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Monthly Archives: January 2012

The Truth Behind the “Coming Regime Change” in Syria

After meeting again to decide Syria’s fate, the Arab League again decided to extend its “monitoring mission” in Syria. However, some Arab League nations under U.S. diplomatic control are clamoring for blood. These countries — virtual sock puppets of U.S. foreign policy — want to declare the Arab League monitoring mission “a failure,” so that military intervention — in the form of a no fly zone — can be used for regime change.

The United States appears to be using a strategy in Syria that it has perfected over the years, having succeeded most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that claim to speak for the local population; these militants then attack the targeted government the U.S. would like to see overthrown — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.
This is the strategy that the U.S. is using to channel the Arab Spring into the bloody dead end of foreign military intervention.
For example, the U.S. media and government are fanatically giving the impression that, in Syria, the local population would like foreign militarily intervention to overthrow their authoritarian president, Bashar Assad.But facts are stubborn things.
After spinning these lies, The New York Times was forced to admit, in several articles, that there have been massive rallies in Syria in support of the Syrian government. These rallies are larger than any pro-government demonstration that the U.S. government could hope to organize for itself. The New York Times reports:

“The turnout [at least tens of thousands — see picture in link] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians, nearly seven months into the popular uprising. That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.” (January 13, 2012).

The New York Times is forced to admit that the two largest cities — in a small country — support the government (or at least oppose foreign military intervention).

This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, preformed by the Doha Debates:

“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).

If people in Syria do not want foreign intervention — a likely reason that so many attended pro-Assad demonstrations — what about the so-called Free Syrian Army, which the United States has given immense credibility to and which claims to speak for the Syrian people?
The Free Syrian Army — like its Libyan counterpart — appears to be yet another Made-in-the-USA militant group, by route of its ally Turkey, a fact alluded to by the pro U.S.-establishment magazine, Foreign Affairs:

“Why does the Syrian [government] military not rocket their [Free Syrian Army] position or launch a large-scale assault? The FSA fighters are positioned about a mile from the Turkish border, near enough to escape across if the situation turned dire.”

The article also quotes a Free Syrian Army member who states: “Every [Free Syrian Army] group in Turkey has its own job,” Sayeed said. “[The Turks] gave us our freedom to move.” (December 8, 2011).

The article also mentions that the Free Syrian Army is calling for a “no fly zone” over certain regions of Syria, which would destroy the Syrian government military; the possible starting locations of this no fly zone are on the Syrian borders of either Turkey, Jordan, or Iraq — all three are either strong U.S. allies or client states.
A “no fly zone” is the new euphemism that means the U.S. and its European military junior partners in NATO will intervene to use their advanced fighter jets to destroy the Syrian military, as happened in Libya. In Libya the no fly zone evolved into a “no drive zone” and eventually a “no survival” zone for anything resembling the Syrian military — or anybody who armed himself in defense of the Libyan government.
As in Syria, Libya’s largest city, Tripoli, never had large anti-government demonstrations. The anti-Libyan government/pro-U.S. paramilitary group that attacked Libyan forces was so tiny that it took months to take power after 10,000 NATO bombing sorties (bombing missions) that destroyed large portions of Libya’s infrastructure, as documented by the independent Human Rights Investigations.
It’s totally unimaginable that any large section of Syrian society would invite a NATO-backed no fly zone, i.e. war, into Syria. The examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are too glaring for any Middle Eastern nation not to notice. For the Free Syrian Army to demand a NATO invasion of Syria is enough to label the FSA a U.S. puppet group striving for political power, deserving to be condemned.
This strategy of using a proxy army to undermine an anti-U.S. government has a grisly past. This strategy is celebrated in the book Charlie Wilson’s War, which tells the true story of the U.S. government sending weapons and cash to Islamic extremists to wage a terrorist campaign against the Afghan government, which was an ally of the Soviet Union at the time. The attacks eventually led to the Afghan government asking for Soviet military re-enforcements, whose presence in Afghanistan created a degree of popular support for the extremists who eventually became known as the Taliban.
The same scenario also played itself out in Kosovo, where the tiny, U.S.-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began a terrorist campaign against the government of Yugoslavia, intending to separate Kosovo into an independent nation. When the Yugoslav government attempted to defend itself from the KLA — while imitating its violent tactics — the U.S. and other western governments labeled it genocide, and invaded Yugoslavia, calling it a “humanitarian invasion.” To this day the U.S. is one of few nations that recognizes Kosovo as an independent nation while Kosovo faithfully serves the interests of the United States.
The same proxy war strategy — by the U.S. and other European powers — played a crucial role in numerous wars throughout Africa, which culminated in the massive Congo War that killed over five million people, as French journalist Gerard Prunier describes in his book, Africa’s World War.
In Syria history is repeating itself, and some non-U.S. allies are very aware of it. The New York Times reports:

“[Russia’s Foreign Minister] said that foreign governments [the U.S., Turkey, etc.] were arming ‘militants and extremists’ in Syria.”

The Foreign minister also gave an accurate description of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran:

“Mr. Lavrov offered a similarly grave message about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, which he said would be a “catastrophe.” He said sanctions now being proposed against Tehran were “intended to have a smothering effect on the Iranian economy and the Iranian population, probably in the hopes of provoking discontent.” (January 19, 2012).

Most ominously, the Russian Foreign Minister said that U.S. foreign policy in Syria and Iran could lead to a “very big war,” i.e., a war that becomes regional or even international in scope, as other powers intervene to uphold their interests in the region.
Russia has offered a way to avoid war in Syria and is pursuing it through the UN Security Council; it is the same path being pursued by the pro-U.S. government in Yemen: maintaining the current government in power until elections are called. Unfortunately, Yemen is an ally of the U.S. and Syria is not — the U.S. and its allies are blocking the same approach in Syria in order to pursue war.
The Syrian government opposition bloc inside of Syria, the National Coordination Committee, opposes foreign military intervention. A leader of the NCC is Hassan Abdul Azim, who wisely states;

“We refuse on principle any type of military foreign intervention because it threatens the freedom of our country,” (January 19, 2012).

