URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=30535
If destabilization, duplicity, insurgency and mass murder could surprise yet again, with blame of the victim adding to the “shock and awe”, after Libya, Syria would certainly be a case in point.
America’s decades long plan (i, ii) for another puppet government and quasi client state status for the country is well underway. Any observer of the shenanigans within the US Embassy in Damascus would be forgiven for mistaking it for a covert operations centre rather that a seat of diplomacy.(iii) Michel Chossudovsky gives graphic life to Ambassador Ford’s – surely coincidentally – eminently pertinent and relevant qualifications.(iv)
Of course no plan for a country’s ruination is complete without the help of the UN. Think Libya and Resolution 1973, the green light for a “humanitarian” blitzkrieg, regime change, razed towns, murder from air and ground on an industrial scale, including that of most of the country’s leading family, with small grand children and the butchering of Colonel Quaddafi, the country’s sovereign leader, his body still unaccounted for.
Lynch-law ruled, under UN mandate.
Who then, better to be appointed “Peace Envoy” to Libya than Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General (1997-2006) who silently acquiesced to the average deaths of 6,000 children a month in Iraq from “embargo-related causes”, throughout the hundred and nineteen months of his tenure, bowing to the US-UK driven UN embargo
Inevitably, for his silence, the man who one diplomat described to this publication, as: “like Pontious Pilate, he washes his hands”, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2001, jointly with the UN, for amongst other delusional rubbish, his: “emphasizing its obligations as with regard to human rights.”
Presumably this “emphasis” also applied to his deafening muteness as America and Britain, illegally, bombed Iraq for his entire tenure, often daily, routinely re-destroying vital infrastructure and erasing lives in uncounted numbers.
The UN’s Baghdad cabal, with its fine restaurant and barbecue parties, ensconced at the Canal Hotel, at Iraq’s expense, were in a perfect position to visit these sites, record and account. They never bothered.
That was yesterday. Apart from Annan, the UN has another weapon for Syria: UN diplomat’s wives.
The wives of the German and British Ambassadors to the UN, Frau Huberta Voss-Wittig and Lady Sheila Lyall Grant, have released a video appeal and an online petition to President Assad’s wife, Syria’s First Lady, Asma al Assad. A performance of skin crawling, patronizing, head patting, treacled trash, which reflects nothing but the UN’s duplicity and its representatives privileged, reality- removed lives in its ivory tower.(v)
The “initiative”, the pampered pair stress, is entirely independent, theirs alone, and nothing to do with their husbands.
Of course, ladies.
Frau Voss-Wittig’s involvement, it might be surmised, lies in: “The German ‘ no’ to the US about Iraq”, in 2002.(vi) “Historically this was the deepest ever division between the White House and any post-cold-war German Chancellor.”
Additionally, in August 2002, Germany and France agreed the “Declaration of Schwerin”, named after the German town where their representatives had a working dinner, resolving that they: “had to oppose the war … and that they had to do it in public and as forcefully as possible.” An overt collision course with the US and UK.
Only when Angela Merkel took office were links tentatively repaired formally, but “shock-waves” remained. Two wives have clearly taken delivery of bricks and tools and set about erecting bridges, never mind demolishing those of others.
Sheila Lyall Grant is the wife of Sir Mark Lyall Grant, former political Director General of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a post with wide responsibilities including for Iraq, 2007-2009 and also line manager of post-invasion UK Ambassadors to Iraq.
He was senior policy adviser to the Foreign Secretary on various strategic Foreign Office priorities regarding Iraq, in which capacity he attended major European, G8, UN, OSCE and NATO meetings.
Sir Mark clearly went through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s rigorous and scrupulous selection process as to suitability for key posts:
“I was not an Arabist. I haven’t been posted in the Middle East”, he told the Chilcot Inquiry on Iraq (20th January 2010.)
However: “It naturally fell to the Foreign Office to look at where Britain’s long-term strategic interests were in Iraq and in the wider region …”
The Iraq priority for Sir Mark had been: “ a strong economy.”
Whilst: “Abidance of human rights and better social conditions, better social delivery to the people (were) highly desirable, I don’t say it is absolutely essential in the near future”, he told the Inquiry. (Emphasis mine.) “Let them rot”, comes to mind.
Given that Nuri al Maliki’s Iraq is now firmly allied with Iran, and a disaster on every level, with economy, health, malnutrition and social conditions worse than the embargo years, it might be though that the Foreign Office and Sir Mark would think twice before stepping aside, as his “independent” wife became another regional unguided missile.
