Reality Check: GOP Candidates Completely Wrong on Origin of ISIS in Latest Debate

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.

Ben Swann is an investigative journalist working tirelessly to dissolve the left/right paradigm prevalent in most mainstream media narratives. As a news reporter and anchor in the earlier days of his career, he has gained a wealth of experience while earning two Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow awards. In addition to heading the Truth In Media Project, Ben is the prime anchor at WGCL-TV in Atlanta, GA. He can be seen anchoring live at 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. A stream is available at

Reprinted from Truth in Media with permission.

10 thoughts on “Reality Check: GOP Candidates Completely Wrong on Origin of ISIS in Latest Debate”

  1. “Reprinted from Truth in Media with permission.”.

    The link in that sentence should be to the actual article which you reprinted, not to the homepage of the website. Linking the homepage makes it harder for the reader to find their way back to the original source article, which is disrespectful to both the reader and the source.

  2. I think this is also a gross over-simplification of what's going on in Syria & Iraq. There's no question that there are also Sunni forces opposed to ISIS. It's an almighty mess. The idea that the US could go in with air strikes, or "boots-on-the-ground" & create a lasting solution is ridiculous – the aftermath of the invasions of Iraq & Afganistan ought to have made that clear.

    1. Most of the Sunni forces opposed to ISIS are either aligned with Assad or are craven Wahhabi wack-jobs that are just as bad as ISIS.

      Wahhabism is a violent cult that can't be tolerated anymore then the Manson Family or the neocons.

      The US are not the right people for the job but Assad and Iran have to do what they have to do and good Sunni's have to get behind that. Enough is enough.

  3. I didn't know about the oil pipeline deal. I thought it was pure xenophobia why Syria was attacked.

    I disagree with one point in the article. ISIS came about as a result of the actions of the idiots who overthrew Saddam, who occupied Iraq, who put in an Iranian leaning government, and fired the Baathist national security state. Now ISIS probably grew as the article states. Someone gave them all their nice things. I think anyone who argues that the Saudis/Qatar are our allies should be tried for treason.

    1. @Curious – You are absolutely correct that one of the other key reason why ISIS came up was due US invasion in Irag in 2003 by Bush and overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But I do strongly agree that oil pipeline proposal from Qatar, Saudi is another key issue due to Assad shooting down the proposal from Qatar and Saudi Arabia connecting Syria through to Turkey for supplying oil to Europe and US. And this is the reason why US joined hands with Saudis and started arming the Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad. Vladimir Putin of Russia exactly knows all this and when Assad wanted help, he steeped into Syria on Sept 30, 2015.

    2. @Curious –
      Sorry I have corrected my comment. There were a few typos.
      You are absolutely correct that one of the other key reason why ISIS came up was due to US invasion in Iraq in 2003 by Bush and overthrow of Saddam Hussein. But I do strongly agree with the article that oil pipeline proposal from Qatar, Saudi linking Qatar, Saudi, Syria and Turkey for supplying oil to Europe is another important issue against Assad since he shot that down. And this is the reason why US joined hands with Saudis and started arming the Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad. Vladimir Putin of Russia exactly knows all this. Therefore, when Assad wanted help to save Syria from Rebels and ISIS, he stepped into Syria exactly on Sept 30, 2015.
      Libya is another case in point of Western invasion and destroying the country. Today it has become another alternative for ISIS HQ if Raqqa in Syria gets pounded by the Russians. I believe the chaos in the Middle East has everything to do with faulty US Foreign policy. It seems the world is heading towards World War 3 and Russia, Iran, China will hit back the NATO countries.

  4. I don't really see the logic of the US attacking Assad as a result of the oil pipeline, although it might have focused neighboring Sunni antagonism against Assad. After the fiasco in Iraq & then Libya, the Obama administration was surely aware of the fact that backing any militant group in the MIddle East would be likely to result in unpredictable disruption & blowback.

    My understanding is that one of the important elements in the rise of ISIS is the presence of former Baathist army factions, alienated by Shia control of Iraq. I think a key question is why has ISIS been as successful as it reportedly has been – able to take on the Iraqi army, the Kurds, Assad, other militant Sunni groups & intervention from the US, other Western forces & Russia. The narrative presented in the Western media doesn't make sense to me.

  5. "This report represents a full array of options not only for use in Iran, but throughout the world. In hindsight of the US-funded "Arab Spring" it is quite obvious that the methodology laid out in the report has been drawn on to destabilize and depose regimes as well as instigate wars of aggression. Upon studying this report, its implications for Iran and the surrounding region, we can understand better conflicts yet to unfold beyond North Africa and the Gulf. It is essential that reports like this are made public, their methodology exposed, and the true architects behind Western foreign policy revealed. As the report itself states numerous times, the vast majority of their gambits require secrecy, "plausible deniability," and that their dark deeds be done "without the rest of the world recognizing this game."

    In reading the brookings paper I was surprised how out in the open they were about being duplicitous as regards to the american people in their strategies. I never did understand why Iran was suppose to be such the enemy from their paper. I suppose if our think tanks are capable other countries think tank's can be also. It suggests to me we are involved in a geopolitical war with one of the main aims of our leadership is to keep the populace in the US as ignorant as possible in order to achieve their geopolitical goals.

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