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The United States Must Stop Funding Syrian Rebels Against Assad

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/17/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 562 times Debate No: 92827
Debate Rounds (3)
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First, a little history. (I'll try to be unbiased in the history here) When Bashar Al-Assad took power in Syria, whom he inherited from his father, he worked to lessen the grip of the government of Syria and begin privatization and modernize Syrian socio-economic rights and liberties. When the Arab Spring arose in North Africa, due to the still 'oppressive' state of the Syrian government, protesting and riots occurred in Syria. The government responded with highly questionable brutality and force. This force pushed Syria away from the West, and further into the arms of Russia.
The United States realized what a valuable asset Syria would be if Assad and his pro-Russian agenda was toppled and replaced with an American friendly government. With this, the CIA and Pentagon started funding billions of dollars into many rebel groups in Syria in hopes that they would unite to oust Assad. Assad received funding from Russia and a stale-mate grew in Syria. Meanwhile, the power vacuum in Iraq led to the rise of ISIS who took advantage of the chaos in Syria to push their radical agenda. While Assad was oppressive and took little care of his people when the riots and war started, he was secular. He refused to implement any form of Saudi Wahhabism and institute a theocracy. These rebels, who form a Sunni majority in Shi'ite controlled Syria believed in radical Islamist beliefs. Many, many rebels believed that ISIS is a much more trust worthy force than Assad and his allies, and now, a good fraction of American funded rebels have defected, with evidence, to ISIS allowing them to grow so far into Syria, they had conquered Raqqa (Population 600,000+) and push their forces a few hundred kilometers from Damascus. Recently, Russia had gotten involved in bombing ISIS and American funded rebels, which took attention from the Western community whom condemned this action and believed it to be an action that would result in further Syrian instability. Today, Russia has stepped back with their bombings, the United States has not raised endorsements and funding, and ISIS has been losing ground every kilometer now and then.
(Present Day) -Now, you can read about my bias-
Only now has it crossed the minds of the American government that a second power vacuum in the middle east would be disastrous. I believe, and so do many other centre to centre-leftists like me, believe that it is necessary to keep Assad in power. Not because we want to. Because it is necessary. If by amazing chance, these rebels (who are not united, and have more than 50 groups) topple Assad, a second war similar to Libya would evolve and plunge the nation in even further darkness with Wahhabist war-lords fighting for control of Syria if ISIS doesn't beat them to it. For now, the United States must stop their funding, with is the only lifeline of the rebels, and unite with Russia, putting aside other differences, and defeat the common enemy, which is violent radicalism.


Thanks for engaging in this topic, it is of great interest to me. Background is also appreciated.

Leaving Assad in power, after having committed to his removal will damage the US reputation overall and especially vis-a-vis Russia, who will be further emboldened. It will damage our relationship with Turkey as well. We should seek closer ties with Turkey as they are a key strategic partner especially vis-"-vis Russia.

The Kurds can be a hugely important partner for the US in the future and leaving Assad will most likely mean a loss to the Kurds. Establishing an independent Kurdistan should be an important goal for the US. (Ignore the conflict between Kurds and Turkey for now)

Supporting dictators is a strategy that will ultimately fail in the long-run as it breeds resentment and Anti-Americanism and dictators will eventually fall, if for nothing else but the age of the leader. It is also against our foreign policy morals of promoting liberty.

Instability in the Middle-East is not disadvantageous to the US as it reduces the ability of any one power to become too powerful and threaten the US strategic interests including access to oil.

The US should support a rebel-Kurd alliance against Assad. It will drain the resources of Russia if they are forced to continue to prop up Assad. This is advantageous for the US in case of engagements with Russia elsewhere. The US should increase ariel and other support for Rebels and Kurds.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for participating in the debate.

I believe that it would be a bigger blunder to the United States to stay in Syria as it is well known that Obama and any other future President is very likely not to invade Syria and directly target the Syrian government as not only is it against the primary articles of peace in the United Nations, but Syria and Russia have a military pact in which if Syria is invaded, under international law, Russia is within internationally LEGAL rights to protect Syria by directly fighting American forces, which if you can imagine, and both Moscow and DC knows this, would be the single worst confrontation between major powers since Germany and Britain. Turkish - American relations are already very low due to Erdogan's continuous authoritarian oppressive stance and attempted modifications to Turkey's constitution. They passed Russia as one of the least free countries on Earth, now. Turkey would need to be disciplined by the US in the way that stability would at least be ensured, even if at the cost of human rights by allowing Assad in power. More lives would be lost in war than oppression.