The wives petition, which is pretty much the same as their toe curling video reads, in part:
Dear Asma, Some women care for style and some women care for their people. Some women struggle for their image and some women struggle for their survival. Some women have forgotten what they preached about peace and some women can only pray for their dead. Hundreds of Syrian children have already been killed or injured. One day, our children will ask us what we have done to stop this bloodshed. What will your answer be, Asma? That you, Asma had no choice? Every single child had a name and a family. Their lives will never be the same again.Asma, when you kiss your own children goodnight, another mother will find the place next to her empty. These children could all be your children.They are your children. Stand up for peace, Asma. Speak out now. Stop being a bystander. No one cares about your image. We care about your action. Right now.” Lady Lyall Grant, has been a diplomat since 1980. Her most recent post was Head of VIP Visits at the Protocol Directorate in the heart of government, Whitehall. Clearly her induction course in protocol did not include instructions on how to address the wife of a Head of State. Incidentally, Sir Mark apparently cares as little about the UN as he did Iraq. Asked at the Inquiry about the current role of UN in Iraq, he replied that they were no longer there, after the bombing of their building in, he hesitated, then: “ 2005, was it?”
The bombing of the Canal Hotel, which killed seventeen, including the Head of Mission, Sergio de Mello, and injured scores, was on 19th August 2003.
Corrected by the Chairman, Sir Mark responded: “2003, was it? I apologise”, apparently as sanguine about his colleagues being blown to bits as in assessing that basic provisions to sustain Iraqi lives were not “absolutely essential.”
Now, for Syria, in a crisis so clearly manipulated from without, as Kofi Annan ratchets up the number of “UN Observers” from ten to three hundred – surely as Iraq, many will be meddlers, spies and worse, Sheila Lyall Grant writes: “One day, our children will ask us what we have done to stop this bloodshed.” Every child: “had a family and a name.”
The child victims of Afghanistan, decimated by the invasion also had names – but the Taliban was blamed. As did their small counterparts in Iraq since that illegal takeover, the 4,5 million orphans, 600.000 of whom live on the streets, are still somehow the fault of Saddam Hussein – and their traumatized little global siblings in Libya are still somehow the fault of Colonel Quaddafi, who brought the country the best welfare and highest living standard in Africa.
Perhaps the diplomatic duo have not noticed that Syria, generous host country to two million Iraqis, fleeing their “liberation” now have their own nationals fleeing in fear, over the border to Jordan, Syrians now joining the near similar number of Iraqis there, now refugees themselves. Iraqis in Syrian have no where to run.
The ladies have seemingly also missed the media coverage of senior, experienced Al Jazeera journalists, who have walked away from their livilihood in protest and disgust at the media distortion and manipulation of Syria’s plight, the portrayal, of course, that it all blame lies with President al Assad.
Further, “Peace Envoy” Kofi Annan has already let slip that both he and the “truce monitors”: “should help pave the way for much needed political process”, presumably he means with those insurgents with foreign passports. Read: “Regime change.”
And no planned destruction, overthrow and general catastrophe would be complete without hidden weaponry and hardware with which the leader “oppresses his own people.” Syria, say – as ever – unnamed “activists” is hiding tanks and weapons in government compounds.
The media faithfully repeats the mantra. None seem to have mentioned that one of the “Peace Envoy’s” stipulations, to which Bashir al Assad agreed, was to take tanks and weapons off the streets. Where rebel violence is such that government troops are not forced to respond, they have been withdrawn – back to government compounds. Mr Annan, seemingly has not thought to point this out.
China’s Ambassador, Li Baodong seems to be watching more closely than most. He expressed the hope that: “the Supervision Mission will fully respect Syria’s sovereignty and dignity, act in strict accordance with the authorization of the Security Council, adhere to the principles of neutrality and impartiality …”(vi.) Quite.
If Lady Lyall Grant cares about children, which could equally be “her” children, she should ponder on, and tell her humanity-deficient husband of just one, which represents the trauma of every child, in every street, in every country targeted by an unholy Western alliance – and the UN.
It is an Iraqi boy of about five, in an orphanage, asleep. He has drawn a huge picture, depicting his mother, on the floor, her arms outstretched. He is curled up on it. Every night he goes to sleep the same way, on the floor, between her arms.
Well past time for the powerful to grow the hell up.Those children could be your children,
Monthly Archives: April 2012
There are two narratives on the Syria conflict rising to the top of the headlines the past few days. First, the ceasefire brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan has failed. Second, Western powers are eager to escalate their interventionist policies. Both narratives are premature, I think.
Yes, considerable violence has continued despite the ceasefire. But overall, the violence seems to have decreased compared to before the ceasefire. Those in Washington thirsting for a comprehensive military intervention like Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman pushed this “ceasefire failed” narrative mere days after it was announced, eager to pretend Washington has no other choice but war.
And it’s true that Western powers, particularly the U.S., Britian and France, are increasingly hinting at some sort of imminent intervention. The Obama administration is allegedly considering what actions it could take beyond the “non-lethal” aid already being sent to the opposition forces and the French Foreign Ministerexpressed intentions to push for war at the UN Security Council. But the inability for even people like McCain and Lieberman to put forth the “greeted as liberators” and “piece of cake” justifications for military action is indicative of the general understanding that intervening in Syria would be very costly for the U.S. (not to mention Syrians).
