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Why the Syrian Regime Won’t Fall

16 Aug

The Syrian epic could be branded “Sunnis and Shi’ites battle for Arab republic”.

By Pepe Escobar

Suppose this was a Hollywood script conference and you have to pitch your story idea in 10 words or less. It’s a movie about Syria. As much as the currently in-research Kathryn Bigelow film about the Osama bin Laden raid was pitched as “good guys take out Osama in Pakistan”, the Syrian epic could be branded “Sunnis and Shi’ites battle for Arab republic”.

Yes, once again this is all about that fiction, the “Shi’ite crescent”, about isolating Iran and about Sunni prejudice against Shi’ites.

The hardcore Sunni Wahhabi House of Saud – in yet another towering show of hypocrisy, and faithful to its hatred of secular Arab republics – has branded the Bashar al-Assad-controlled Ba’ath regime in Syria “a killing machine”.

True, Assad’s ferocious security apparatus does not help – having killed over 2,400 people since unrest erupted in March. That is much more, incidentally, than Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s forces had killed in Libya when United Nations Resolution 1973 was rushed in to allow foreign interventions. The Diogenes the Cynic response to this “where’s the UN” discrepancy would be that Syria, unlike Libya, is not sitting on immense oil and gas wealth.

The Assad regime issues from the Alawite Shi’ite sub-sect. Thus, for the House of Saud, this means Sunnis are being killed. And, to add insult to injury, by a regime aligned with Shi’ite Iran.

Thus, the Saudi condemnation, followed by minions of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), also known as the Gulf Counter-Revolutionary Club, plus the toothless, Saudi-manipulated Arab League. To top it off, House of Saud and Gulf wealth is actively financing the more unsavory strand of Syrian protests – the radicalized Muslim Brotherhood/fundamentalist/Salafi nebula.

By contrast, the only thing pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain received from the House of Saud and the GCC was an invasion, and outright repression.

Now for the Turkey shoot

The Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkey’s position is far more nuanced. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is overwhelmingly Sunni. They are playing for the regional Sunni gallery. But the AKP should be aware that at least 20% of Turks are Shi’ites from the Alevi branch, and they have a lot of empathy with Syrian Allawis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – the academic father of the celebrated “zero problems with our neighbors” policy – this week spent no less than six hours talking to Assad face-to-face in Damascus. He was deeply enigmatic at his press conference, implying that the Assad regime ending the crackdown and meeting the protesters’ demands was a “process”. Assad could reply he had already started the “process” – but these things, such as free and fair elections, take time.

Davutoglu explicitly said; “As we always underlined, our main criteria is that the shape of the process must reflect only the will of the Syrian people.” At the moment, the regime would reply, the majority of the Syrian people seem to be behind the government.

Davutoglu’s words also seem to imply there’s no reason for Turkey to interfere in Syria as long as Damascus is reasonable and stops killing people (Assad admitted “mistakes” were made) and introduces reforms. So the impression is left that Davutoglu was contradicting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has vocally advocated for Turkey to “solve” the Syrian quagmire.

That would be Erdogan’s way to prove to Saudi Arabia and Qatar that the Turkish model is the way to go for the Arab world – assuming the Saudis and the Qataris foot the bill for Erdogan to pose as the Great Liberator of Sunnis in Syria, financing a Turkish army advance over Assad’s forces. That certainly sounds much more far-fetched now than it did a few days ago.

The Assad regime has done the math and realized it won’t fall as long as the protests don’t reach the capital Damascus and the major city of Aleppo – that is, convulse the urban middle class. The security/military apparatus is fully behind Assad. All Syrian religious minorities make up at least 25% of the population; they are extremely fearful of Sunni fundamentalists. Secular Sunnis for their part fear a regime change that would lead to either an Islamist takeover or chaos. So it’s fair to argue the majority of Syrians are indeed behind their government – as inept and heavy-handed as it may be.

Moreover, the Assad regime knows the conditions are not ripe for a Libyan-style North Atlantic Treaty Organization bombing campaign in Syria. There won’t even be a vote for a UN resolution – Russia and China have already made it clear.

Europe is melting – and it will hardly sign up for added ill-planned adventurism. Especially after the appalling spectacle of those dodgy types of the Libyan transitional council killing their military leader and fighting their tribal wars in the open – with the added ludicrous touch of Britain recognizing the “rebels” the same day they were killing and burning the body of their “commander”.

