U.S. Ends Funding of Rebel Fighters in Syria

homs-syria

City of Homs, Syria

President Trump has decided to discontinue support for anti-government fighters in Syria. The official estimates are that 100,000 of President Assad’s forces and their allies were killed or wounded since the war began in 2011, and somewhere between 250,000 and 465,000 Syrians have been killed altogether. Half of the country’s prewar population has been displaced from their homes and have become refugees.

The war started during the “Arab Spring” when revolts toppled the presidents of Tunis and Egypt, and unhappy Syrians joined them. Fifteen teen boys were detained and tortured by Syrian police for writing graffiti, one of whom died in custody. In another pushback by the government, security forces opened fire on demonstrators, which sent  thousands more protestors to the streets, demanding Assad’s resignation.

Opposition forces eventually began to gather and were joined by military defectors. They formed the Free Syrian Army to try and overthrow the Assad regime.

  • Russia joined the fray in September 2015, launching a bombing campaign against what it called terror groups–including ISIS–and dispatched advisers to aid Assad’s forces.
  • In October, 2015, the U.S. began delivering weapons, vehicles, and other gear to rebels in Syria, after it was reported that Assad had used chemical weapons in a deadly attack near Damascus. This is also when the U.S. scrapped its program to train anti-government fighters because just 60 fighters were actually trained but the program cost $500 million.
  • The U.S. has also armed the Kurds, a population that lives inside Syria as well as in other countries. The Kurds have a distinct religion and nationality, but not a physical state. Turkey’s government, officially a U.S. ally, is at war its own Kurdish people. Prime Minister Erdogan fears this strengthening may encourage them to demand greater autonomy.
  • The use of chemical weapons is a recurring issue. Assad has been accused of using them against his people, which he has vehemently denied. The UN is investigating. Also problematic for Assad is the recent discovery of a crematorium in a prison that may have been used to cover up the number of prisoners killed.
  • Over the course of this six-year civil war, many new rebel groups have joined in the fighting. These include ISIS, al-Sham, Hezbollah, Syrian Democratic Forces, and Kurdish forces. At this point in the battle, Assad’s army has been able to fully recapture rebel-held areas of Aleppo, while the city of Raqqa, which has been an ISIS stronghold, is being overtaken by U.S.-backed fighters.
  • Even after the U.S. pulls support, Sunni-majority states Qatar, Saudi Arabi and Turkey will likely continue to provide weapons to the rebels, while Assad will be supported by Shia-majority countries such as Iran and Iraq, along with Hezbollah, a terror organization based in Lebanon.

Where we are now: In February, the CIA froze funding and logistical support of the rebels for a month before restoring some of it in late March. Then during the G-20 summit, President Trump met with Russian

President Putin to broker a ceasefire across three provinces that took effect July 10. Last week, the President announced he is cutting all aid to the rebels, and so far, the limited cease-fire is holding.

Why this Matters: The Neocons (those who believe America’s duty is to be engaged militarily around the globe) and the Deep State (the military-industrial complex) thrive on continual war. They believe that this decision to cut aid will empower ISIS and Assad to take further oppressive steps against the Syrian people. They also worry that Iran and Russia will become further emboldened on the world stage, making America less safe. 

Others think we have no business being in Syria. And although it is difficult and sad to see people killed and lives ruined, when we try to affect regime change in foreign countries, there’s no guarantee of a good outcome. 

Damascus, Syria’s capital, is the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. It was once a jewel in the Middle East. Isaiah 17:1 says that at the end of time, Damascus will cease from being a city and become a ruinous heap. Some of its suburbs are exactly that. Either the war will end and Damascus will be rebuilt, or the war will escalate and the city will come down. 

Jer. 49:24-27 – Damascus is waxed feeble, and turneth herself to flee, and fear hath seized on her: anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail. How is the city of praise not left, the city of my joy! Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts. And I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Benhadad. 

How to Pray: For an end to the wars around the world, including Syria, Iraq, much of Africa, and drug wars in Mexico, and and that our leaders will turn to God for wisdom and discernment. Praise God that He is above all things and knows the beginning from the end, and that our mistakes are redeemable. He has a good plan for us!

Sources:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-begins-weapons-delivery-to-syrian-rebels/2013/09/11/9fcf2ed8-1b0c-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html?utm_term=.77ec81bb2532

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2017/03/battle-raqqa-controls-170328160456569.html

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trumps-short-sighted-decision-to-stop-supporting-syrian-rebels/article/2629209

 

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