Marc Lynch of George Washington University has been one of the leading voices against direct intervention in Syria, as I wrote about here. Yesterday he gave a testimony to before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia on what U.S. policy towards Syria should be. He eloquently reiterated his opposition to the the perilous proposals to intervene.
Nobody expects the current diplomatic path to quickly or easily end the conflict in Syria, but military intervention does not offer a compelling alternative. There are no cheap or easy forms of military intervention which would quickly bring down the regime of Bashar al-Assad or effectively protect Syrian civilians. Military half-measures, including safe zones, humanitarian corridors and arming the Syrian opposition, would likely spread the violence and increase the numbers of Syrian dead without increasing the likelihood of regime collapse. An initially limited intervention would most likely pave the way to more direct and expensive involvement comparable to the experience in Iraq.
He goes into details for each one of those points, but I especially want to draw attention to his analysis of launching an air campaign against the Assad regime. With whitewashed memories of Libya still crisp in people’s minds, bombing from the sky tends to strike people as foolproof. But Lynch points out that this would “likely begin with significantinitial air strikes to eliminate air defenses,” but that “many Syrian anti-aircraft capabilities are located in or near urban areas, which means that significant civilian casualties could result from any attempt to eliminate them.” And that’s not all: there are important precedents for why “air power” and enforced “safe zones” would fail.
Using air power to protect civilians and defend the opposition within safe areas or humanitarian corridors is even more complex. Such safe areas could most easily be established and protected along the Turkish border, but most of the threatened civilians live in other parts of Syria. Humanitarian corridors would be extremely difficult to protect, and could create a new refugee crisis if desperate civilians rush into designated safe zones or neighboring countries. Protecting either would require a serious commitment of resources. Declaring a safe area without defending it effectively would only repeat the painful mistakes of history. In Bosnia, thousands of people were murdered in Srebrenica and other designated safe areas when peacekeepers lacked the means to protect them. Even historical “successes” are sobering. Operation Provide Comfort, established in northern Iraq after 1991, was envisioned as a short-term crisis response, but turned into a 12-year commitment that ended only when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. Creating and protecting a safe area in Syria would therefore require a significant and lengthy investment of troops and resources, and would not likely hasten Assad’s collapse.
Lynch thinks the Annan plan could successfully end the bloodshed, if allowed to run its course. This all depends on whether or not the warmongers win out, but as of right now, I don’t see full-on military intervention happening.
In reference to the McCain-Lieberman push to intervene, Lynch says “It is not enough to demonstrate that the cause of intervention is just,” because the intervention would have consequences directly counter to the supposed “humanitarian justification” touted by the hawks. What still fascinates me is how readily the hawks – particularly the leadership of the GOP – admit that a war on Syria would really be about eliminating Iran’s ally and gaining more control over the Middle East. I wrote about this back in February. It’s amazing, really. They’re not even embarrassed to sing their imperial dogma loud and clear.
It came as no surprise to students of Middle East history, when al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for the ouster of Syria’s “pernicious, cancerous regime,”. Progressive Syria has been targeted by al Qaeda in the past, and is currently under attack by Islamists from the CIA/Mossad-trained Free Syrian Army.
When al-Zawahiri headed Egyptian Islamic Jihad in 1984, Reagan’s CIA brought hismujahadeen buddy Ali Mohammed to the US where was put to work training Afghan terrorists in Brooklyn and Jersey City on weekends. During the week he instructed US Special Forces at Fort Bragg. In 1998 he helped bomb the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Blowback’s a bitch.
Later the CIA helped Islamic Jihad terrorists escape Egyptian justice by sending them to fight with Bosnian Muslims assigned to tear apart Yugoslavia, and with the heroin-infested Kosovo Liberation Army. Islamists were used to murder Gaddafi and privatize the Libyan central bank for the Rothschild Cartel.
Now these creations of Western intelligence – Israel, Turkey, the GCC and NATO – are being used to attack the Assad government in Syria and to capture Syria’s central bank for the Zionist Illuminatibanking cartel.
And the road to attacking Iran runs straight through Damascus.
The following article by Dr. Boris Dolgov – senior research fellow of the Centre for Arabic Studies of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies – is the best I’ve read on the situation. It appeared on the excellent Oriental Review website – http://orientalreview.org/
The current situation in Syria remains one of the most important components of the Middle Eastern and international policies. Using Syria’s domestic crisis and pursuing their own goals NATO, Israel, Turkey and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf are trying to undermine the Syrian regime.
Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria I have made two trips to that country as a member of international delegations in August 2011 and in January 2012. If we watch the dynamics of situation’s development over that period on the one hand we can state intensification of terrorist groups in Syria and on the other hand we see a broader people’s support of President Bashar Assad and a clear demarcation of political forces’ positions.