This is very likely the prevailing opinion inside of Syria, since the threat of no fly zones will result in the same mass bombings experienced by the citizens of Tripoli in Libya.The fake Syrian opposition outside of the country, The Syrian National Council, is yet another U.S. puppet — now allied with the Free Syrian Army — begging for a military invasion of Syria in order to “liberate” it. Of course the western media tells only the perspective of the pro-U.S. Syrian National Council.
The U.S. has proven on multiple occasions that military solutions solve nothing, having torn asunder the social fabric of Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. The working people of Syria and Iran do not desire “help” from the U.S. government and its allies to prevent bloodshed. The working people of these countries could liberate themselves from their authoritarian governments, as did the Tunisians and Egyptians, which is precisely the point: the U.S. is intervening militarily to re-gain control over a region that slipped out of its hands during the Arab Spring. This military approach serves to push the working people of the targeted country into the hands of their government while creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the invaded nation. The working people of the United States have no interest in aggressive war and have a responsibility to learn about U.S. government propaganda so that they can demand its end in the streets.
Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org )
 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Review – Inside story of the UK’s secret mission to beat Gaddafi

By Mark Urban Diplomatic and defence editor, Newsnight

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British efforts to help topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground – and on the quiet – special forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters. This is the previously untold account of the crucial part they played.

The British campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi’s regime had its public face – with aircraft dropping bombs, or Royal Navy ships appearing in Libyan waters, but it also had a secret aspect.

My investigations into that covert effort reveal a story of practically minded people trying to get on with the job, while all the time facing political and legal constraints imposed from London.

In the end, though, British special forces were deployed on the ground in order to help the UK’s allies – the Libyan revolutionaries often called the National Transitional Council or NTC. Those with a knowledge of the programme insist “they did a tremendous job” and contributed to the final collapse of the Gaddafi regime.

clip_image002Multiple radios indicate sophisticated co-ordination of forces

The UK’s policy for intervention evolved in a series of fits and starts, being changed at key points by events on the ground. The arguments about how far the UK should go were thrashed out in a series of meetings of the National Security Council at Downing Street. Under the chairmanship of Prime Minister David Cameron, its key members were:

Mr Cameron’s chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, was a key voice in urging action following start of the Libyan revolution last February, say Whitehall insiders.

 

Secret unit within the special forces

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The existence of E Squadron is well known within the special forces community but has not hitherto been discussed publicly. It was formed five years ago to work closely with the intelligence service MI6, and is mainly involved in missions where maximum discretion is required, say Whitehall insiders.

Its role as a small, handpicked force operating with MI6 makes it the modern-day successor to the shadowy cell sometimes referred to as the Increment.

While the existence of teams of this kind is a gift for thriller writers looking to insert a hit team of hardened SAS men into their plotline, the reality of E Squadron’s operations has been a little more prosaic.

Last March’s debacle, in which six members of the squadron were caught in Libya, was highly embarrassing. The reason for their presence, escorting two people from MI6, gives a clue to the facilitating role they often play in foreign intelligence operations in risky places.

After 9/11, with major military commitments in Afghanistan and then Iraq, MI6 stepped up its intelligence-gathering in many places that had hitherto been off the radar or considered too dangerous.

It was often backed up by UK special forces, but the competing demands on them to support special operations in Afghanistan and Iraq eventually led to the creation of E Squadron.

According to special forces people, E Squadron is a composite organisation formed from selected SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment operators. It is not technically part of the SAS or SBS, but at the disposal of the Director of Special Forces and MI6.

The squadron often operates in plain clothes and with the full range of national support, such as false identities, at its disposal.

Whitehall sources suggest E Squadron was prepared to launch a rescue of a British citizen kidnapped in the Sahara in 2009, but could not obtain political clearance to do so before he was murdered by the hostage-takers.

The first significant involvement of British forces inside Libya was a rescue mission mounted just a couple of weeks after the rising against Gaddafi broke out. On 3 March, Royal Air Force C130 aircraft were sent to a desert airstrip at Zilla in the south of the country to rescue expatriate oil workers. Many had been threatened by gunmen and bandits.

This airlift of 150 foreigners, including about 20 Britons, to Valletta airport in Malta went smoothly, despite one of the aircraft being hit by ground fire soon after taking off.

Accompanying the flights were about two dozen men from C Squadron of the Special Boat Service (SBS), who helped secure the landing zone. It was a short-term and discreet intervention that saved the workers from risk of abduction or murder, and caused little debate in Whitehall.

Events, though, were moving chaotically and violently onwards, with the Libyan armed forces breaking up and Benghazi emerging as the centre of opposition. The government sought to open contacts with the National Transitional Council both overtly and covertly.

It was the undercover aspect of this relationship that almost brought Britain’s wider attempt to help the revolution to grief. The Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, sought to step up communications with some of its contacts in the opposition. It was decided to send a pair of the service’s people to a town not far from Benghazi to meet one of these Libyans.

MI6, say people familiar with what happened, decided to avoid the Royal Navy frigate in Benghazi at the time, or any other obvious symbol of national power as the base for this meeting. Instead, they opted to be flown from Malta into Libya at night by Chinook helicopter in order to meet local “fixers” who would help them get to the meeting.

In planning this operation, SIS chose to use a highly sensitive arm of the special forces, E Squadron, in order to look after its people. Six members of E Squadron, which is recruited from all three Tier 1 units (SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment) duly boarded the Chinook to “mind” the intelligence people.

They were equipped with a variety of weapons and secure communications gear. In keeping with E Squadron’s sensitive role, they were in plain clothes or black jumpsuits (accounts vary), and carried a variety of passports.

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Witnesses said they were carrying weapons, ammunition, maps and passports from four different countries”

The plan unravelled almost immediately. The landing of their helicopter aroused local curiosity.

The Libyan revolution, like many others, was accompanied by a good deal of paranoia about foreign mercenaries and spies, and the British party could not have appeared more suspicious. They were detained and taken to Benghazi, the men on the ground having decided that to open fire would destroy the very bridge-building mission they were engaged in.

This debacle in Benghazi rapidly became even more embarrassing, as the Gaddafi government released an intercepted phone call in which a British diplomat pleaded with the NTC for the team’s release.

As a result of what happened with E Squadron, those who would advocate using special forces to help topple the regime were sidelined for months. It also caused great difficulties for MI6, which had plans to turn some key figures in Gaddafi’s inner circle.

When, on 19 March, Colonel Gaddafi’s tanks were bombed as they entered Benghazi, the conflict entered a dramatically different phase. High-profile military action was under way, and the leaders of the UK, US, and France were increasingly committed to the overthrow of the Libyan leader.

