The majority of the video below is a speech by a Kosovar who is now in Syria fighting for The Islamic State in Iraq and as-Sham. If you remember, we put a lot of effort into keeping the Serbs off the Albanian Kosovars back in the ’90s.
A great deal has been said (most of it correctly) about the US’ support of Islamists in Afghanistan in the ’80s. While a number of the mujahideen we supported had nothing to do with what became the Taliban (Abdul Haq was one of our allies, and he was hanged by the Taliban as soon as he came back into the country in 2001), the majority of the support we funneled in through Pakistani ISI ended up going to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, whose Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin has been allied with Al Qaeda since around 2001, and is alleged to have had friendly contact at least with North Korea and Iran going back to 2005.
The ’90s saw US efforts at “peacekeeping” in first Bosnia, and then Kosovo. The media and the White House painted the Serbs as the worst villains since Hitler, and indeed the Serbs did commit atrocities, the most visible being the massacre in Srebrenica. What got left out, in the interests of a “good guy – bad guy” narrative, were the Bosnian Muslim atrocities.
Bosnian Muslims had also made up a good part of the Waffen SS Divisions raised by the Mufti of Jerusalem and sent to Yugoslavia to fight the Partisans. The SS Divisions were known to have particularly persecuted Serbs and Jews in Yugoslavia. This little fact didn’t get mentioned, either, and the usual reason for the Serbs going after the Muslims in Bosnia was given as “events that happened 500 years ago.” While there is a long history of conflict between Serbs and Muslims in the region, there were much fresher wounds to consider, but they didn’t fit the narrative. It is more likely a factor that Serbia had a close relationship with Russia that determined the bias in the West.
Bosnia, in some cases because of the war, became a major recruiting ground for Al Qaeda. Western aid was repaid with violence.
More recently, the US has leaned hard toward backing an increasingly Islamist rebellion in Syria. While direct intervention has (for the moment) been taken off the table, there is evidence of some under-the-table aid being sent, to mujahideen who, in many cases, were recently killing American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (there is an office of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan in Syria right now). But because of the Iranian and Russian backing of Assad, the administration has attempted to paint a picture of heroic, freedom-loving rebels against an oppressive state. While there is no denying that Assad’s regime is oppressive, the Sunni Salafists fighting it are no better.
Few proxy wars have turned out the way we hoped. The old saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” should perhaps be amended to say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend today. Tomorrow, all bets are off.” Before committing aid to a group that is fighting another group we have issues with, we should probably consider the long-term effects a little bit more, lest we be indirectly responsible for the next enemy we have to fight.