The New York Times continued by stating, “Mrs. Clinton’s claim about the helicopters, administration officials said, is part of a calculated effort to raise the pressure on Russia to abandon President Bashar al-Assad, its main ally in the Middle East,” indicative of the campaign of propaganda and lies orchestrated by the US State Department, the British Foreign Office, and Western and Gulf State news outlets around the world to demonize both the Syrian government and its extensive allies around the world, contrary to the facts on the ground.
However, as evidence continues to point the finger at opposition sectarian extremists for the massacre at Houla, Syria, and at NATO-armed foreign fighters filtering into Syria to repeat atrocities now fully documented in Libya, organizations like Amnesty, HRW, and even the UN itself are increasingly losing credibility to convince all but the weakest of minds.
Despite this, the West continues to seek ways of arming sectarian extremists operating in Syria under the banner of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), with the Washington Post confirming in their article, “Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors’ money, U.S. coordination,” that weapons, cash, and logistical support is indeed being provided to terrorist forces in Syria by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Gulf States even as the West berated the Syrian government for “violating” the terms of a ceasefire allegedly being brokered by Kofi Annan. The West is doing in reality what they admittedly are lying about Russia doing for the sake of “raising pressure,” with Russia in turn leveling much more credible accusations against the US for arming sectarian extremists in Syria.
What follows next depends entirely on the resolve of the Syrian people to resist what is essentially a foreign proxy invasion – not a civil war. This will be affected greatly by the support Syria gets from a world increasingly aware of the “international community” led by Wall Street and London plotting Syria’s fall that would be but another step toward the inevitable destabilization and collapse of each remaining sovereign nation-state. The tools left for the West to utilize is propaganda and terror, both of which should be expected to be used with increasing frequency, even if by doing so it diminishes its overall effectiveness.
There is no turning back for the West, it has created a global cascade of destabilization, revealed its hand that it is aiming not only to overrun all of the Middle East, Central and Southeast Asia, but eventually Moscow and Beijing as well.
Due to the rapidly evolving situation in the Syrian theater of war this weekend of mid June 2012, which follows precisely our predictions from the November-till-February series of reports, we have compiled and re-written that series into a single coherent analysis which can serve as a definitive guide on the Balkanization of Syria into neo-colonial spheres of influence controlled by NATO and the SCO.
Given the absence of actual incriminating evidence against Assad’s regime, thus the absence of legal grounds against it, thus the absence of political support to act against it, the USA decided to resort to a dispute with its dialectic brethren under the same ESF, i.e. Putin’s Russia, to be materialized in tangible form within geographic context of the Syrian sovereign domain.
30 years after the Hama massacre by Assad the elder, and many hundreds of dead renegades and civilians killed since this mutiny started – in the very same city – by the Syrian army, and the subsequent UN veto of the SCO leaders China and Russia against NATO “humanitarian” intervention, which leads NATO to a unilateral military intervention similar to the Serbian model of 1999 , Russia has decided to protect its naval interests in Syria by means of deploying in Syria Spetsnaz commandos to counter the predictable deployment of GCC \ NATO spec-ops units .
Russian-US naval \ aerial mobilization underway
Russian Marines on route to protect
Russia’s naval facility in Tartus, Syria
It seems like Russian Marines have already landed in the Tartus port this weekend (Mid June 2012), While US forces will probably arrive in the area sooner rather than later. Russia can operate its upper-end fighter jets from the Russian Caucasus in order to cover the Syrian air space (assuming Russia is willing to violate Caucasian border zones of small rivals like Georgia and Azerbaijan), thus overcoming the hundreds of cruise missile aboard the USN flotilla along the Syrian coastal line which threaten the Syrian air bases. Those Jets are Sukhoi35 as well as MiG-31 – both of which are tough challenges for the Israeli F15 and beyond the US Naval air power. Likewise, Russian Sukhoi-34 for deep penetration. This increases the operational tactical radius and amalgamates the Syrian Airspace with the Russian one. Anticipating such intervention of Russian fighter Jets, the U.S. Can deployF-22 squadrons in Greece and the UK can deploy Eurofighter Typhoon squadrons in Cyprus.
