Syrian rebel general's call for 'Russian cooperation' brings out the trolls
Fasten your seatbelts, citizens of the free world, another monkey wrench has been tossed into the motor of America's anti-regime machine and the ride is going wobbly. Hussam Alawak, a commander in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), gave an interview with RT where he let more than one screaming cat out of the proverbial bag.
First, Alawak revealed that many members of the rebel opposition are abandoning ship and joining forces with the Islamic State.
“Lots of our officers joined Islamic State because of ideology,” Alawak told RT. He added that some extremists from the Islamic State's branch in Iraq come to FSA centers and “cause trouble for them.”
“They [IS] took lots of people from our army to achieve their goals of expansion, to control oil regions in Syria. They attacked us with very dense fire in the Al-Bab region [Aleppo province, northern Syria], so we had to tactically retreat to other places."
This news does not bode well for the US-backed anti-Assad coalition. Just last month, dozens of US-trained rebels reportedly disappeared upon their release into the Syrian wild, possibly teaming up with Islamic State maniacs - with a lot of US weapons and military know-how in tow.
US Department of Defense spokesperson Peter Cook last month acknowledged that many of the Syrians had disappeared, their locations “unknown,” thus proving the possible failure of the 'train-and-equip program.
Alawak then veered 180-degrees from Washington’s hardline Syrian stance, which is not a little suspiciously opposed to any sort of US-Russian partnership against IS. Alawak, speaking not just for himself but his fellow FSA fighters, suggested that Russians and Syrians can work "hand-in-hand when it comes to counter terrorism and extremism in the region."
“We hope the Russian role in the Syrian crisis will be effective and Russia will be on the side of justice, dealing with all parties in the Syrian crisis,” he added.
Great idea, right? After all, what sane person would have qualms over Russian participation against some of the nastiest baddies to ever crawl onto the world stage? 'Let the Russians get their hands dirty for awhile,' would be the common sense response.
But not everybody, it seems, was blessed with an equal portion of 'common sense,' a mental attribute apparently not so common as its name would imply. In fact, Alawak's logical suggestion sparked a powerful reaction on social media, with a number of commentators alleging the individual was “a stooge” to advocate on behalf of Russian interests in Syria.
But had the stark-raving mad conspiracy theorists performed a simple Google search on 'General Hussam Alawak' they’d have discovered in about 0.61 seconds some 936,000 results for that particular individual. Among those hundreds of thousands of citations, they also would have discovered that the ‘stooge’ has appeared in the past on a number of Western outlets, including Canada’s Globe and Mail, BBC Arabic and Sky Net.
This social media fail on a grand scale represents just the latest chapter in the ongoing propaganda war that continues to flicker in the background of the Syria conflict and Assad became a target of Western aggression as his country entered a period of civil strife.
In September 2013, the Obama administration began arms shipments – reportedly light weapons and other munitions, as well as vehicles and communication equipment - to the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels in Syria. About two years later, Washington, which has never made a secret of its compulsive desire to topple President Assad, opened aerial strikes from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey against IS forces.
On the question of Assad, the United States has offered no compelling plan as to whom or what would fill the vacuum if and when the Syrian leader is ejected from the cockpit of power.
However, given America’s dismal track record on ‘regime change’ since 2003, which has turned Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya into basket case failed states, not to mention hot breeding grounds of virulent terrorism, Russia’s Vladimir Putin finally said 'enough' and ordered airstrikes on Islamic State positions across Syria.
Instead of rejoicing that another country had agreed to assume the burden of fighting the global menace, Western countries have remained strangely opposed and even hostile to Russia’s move, going so far as to claim that its ulterior motive is to strike the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ as opposed to Islamic State.
Given the ability to refute such outrageous claims with spy-satellite imagery, the West's allegations against Russia - which actually has released dozens of videos of IS installations being destroyed - are as hollow sounding as a tin can being kicked down the road.
The Russian president responded to the claims by saying it made no sense to differentiate between "moderate" terrorists and others.
"Why play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What's the difference?" Putin told participants at the Valdai discussion forum.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration appears determined to complicate matters even more, announcing that it would send advisers into Syria to train the mysteriously vanishing 'moderate rebels.'
Is this a calculated move on the part of the Pentagon to somehow counter Russian airstrikes, which thus far have been hugely successful in routing Islamic State?
If Washington does decide to put boots on the ground in Syria, that's when the situation will get very tricky and incredibly dangerous.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.