“Two car bombers blew themselves up outside the heavily guarded compounds of Syria’s intelligence agencies, killing at least 44 people and wounding dozens more in a brazen attack in December 23, 2011.
In the last two months Syria has seen a number of terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacked Syrian servicemen and military facilities, law enforcement agencies institutions, blasts on oil pipelines, railroads, murders and taking of hostage among peaceful citizens (In the city of Homs insurgents killed five well known scientists), arson of schools and killing of teachers (since March 2011, 900 schools have been set on fire and 30 teachers have been killed).
Terrorist attacks in Damascus became one of the bloodiest. Two of them were carried out on December 23, 2011 when cars loaded with explosives went off in front of the buildings of state security service killing 44 and injured about 150 people. On January 6, 2012 on a busy street a suicide bomber attack killed 26 and wounded 60. There were officers of the law enforcement agencies among the victims but most of the victims were occasional by-passers.
In January 2012, Damascus has a more severe look in comparison with summer of 2011. Security officers check passports on the way to the airport, asking people what country they are from. Entrances of many state institutions are protected with concrete blocks. There are check points with sand bags near the police stations which are protected by soldiers in bullet proof vests. Lifting gates which close entrances to some of the streets are also by guarded by soldiers and young people with machine guns – these are volunteers from pro-governmental youth movements. But everyday life has not drastically changed. There are no servicemen, armed vehicles or document checks in the city. Damascus is still a busy city, with no vacant seats in internet cafes and on weekends streets are crowded with family couples and young people.
After terrorist attacks in Damascus demonstrations with slogans supporting Bashar Assad and condemning terrorists were held everyday. Similar demonstrations were organized in other large cities such as Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Daraa, Deir az Zor. These demonstrations were covered by the Syrian TV. During our stay in Syria we could move around the city freely and speak with people as we liked but we did not see any single anti-governmental rally. Most of the rallies’ participants were young people.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves at supporters during a public appearance in Damascus on January 11, 2012 in which he vowed to defeat a “conspiracy” against Syria.
The most massive rally which gathered tens thousands of people was held on January 1 in the center of Damascus. At that rally Bashar Assad addressed to the nation starting his speech with the words: “Brothers and sisters!” He was speaking about a thousands year long history, the need to fight terrorism and the support terrorists receive from abroad. Assad’s speech was received with real enthusiasm and there were no signs that this reaction had been staged.
The whole square (tens thousands of people) shouted a popular slogan “Allah, Syria, Bashar!” (“Allah, Syria va Bashar bas!”). On January 8, in the memory of victims of terrorist attacks in Damascus a commemoration ceremony was held in St. Cross Cathedral in Damascus. The Mufti of Syria Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the prior of the Catholic monastery spoke at the ceremony. In their speeches they condemned “the killers and those who put weapons in their hands and sent them to Syria”. The tragedy of the mufti of Syria, whose son was killed by the members of the Islamist terrorist group after the mufti had refused to act on the side of the foreign opposition, which goal was to overthrow Bashar Assad, is a telling example in itself.
After the adoption of a new law on political parties an active process of their creation has been underway in Syria. Although formally the constitution envisaged a multiparty system and seven parties were represented in the parliament, in compliance with clause 8 the leading role belonged to the ruling Baath party. Currently there is a wide discussion in Syria about this clause. An official with the Syrian Foreign Ministry told us that in the new constitution (on which the national referendum would be held in February), this clause would be abolished if most of the public and political forces spoke for it.
In his address to the nation Bashar Assad said that the new constitution would be approved in March 2012. The parliamentary elections are to be held in May-June 2012. Along with the law on political parties new laws on general elections, local administration and mass media were adopted. In compliance with the new law in December 2011 elections to the local governments were held. But because of the threat of terrorist attacks the turnout was only 42%, which was confirmed by the Baath officials. Nevertheless, the local administrations were elected and began to work. Under the recently adopted law new mass media are being formed in addition to the current 20 TV channels, 15 radio stations and 30 newspapers.
At present there are three main trends in the Syrian patriotic opposition – democratic, liberal and left, which is mainly a communist one. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the most influential party among the democratic forces. It is also the oldest party which was established in 1932. As Iliah Saman, a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party said, the party’s program is more conservative in comparison with the Baath’s program. Nevertheless there are no differences of principle between the two parties. According to him, the policy of the US, France and England is the main destabilizing factor in Syria. He said that those countries were acting in the interests of Israel and had the goal to divide Syria into five state formations on the basis of religious and ethnical differences.
The liberal trend of the opposition is represented by the recently registered secular democratic social movement led by Nabil Feysal, one of the Syrian intellectuals, a writer and a translator. He is an outright opponent of the Islamic fundamentalism, supporter of the liberal democracy. His goal is to turn Syria into “Middle Eastern Denmark”.