Bashar Assad

There’s no reason for a Western “humanitarian intervention” under R2P (“responsibility to protect”) because there’s no humanitarian crisis; Somalia, in fact, is the top humanitarian crisis at the moment, leading to fears that Washington may in fact try to “invade” or at least try to control strategically-crucial Somalia.

So the idea of the Barack Obama administration in the United States telling Assad to pack up and go is dead on arrival as a game-changer. What if Assad stays? Will Washington drone him to death – under the pretext of R2P? Well, the Pentagon can always try to snuff him with an unmanned Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2 – the new toy “to respond to threats around the globe”, in Pentagon speak. But oops, there’s a snag; the prototype hypersonic glider has gone missing over the Pacific.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

http://ashraf62.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/why-the-syrian-regime-won%E2%80%99t-fall/

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “Why the Syrian Regime Won’t Fall

  1. mihaibeltechi

    August 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Lebanon Intercepts Covert Arms Shipments bound for Syria
    hi

    Lebanese army intelligence has intercepted a covert shipment of 1,000 assault rifles, reportedly destined for the city of Baniyas in Syria. Army investigators say they have uncovered ties between the smugglers and the political entourage of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is backed by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

    Baniyas is one of a number of cities hit by protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the months since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Syrian regime has mobilized the Syrian army against these protests, which have been concentrated in majority-Sunni regions of the country, claiming it was trying to repress violent opposition by armed guerrilla movements.

    On Saturday August 6, Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported details of the arms shipment to Syria based on Lebanese security sources. According to Al-Akhbar, army intelligence had been notified that two members of the Tamim clan from Tripoli were seeking large quantities of arms to be delivered to Syria. One of the two suspects was the manager of the tourist seaport of Marina, which is administered by Solidere, a real-estate firm founded by the late billionaire and former premier Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri’s father.

    Lebanese intelligence eavesdropped on discussions between the suspects and an arms dealer, in which the two sides agreed on a down payment of US$100,000 once buyers were shown high-quality Kalashnikov and M-16 rifle samples. The plan was to either ship the rifles in one batch by sea to Baniyas in Syria, or to divide it into smaller batches and smuggle it through Lebanon’s northern border. The suspects and the dealer were followed and arrested by army intelligence forces on July 30, after delivery of the arms in Ras Beirut.

    On August 8 the Al-Safir newspaper quoted a security official: “The recently foiled operation is still under investigation, and there has been highly significant information gleaned from those involved who are affiliated with a prominent tendency in the March 14 alliance. This is not the only operation that they have carried out.”

    The March 14 alliance is a coalition of Lebanese political parties hostile to Syria, whose largest member is Saad Hariri’s Al-Mustaqbal (“The Future”) movement. Its name comes from the date of the so-called Cedar Revolution of 2005, a series of US-backed street demonstrations that led the Syrian army to evacuate Lebanon after the assassination of Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005.

    Saad Hariri served as prime minister from 2009 to January 2011, when Hezbollah—a Syrian-backed Lebanese Shiite political party and armed militia— left Hariri’s governmental coalition, bringing down his government.

    Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television identified the smugglers as Wassam and Samir Tamim. They have reportedly confessed to running over 30 arms-smuggling operations from Marina to Baniyas with the assistance of Mohammad Kabbara, a member of the Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc tied to Saudi intelligence. Al-Manar stated that the center of operations was Kabbara’s farm in northern Lebanon, adding that this was also a transit point for Islamist (Salafi) fighters traveling to the Syrian city of Homs.

    The Syrian army claimed last week that in recent fighting near Homs it has detained hundreds of Salafi fighters (reportedly including Afghans) with Lebanese documents, whose transfer to Syria was facilitated by Kabbara.

    The Lebanese cabinet met Monday to discuss the arms-smuggling case. There are increasing tensions between political forces inside Lebanon—especially between the US-backed March 14 alliance and the Syrian-backed March 8 alliance formed around Hezbollah.

    The discovery of covert arms shipments to Syria by Saudi-backed Lebanese politicians comes amid rising pressure by US imperialism and its Arab proxies on the Syrian regime. US officials are warning they may soon issue a statement formally demanding the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies have withdrawn their ambassadors to Syria, while criticizing Assad for his regime’s repression of protests in Homs, Hama, and other Syrian cities.

    Lebanese arms-smuggling revelations lend support to claims that Saudi or US forces are trying to seize on protests in Sunni-majority regions of Syria to destabilize Assad, and replace him with a regime more directly aligned with the interests of US imperialism.

    http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/lebanon-intercepts-covert-arms-shipments-bound-for-syria/

     

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