As a Syrian rebel is filmed cutting out a soldier’s heart we wonder who the hell the Free Syrian Army are?
WHO are Syria’s Freedom fighters? And should we back them? The internet is alive with a video of a Syrian rebel cutting out the heart and liver of a Government soldier. Having removed the organs the rebel looks as if he is about to eat them.
The Syrian opposition National Coalition says it is “a horrific and inhumane act”. Who is the National Coalition? Is it the same as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces? The Syrian National Council? The National Co-ordination Committee? Is it in control of the Free Syrian Army? It’s all a bit murky.
Human Rights Watch says the video appears to have been made by a rebel brigade in Homs. It is alleged that the man in the video is Abu Sakkar, the alleged leader of Omar al-Farouq al-Mustakila brigade. The man says:
“We swear to God we will eat your hearts and livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog. We are the heroes of Baba Amr.”
You wonder what the purpose of the video is? When Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used some sort of chemical weapon against rebels, the West did nothing. Will a grisly video of one man’s mutilation prick the West into action where 70,000 other deaths in the war have failed? Is the one hideous wrong worse than the big faceless number?
Barack Obama thinks so. He said:
‘There would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical-weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.”
Being shot in the face is not as demanding of enormous consequences as being gassed oor chopped up is. We like our murders to be neat.
The Guardian’s editorial agreed:
‘The use of chemical weapons is a war crime. It is a war crime even if it is committed by a state which, like Syria (or North Korea), is not a signatory to the international chemical weapons convention… [B]ut the evidence needs to be examined. There undoubtedly needs to be a proper investigation, authorised by the international community, of the sarin allegations.”
Use chemical weapons and the righteous will get you. Guns. Meh.
Now what? Do we support the rebels, who look a lot like the jihadis the US has been fighting in Iraq? Does the US send in the big guns that would allow the rebels to win? Or does it just allow the rebels to get enough weapons to keep the civil war going?
The West has already taken sides. NATO plonked Patriot anti-missile batteries along its member Turkey’s border with Syria. Then US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said this showed that “Turkey is backed by its allies.” No. It showed that the West is against the Syrian Government.
Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made his views clear:
“The massacres in Syria that gain strength from the international community’s indifference are continuing to increase. The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state. We do not have the luxury to be indifferent to what is happening there.”
He is demanding intervention. Turkey could do with a more Sunni-slanted Islamist ally in Syria.
CNN say Obama has agreed to supply the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Although the US doesn’t know all that much about the FSA. It’s the latest group the West has decided to back. The people – the Syrians on the ground – had no say in their representatives. The West just told them who was in charge.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain was supplying the rebels because it was acting as “the conscience of humanity“. The rebellion is no longer a local affair. The rebels leaders been picked by the West and interested foreigners.
Meanwhile, the rebels are fighting for their place on the world stage. The FT reported on one incident:
A statement posted on the internet in the name of the militant Islamist group the Al-Nasra Front said they carried out Wednesday’s assault, using two waves of suicide attackers. The group has claimed responsibility for several attacks in Damascus but has also denied one claim issued in its name in May. Shortly after explosions rocked the capital on Wednesday, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which is trying to act as an umbrella group for the various units fighting on the ground, claimed responsibility for them. A group called Tajamo Ansar al-Islam also claimed responsibility. The group’s relationship with the FSA is not clear.
The West is trying to create the official face of the rebellion. They are the good who will take over when the bad are routed.
And then we see the video of a man having his heart removed, you realise that Syria is complicated. There is no coherent rebellion. There is sectarianism, vengeance, and religionism mixed into that struggle to defeat Assad’s out-of-date regime…