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Ambassador Richard Northern’s phone call was played on Libyan State TV

But the means that could be used would be tightly limited as a result both of the unhappy experience of Iraq, and the terms of the UN resolution that had authorised the air action.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, countries were authorised to use force “to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. The text noted that the measures used to achieve this aim excluded “a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.

The resolution authorised force but its limitations, both in avoiding any mention of support to forces fighting Col Gaddafi’s army and apparently in ruling out “boots on the ground”, defined much of British government thinking.

Yet key figures in the Downing Street discussions were convinced that air strikes alone would not achieve the result they wanted. At sessions of the National Security Council, Gen Richards and Mr Fox made the case for planning to provide training and equipment for the revolutionary forces of the NTC.

At a meeting near the end of March, we have been told, authorisation was given to take certain steps to develop the NTC’s embryonic ground forces. This involved the immediate dispatch of a small advisory team, and the longer-term development of a “train and equip” project. Ministers were advised, say those familiar with the discussion, that this second part of the plan would take at least three months to implement.

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Watch Mark Urban’s report on the secret war

When half a dozen British officers arrived at a seaside hotel in Benghazi at the beginning of April, they were unarmed and their role was strictly limited. They had been told to help the NTC set up a nascent defence ministry, located in a commandeered factory on the outskirts of the city.

The first and most basic task of the advisory team was to get the various bands of Libyan fighters roaring around in armed pick-up trucks under some sort of central co-ordination. As reporters had discovered, most of these men had little idea of what they were doing, and soon panicked if they thought Col Gaddafi’s forces were attacking or outflanking them.

There were a number of legal issues preventing them giving more help. Some Whitehall lawyers argued that any type of presence on the ground was problematic. Legal doubts were raised about arming the NTC or targeting Col Gaddafi.

Once the air operation was put on a proper Nato footing, these issues became even more vexed, insiders say, with the alliance saying it would not accept men on the ground “directing air strikes” in a way that some newspapers, even in late spring, were speculating was already happening.

The British government’s desire to achieve the overthrow of Gaddafi while accommodating the legal sensitivities registered by various Whitehall departments led to some frustration among those who were meant to make the policy work.

clip_image008Misrata rebels used sophisticated range-finders to adjust artillery fire and co-ordinate Nato air strikes

“It just seemed to me an unnecessarily muddled way of going about a business that we all knew the underlying aims of,” said one. “It was almost as if we have lost the ability to define a clear objective and go for it.”

However, the accidental bombing of NTC columns by Nato aircraft in early April provided those who wanted more direct assistance with a powerful argument. British and French officers on the ground were permitted to co-ordinate more closely with the NTC for the purposes of “deconfliction” or preventing such accidental clashes from happening again.

Under the deconfliction rubric, British advisers made their way to places like Misrata, then under siege, where the RAF was focusing its air strikes. The stage was set then for months of bombing which, as it progressed, both exhausted the stocks of precision weapons available to some Nato allies and the patience of many politicians for what was going on. Insiders say that, discreetly, they were soon doing more than deconfliction, actually co-ordinating certain Nato air attacks.

Taking as his cue the March approval in principal for a training programme, Gen Richards had started a series of low profile visits to Doha, the capital of Qatar.

This Gulf emirate had taken a leading role in backing the NTC, and its defence chief was by June brokering an agreement with the UK and France to provide material back-up as well as training for the NTC.

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The fall of Gaddafi told through maps

France was to prove more forward-leaning than the UK in this, and by August was providing weapons to NTC units in the Nefusa mountains of western Libya. The UK, meanwhile, had agreed to focus its efforts in the east of the country. It was as part of this new effort that British special forces returned to Libya.

Although plenty of people in Whitehall still remembered the March debacle, it was agreed to allow a limited number of British advisers to take a direct part in training and mentoring NTC units in Libya. Sources say the number of men sent from D Squadron of 22 SAS Regiment was capped at 24. They were performing their mission by late August.

While France and Qatar were ready to provide weapons directly, the UK was not. However, this made little practical difference since the SAS was operating closely with Qatar special forces who had reportedly delivered items such as Milan anti-tank missiles.

clip_image010Anti-tank missile in Sirte, of the type believed to have been supplied by Qataris

There were some suggestions from Whitehall that the training itself should be conducted outside Libya in order to remain within the narrow interpretation of the UN resolution, but the SAS was apparently soon present at a base in southern Libya.

Decoding the special forces

  • British Army’s Special Air Service (SAS), formed in 1941 to drop troops by parachute behind enemy lines. Main role of its 400 members is to gather intelligence on the ground, but also has history of tackling perilous engagements – most famously storming the Iranian embassy in London in 1980.
  • Special Boat Service (SBS), formed in 1940, is Royal Navy’s equivalent, and the two services have strong links. SBS specialises in operations at sea and on river networks, but sometimes operates inland.
  • Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), formed in 2005. Few details of its function or personnel have been made public, but its main purpose is to carry out covert surveillance operations, freeing SAS and SBS for combat.

During the months that this project had taken to come to fruition, the slow grinding down of Gaddafi’s forces by air attack had continued. Soon after the foreign trainers arrived, NTC units swept into Tripoli.

Some people close to the Libyan revolution say that the Qatari chief of defence staff claimed credit for coming up with the strategy of pushing simultaneously towards the Libyan capital from different directions. Certainly, the foreign special forces on the ground played a role in co-ordinating the different columns.

The SAS had meanwhile strayed beyond its training facility, with single men or pairs accompanying the NTC commanders that they had been training back to their units. They dressed as Libyans and blended in with the units they mentored, says someone familiar with the operation.

There had been concerns that they would be spotted by the press, but this did not happen. “We have become a lot better at blending in,” says someone familiar with the D Squadron operation. “Our people were able to stay close to the NTC commanders without being compromised.”

Instead, as the revolutionaries fought their way into Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, they were assisted by a handful of British and other special forces. Members of the Jordanian and United Arab Emirates armies had fallen in behind the Qataris too.

When, on 20 October, Gaddafi was finally captured and then killed by NTC men, it followed Nato air strikes on a convoy of vehicles carrying leading members of the former regime as they tried to escape from Sirte early in the morning. Had British soldiers on the ground had a hand in this? Nobody will say yet.

