Two hours, and during the last GOP debate of the year Tuesday night, the candidates and their moderators said the name “ISIS” 112 times.
That’s nearly once per minute. And yet, it turns out, a lot of untrue statements were made about ISIS and Syria.
So tonight, we’re giving those statements a reality check.
“Assad is one of the main reasons why ISIS even exists to begin with. Assad is a puppet of Iran. And he has been so brutal toward the Sunni within Syria that he created the space that led to the people of Syria themselves to stand up and try to overthrow him.”
That was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) explaining why ISIS is in power in Syria in the first place. Rubio says it is the fault of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
Backing up this new and completely false narrative, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had this to say:
“And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here. ISIS is created and formed because of the abuse that Assad and his Iranian sponsors have rained down on the Sunnis in Syria.”
This is a brand new narrative being spewed and completely void of facts. The facts are these:
In 2011, the attempt to overthrow Bashar al-Assad by force began, and at that time ISIS didn’t even exist in Syria. ISIS didn’t begin to emerge until the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Israel began supplying weapons to the so-called “moderate rebels”— also known as the Free Syrian Army— in an effort to overthrow Assad from power.
If you want to understand what really happened in Syria, you have to go back to 2009. In 2009, Syrian President Assad was offered a deal. The nation of Qatar wanted to run a pipeline from its oil fields, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets.
The plan was public record, but Assad turned that deal down. Instead, in 2012, he publicly signed a deal with Iran for a pipeline that would run from Iran, through Iraq and ultimately through Syria. By making that deal with Iran, Assad sealed his fate. The Saudis and Qatar began funneling money to extremist groups in order to overthrow Assad’s regime.
It was over oil, not oppression of Sunnis. By 2013, those moderate rebels being trained by the U.S., Saudis and coalition forces began to defect and join al Qaeda in Syria. Those groups are known as al Nusra and a lesser-known group at the time called ISIS.
“I don’t want to be policeman of the world,” Gov. John Kasich of Ohio chimed in, “but we can’t back off of this. And let me tell you, at the end, the Saudis have agreed to put together a coalition inside of Syria to stabilize the country.”
The Saudis will stabilize Syria? They are the source of the biggest problem in the region. Reality check here—the Saudi Royal Family subscribe to Wahabbism. That is the same fundamentalist Islamic belief system as ISIS. The Saudis have funded ISIS just as they funded Al Qaeda before them.
“I think that by arming the allies of ISIS, the Islamic rebels against Assad, that we created a safe space or made that space bigger for ISIS to grow. I think those who have wanted regime change have made a mistake,” said Senator Rand Paul.
So what you need to know is that listening to most of these candidates incorrectly state where ISIS came from, and what to do next, would ultimately be to repeat the exact same policies as President Obama, Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush.
Yes, it turns out these so called new ideas are the exact same ideas we have been hearing for the past 14 years; the same ideas that have led to utter chaos in the Middle East.
That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that on Twitter @BenSwann_