As for the Kurds, the US has never payed attention to actually giving attention to independence. The leading fighter group for the Kurds, Kurdistan's Workers Party, is not only left-wing communist insurgency that supports questionable Islamic values like feminist suppression, but have also committed terrorist attacks and taken credit for them in Turkey.

I believe supporting a dictator is going to fail in the long run, but right now, the primary problem in Syria is the rebel insurgency. Russia has publicly stated that they will acknowledge Assad's human rights violations and his necessity of departure or liberation of rights, but not to the point that they would fund insurgencies like the US is doing as it only causes instability. Not to mention, American foreign policy of promoting liberty is mostly for public relations and, honestly, patriotic propaganda. Noticeably Chile, supporting their brutal capitalist regime, supporting Egypt's regime before the Arab Spring, supporting Gaddafi in the Iran-Iraq War, supporting Saudi Arabia and failing to acknowledge them as a terrorist financiers, and other attempts to advance American interests through oppression.

As for Middle Eastern instability, it would not prove advantageous to the US for long. Much of the instability is caused by anti-Western insurgencies whose ultimate goals are to destroy Satan, who they believe is the West. If they conquer a nation, it would prove to be like the Taliban where the US had to fix the problem through military intervention, after the US supported the Taliban back in the 80's VS the USSR and bit them in the neck 20 years later, taking advantage of controlling taxation of an entire nation to siphon it towards global and regional terrorism.

Kurds are already funded by the US, but will never unite with rebels as their goals are all too different.


Starting with US and Russia - the US would have been with its legal right to retaliate against Russia for its actions against Ukraine, but we did not. So just because the Russia is within its legal right doesnt mean they will retaliate. We cannot say that we know that the US would not invade Syria because we did invade Iraq and Afganistan. I agree that Obama will probably not, but that doesnt mean a future president would not. We would have the strength of Israel, Turkey, and possibly Saudi and othe Sunni countries against Russia and poasibly Iran. Not a conflict that would be good by any means, but we would have the advantage. So to say that we would not invade is simply extrapolating current conditions into the future.

It seems a bit contradictory to say we should support a dictator in Syria but that our relationship with Turkey is poor because of a dictator there.

The kurds are diverse, but a large portion are actually very progressive, industrious and do support women's rights and we see how many women fight in their military. Syrian rebels and Kurds can unite based on their common opposition to Assad, rebels will have to agree to grant Kurds autonomy.

There is a certain amount of BS to the morals ofnour foreign policy but there is a lot of soft power to them and many Americans who believe in these values and that they should drive foreign policy. Giving up on removing Assad would be a huge failure in supporting these ideals, perhaps more importantly a huge failure on the world stage in general and for those reasons it is unlikely that a majority of Americans would support it.

Regarding conflict in the middle east, it is not primarily driven by hatred for the west. Hatred for the west started because of our support for dictators and military presence in the region. These conflicts are primarily a desire to wrest power from dictators, and the fight in the power vacuums that follow. Hatred for the west is largely used to rally support which is primarily used to secure the position of the powers issuing the propaganda. It is used to recruit fighters for IS, but IS really wants to secure territory and govern. Sure, were IS allowed to grow it would eventuly seek to challenge the West, but that is a long way off. Today they use terrorism as a way to demonstrate its power and recruit fighters but obviously they are in no position to really challenge us. So IS is primarily concerned with territory and keeping them and other powers bogged down in the middle east prevents a strong power from emerging and keeps young radicals primarily in the middle east.

Defeating IS is the number one goal, in my opinion (Pro says the number one problem is the Syrian rebels). But our longer strategy should seek to depose Assad, thereby pushing back against Russia, strengthening alliances in the region, supporting liberty, and creating what we hope will be a friendly regime in Syria.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your well-organized argument.

Firstly, the US and Ukraine have no military defensive pact meaning if American forces aggressively met Russian troops in Crimea, it would be an 'illegal' act of war. The closest thing to a defence pact between Kyiv and DC is the Budapest Memorandum, a non-military pact. I can admit that you are correct a future president would not order an invasion in Syria but with the amount of treaties and web of international laws caught in the war would put a serious block on any president wanting to get directly involved. Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia all have too many differences to probably work together but we digress from the primary debate. That is a different argument.