In keeping with its long standing policies on special forces and MI6 operations, Whitehall has refrained from public statements about the nature of assistance on the ground. The Ministry of Defence reiterated that policy when asked to comment on this story.

Speaking at a public event late last year, though, Gen Richards commented that the NTC forces “were the land element, an ‘army’ was still vital”. He also noted that “integrating the Qataris, Emiratis and Jordanians into the operation was key”. He did not, however, allude to the presence of more than 20 British operators on the ground.

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We have become a lot better at blending in”

Last October the Chief of the Qatar Defence Staff revealed that “hundreds” of his troops has been on the ground in Libya.

British sources agree Qatar played a leading role – and accept it put more soldiers in than the UK – but question whether the number was this large. Around the more secret parts of Whitehall, the suggestion is that the number committed on the ground by all nations probably did not exceed a couple of hundred.

As for Britain’s decision finally to deploy an SAS squadron, “they made a fantastic difference”, argues one insider.

It is part of the essence of troops of this kind that they often operate in secrecy, providing their political masters with policy options that they might not wish to own up to publicly.

But given that the UK’s earlier relationship with Col Gaddafi and his intelligence services caused great embarrassment, it could be that attention will one day focus more closely on British assistance to the NTC, particularly if the Libyan revolution comes unstuck.

Watch Mark Urban’s full report on BBC Two’s Newsnight on Wednesday 18 January 2012 at 22:30 GMT, or catch up with the BBC iPlayer and Newsnight website.

19 January 2012 Last updated at 12:38 GMT

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16573516

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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

The Truth Behind the Coming “Regime Change” in Syria

By Shamus Cooke
Global Research, January 24, 2012

After meeting again to decide Syria’s fate, the Arab League again decided to extend its “monitoring mission” in Syria. However, some Arab League nations under U.S. diplomatic control are clamoring for blood. These countries — virtual sock puppets of U.S. foreign policy — want to declare the Arab League monitoring mission “a failure,” so that military intervention — in the form of a no fly zone — can be used for regime change.

The United States appears to be using a strategy in Syria that it has perfected over the years, having succeeded most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that claim to speak for the local population; these militants then attack the targeted government the U.S. would like to see overthrown — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.

This is the strategy that the U.S. is using to channel the Arab Spring into the bloody dead end of foreign military intervention.

For example, the U.S. media and government are fanatically giving the impression that, in Syria, the local population would like foreign militarily intervention to overthrow their authoritarian president, Bashar Assad. But facts are stubborn things.

After spinning these lies, The New York Times was forced to admit, in several articles, that there have been massive rallies in Syria in support of the Syrian government. These rallies are larger than any pro-government demonstration that the U.S. government could hope to organize for itself. The New York Times reports:

“The turnout [at least tens of thousands — see picture in link] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians, nearly seven months into the popular uprising. That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.” (January 13, 2012).

The New York Times is forced to admit that the two largest cities — in a small country — support the government (or at least oppose foreign military intervention).

This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, preformed by the Doha Debates:

“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).

If people in Syria do not want foreign intervention — a likely reason that so many attended pro-Assad demonstrations — what about the so-called Free Syrian Army, which the United States has given immense credibility to and which claims to speak for the Syrian people?

The Free Syrian Army — like its Libyan counterpart — appears to be yet another Made-in-the-USA militant group, by route of its ally Turkey, a fact alluded to by the pro U.S.-establishment magazine, Foreign Affairs:

“Why does the Syrian [government] military not rocket their [Free Syrian Army] position or launch a large-scale assault? The FSA fighters are positioned about a mile from the Turkish border, near enough to escape across if the situation turned dire.”

The article also quotes a Free Syrian Army member who states: “Every [Free Syrian Army] group in Turkey has its own job,” Sayeed said. “[The Turks] gave us our freedom to move.” (December 8, 2011).

The article also mentions that the Free Syrian Army is calling for a “no fly zone” over certain regions of Syria, which would destroy the Syrian government military; the possible starting locations of this no fly zone are on the Syrian borders of either Turkey, Jordan, or Iraq — all three are either strong U.S. allies or client states.

A “no fly zone” is the new euphemism that means the U.S. and its European military junior partners in NATO will intervene to use their advanced fighter jets to destroy the Syrian military, as happened in Libya. In Libya the no fly zone evolved into a “no drive zone” and eventually a “no survival” zone for anything resembling the Syrian military — or anybody who armed himself in defense of the Libyan government.

As in Syria, Libya’s largest city, Tripoli, never had large anti-government demonstrations. The anti-Libyan government/pro-U.S. paramilitary group that attacked Libyan forces was so tiny that it took months to take power after 10,000 NATO bombing sorties (bombing missions) that destroyed large portions of Libya’s infrastructure, as documented by the independent Human Rights Investigations.

It’s totally unimaginable that any large section of Syrian society would invite a NATO-backed no fly zone, i.e. war, into Syria. The examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are too glaring for any Middle Eastern nation not to notice. For the Free Syrian Army to demand a NATO invasion of Syria is enough to label the FSA a U.S. puppet group striving for political power, deserving to be condemned.

This strategy of using a proxy army to undermine an anti-U.S. government has a grisly past. This strategy is celebrated in the book Charlie Wilson’s War, which tells the true story of the U.S. government sending weapons and cash to Islamic extremists to wage a terrorist campaign against the Afghan government, which was an ally of the Soviet Union at the time. The attacks eventually led to the Afghan government asking for Soviet military re-enforcements, whose presence in Afghanistan created a degree of popular support for the extremists who eventually became known as the Taliban.

The same scenario also played itself out in Kosovo, where the tiny, U.S.-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began a terrorist campaign against the government of Yugoslavia, intending to separate Kosovo into an independent nation. When the Yugoslav government attempted to defend itself from the KLA — while imitating its violent tactics — the U.S. and other western governments labeled it genocide, and invaded Yugoslavia, calling it a “humanitarian invasion.” To this day the U.S. is one of few nations that recognizes Kosovo as an independent nation while Kosovo faithfully serves the interests of the United States.

The same proxy war strategy — by the U.S. and other European powers — played a crucial role in numerous wars throughout Africa, which culminated in the massive Congo War that killed over five million people, as French journalist Gerard Prunier describes in his book, Africa’s World War.

