The Syrian civil war provides the most graphic illustration of the potential development the Marawi crisis can degenerate into. Considered the deadliest conflict of the 21st century, the fight by a coalition of moderate opposition groups and hard line Muslim fundamentalists for the ouster of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad, has brought the otherwise oil-rich middle eastern nation to untold destruction. Into its seventh year, the war’s figures are appalling: more than 465,000 killed, more than a million injured and over 12 million displaced from their homes.
“We’re just living on the edge of life. We’re always nervous, we’re always afraid,” goes the pathetic lament of a mother resigned to a life of sheer suffering and uncertainty, but for worrying still about how to tide over her nine children to less tormenting times.
Records show that 2.4 million make up the number of Syrian children refugees, 200,000 children in besieged areas, 306,000 born as refugees, and two million without access to aid.
Al Jazeera English has this grim overview of what’s in store for Syria at war’s end, whenever that will be anyway:
“With much of Syria in ruins, millions of Syrians having fled abroad, and a population deeply traumatized by war, one thing is certain: Rebuilding Syria after the war ends will be a lengthy, extremely difficult process.”
The Marawi crisis has not been with us for a month, and yet the destruction wrought by the fighting both on life and property already appears to approximate that which Syria incurred during the seven years of its civil strife. Put pictures of the ruins Marawi so far suffered, of the children and babies wounded and maimed, and of exoduses of refugees, all these side by side with similar ones taken in the Syria conflict, and try to tell the difference. Chances are you won’t be able to find any.
Definitely the Marawi crisis shows the country heading toward just the kind of fate Syria dropped into as a result of contention among the world’s superpowers. In the beginning, what appeared to be happening to Syria was the tide of Arab Spring revolts in 2011 that resulted in the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Inspired by these developments, pro-democracy groups launched protest actions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, who responded violently, killing hundreds and imprisoning many more. That prompted a section of the Syrian military to defect, forming the Free Syrian Army, with the aim of overthrowing the Assad government.
As a rule, coups come and go, bringing about the inevitable results of either failure or success of the coup plotters, and in any case, success or failure, the situation takes not much time to normalize. This was the case with the 1986 overthrow of President Ferdinand E. Marcos by Corazon Aquino as well as with the ouster of President Joseph Ejercito Estrada by then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2001.
But unlike Marcos and Erap who both bowed peacefully to strong US pressure for them to step down, Assad was intransigent in holding on to power. Against the backing of the rebel groups by the United States, he got the support of the Soviet Union, leveling up the balance of forces in the war. The result was a fierce, protracted bloody civil strife that to this day indicates no sign of ending. On the contrary, it appears to be getting worse. In April, President Donald Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk missile target strikes against an airfield suspected as source of an earlier chemical weapons attack by the government against the rebels.
In the course of the Syrian civil war, the ISIS came into the picture, eventually gaining strength and thereby exercising effective control of a substantial territory in Syria. This is the same group of jihadists who are now said to be linked with the Maute Group and the Abu Sayaff in taking over Marawi City.
The entry of ISIS in the Mindanao conflict raises the urgent concern: Are we to allow a Syrian scenario happening in the Philippines?
This passage from The CIA In Marawi ISIS Attack by William Engdahl in the online magazine New Eastern Outlook provides a deep insight on the question.
“ISIS: Bloody Pawprints of CIA and Mossad
“The networks of the US Deep State, primarily the CIA have chosen their favorite cover, the otherwise laughable deception of head-choppers calling itself the Islamic State or ISIS or ISIL or DAESH (CIA central casting seems to have trouble settling on a name). In reality IS, or the groups that spring up conveniently in Syria, in Iraq, in Chechnya–wherever the CIA decides it needs a terror hit squad–are trained mercenary killers, trained variously by CIA or Pentagon Special Forces; by Pakistani ISI intelligence, at least formerly, or by Mossad, also known as Israeli Secret intelligence Service, or by MI-6. In the Philippines, the IS alleged affiliates, especially the Maute group that has laid siege to Marawi City, are little more than a criminal band that finances itself by terror, occasional beheading to exert ransom in a protection racket, recruiting child fighters. Recently the networks of the CIA have been pouring in their foreign mercenaries from Syria, Libya and other places to beef up Maute’s gang for the attack on Duterte’s rule, portraying it as a religious-based “liberation struggle.”
“ISIS came out of the CIA’s Al Qaeda franchise called Al Qaeda in Iraq. In 2010 its name was changed to ISIS. Then as Israeli journalists pointed out the embarrassing fact that the English acronym for the Hebrew spelling of Mossad was ISIS (Israeli Secret Intelligence Services) abruptly they decided to call their band of mercenaries with their black flags and US M16 assault rifles, IS for Islamic State. Conveniently in Syria they control the very territory where competing Qatari and Iran gas pipelines to the Mediterranean would run. Curiously, despite the fact they are active in the Golan Heights where Israel has its eye on stealing a huge amount of newly-discovered Syrian oil, they have never attacked Israel. The one time an accidental hit on an Israeli target took place, IS apologized…Do real head-choppers ever apologize?
When the fake CIA Sarin gas attack in Ghouta in 2013 failed to get a UN mandate for all-out war to depose Bashar al Assad–Obama’s infamous “red line”–the NATO and NATO-linked networks created the monster they now call IS in 2014.
“Today the CIA uses IS as the cover to justify keeping US forces in Iraq after the government asked them to leave; a cover to bomb Syria in order to topple Assad, something Russian presence has made embarrassingly difficult since September, 2015. And they use it to recruit thousands of young psycho recruits, train them and send them back to places like Chechnya in Russia or Xinjiang in China, or Balochistan Province in Pakistan where the Chinese have built a new deep water port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea near Iran, the heart of its $46 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a strategic part of its One Belt, One Road Eurasian infrastructure project.
“Now the West’s favorite terrorist mercenaries are being told to take down Duterte in the Philippines. They probably are too late and have badly underestimated their adversaries.”
“But then with the deterioration over recent decades in the quality of American university education, the current generation of strategists at Langley likely missed the basic course in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, especially the part that cautions generals who wish to be victorious to “know yourself and know your enemy,” something that Duterte seems to have thought about.”
The author is described as a strategic risk consultant and lecturer who holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook. His quote of Sun Tzu implies President Duterte is not going to do a Marcos or an Erap but an Assad.
Has Duterte the intransigence in holding on to power against US effort to oust him? Assad had it, but look at what happened to Syria. Will Duterte allow the country to take that course?
In any case, Engdahl concludes, “How the IS destabilization try in the Philippines unfolds in coming weeks may well determine a major turning point towards creation of the emerging China-Russia-centered Eurasian Century.”