United States Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has long been adamantly in favor of arming the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria, going as far as equating “Allahu Akbar,” which is an Islamic war cry, with “Thank God” and relying upon discredited analysis to support his foreign policy assessments.
McCain is now embroiled in a new controversy stemming from his time in Syria. In 2013, the Senator traveled to opposition-held areas of Syria to meet with rebel groups that were fighting to overthrow Syria’s Assad regime. After visiting the country, McCain became further convinced that America had to act to arm his newfound “rebel” friends. However, evidence has surfaced suggesting that McCain’s Syrian friends, with whom he made sure to take many photo-ops, may in fact have been members of the Islamic State terror group.
The influences behind McCain’s past support for intervention reveal why some have been led to at least question the legitimacy of his analysis, given the Senator’s reputation in regard to the Syrian civil war.
Unpacking the Senator’s go-to sources, along with his interpretation of the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” has led many, most notably Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), to conclude that McCain’s analysis must be held under a microscope.
Senator John McCain’s foreign policy staffer Elizabeth O’Bagy was cited in a once-influential Wall Street Journal op-ed titled, “Elizabeth O’Bagy: On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War,” where she attempted to dismiss the threat that US arms may end up in the hands of Syria’s radical Sunni terrorist groups. O’Bagy, as a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, utilized her now-disproven credentials as a 26-year-old Ph.D. She was also found to have been working as a paid-employee of an organization that advocates on behalf of the Free Syrian Army.
O’Bagy wrote in the WSJ: “Contrary to many media accounts, the war in Syria is not being waged entirely, or even predominantly, by dangerous Islamists and al Qaeda die-hards.”
She continued: “Moderate opposition forces–a collection of groups known as the Free Syrian Army–continue to lead the fight against the Syrian regime.”
The left-wing Washington Post‘s Editorial Board was thrilled with O’Bagy’s analysis, which in effect created a bipartisan coalition for intervention on behalf of the Syrian “rebels” in the elite media.
The Post’s Editorial Board wrote, “Both U.S and independent intelligence estimates show that the 11 jihadist groups identified in Syria make up a small minority of the anti-government forces. U.S officials say they constitute 15 percent to 25 percent of fighters. Elizabeth O’Bagy, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who has travelled extensively inside Syria, reports that al-Qaeda and mainstream rebel forces are largely separated from each other and control different pieces of territory.”
O’Bagy’s analysis turned out to be completely off-base. The facts on the ground in Syria now demonstrate that the Islamist groups are by and large the only legitimate fighting forces. The WSJ and Washington Post‘s Syria go-to expert, who was also relied upon heavily upon by Senator John McCain in his push to arm the opposition, was badly exposed as a lying fraud with an undisclosed conflict of interest.
Journalist Charles Johnson first uncovered that O’Bagy had not disclosed her work as a paid-employee of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, which lobbied on behalf of the Syrian opposition forces.
Additionally, O’Bagy, a registered Democrat and big Obama supporter, had also grossly overstated her credentials, falsely claiming that she had acquired a Ph.D. from Georgetown University. Regardless, Senator McCain decided to bring her on his staff as a Legislative Assistant who specializes in foreign policy.
During McCain’s march towards intervention in Syria, video surfaced of a supposed secular Free Syrian Army brigade shooting down an Assad fighter jet and chanting “Allahu Akbar” (god is greater) to celebrate their victory.
Fox News brought on Senator McCain to explain why a secular force would chant “Allahu Akbar,” an Islamic war cry, to celebrate their victory. “I have a problem helping those people screaming that after a hit,” said anchor Brian Kilmeade.
McCain responded in defense of the FSA: “Would you have a problem with an American person saying Thank God? That’s what they’re saying. Come on! Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.”