In Syria history is repeating itself, and some non-U.S. allies are very aware of it. The New York Times reports:

“[Russia’s Foreign Minister] said that foreign governments [the U.S., Turkey, etc.] were arming ‘militants and extremists’ in Syria.”

The Foreign minister also gave an accurate description of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran:

“Mr. Lavrov offered a similarly grave message about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, which he said would be a “catastrophe.” He said sanctions now being proposed against Tehran were “intended to have a smothering effect on the Iranian economy and the Iranian population, probably in the hopes of provoking discontent.” (January 19, 2012).

Most ominously, the Russian Foreign Minister said that U.S. foreign policy in Syria and Iran could lead to a “very big war,” i.e., a war that becomes regional or even international in scope, as other powers intervene to uphold their interests in the region.

Russia has offered a way to avoid war in Syria and is pursuing it through the UN Security Council; it is the same path being pursued by the pro-U.S. government in Yemen: maintaining the current government in power until elections are called. Unfortunately, Yemen is an ally of the U.S. and Syria is not — the U.S. and its allies are blocking the same approach in Syria in order to pursue war.

The Syrian government opposition bloc inside of Syria, the National Coordination Committee, opposes foreign military intervention. A leader of the NCC is Hassan Abdul Azim, who wisely states;

“We refuse on principle any type of military foreign intervention because it threatens the freedom of our country,” (January 19, 2012).

This is very likely the prevailing opinion inside of Syria, since the threat of no fly zones will result in the same mass bombings experienced by the citizens of Tripoli in Libya. The fake Syrian opposition outside of the country, The Syrian National Council, is yet another U.S. puppet — now allied with the Free Syrian Army — begging for a military invasion of Syria in order to “liberate” it. Of course the western media tells only the perspective of the pro-U.S. Syrian National Council.

The U.S. has proven on multiple occasions that military solutions solve nothing, having torn asunder the social fabric of Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. The working people of Syria and Iran do not desire “help” from the U.S. government and its allies to prevent bloodshed. The working people of these countries could liberate themselves from their authoritarian governments, as did the Tunisians and Egyptians, which is precisely the point: the U.S. is intervening militarily to re-gain control over a region that slipped out of its hands during the Arab Spring. This military approach serves to push the working people of the targeted country into the hands of their government while creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the invaded nation. The working people of the United States have no interest in aggressive war and have a responsibility to learn about U.S. government propaganda so that they can demand its end in the streets.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action ( www.workerscompass.org  )

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/world/middleeast/syrians-rally-in-support-of-assad.html
http://www.thedohadebates.com/news/item/index.asp?n=14312
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/08/syria_free_army_rebels?page=0,3
http://humanrightsinvestigations.org/tag/nato-bombing/
http://www.smh.com.au/world/russia-warns-west-it-risks-war-over-syria-iran-20120119-1q8ei.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/world/europe/russia-warns-against-support-for-arab-uprisings.html?_r=3&ref=world
http://rt.com/news/syria-protests-russia-dialogue-149/

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

THE TRUTH BEHIND THE COMING “REGIME CHANGE” IN SYRIA

by Shamus Cooke  

After meeting again to decide Syria’s fate, the Arab League again decided to extend its “monitoring mission” in Syria. However, some Arab League nations under U.S. diplomatic control are clamoring for blood. These countries — virtual sock puppets of U.S. foreign policy — want to declare the Arab League monitoring mission “a failure,” so that military intervention — in the form of a no fly zone — can be used for regime change.

The United States appears to be using a strategy in Syria that it has perfected over the years, having succeeded most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that claim to speak for the local population; these militants then attack the targeted government the U.S. would like to see overthrown — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.

This is the strategy that the U.S. is using to channel the Arab Spring into the bloody dead end of foreign military intervention.

For example, the U.S. media and government are fanatically giving the impression that, in Syria, the local population would like foreign militarily intervention to overthrow their authoritarian president, Bashar Assad. But facts are stubborn things.

After spinning these lies, The New York Times was forced to admit, in several articles, that there have been massive rallies in Syria in support of the Syrian government. These rallies are larger than any pro-government demonstration that the U.S. government could hope to organize for itself. The New York Times reports:

“The turnout [at least tens of thousands — see picture in link] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians, nearly seven months into the popular uprising. That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.” (January 13, 2012).

The New York Times is forced to admit that the two largest cities — in a small country — support the government (or at least oppose foreign military intervention).

This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, preformed by the Doha Debates:

“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).

If people in Syria do not want foreign intervention — a likely reason that so many attended pro-Assad demonstrations — what about the so-called Free Syrian Army, which the United States has given immense credibility to and which claims to speak for the Syrian people?

The Free Syrian Army — like its Libyan counterpart — appears to be yet another Made-in-the-USA militant group, by route of its ally Turkey, a fact alluded to by the pro U.S.-establishment magazine, Foreign Affairs:

“Why does the Syrian [government] military not rocket their [Free Syrian Army] position or launch a large-scale assault? The FSA fighters are positioned about a mile from the Turkish border, near enough to escape across if the situation turned dire.”

The article also quotes a Free Syrian Army member who states: “Every [Free Syrian Army] group in Turkey has its own job,” Sayeed said. “[The Turks] gave us our freedom to move.” (December 8, 2011).

The article also mentions that the Free Syrian Army is calling for a “no fly zone” over certain regions of Syria, which would destroy the Syrian government military; the possible starting locations of this no fly zone are on the Syrian borders of either Turkey, Jordan, or Iraq — all three are either strong U.S. allies or client states.

A “no fly zone” is the new euphemism that means the U.S. and its European military junior partners in NATO will intervene to use their advanced fighter jets to destroy the Syrian military, as happened in Libya. In Libya the no fly zone evolved into a “no drive zone” and eventually a “no survival” zone for anything resembling the Syrian military — or anybody who armed himself in defense of the Libyan government.

As in Syria, Libya’s largest city, Tripoli, never had large anti-government demonstrations. The anti-Libyan government/pro-U.S. paramilitary group that attacked Libyan forces was so tiny that it took months to take power after 10,000 NATO bombing sorties (bombing missions) that destroyed large portions of Libya’s infrastructure, as documented by the independent Human Rights Investigations.