Theoretically, The USA can also utilize some of the airbases Israel left behind in the Sinai (where the US 82nd division is still deployed as part of the ‘peace-keeping’ force) , for a safe deployment of additional F22 fighters. This deployment is safe since it is far enough from Russia, i.e. beyond the unrefueled combat range of the Russian fighter Jets, takes advantage of Israeli and USN acute early warning and can be effectively protected from terrestrial threats given the wide expanses of empty desert plains around such airbases.
Possible Russian strategy on the ground in Syria
Russian Spetsnaz Commandos
The prospects of the Spetsnaz saving Assad’s regime needs be reviewed in historic perspective. On the one hand the Spetsnaz saved the pro-soviet regime in Prague in spring 1968, 12 years after regular Soviet troops saved the pro-soviet regime in Hungary year 1956. On the other hand, 13 years still earlier i.e. years 1943/4, Mussolini’s regime was brought down forcibly by the allied armies invading from the sea which surrounds most of Italy, inspite of German reinforcements. Syria, in conjunction with Lebanon which it occupies since year 1976, is surrounded entirely by US dominated territories and by the sea where it outweighs the meager Russian flotilla.
Pantsir S1 Battery in action
The Pantsir-S1 mobile Flak allows the Spetsnaz to detect Helicopters at low level, thus can hunt western commandos ubiquitously. The Pantsir-S1 can also kill every normal type of missile fired at its direction thus is an essential cause for concern to the Israeli Air-Force. It employs both radar and EO(electro-optics) for detection, tracking targets and fire-control. This level of protection, stacking Spetsnaz reactions over Pantsir-S1 detections, is clearly intended to protect the Syrian nuclear reactors from a similar fate of the one destroyed by Israel on September 6th 2007 during Operation Orchard when the IAF’s Sayeret Shaldag (laser designator operators) and the IDF’s Sayeret Matkal (well acquainted with Syria) were sent in helicopters to the reactor site before it was attacked.
British SAS Commandos in the Arabian desert
An interesting case is a possible clash between Spetsnaz playing defense and between SAS (British elite commando) sneaking into the country. Since a commando unit sneaking behind enemy lines is very lightweight and very small then the decisive criteria for its effectiveness is keeping stealthy, i.e. even when its people are seen yet are not being conceived for what they really are, but rather for example for innocent civilians. This point is of interest since top elite commando perform not only ‘special operations’ but also covert operations while dressed like civilians. Once a commando unit or individual is detected, a man hunt is conducted e.g. a pursuing Spetsnaz would enjoy the decisive advantage of wide scale collaboration from the Syrian army and other Russian and Iranian elements in the area. The Spetsnaz would also trap insurgent commando, based on professional assessments which modes of operation would be attempted. The SAS may though enjoy one distinct advantage over the Spetsnaz , which is their long standing experience with deserts and Arabs.
But then, for similar reasons the best asset in Langley’s possession for this job is Al-Qaeda who now assaults the Syrian regime. The classic Russian answer to Al-Qaeda would be a KGB style traffic control regime denying the freedom of travel between districts. Similarly, the Spetsnaz could destabilize Jordan and/or Saudi-Arabia. Since Russia is the only Christian power hosted by a Muslim regime and is a ruthless regime in itself, then in theory it holds the higher ground in Guerrilla warfare.
The role of the Russian flotilla, including the Aircraft carrier, frigate, submarines & naval bases along the Syrian coast are intended to neutralize the Heliborne commando modus operandi applicable to Operation Orchard. Historically, the Spetsnaz were trained to assassinate western pilots in their beds on the eve of a Soviet invasion. Presuming the Israeli Shin Bet will be able to avert this if necessary, this mode of operation may not be of highest concern in the conflict brewing between Israel and Iran and its conjugate-allies Syria and Lebanon.
Will the Israelis be dragged in ?
Israeli special forces
Israel used to have an edge in fighter jets, since its first deliveries of F-4E Phantom II in year 1969. This was augmented with F-15 Eagle since 1976. The Soviet 4gen Jets hardly made it to the scene till the USSR collapsed. These were 48 Mig-29 of an early version, which couldn’t outperform the Israeli F15C/D. This balance of power is now changing with the Su-35 & Su-34 having entered Russian front line service and with the Su-50 expected to outperform the F-22 ‘Rustor’ (i.e. the quickly rusting Raptor), and the incumbent flying target designated F-35.