It is contradictory to say we must support a dictator in Syria. That's why I didn't say to support him. I even acknowledged the fact that Russia has stated they will help in the pressure to (non-violently) remove Assad after the civil war is over in order to avoid a power vacuum like Iraq.

Calling the Kurds progressive is debatable. Wahhabism (Radical Islam) is a minority (1-10%) in the Middle East, yet they drive one of the most powerful nations in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia) and are responsible for serious branches of influence from Manila to Tunis. Therefore, minorities of radicals in Kurds (Who are the ones fighting) and majority of progressives (the ones politically debating) could have any outcome.

"Giving up on removing Assad" is not what I stated, again. My debate is to remove funding and instigating more violence through Syrian rebels on violently ousting Assad. We wouldn't be giving up, we would be putting a pause by stopping rebel funding to focus on ISIS, and then take care of removing Assad peacefully (to an extent), without total war.

About conflicts in the Middle East, while Western Hatred isn't the number one reason, it is one of the highest. The US is partly to fully responsible for the power vacuum in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. We don't need to add Syria to the list. Debating on what IS really wants has no solid conclusion. The only people that would really know what IS wants is IS themselves. Regardless of what IS wants, they have proven to be an exceptionally violent and determined group making them worthy of international attention in order to bring them down before creating another power vacuum in Syria.

Also, I didn't say my number one goal is to take down Syrian Rebels. My number one is taking down ISIS. Stopping support for Syrian rebels is a step NEEDED to take down ISIS. I believe American strategy should be to pause violently ousting Assad (US doesn't even have a backup plan, just like the Libya flop, btw), to defeat IS. We can then remove Assad with the help of Russia without violent rebel intervention. A friendly 'regime' in Syria is also Russia's goal but can only be achieved by pausing rebel support.

(On my previous argument, I meant to say "Hussein in Iran-Iraq war", not Gaddafi.)


Thanks for clarifying some of the points of your case. I understand your point about leaving Assad in place for the time being and working on a long-term political solution instead of the current military one. Yet I certainly don't think we can count on Russia to help us in holding Assad responsible for his human rights violations or in brokering a new power-sharing, democratic arrangement with the rebels. This seems to be the antithesis of what Russia does- Russia does not support democracy and it is not serious about respect for human rights, we can simply observe Russian domestic politics to see that. Of course, when I say Russia I mean the current ruling establishment. It seems to me this is the largest point of your solution but I think most people would be highly skeptical of Russian promises, to say the least.

Regardless of a stated purpose of giving up on the rebels, it will certainly appear as giving up on ousting Assad and yielding to the Russians. This is how many US citizens will view the move, as will the Syrian rebels, as will Russia and Assad. There is no way that it will not be perceived as a retreat by a majority of observers.

Getting caught up in international law regarding military activities is actually a silly exercise because I don't think any major power would feel constrained by such laws, and they are always able to find a loophole. So targeting Assad's forces is certainly an option for the US. In fact, last week the news broke that 50 staffers in the State Department signed a letter urging Obama to consider this option.

Though it is a minor point, I must say that the fact that less than 10% of Kurds are possibly extremist (which I think is an exaggeration to begin with) should not prevent us from partnering with this vibrant and progressive group of people. We certainly have alliances with country's that have even higher percentages of radicals and even our own country has a some pockets of "extremist" views.

Libya is in a world of hurt right now, but ousting Ghaddafi was not a bad decision. He had proven to be a vile creature and it seemed we had strong reason to believe he was soon to commit mass atrocities against his people. This type of action should be prevented around the world and it should have been addressed in Syria when Assad used chemical weapons against his people.

I will point back to my argument that instability in the Middle East is not counter to our interests. If there is a power vacuum in Syria, this is terrible for Syrians but it is does not reduce the effectiveness of our strategic position. Regardless of IS's end goal, they are expending the vast majority of their efforts on the ground defending their territory. They should be defeated as soon as possible, but its one example of how power vacuums in the Middle East are not counter to our interests.

The US must project power in the Middle East, against Russia, religious extremists, and dictators.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by bballcrook21 2 years ago
Wow a Socialist? Time to get the chambers ready with that cyclone B.
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