It’s totally unimaginable that any large section of Syrian society would invite a NATO-backed no fly zone, i.e. war, into Syria. The examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are too glaring for any Middle Eastern nation not to notice. For the Free Syrian Army to demand a NATO invasion of Syria is enough to label the FSA a U.S. puppet group striving for political power, deserving to be condemned.

This strategy of using a proxy army to undermine an anti-U.S. government has a grisly past. This strategy is celebrated in the book Charlie Wilson’s War, which tells the true story of the U.S. government sending weapons and cash to Islamic extremists to wage a terrorist campaign against the Afghan government, which was an ally of the Soviet Union at the time. The attacks eventually led to the Afghan government asking for Soviet military re-enforcements, whose presence in Afghanistan created a degree of popular support for the extremists who eventually became known as the Taliban.

The same scenario also played itself out in Kosovo, where the tiny, U.S.-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began a terrorist campaign against the government of Yugoslavia, intending to separate Kosovo into an independent nation. When the Yugoslav government attempted to defend itself from the KLA — while imitating its violent tactics — the U.S. and other western governments labeled it genocide, and invaded Yugoslavia, calling it a “humanitarian invasion.” To this day the U.S. is one of few nations that recognizes Kosovo as an independent nation while Kosovo faithfully serves the interests of the United States.

The same proxy war strategy — by the U.S. and other European powers — played a crucial role in numerous wars throughout Africa, which culminated in the massive Congo War that killed over five million people, as French journalist Gerard Prunier describes in his book, Africa’s World War.

In Syria history is repeating itself, and some non-U.S. allies are very aware of it. The New York Times reports:

“[Russia’s Foreign Minister] said that foreign governments [the U.S., Turkey, etc.] were arming ‘militants and extremists’ in Syria.”

The Foreign minister also gave an accurate description of U.S. foreign policy towards Iran:

“Mr. Lavrov offered a similarly grave message about the possibility of a military strike against Iran, which he said would be a “catastrophe.” He said sanctions now being proposed against Tehran were “intended to have a smothering effect on the Iranian economy and the Iranian population, probably in the hopes of provoking discontent.” (January 19, 2012).

Most ominously, the Russian Foreign Minister said that U.S. foreign policy in Syria and Iran could lead to a “very big war,” i.e., a war that becomes regional or even international in scope, as other powers intervene to uphold their interests in the region.

Russia has offered a way to avoid war in Syria and is pursuing it through the UN Security Council; it is the same path being pursued by the pro-U.S. government in Yemen: maintaining the current government in power until elections are called. Unfortunately, Yemen is an ally of the U.S. and Syria is not — the U.S. and its allies are blocking the same approach in Syria in order to pursue war.

The Syrian government opposition bloc inside of Syria, the National Coordination Committee, opposes foreign military intervention. A leader of the NCC is Hassan Abdul Azim, who wisely states;

“We refuse on principle any type of military foreign intervention because it threatens the freedom of our country,” (January 19, 2012).

This is very likely the prevailing opinion inside of Syria, since the threat of no fly zones will result in the same mass bombings experienced by the citizens of Tripoli in Libya. The fake Syrian opposition outside of the country, The Syrian National Council, is yet another U.S. puppet — now allied with the Free Syrian Army — begging for a military invasion of Syria in order to “liberate” it. Of course the western media tells only the perspective of the pro-U.S. Syrian National Council.

The U.S. has proven on multiple occasions that military solutions solve nothing, having torn asunder the social fabric of Afghanistan, Iraq, and now Libya. The working people of Syria and Iran do not desire “help” from the U.S. government and its allies to prevent bloodshed. The working people of these countries could liberate themselves from their authoritarian governments, as did the Tunisians and Egyptians, which is precisely the point: the U.S. is intervening militarily to re-gain control over a region that slipped out of its hands during the Arab Spring. This military approach serves to push the working people of the targeted country into the hands of their government while creating a humanitarian catastrophe for the invaded nation. The working people of the United States have no interest in aggressive war and have a responsibility to learn about U.S. government propaganda so that they can demand its end in the streets.

Shamus Cooke is a social worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org  )

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/world/middleeast/syrians-rally-in-support-of-assad.htmlhttp://www.thedohadebates.com/news/item/index.asp?n=14312http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/12/08/syria_free_army_rebels?page=0,3http://humanrightsinvestigations.org/tag/nato-bombing/ http://www.smh.com.au/world/russia-warns-west-it-risks-war-over-syria-iran-20120119-1q8ei.html http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/19/world/europe/russia-warns-against-support-for-arab-uprisings.html?_r=3&ref=world http://rt.com/news/syria-protests-russia-dialogue-149/

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/the-truth-behind-the-coming-regime-change-in-syria/

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

NATO vs. Syria

By Philip Giraldi

January 18, 2012 “
American Conservative” — Americans should be concerned about what is happening in Syria, if only because it threatens to become another undeclared war like Libya but much, much worse. Calls for regime change have come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who several weeks ago predicted a civil war. That is indeed likely if the largely secular and nationalist regime of Bashar al-Assad falls, pitting Sunni against Shia against Alawite. Indigenous Christians will be caught in the meat grinder. Ironically, many of the Christians in Damascus are Iraqis who experienced the last round of liberation in their own country and had to flee for their lives.

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davitoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces.

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting Gaddafi’s army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been killed by Assad’s soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is uncorroborated. The Agency has refused to sign off on the claims. Likewise, accounts of mass defections from the Syrian Army and pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently. Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained, and financed by foreign governments are more true than false.

In the United States, many friends of Israel are on the Assad regime-change bandwagon, believing that a weakened Syria, divided by civil war, will present no threat to Tel Aviv. But they should think again, as these developments have a way of turning on their head. The best organized and funded opposition political movement in Syria is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT SYRIA:THE WEST IS ON THE HUNT FOR ANOTHER WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST

 

By Jeremy Salt – Ankara

In his speech to university students this week, Bashar al Assad spoke of a conspiracy against Syria. Use another word if you like, but of course there is one. The foot soldiers in the campaign to bring down the Syrian government are the armed men calling themselves the Free Syrian Army and the random armed gangs. None of them could maintain their violent campaign without outside support. Short of open armed intervention from the outside, they cannot overthrow the Syrian government. All they can do is keep killing and causing chaos in the hope that it will eventually collapse. Their sponsors  are the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Muslim  Brotherhood, the Syrian National Council, assorted  ‘activists’ in exile, some closely linked to the British Foreign Office and the US State Department,  and every salafist across the region. Reform is not the issue. Their agendas vary but converge at one point:  their determination to destroy the Baathist government. For the US, Britain and France – ‘the west’ – the destruction of a government and a political party that has long got in their way is the issue. For Saudi Arabia, the issue is confronting Iran and containing Shiism across the region. For the Muslim Brotherhood, the issue is revenge for Hafez al Assad’s repression of their revolt in 1982, the destruction of a secular government and the installation of a sharia-based substitute which they expect to dominate. For both the Muslim Brotherhood and the salafists the issue is also the destruction of the Alawis as a socio-political force in Syria.    