A telling example of terrorist crimes was the shelling of a quarter in Homs on January 11 which killed eight local residents. Giles Jacquier, a reporter with France-2 TV, became one more victim of the attack. We spoke with Jacquier shortly before his tragic death and he was convinced that people’s protests were suppressed by the authoritarian regime in Syria. He was looking for the opposition everywhere trying to make a report. On failing to find it in Damascus he moved with a group of Dutch and Swiss colleagues to Homs. But in Homs he also met people who were supporting Bashar Assad and demanding to protect them from terrorists. A group of local residents and Giles Jacquier who happened to be near came under a grenade thrower fire, which was a common thing in that district. Commenting the tragic death of the French reporter Mother Agnes Mariam, who is the prior of the St James Catholic Cathedral in Damascus, said that there is no protesting opposition in Syria but only bandits who are killing people.
Many people we contacted in Syria including independent foreign reporters told us about the information war against Syria. According to them, Qatari channel Al Jazeera, for example, in order to broadcast a report on mass anti-governmental rallies in Syria made a fake footage with the help of computer editing using dozens of atmosphere players and decoration of Syrian streets, a kind of “Hollywood village”.
As for the Syrian opposition abroad, its political part is represented by the Syrian National council with the headquarters in Istanbul. It is headed by Burhan Ghalioun, a Syrian-French political scientist at the Sorbonne University in Paris. It is quite a heterogeneous formation which comprises groups with different goals. They represent the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunnite organizations, Kurdish separatists, Liberal-Democratic dissidents who usually reside in Europe and in the US.
The armed opposition which conducted terrorist attacks in Syria is represented by a number of groups from a military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Libyan radical Islamists and Al Qaeda. According to the information we receive from our Syrian colleagues there are training camps for insurgents in Lebanon and Turkey. The officers of security services of NATO, Turkey and some Arab states are in charge for the training and armament of the insurgents, while the monarchies of the Persian Gulf provide the financing.
The future development of the situation in Syria depends in many ways on the ability of the ruling regime to consolidate public forces and conduct the announced reforms. Other priorities are the liquidation of terrorist groups and stabilization of the domestic situation. In its turn this issue is directly linked to the development of the global policies and will depend on the activities of the leading countries of NATO, Turkey, the Arab League (which sent its monitors to Syria) Russia and China.
As for Russia, it firmly declares that repetition of the “Libyan scenario” in Syria is inadmissible.”
It’s easy to dismiss diplomacy as feckless. The art of negotiation always appears amateurish until it manages, against all expectation, to succeed. Even then, an agreement is only as good as its longevity. The February 29 pact between the United States and North Korea, the result of painstaking negotiations, lasted all of 12 minutes after Pyongyang decided to launch a satellitethat eventually proved as fragile as the bilateral agreement it upended.
Diplomats are currently scrambling to find a solution to the problem that is Syria. The country is already in a civil war. The dictator Bashar al-Assad doesn’t look like he’s packing his bags any time soon, though plenty of pundits are quick to label him a “dead dictator walking.” Russia and China are reluctant to support measures that would precipitate regime change. Talk about a diplomatic nightmare.
Recently, The Washington Post and The New York Times squared off with diametrically opposed editorials on Syria. The Post, invoking its liberal hawk credentials, declared the diplomatic efforts to resolve the standoff in Syria to be worthless, with the UN-brokered agreement “unworkable.” It’s time for Plan B, intoned the Post, though Plan B is a bit short on details. More sanctions and an arms embargo are both “non-starters.” Instead, the Post pundits recommend further support for the opposition and the creation of a humanitarian corridor on Syrian territory, “a step that could be accomplished with a modest military force and could cause the regime to collapse.”
This Plan B approach — which has attracted support from the usual liberal-conservative consensus of Anne-Marie Slaughter, Richard Cohen, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman — suffers from all the defects that the Post ascribes to Plan A and then some.
For one, the Post’s epitaph on diplomacy is premature. The ceasefire negotiated by Kofi Annan has been in place for little more than a week. The Syrian government has continued to attack civilians. It has not withdrawn troops to barracks or allowed in humanitarian relief. But all of 10 monitors are on the ground to keep the peace. Even the 300 additional monitors recently authorized by the UN are not enough. Still, the presence of monitors led to a decrease in violence where they were deployed. Moreover, the ceasefire is only an opening gambit. Successful diplomacy is almost always fertilized by its preceding failures.
Plan B is also premised on “modest military force.” Any military option concerning Syria will more likely require significant military resources. Assad has considerable firepower and the desperation to deploy it. The Post should not be cavalier in its recommendations of force, particularly given the risks of escalation and the huge costs associated with boots on the ground. Supporting the opposition seems like a reasonable alternative, and indeed the Obama administration is already doing so. But this is by no means a unified opposition. Both the political and the military components are riven with factionalism.