Russian production rate of military aircraft is back to Soviet Levels of about 30 years ago, with 90 fighter and bomber jets + 55 attack and assault helicopters, to delivered this year 2012. With an airframe life expectancy of 40 years, this makes for 3,600 Jets and 2,200 helicopters. (For a detailed analysis of stealth bombers arms race, see our landmark article the stealth sphere)
If Assad collapses in a chaotic manner (i.e. if NATO can not buy the support of rogue Syrian Generals just like it bought republican guards Generals in the 2003 war on Iraq) , Syrian WMD’s comprising large quantities of Biological and Chemical warheads and possibly also several crude nuclear devices, might fall in Muslim brotherhood and Hezbollah hands, thus triggering Israeli involvement in the war, in the form of an attempt to avert this volatile proliferation.
(We made this prediction in February, and the Israelis have indeed announced this weekend that they will intervene to block the transfer of Syrian WMD’s to Hezbollah)
It looks like the Russians hope to at least secure their naval assets along the western coast line in case the regime collapses , since Assad himself is currently fortifying an Allawite mountain enclave in the north western Syrian mountains, thus protecting the topographically inferior coastal area from its eastern flank.
This will enable the preservation of the Allawites for later use in history as a divisive force to be reintroduced in to the mix of power struggles. The military threat they face in the near future does not involve massive armored divisions invading from outside, but rather a globalist ‘color invasion’ of a somewhat similar type to the one currently in the making against Israel, which is comprised of externally fomented political unrest, terrorism and propaganda warfare, all working to destabilize the regime and make it implode under its own weight.
Part I: The Entente over the Mediterranean
The USA, UK and Russia are old time allies against common enemies since a century ago, when the “Triple Entente“, (‘Entente’ is the a French term reminiscent of “the coalition of the willing”), formed the diplomatic framework for perpetrating WWI, with France the USA and the UK being official partners while implicitly yet effectively also involving Tsarist Russia and later its successor the USSR which was a very close ally of the USA till very late 1945 and a bargain partner behind the scenes thereafter till its demise in 1991, when it became the Russian federation which is a founding Quartet Member together with the USA, the EU and the UN, i.e. has officially joined the western set of Atlantic globalist empires.
It now seems Russia has struck a follow-on deal with the Anglo-American establishment, to limit the extent of western intervention in the Syrian crisis to deterrence only, i.e. allowing the USA to contain the militant acts of Syria to within its own borders under the threat of retaliatory attack the like of ‘Desert Fox’ in case Syria attacks Israel or Turkey. ‘Desert Fox’ punished Saddam Hussein for not letting the western observers carry out all their responsibilities, putting an immediate end to Saddam Hussein’s resistance.
The Russian-American coordination in the Middle-East dates back to year 1973, when following the Paris convention early that year, which allegedly merely covered the Vietnam war, the USA abandoned Vietnam May 1973 to be immediately brutalized by the Soviet affiliate Vietcong and 5 months later a couple of Soviet clients states Egypt and Syria started a war against Israel, the October 1973 war, by which measure Egypt set its foot in the door towards the diplomatic process which regained it the Sinai and which tightened the noose around Israel’s narrow neck with a promise implemented in the form of the PNA. Syria used to be a client state of France, together with its neighbors Lebanon and Iraq. France carved Syria and Lebanon out of the Ottoman Empire and later established the Baath political party in Syria and also in Iraq where the UK was hated too much while the Soviets where making roads in to the public opinion and establishment. France pretended at the time to have been independent from NATO in order to preserve under western guidance former British colonies, mostly in Africa.
It is thus clear that a Russian overtake of Syria doesn’t violate the separation lines agreed upon in Yalta between Stalin and Anglo-America and rather allows Russia to preserve under European guidance a former French colony, especially since Russia is now one of the western Atlantic powers.
Part II: Russia is out of Africa and non-Syriac Middle-East
France, the UK and the USA grab all that’s left over from Soviet Era around Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the Persian gulf. France regains influence over North-Africa, e.g. Libya, in conjunction with the UK, i.e. consolidating their joint grip over Africa,implying at tremendous economic and security integration,which is one good reason for the UK to jump on the Eurozone wagon,especially when it can secure an excellent conversion rate for the GBP.