For the US and Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Hizbullah are three parts of the same problem. Saudi Arabia regards Iran as the ‘head of the snake’ and wanted it attacked in the last years of the Bush administration, but a direct attack, removing the veil from the covert war already being involved, would be enormously dangerous to the countries waging it. This is what hinders them from going ahead, not the catastrophe that such a war would be for the people of Iran and the region. (It is extraordinary that although Iran has lived under the threat of such an attack for years, the western media still has not deal with the consequences of a military attack on live nuclear reactors.)  Iran would be seriously weakened by successful open (as opposed to the covert war presently being waged) armed intervention in Syria. Such an attack would have much the same immediate effect as a direct attack on Iran. In 2006 the two countries signed a defence agreement to confront ‘common threats’, and Iran would regard open intervention in Syria as the prelude to an attack on itself. The most likely form of armed intervention would be the declaration of a no-fly zone or a ‘humanitarian corridor’ just over the Turkish-Syrian border. The template for this kind of war was Libya, where up to 50, 000 people were killed after France, Britain, the US and their lesser allies decided to attack in the name of maintaining a no-fly zone. Russia and China have indicated that they would block any moves at the UN Security Council to set up such arrangements.  In the light of these difficulties, destabilising Syria with the aim of achieving the same objectives as an open attack is a second best option. Bringing down the Syrian government, rupturing its strategic relationship with Iran and Hizbullah, is an end in itself for the US and its western and gulf allies. Insofar as Iran is concerned, removing Syria from the calculus of war by throwing it into such turmoil that it could not respond would significantly strengthen the US-Israeli position and perhaps make war more likely.

Since the beginning of the year the geopolitical map of the region has been significantly redrawn.   Islamist parties have come or are coming into government in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, and are likely to do well when elections are held in Libya. What parties say when in opposition and what they feel obliged to do in office are usually two different things and the Islamist parties are no different. On the critical question of relations with Israel, Rashid Ghannushi, the leader of Tunisia’s Al Nahda party has held quiet talks with the Israelis in Washington and has indicated that Palestine will not be a priority for the new Tunisian government. Conflicting signals are coming from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. According to the US State Department, the brotherhood has given an assurance that it will uphold the 1979 treaty with Israel. Almost immediately this was denied, with senior brotherhood figures saying that the treaty could not be regarded as sacrosanct and repeating the possibility of a referendum being held so the people could decide. This will be the trickiest of  questions for the new government to handle but as the new Egyptian government will need  the billions of dollars of aid pledged  by the US,  Saudi Arabia, Qatar  and the IMF (last year an offer of $3 billion was not taken up  but will be discussed again this January),  pragmatism  is likely to  win out,  in the short term and perhaps for as long as Israel itself does not put the treaty at risk through another savage attack on Gaza or Lebanon. 

In this rapidly changing environment Syria is a holdout state, standing firm against the US and Israel on the one hand and the rising Islamist/salafist trend on the other.  The peaceful opposition was swamped in violence a long time ago, with the army still battling ‘defectors’ and the armed gangs the media keeps telling us are an invention of the state. The western media has yet to interview the families of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who have been killed by ‘defectors’ and other armed bands to see what they think about what is happening in their country. Relying on the unverified accusations of ‘activists’ or suspect sources outside Syria, the media has played a critical role in the development of a false narrative. Last week the Guardian hit a new low point with the accusation by of a London-based ‘activist’ that the Syrian security forces are packing detainees into container ships and dumping them at sea. It had no evidence for this claim, but then this is how the Guardian has been ‘reporting’ this crisis throughout. When Damascus was bombed, both the Guardian and the BBC led with the claim that   these bombings were the work of the government – according to activists. They had no evidence for this accusation either, literally made while Syrians were still washing the blood off the streets and picking up the body parts of the civilians who had been killed. When the Arab League issued an interim statement on the work of its monitors in Syria, it called for an end to the violence by the state and by armed gangs. On its web page, the BBC reported only that it called on the Syrian government to end the violence.

The west is on the hunt for another war in the Middle East. This is the essence of the campaign against Syria. Iran is being provoked every other day. This week another nuclear scientist was assassinated. The clear intention is to goad Iran into retaliating, providing the pretext for the armed attack that many in Israel and the US want. There is no question that Syria needs to reform but anyone who thinks that the US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are campaigning against Syria for the cause of reform is living in a dream world.  Every wild accusation made by activists and dutifully reported by the media is grist to their mill. They don’t want the violence to end. They want it continue until the Syrian government is destroyed, and they have the resources to keep this going virtually endlessly. If they take the plunge and launch an open attack on Syria or Iran they are likely to trigger off a regional war and, in the view of some, a global war. In their grey suits and pastel ties, these people are as crazy as any fascist in a brown uniform. 

– Jeremy Salt teaches the history of the modern Middle East in the Department of Political science, Bilkent University, Ankara. He previously taught at Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul and the University of Melbourne. His publications include The Unmaking of the Middle East: A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands (University of California Press, 2008). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

http://theuglytruth.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/the-truth-about-syriathe-west-is-on-the-hunt-for-another-war-in-the-middle-east/#more-34231

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Syria and Iran: The Great Game

Regime change in Syria is a strategic prize that outstrips Libya – which is why Saudi Arabia and the west are playing their part

By Alastair Crooke    January 14, 2012  The Guardian

This summer a senior Saudi official told John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, that from the outset of the upheaval in Syria, the king has believed that regime change would be highly beneficial to Saudi interests: “The king knows that other than the collapse of the Islamic Republic itself, nothing would weaken Iran more than losing Syria.”