The New York Times similarly acknowledges Assad’s violations of the UN ceasefire. It has no illusions about the diplomatic challenges. But it expresses skepticism at the potential of creating humanitarian corridors without air power and possibly troops as well. Samer Araabi, in a Right Web analysis, provides more detail: “The implicit meaning of a terms like ‘humanitarian corridors’ is belied by the extent of violence and militarization that are required to implement such measures. These can include massive bombardments to rid entire areas of government forces and their sympathizers, or the direct arming and coordination of local forces in order to carry out the cleansing themselves.”
The Times continues to back Plan A, namely diplomacy plus sanctions. It pins its hopes on turning Russia and China. “The place to start is to push Moscow and Beijing to cut their losses,” the Times urges. The problem, of course, is that the United States has not been particularly flexible with Moscow on other issues. When it comes to missile defense, President Obama has been reduced to pleading with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to be patient until after the November elections.
But Syria can’t wait until after the elections. The United States needs to make some sotto voce assurances to Moscow that the Fifth Fleet won’t take advantage of any regime change to seize the military base at Tartus. Perhaps some compensation for revenue lost because of an arms embargo on Syria could also be part of a persuasion package for Moscow.
The United States is also in a rather delicate position to do successful diplomacy. Even as it calls for regime change in Syria, Washington has been shoring up the regime in Bahrain. As Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Kate Gould argues, the mote in Washington’s eye is very large indeed.
“The United States continues to be one of Bahrain’s chief weapons suppliers, furnishing $53 million in weapons and other equipment even as the regime tortures and murders pro-democracy activists,” she writes in Bahrain : United States :: Syria : Russia. “The two countries have united, among other issues, over their aggressive postures toward Iran, and according to an April 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable revealed by Wikileaks, Bahrain and the United States have ‘about as good a bilateral relationship as anywhere.’”
If the United States wants Russia to sever its relationship with Assad, it should begin by severing its relationship with the Bahraini dictatorship. The first and most important sign of such a divorce would be the withdrawal of the U.S. Fifth Fleet from Bahrain.
“The huge U.S. naval presence in Bahrain has not improved western security in the Gulf; has not altered Iran’s behavior; and, more important, has not silenced the anti-regime opposition in the Gulf and in other Arab countries,” writes Emile Nakleh in the Financial Times. “Moving the U.S. military presence from Bahrain to ‘over the horizon’ would be a clear signal that Arab dictatorship will no longer be tolerated, whether in Bahrain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere.”
The Washington Post has recommended using the military stick, not the diplomatic carrot, with Syria. But to truly resolve the twin problems of Syria and Bahrain, removing the military stick might have a much more salutary effect. As for the diplomatic side of the equation — to turn John Paul Jones on his head — we have not yet even begun to negotiate.
The Fallacies of Militarism
Taliban attacks have been mounting in Afghanistan as part of the perennial spring offensive. The United States has complained about the training of insurgents in Pakistan. The usual response from Washington: more drone attacks.
In Pakistan, however, the response is quite different, reports FPIF contributor Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed in Our Own Worst Enemy: the “attacks followed hot on the heels of a unanimously approved Pakistani parliamentary resolution calling for specific conditions on security cooperation with U.S. agencies. The sweeping demands include an end to drone strikes in Pakistan, cessation of all unilateral overt and covert U.S. incursions, a ban on U.S. intelligence operations, an indefinite suspension of visas to private U.S. security contractors, and an unconditional U.S. apology for NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last November.”
Last week, our Global Day of Action on Military Spending took place in more than 40 countries. We’re starting to put up the reports on our website. As part of our effort to amplify the issue of global budget priorities, I also published an op-eddistributed by McClatchy to dozens of papers around the country. It began with this observation: “Military spending combines the two certainties in life: death and taxes. U.S. taxpayers are paying more than anyone else on Earth to support an industry devoted to death.”
Oil and Israel
The discovery of oil in Ghana has not so far benefited the country’s 99 percent. “Although the Ghanaian government has stated that it wants to see 90 percent of all oil jobs going to Ghanaians by 2020, it has fallen short of producing a local content bill in parliament, leaving oil companies with considerable leeway to contract any entity of their choosing,” writes FPIF columnist Kwei Quartey inGhanaian Oil: Only for the One Percent? “One company was reportedly importing bread, baked beans, carrots, corn, and other items from other countries (including neighboring Côte d’Ivoire) to feed its employees.”
FPIF senior analyst Stephen Zunes, meanwhile, takes a look back at a military assault that took place 10 years ago this month. “Following a particularly deadly series of Palestinian terrorist attacks, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched an assault on several Palestinian cities and refugee camps in the West Bank,” he writes in Remembering Israel’s West Bank Offensive. “The Bush administration largely supported the Israeli offensive, even as hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands of young men were detained without charge amid widespread reports of torture.”
Protesters showed banners saying “Hands of Syria”, “No weapons for the ‘democratic’ opposition” and “Al Jazeera, a Sea of Manipulation” in German language and speakers emphasized that NATO once again supports an armed rebellion against a popular government in the name of democracy and freedom.
“Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran… Rusland? When will it be Germany’s turn?”, wondered a demonstrator.
Another demonstrator waved the green flag of the free Libyan Jamahiriya, while showing a board with the words: “The 2011 war against Libya has been the biggest crime of the North Atlantic Terror Organization.”
Meanwhile the mainstream media keep beating drums for war in Syria… and beyond:
(Source – by Patrick Martin)
In a cynical and duplicitous editorial Saturday, the New York Times stepped up its campaign for US political subversion and military action against Syria, while demanding Washington adopt a more aggressive posture against Russia and China. The editorial, headlined “Assad’s Lies,” is itself a compendium of lies, as the newspaper reprises its role in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, when it peddled the Bush administration’s lies about supposed Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” in order to neutralize the widespread popular opposition to the war.
The Times indicts Assad for “cruelty and blindness,” which would hardly make him unique in the region. Virtually all the US allies and client states in the Middle East—Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the military dictatorship in Egypt, the Netanyahu government in Israel—display those characteristics. This week, for example, has seen violent repression of anti-government protests in Bahrain and Tunisia, both right-wing regimes closely tied to the United States, along with saber-rattling threats by Israeli officials of a unilateral attack on Iran, an action that would represent a war crime of monstrous proportions.
The Times editorial is written in its typically hand-wringing tone, bemoaning the “bloodbath” in Syria and the danger of a “wider war,” although the policy advocated by the newspaper—and carried out by the Obama administration—leads inexorably to both outcomes. The Timeswould like its readers to forget the fact that the US government is directly or indirectly arming the opposition in Syria, using both American Special Forces and US proxies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, where does the danger of “wider war” come from—the beleaguered Assad is hardly likely to invade any of his neighbors—if not from the intervention of a US-led coalition along the lines of the NATO operation against Libya last year.
Most sinister is the editorial’s indictment of Moscow and Beijing, as it presents US motives in the Syrian crisis as humanitarian, even altruistic, while vilifying Russia and China for “playing a pointless geopolitical game.”
While the Times suggests that the US itself is not pursuing definite interests, Washington’s “geopolitical game” has been prosecuted by means of aggressive war for over a decade. It has a definite point: the assertion of US hegemony over the rich energy reserves of the Middle East and Central Asia, at the expense of its geopolitical rivals. That Russia and China would oppose these aims is hardly “pointless”.
The current campaign for regime change in Syria represents another step in this eruption of military aggression. Spokesmen for US imperialism have admitted that the motive for attacking the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus is not any concern over the plight of the Syrian people, but to further isolate Iran by toppling its sole ally in the Arab world.
The Times editorial argues: “Russia sells arms to Syria and uses its Mediterranean port of Tartus. And after the events in Libya, both Russia and China seem determined to deny the West another ‘win,’ so they keep hanging on to Mr. Assad.” After describing this attitude as “unfathomable,” it advises the Obama administration “to push Moscow and Beijing to cut their losses.”
The policy advocated by the Times—pressure on China and Russia to drop their opposition to intensified economic sanctions and other measures to undermine Assad—leads directly to military intervention, despite the editorial disclaimer of support for “another war” like that in Libya.
These dangers are underscored by an editorial published in the other leading US daily newspaper, the Washington Post, on Sunday, which demands that the Obama administration abandon “feckless diplomacy” in favor of immediate military action. The Post brands all diplomacy a waste of time, pointing out that the US goal of overthrowing Assad is incompatible with a public posture of seeking a negotiated solution to the Syrian crisis—in effect, expecting the Syrian regime to commit suicide.
While the Times expresses skepticism—for now—about such military steps as the creation of “humanitarian corridors” to rebel-held areas inside Syria, or invoking the NATO alliance provisions for the defense of Turkey against alleged Syrian incursions across the Syrian-Turkish border, the Post expresses open enthusiasm for steps “that could be accomplished with a modest military force and could cause the regime to collapse.”
The two editorials demonstrate the lineup of forces within the American ruling elite: one faction openly baying for war, seeing it as the only way forward to assert US interests, while the superficially less bellicose wing takes one step after another in that direction, all the while proclaiming its “humanitarian” and “peaceful” intentions.
The Obama administration and its allies among the European imperialist powers are moving steadily towards military action against Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a press briefing Saturday, called for a UN Security Council resolution invoking Chapter 7 of the UN charter, the same section that was the basis of the UN resolution on Libya that provided the rubber stamp for the US-NATO assault on that country.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy went even further, openly comparing the Syrian military action in the city of Homs to Muammar Gaddafi’s threats against Benghazi, which provided the pretext for both the UN Security Council resolution and the initial US-NATO air strikes against Libya. Sarkozy called for “the creation of humanitarian corridors so an opposition can exist in Syria.” In other words, the US and European powers should intervene militarily to create a zone in which Assad’s armed opponents can be trained and armed to launch attacks, on the model of Libya’s National Transitional Council.