The USA strengthens its hold around the red-sea and around the Persian Gulf. UK influence around the Middle-east remains anecdotal under the American Umbrella, with close ties to states it curved out of the Ottoman empire: Cyprus, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, Oman and the UAE.
A well regarded and qualified author of the prime German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)reported (in German) how the recent massacre in Houla, Syria, was perpetrated by Sunni rebel forces. I translated the piece to English. There was some push back against the piece and an anonymous rebuttalfrom Houla activists.
In a new piece (in German) the reporter, Rainer Hermann, extends on the first one and explains why his reporting is correct and why other reporting was terribly wrong.What follows is my translation of the FAZ piece: The Extermination
The Houla massacre was a turning point in the Syrian drama. There was great worldwide outrage when 108 people were killed there on May 25, among them 49 children. Calls for a military intervention to end the bloodshed became louder and the violence in Syria has since steadily escalated. Based on Arab news channel and the visit of UN observers on the following day, world opinion almost unanimously blamed the regular Syrian army and the Syrian regime’s Shabiha militia for the massacre.
In the past week and based on reports from eyewitnesses the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung put this version into question. It reported that the civilians killed were Alawites and Shiites. They were deliberately killed by armed Sunnis in Taldou, a town in the plains of Houla, while fierce fighting between the regular army and Free Syrian Army was taking place at checkpoints around the village.
Our report was taken up by many media outlets worldwide and was rejected by many as implausible. We have therefore to ask four questions: Why did the world opinion so far followed a different version? Why does the context of the civil war makes the doubted version plausible? Why are the witnesses credible? What other facts support the report?
Firstly, why world opinion follow a different version?
It is undoubted that during the first months of the conflict, when the opposition did not yet possess weapons and was defenseless, all atrocities were done by the regime. The assumption is therefore obvious that this would continue. [Note by the translator: Here Mr. Hermann errs. There were reliablereports about deadly attacks against government forces by well armed perpetrators, allegedly foreign financed, as early as April 10 2011.]
Furthermore, the Syrian state media enjoy no credibility. They use the standard labeling “armed terrorist gangs” since the beginning of the conflict. Thus no one believes them, when that is indeed the case. Two media outlets, the Arab news channel Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya have become key sources even as their owners, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are two states which are actively involved in the conflict. Not without reason do we know the saying “In war, truth dies first.”
Secondly, why is, in the context of the civil war, the doubted version plausible?
During recent month many weapons have been smuggled into Syria and the rebels have long had mid-sized weaponry. Every day more than 100 people are killed in Syria with about equal numbers of dead on both sides. The militias that operate under the banner of the Free Syrian Army control wide parts of the provinces of Homs and Idlib and extend their dominion over other parts of the country. The increasing lawlessness has led to a wave of criminal kidnappings and also facilitates the settling of old disputes.
If one looks through Facebook pages or talks to Syrians: Everyone knows everyday stories of “religious cleansing” – of people being killed just because they are Alawite or Sunni.The plain of Houla, which lies between the Sunni city of Homs and the mountains of the Alawites, is predominantly inhabited by Sunnis and is burdened by a long history of sectarian tensions. The massacre took place in Taldou, one of the largest sites of Houla. Of the names of civilians killed, 84 are known. These are the fathers, mothers and 49 children of the family Al Sayyid and two branches of the family Abdarrazzaq. Residents of the city state that these were Alawites and Muslims who had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. A few kilometers away from the border with Lebanon, this made them suspect of being sympathizers of Hezbollah,detested among Sunnis. Additionally killed in Taldou were relatives of the government loyal member of parliament Abdalmuti Mashlab.The homes of the three families are located in different parts Taldou. The members of the families were targeted and killed up to one exception. No neighbor was injured. Local knowledge was a prerequisite for these well-planned “executions”.
The AP news agency quoted the only survivor of the family Al Sayyid, the eleven year old Ali, as saying:. “The perpetrators were shaved bald and had long beards.” This is the look of fanatical jihadists, not of the Shabiha militia. The boy said he survived because he had pretended to be dead and smeared himself with the blood of his mother.
