As we have established in previous posts
, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were kidnapped by members of the "Free Syrian Army." This army is the home of those anti-Assad rebels whom our journalists and pundits (displaying their usual penchant for whimsy) refer to as "moderates." The FSA sold their two captives to ISIS, who are credited with beheading the journalists.
Like the FSA, ISIS hopes to bring down the government of Bashar Assad. Unlike the FSA, ISIS is considered "moderate" by exactly nobody.
Despite this very sordid (and very recent) history, Obama has announced that he intends to "vet" and train FSA fighters in Saudi Arabia. They have already received a great deal of money and lots of weaponry. According to one credible report, FSA soldiers are paid $150 a month.
Of course, the White House has been saying all along that our aid has gone only to the "vetted." Despite this claim, at least half a billion dollars worth of arms intended for the FSA ended up in the hands of ISIS.
So who kidnapped the latest beheading victim, David Haines
(a British aid worker)? Tellingly, the media won't tell you. Note the use of the passive voice in the afore-linked story (with emphasis added by me)...
He was abducted in March 2013 near a refugee camp in Atmeh, Syria, where he was working to arrange for the delivery of humanitarian aid to people staying at the camp...
abducted him? And why do our newspapers treat one of the key journalistic questions as though it were unimportant?
We get more passive voice from the BBC
(and again, the emphasis has been added):
He was taken hostage alongside an Italian aid worker in Syria last March...
From the Independent
Mr Haines, 44, had been in Syria just 10 days when he was kidnapped alongside fellow aid worker Federico Motka in March 2013.
From the International Business Times
He had been working for the French aid agency for just ten days when he was taken alongside Federico Motka, an Italian-Swiss aid worker freed four months ago after a ransom was paid.
This is getting ridiculous!
These alleged journalists can't bring themselves to admit that they don't know who the perpetrators were. Instead, they inform us that Haines "was kidnapped." The passive voice tends to fool passive readers, most of whom will blithely presume that ISIS did the kidnapping.
A later Independent story
claims in its headline that the culprits were, in fact, ISIS -- but the body of the piece indicates that this identification is pure presumption. The cited witness, a Syrian translator for Haines' charity, says only that Haines and Motka were taken by "professional" gunmen. Another version of the same story
-- citing the same witness -- does not identify the gunmen as ISIS. (It's not as though the gunmen wore ISIS t-shirts.)
So. Do we have any way of determining who kidnapped Haines and Motka? I think we have one good clue.
Motka, as you will recall, was ransomed. The Daily Mail
has looked into that part of the story.
He was kidnapped by an Islamist gang with Federico Motka, an Italian-Swiss aid worker freed four months ago after a ransom was paid.
A Syrian intermediary said $4 million (£2.5 million) was handed over by Italian officials after lengthy negotiations involving intelligence agencies.
The country’s foreign minister admitted there had been ‘complex and delicate’ work to get Motka freed.
Exactly the same sum was paid by the Italian authorities last September to free a journalist held by a rogue brigade of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The article goes on to note that -- unknown to the public -- Western governments have paid out roughly $52 million to free the victims of these kidnap-for-ransom schemes. Britain says that it has not paid any ransom money. Italy is haggling to free two female aid workers.
If you are now itching to discuss the morality and wisdom of paying ransom, you're missing the key point.
Motka was kidnapped alongside Haines. When the Italians paid for a previous hostage, the exact same amount of money went to a faction within the Free Syrian Army. In other words: We know the going rate, and we can identify the people who charge
that rate. Although we cannot as yet prove
that Haines was kidnapped by the FSA -- the "moderates" favored by our president -- that's the way I would bet.
Incidentally, the "moderate" FSA has recently entered into a formal pact with ISIS
Moreover, the leader of the Free Syrian Army said Saturday that the group would not take part in U.S. plans for destroying the Islamic State until it got assurances on toppling Assad.
This buttresses the point I've made all along: Obama's "war on ISIS" is a cover for a war on Assad.
I tend to agree with those who argue that the FSA is, in some ways, a fiction. Those initials refer to a fairly loose amalgamation of Islamic brigands and warlords. On any given day, one of those warlords may claim that he is part of the "moderate" Free Syrian Army; the next day, the same warlord may align himself with ISIS or Nusra.
Nevertheless, John McCain
-- the man who never met a war he didn't like -- says that he has personally vetted the FSA rebels.
McCain touted that he’s “vetted a number of them because I know them.” It was at that point Fox aired the infamous photo from last year of McCain and a few Syrian rebels, two of which turned out to be suspected kidnappers.
That photo appears here. A Lebanese newspaper says that the two guys flanking McCain are guilty of kidnapping 11 Shiites.
I'm sure that McCain "vetted" his beloved FSA rebels every bit as thoroughly as he "vetted" his choice for Vice President.
This next bit is hilarious...
And for people not swayed by that argument, McCain threw this out: you got anything better?
“Obviously, there are some risks, but what’s our other option here? If someone who says they can’t––they don’t want to do it because we can’t trust the Free Syrian Army, then what is your option, sir and ma’am, in how we are going to attack ISIS in an effective fashion?”
Glad you asked that, John! I have an excellent idea: Back Assad.
Yes, I know that Assad is a bad guy. Stalin was an even worse guy. Let's work with Bashar Assad for the same reason we worked with Joe Stalin: To defeat a mutual threat. Hitler then; Al Qaeda and its offshoots now.
If we work with
Assad instead of trying to overthrow him, ISIS, Nusra, and (most of) the FSA will crumble rapidly. Afterwards, the rest of the world can pressure Assad into allowing Syria to segue into democracy.
If those pressures do not work, then...what? What's the worst that could happen?
Syria returns to its pre-war status quo.
A far from ideal situation, that. Still, the status quo ante would be better than the hell Syria is going through right now. A functional nation ruled by a secular dictator would be preferable to the bloody, failed anti-state that Syria will surely turn into if our "moderate" jihadis win this war. There's good reason to predict that those guys will carve the place up into any number of bloody fiefdoms. Syria as Somalia.
Never forget that this war was instigated by the neocons, with the aid of our allies -- Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel. The Syrians did not bring this madness upon themselves.