The working class in the United States and internationally must oppose every step taken to subvert and attack Syria, an oppressed country long the victim of economic sanctions and military aggression by the imperialist powers and their proxies like the state of Israel. Syria is only the first step toward an even more devastating war against Iran, which US imperialism has now targeted as the main obstacle to its drive to control the oil-rich regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
Even more ominously, the ratcheting up of tensions between a US-led bloc on the one side and the tacit alliance of Russia and China on the other raises the prospect of war between nuclear-armed powers, with incalculable consequences.
And a march in Sehla condemning attacks by security forces on women:
0935 GMT: Yemeni officials say the death toll from Sunday’s attack by insurgents against soldiers has risen to 184.
Air raids since the attack, in the south of the country, have killed at least 42 militants, ecurity officials said.
0805 GMT: A Bahraini source reports that opposition societies, human rights activists, and religious councils have posted a list of demands in advance of Friday’s mass rally.
Responding to the claim of King Hamad that protests only repreesent a handful of people, the opposition called for “a real constitutional monarchy” with a legislature with full powers, an exit of Saudi troops and the withdrawal of the military from the streets, accountability of those responsible for abuses of citizens, a law against discrimination and sectarianism, compensation of the families of those killed and wounded in the political conflict, rebuilding of destroyed mosques and houses of worship, and a fair judicial system.
Issa claimed that raiding police did not allow families to see arrest warrants, insulted them, and damaged furniture. He said police ignored warnings that one of the detainees, Mahmood Saleh Mahdi, is seriously ill.
The opposition February 14 Coalition has posted a video of their letter to Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone, demanding that he called off this year’s race in Bahrain: “We do not accept the distortion of this popular sport for the sake of obliging a falling dictatorship.”
0715 GMT: The head of humanitarian relief for the United Nations, Baroness Amos, arrives in Syria today — after protracted negotations with the regime to allow her entry — “to urge all sides to allow unhindered access for humanitarian relief workers so they can evacuate the wounded and deliver essential supplies”.
And President Assad is certainly not talking of humanitarian matters. On Tuesday, he was quoted by the Syrian State news agency SANA, “The Syrian people, who have in the past managed to crush foreign plots … have again proven their capacity to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms along with the fight against foreign-backed terrorism.”
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=30443
Recently reported in Reuters’, “UN seeks Syria nod for major aid operation,” the UN is seeking to bring in “aid workers” and open offices all across Syria in order to carry out what they call a “major humanitarian operation.”
Syria has criticized certain nations of what is clearly the “politicizing of humanitarian aid.” Fortune 500-funded US policy think-tank, Brookings Institution has openly stated that US foreign policy would best be served by taking advantage of “gaining humanitarian access” allowing the West to “add further coercive action to its efforts” to topple the Syrian government. Specifically, Brookings foresees gaining such access may lead to establishing “safe-havens and humanitarian corridors” protected by NATO military forces, in yet another example of the “mission creep” that led to regime change in Libya. Such “creep” would give proxy militant forces unassailable positions to continue their campaign of violence against the Syrian people.
Despite the UN’s “peace plan” being fully rejected by both the Syrian rebels and their Western and Arab League backers who have openly pledged cash, weapons, and support for them to continue fighting, in full violation of the proposed ceasefire, the Western media has instead accused the Syrian government of failing to meet its obligations. As the West continues to fuel the violence, and if “humanitarian access” is approved, military intervention will be proposed to combat what will be claimed to be Syrian government “belligerence.”
Driving the echo chamber that is the Western media, are corporate-financier funded (beginning on page 18, .pdf), Neo-Conservative led think-tanks like the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), whose representatives can be found propagandizing on Qatari government propaganda outlet Al Jazeera accusing the Syrian government of “serially violating” the terms of the UN proposed “peace deal.” Al Jazeera regular, Michael Weiss of HJS, openly admits that “diplomatic options” are merely being peddled to satisfy public opinion and that ultimately NATO will act unilaterally, outside of the UN, to militarily intervene. (video)….
The proposed timetable for the UN’s “humanitarian operation” is at least 6 months and represents a long-term commitment to continue destabilizing and ultimately overthrowing the Syrian government at any cost, in both resources and time. To prevent NATO military intervention, Syria and its allies would have to create a tactical environment on the ground that would make any such encroachment untenable. Additionally, undermining the international institutions disingenuously portraying the Syrian conflict as “one-sided” must be accomplished – this includes faux-rights advocates Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, along with various arms and personalities inside the UN itself.
Wall Street and London are determined to intervene in Syria with or without UN approval, illustrating again the absolute fraud that is “global governance” and international “rule of law.” When the West decides to intervene, it must be made sure that they do so openly as perpetrators of a war of aggression, as defined by the Nuremberg trials – the very precedence of the willfully abused international law now at play.