On April 1 the nun Agnès-Maryam, from the monastery of Jacob (“Deir Mar Yakub”) which lies south of Homs in the village of Qara, described in a long open letter the climate of violence and fear in the region. She comes to the conclusion that the Sunni insurgents operate a stepwise liquidation of all minorities. She describes the expulsion of Christians and Alawites from their homes, which are then occupied by the rebels, and the rape of young girls, who the rebels pass off as “war booty”; she was an eye witness when the rebels killed a businessman in the street of Wadi Sajjeh with a car bomb after he refused to close his shop and then said in front of a camera from Al Jazeera that the regime had committed the crime. Finally she describes how Sunni insurgents in the Khalidijah district of Homs locked Alawite and Christian hostages into a house and blew it up only to then explain that this was an atrocity of the regime.Why are, in this context, the Syrian witnesses (in my report) regarded as credible? Because they do not belong to any party of the conflict, but are caught in the middle and have no other interest than to stop a further escalation of violence. Several such people have already been killed. Therefore, no one wants to reveal their identity. In a period in which an independent review of all facts on the spot is not possible there can be no certitude that all details have happened exactly as described. Even as the massacre in Houla took place in the version described here, no conclusions can be drawn from it for other atrocities. As before in Kosovo every massacre must be examined individually after this war.
What other facts support this version?
The FAZ was not the first to reported on a new version of the massacre of Houla. Other reports could just not compete with the big key media. The Russian journalist Marat Musin, who works for the small news agency Anna, was in Houla on May 25 and 26, in part became an eyewitness and also published the statements of other eyewitnesses. Additionally the Dutch Arabist and freelance journalist Martin Janssen, who lives in Damascus, contacted the Jacob Monastery in Qara, which has taken in many victims of the conflict with the nuns doing devote humanitarian work, after the massacre.
Sunni rebels perpetrate “liquidation” of all minorities The nuns told him how on that May 25th more than 700 armed rebels, coming from Rastan, overran a roadside checkpoint of the army near Taldou, how these, after the massacre, piled up the corpses of the killed soldiers and civilians in front of the mosque and how they, on next day, told their version of the alleged massacre by the Syrian army in front of the cameras of rebel-friendly channels and to the UN observers. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on May 26 at the UN Security Council that the exact circumstances are unclear. The UN could confirm, however, “that there has been artillery and mortar attack. There were also other forms of violence, including shots from up close and serious abuses.”The following sequence of events can be reconstructed: After the Friday prayers on May 25th more than 700 gunmen under the leadership of Abdurrazzaq Tlass and Yahya Yusuf came in three groups from Rastan, Kafr Laha and Akraba and attacked three army checkpoints around Taldou. The numerically superior rebels and the (mostly also Sunni) soldiers fought bloody battles in which two dozen soldiers, mostly conscripts, were killed. During and after the fighting the rebels, supported by residents of Taldou, snuffed out the families of Sayyid and Abdarrazzaq. They had refused to join the opposition.
The conflict in Syria is being shaped by the strategic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A descent into even greater violence could yet be avoided, but this would need both Russia and the United States to shift their stance.
The escalating violence in Syria in recent weeks has led United Nations peacekeeping sources to describe conflict there as a civil war. Both the Bashar al-Assad government and the opposition avoid the term: the former because it claims to be dealing with illegitimate and even terroristic forces, the latter because it sees itself as a legitimate uprising against autocracy and repression.
The description does seem accurate in that, while most media attention has been on reports of massacres involving the pro-regime Shabbiha militias, anti-regime rebels now control significant territory in both urban and rural areas. Many of the rebel forces have acquired far more arms, including powerful anti-tank missiles, and scores of Assad’s forces are being killed and hundreds wounded every week (see Victor Kotsev, “Syrian violence invites foreign intervention”,Asia Times, 13 June 2012). This is one reason for its use of helicopter-gunships, which perhaps will extend to strike-aircraft (see “UN Observers confirm Syria aerial attacks”, Al-Jazeera, 12 June 2012).
In the perspective of fifteen months, a regime that few analysts expected to survive 2011 has proved resilient. This is owed to its maintenance of robust elite security forces, a loyal officer-class drawn in part from Assad’s own Alawi community, and the calculation of some of Syria’s confessional groups (including Christians) and elements of the business community that it is dangerous to oppose Assad in case his regime survives, and that if he does fall then what might replace him may well be worse.