This is today’s “great game” – losing Syria. And this is how it is played: set up a hurried transitional council as sole representative of the Syrian people, irrespective of whether it has any real legs inside Syria; feed in armed insurgents from neighbouring states; impose sanctions that will hurt the middle classes; mount a media campaign to denigrate any Syrian efforts at reform; try to instigate divisions within the army and the elite; and ultimately President Assad will fall – so its initiators insist.

Europeans, Americans and certain Gulf states may see the Syria “game” as the logical successor to the supposedly successful Libya game in moulding the Arab awakening towards a western cultural paradigm. In terms of regional politics however, Syria is strategically more valuable, and Iran knows this. Iran has said that it will respond to any external intervention in Syria.

It is already no “game”, as the many killed by both sides attests to. The radical armed elements being used in Syria as auxiliaries to depose Assad run counter to the prospect of any outcome emerging within the western paradigm. These groups may well have a bloody and very undemocratic agenda of their own. I warned of this danger in connection to Afghanistan in the 80s: some of the Afghan mujahideen had real roots in the community, I suggested, but others posed a severe danger to people. A kindly American politician at the time placed his arm around my shoulder and told me not to worry: these were the people “kicking Soviet ass”. We chose to look the other way because kicking the Soviets played well to US domestic needs. Today Europe looks the other way, refusing to consider who Syria’s combat-experienced insurgents taking such a toll of Syrian security forces truly are, because losing Assad and confronting Iran plays so well, particularly at a time of domestic difficulty.

Fortunately, the tactics in Syria, in spite of heavy investment, seem to be failing. Most people in the region believe that if Syria is pushed further into civil conflict the result will be sectarian violence in Lebanon, Iraq and more widely too. The notion that such conflict will throw up a stable, let alone western-style, democracy, is fanciful at best, an act of supreme callousness at worst.

The origins of the “lose Assad” operation preceded the Arab awakening: they reach back to Israel’s failure in its 2006 war to seriously damage Hezbollah, and the post-conflict US assessment that it was Syria that represented Hezbollah’s achilles heel – as the vulnerable conduit linking Hezbollah to Iran. US officials speculated as to what might be done to block this vital corridor, but it was Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia who surprised them by saying that the solution was to harness Islamic forces. The Americans were intrigued, but could not deal with such people. Leave that to me, Bandar retorted. Hannah noted that “Bandar working without reference to US interests is clearly cause for concern. But Bandar working as a partner … against a common Iranian enemy is a major strategic asset.” Bandar got the job.

Hypothetical planning, however, only became concrete action this year, with the overthrow of Egypt’s President Mubarak. Suddenly Israel seemed vulnerable, and a weakened Syria, mired in troubles, had heightened strategic allure. In parallel, Qatar had stepped to the fore. Azmi Bishara, a pan-Arabist who resigned from the Israeli Knesset and self-exiled to Doha, was according to some local reports involved in a scheme in which al-Jazeera would not just report revolution, but instantiate it for the region – or at least this is what was believed in Doha in the wake of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. Qatar, however, was not merely trying to leverage human suffering into an international intervention, but was also – as in Libya – directly involved as a key operational patron of the opposition.

The next stages were to draw France’s President Sarkozy – the arch-promoter of the Benghazi transitional council model that had turned Nato into an instrument of regime change – into the team. Barack Obama followed by helping to persuade Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan – already piqued at Assad – to play the transitional council part on Syria’s border, and lend his legitimacy to the “resistance”. Both of the latter components, however, are not without challenges from their own security arms, who are sceptical of the efficacy of the transitional council model, and opposed to military intervention. Even Bandar is not without challenges: he has no political umbrella from the king, and others in the family are playing other Islamist cards to different ends. Iran, Iraq and Algeria – and occasionally Egypt – co-operate to frustrate Gulf manoeuvres against Syria at the Arab League. The transitional council model, which in Libya has displayed the weakness of leveraging just one faction as the government-in-waiting, is more starkly defective in Syria. Syria’s opposition council, put together by Turkey, France and Qatar, is caught out by the fact that the Syrian security structures have remained near rock solid through seven months – defections have been negligible – and Assad’s popular support base are intact. Only external intervention could change that equation, but for the opposition to call for it would be political suicide, and they know it.

The internal opposition gathering in Istanbul demanded a statement refusing external intervention and armed action, but the Syrian national council was announced even before the intra-opposition talks had reached any agreement – such was the hurry on the part of external parties.

The external opposition continues to fudge its stance on external intervention, and with good reason: the internal opposition rejects it. This is the flaw to the model – for the majority in Syria deeply oppose external intervention, fearing civil conflict. Hence Syrians face a long period of externally mounted insurgency, siege and international attrition. Both sides will pay in blood.

But the real danger, as Hannah himself noted, is that the Saudis might “once again fire up the old Sunni jihadist network and point it in the general direction of Shiite Iran”, which puts Syria first in line. In fact, that is exactly what is happening, but the west, as before in Afghanistan, prefers not to notice – so long as the drama plays well to western audiences.

As Foreign Affairs reported last month, Saudi and its Gulf allies are firing up the radical Salafists (fundamentalist Sunnis), not only to weaken Iran, but to do what they see is necessary to survive – to disrupt and emasculate the awakenings that threaten absolute monarchism. This is happening in Syria, Libya, Egypt Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.

This Islamically assertive, literalist orientation of Islam may be generally viewed as nonpolitical and pliable, but history is far from comforting. If you tell people often enough that they can be king-makers and throw buckets of money at them, do not be surprised if they metamorphose – yet again – into something very political. It may take some months, but the fruits of this new attempt to use radical forces for western ends will yet again backfire. Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden unit, recently warned that the Hillary Clinton-devised response to the Arab awakening, of implanting western paradigms, by force if necessary, into the void of fallen regimes, will be seen as a “cultural war on Islam”, and will sow the seeds of a further round of radicalisation.

One of the sad paradoxes is the undercutting of moderate Sunnis, who now find themselves caught between the rock of being seen as a western tool, and the hard place of radical Sunni Salafists waiting for the opportunity to displace them and to dismantle the state. What a strange world: Europe and the US think it is OK to “use” precisely those Islamists (including al-Qaida) who absolutely do not believe in western-style democracy in order to bring it about. But then, why not just look the other way and gain the benefit of the public enjoying Assad’s kicking?

http://hamsayeh.net/articles/1503-syria-and-iran-the-great-game.html

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized