolution against Assad’s dictatorship. The US has conducted nearly 8,000 airstrikes in Syria since 2014. Not a single one of them was to stop Syrian & Russian bombing of civilians or to support the revolution but ostensibly focuses on fighting ISIS.
The US is intervening in Syria for the same reasons it is intervening in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia. There isn’t a single instance in the past nearly 200 years when the US military has intervened for the purposes of human emancipation from dictatorship.
Many who don’t understand the role of the US in Syria or the general character of the US Pentagon may think the statement from the FSA is a mandate to support US aggression against Assad. Conceding to political delusions & confusions on the part of some Syrians is not a mandate & it would be arrant orientalism to claim that we should. The US is turning the Middle East into a killing field & our mandate is to oppose that with every ounce of our being & to build international solidarity with the peoples of those countries.
The role of the international antiwar movement is to demand the immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all foreign military forces, including Russia, the US, Iran, so that the Syrian revolution can proceed to Damascus & take down the Assad regime. That alone is our mandate.