The regional dimension
This domestic Syrian conflict has evolved in a regional and global context which is essential to understanding its possible direction. The increasing tension between the United States and Russia, reflected in Hillary Clinton’s strong condemnation of deliveries of Russian helicopters to the regime, dominates much current coverage.
The charge has a political dimension, in that the United States presidential election is approaching and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is seeking to portray the Barack Obama administration as weak. It could also be seen as hypocritical, given that the Pentagon is buying helicopters from the selfsame company (Rosoboronexport) to equip Afghanistan’s air force (see “Pentagon On Defensive Over Russian Helo Purchase for Afghans”, Defense News, 13 June 2012). At heart, though, it is further confirmation that Obama’s administration is seeking regime-change in Damascus.
The Washington-Moscow tension, though, tends to overshadow the deep regional antagonism between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Saudis have, according to some analysts, developed an integrated response to the Arab awakening that comprises support for Sunni leaders facing Shi’a revolts (notably in Bahrain) with that for any Salafist element that comes to the fore in the aftermath of regime-change (such as in Egypt and Tunisia) (see Alistair Crooke, “Towards a new Arab Cultural Revolution”, Asia Times, 13 June 2012).
The implication is that Saudi backing for the Syrian rebels is part of a strategy to replace the Assad regime with a Sunni-dominated governance which might include Salafist elements. The presence of al-Qaida-linked paramilitaries in Syria may help to further the Saudi plan. Iran’s efforts to prop up its Syrian ally reinforce the the Riyadh-Tehran antagonism, as well as making the US even more determined to curb Iran’s influence. Washington’s strong support for its Saudi partner casts further doubt on the argument that its encouragement of the Syrian opposition has much to do with democracy.
The other interest
A neglected factor here, of great concern in Riyadh, is Iraq. The government of Nouri al-Maliki has been successful in consolidating power in what is fast becoming an autocracy (see Toby Dodge “Iraq’s Road Back to Dictatorship”, Survival, 54/3, June-July 2012, International Institute of Strategic Studies). Iran’s political influence in Baghdad has greatly increased, even if the Iraqi Shi’a population offers fellow-Shi’a Iran less religious homage than it would like.
Al-Maliki’s domination deeply worries the Saudis, who fear a “Shi’a axis” that stretches from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq to Iran, and extends to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s own Shi’a minority (who live mainly in the oil-producing region along the Gulf coast). The Saudis see the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad’s rule as a means of achieving three aims: thwarting the emerging Shi’a axis, limiting al-Malaki’s power, and damaging Iran’s regional influence.
It is becoming clearer, even if firm evidence is still sparse, that Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of aiding the Syrian rebels The rebels’ impact means that the survival of the Assad regime is now seriously under threat. This violent proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran will, in the absence of any diplomatic or other breakthrough, increasingly shape the course of events in Syria.
There is one hope: if Russia decides that its own interests could be advanced by distancing itself from Damascus, and by encouraging a transition to a post-Assad regime in which Moscow retains reasonable influence.
It is questionable whether Vladimir Putin will reason this way and whether the United States will help in any such strategy. An outcome where Bashar al-Assad enjoys a peaceful exile in Russia would be objectionable to very many people. The alternative, though, may be a long and bitter war in Syria that risks engulfing the region.
Fire in Syria (I): preparation of Turkish and Lebanese border
Syriaand the wider region are witnessing preparations for a phase that can be described as critical. The international and regional contexts reveal the severity of the upcoming battle, not just in Syriabut in all the countries ofBilad al-Sham (theLevant), spreading to the remaining Arab countries and the whole region.
Gulf countries are in a state of high alert based on information regarding possible violent attacks in the context of the Syrian crisis. They are alert because the rulers of these countries know what they are doing, especially after proclaiming that they are in an existential struggle.
Reports from the field and in the media indicate a discernible increase in the number of Arab fighters from Gulf countries joining the battle against the Syrian government and on its soil.
