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Understanding Syria

I’ve had a slew of incredibly ignorant comments on my Facebook page regarding Syria lately. The stupid has ranged from “the west started the civil war” to, “you know that Putin is helping Assad and that’s bad, right?” That last one took the cake because that was 18 layers of ignorant to not only how the war started, but what the US’s interests are at this very moment. And in each instance of ignorance, I posed one simple question which was left unanswered 100% of the time: What started the Syrian civil war?

If you can’t answer that question, you have no freaking idea what’s going on or how to deal with it. So I thought this was a good time to lay out the basics and explain how we got here. The original cause for the Syrian civil war is a pivotal point here. No, it didn’t start as a sectarian war. No, the CIA and MI6 didn’t covertly start that was because destabilizing the middle east even further is in anyone’s interest. Putin likewise, had nothing to do with starting that war.

The Syrian civil war started because of a drought. That’s right, the Syrian civil war is the first of the climate change wars we’re going to see more and more more of in the coming decades. Syria had been experiencing extreme drought conditions since 2006. It wasn’t just Syria, much of the middle east was suffering through drought conditions. As a result, wheat prices skyrocketed, leaving many people in rural areas with no food. Assad being Assad, responded to the drought with greed, rather than with practical solutions to improve irrigation methods or a focus resources in a way that would mitigate the effects of the drought. He allocated resources to growing wheat (which is a very water-intensive crop to grow) because he wanted to cash in on the skyrocketing market value of wheat. This drove Syrians out of their farms (where 75% of farmers suffered total crop failure) into the big cities. That migration represented 1.5 million Syrians moving to cities who didn’t have the resources to accommodate such a large influx of people. And remember, Syria had already been taking in large numbers of refugees from the Iraq war we started.

So we created total fucking chaos next door to Syria, and then the drought left the Syrian people starving. This was a perfect storm for ISIS and gave them the opportunity to ad an “IS” to the only “IS” they were at that point. Please take a moment to read an article I wrote detailing the genesis of ISIS before you read on. They were (at the time of the start of the Syrian civil war known as “the Islamic State”. That was not their first name, and 2006 is not when they formed. But the instability in Syria gave them an opening to add “Iraq and Syria” (the second “IS”) to the name of their terrorist group. Syria did seek help from the UN, who refused to give them a mere $60 million dollars in food aid to alleviate the starvation. Does anyone think that would have been a good investment?

The Syrian people were already very interested in removing Assad from power because he left them starving. ISIS was able to exploit that desire by providing them arms with which to fight Assad. Make no mistake about this; ISIS has money. They have very wealthy funders in Saudi Arabia and they have oil revenue from the oil fields they control in Iraq. They came into Syria with guns and food a’blazing. When you’re starving, anyone who has food and an alternative to your current situation seems to be the solution to your problems. Kind of like Hezbolla in Lebanon. Every time Israel levels Lebanon and leaves it in shambles, Hezbolla is there to “take care” of the people. When you create a vacuum, you can’t complain about whatever comes in to fill that vacuum.

So now the west is left with deciding what it can live with more: Assad or ISIS. The US has decided that Assad is preferable. Europe is on board with that assessment. No one thinks that Assad is awesome, but we can all agree that Assad is less destructive than ISIS. Turkey and some factions in Saudi Arabia disagree. I have no earthly idea why Turkey is taking this position, other than the fact that their current prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan is a fundamentalist whackadoodle who would like to take that country back 1000 years. Saudi Arabia is in it to fuck Iran. Both are being incredibly stupid, since ISIS is already operating inside Saudi Arabia and won’t stop until they take over the entire middle east. So watch out Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, and eventually Israel. It won’t be long before you’re sidling up to Iran and asking their army to fight along side yours.

So Putin is now sending Russian fighter jets into Syria (in addition to the arms they’ve always been selling Assad) to help the Assad regime hold on to power. Contrary to the dullard who thought this was something to be worried about, the US wants this. Guess who else wants this? Germany. Having as many allies in there to do the heavy lifting as possible is a good thing for US interests.

That’s not to say that I believe that keeping Assad in power is a good long term strategy. It’s obviously not, since his shitty leadership skills are in great part, what got us here in the first place.

Do I have a winning long term strategy in mind? Nope. There are too many moving parts, most of which are in direct conflict with each other. And since I’m not fond of rectally generating opinions in order to sound smart, I’m going to be smart by telling you that I have no answers. I have answers to many things, including how this whole thing started and how it unfolded to get us to this place, but I don’t know how to solve this problem.

What I do know is that some of us are going to have plenty of opportunities to spit on refugees from all around the world in the coming decades. There are going to be hundreds of millions more of them from all around the world as climate change leaves them starving.

So buckle up Mike Huckabee, because millions more are on their way to get your cable, you heartless and ignorant piece of shit.


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