Turkeyis left on its own to answer the strategic question: Shall we get involved in the bloody game engulfingSyriaand are we ready to pay the costs? While all sides find it difficult to contemplate any type of political solution, they are all quick to reveal thorough practical arrangements for a new round of violence to change the situation on the ground. Each hopes to tip the balance of power in its favor to use in negotiations that are expected to follow at a later time.
Kofi Annan’s mission is over, mainly because there is no consensus to support it. On the contrary, the mission was an opportunity for adversaries of the Syrian regime, whether the opposition or foreign powers, to catch their breath after the latest wave of diplomatic efforts and confrontations on the ground that tipped the balance in the regime’s direction.
Syria’s opponents made an effort to unite the opposition. It turned out to be difficult for many reasons. So they began working on making the opposition work in a common direction. Foreign powers such asTurkey,Gulf states, Europe, theUnited States, and evenIsraelwould take charge of practical matters.
Failing to attract diplomatic and military groups loyal to the regime to the other side, they decided to expel all Syrian diplomats. They also carried out calculated security-military attacks on a number of officers in the Syrian army to give them a taste of the dangers involved in remaining loyal to the regime.
This was in conjunction with a concentrated campaign to spread rumors, aiming, as usual, to create an atmosphere of doubt and mistrust. They then decided to forbid the regime from replying, even through the media, through attempting to ban satellite transmission of Syrian channels and preparing to disrupt their signals even insideSyria.
On the level of security, work is speedily underway to create the support zones needed by the armed Syrian groups. In the last several weeks, the Turkish border has effectively become a military training ground for Syrian fighters.
Some regime opponents speak about Turkish officers training Syrian fighters on advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. They are also undertaking logistical tasks to coordinate the work of armed groups and train them on modern communications techniques.
In the meantime, some Gulf countries increased their financial support to an unprecedented level. They are financing the purchase of various weapons, providing salaries for the enlisting of more fighters, recruiting young Syrians inTurkey,Iraq, andLebanon, in addition to the continuation of the open media campaign against the regime until further notice.
Several steps were taken in that direction by the Saudis through Salafi groups and Future Movement supporters, some of whom are employed in the civil and military departments of the Lebanese state. They implemented a part of the plan to control large areas in the North.
One could say now that the Saudis succeeded in having a veto, through its partisans, on any political, security, or other action in the northern Lebanese region. Practically, this veto meant restricting the movement of the Lebanese army, obstructing its intelligence work, warning its leaders that monitoring the opponents ofSyriacould be considered an aggressive act.
This meant extending the distribution of Lebanese and Syrian armed groups in the city ofTripoliand a substantial section of Akkar. They also created a hostile sectarian situation to increase tensions in the street. This is done by targeting Alawis in such areas, even if this meant a wide and open war.In North Bekaa, on-the-ground preparations continue, with sympathetic groups transporting arms to the mountains of Ersal that have become open bases for Syrian fighters and their Lebanese supporters, under political and even security cover.
The clearest indicator was in the statements of Ersal’s head of municipality, Ali Hujairi, who called on the people of his town to arm themselves and confront the state security forces.
Records of investigations with those detained for transporting and smuggling weapons and explosives in the area have shown that there is an advanced plan underway. Confiscated materials reveal a plot that could destroy whole villages or city neighborhoods.
In the meantime, armed Syrian groups are active along a line connecting the surrounding areas ofDamascusandHomstoLebanon’s eastern borders. They are clashing with people in those regions using the pretext that Hezbollah is deployed in the area to support the regular Syrian army.
It should be noted that areas under Hezbollah’s influence did not hinder the transportation of injured Syrian opposition members through these border points to hospitals in the North.
There is also an increased level of sectarian incitement in a strip of villages along the Syrian border, whose populations are a mix of sects.
It seems there is a zero hour planned by those who control these groups. On the other side, the regime is prepared to face the inevitable… So what is going to happen?
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar. This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
Fire in Syria (II): preparation of Turkish and Lebanese border
The political and media leaders who speak in the name of the opposition continue to bank on, and work towards, foreign intervention to resolve the situation decisively.
That leaves the opposition insideSyriaon its own, though it too is divided. Some want a showdown come what may, as the regime cannot be changed peacefully. Others – not a majority – argue that it would be possible to arrive at an interim accommodating solution, in order to preventSyriain its entirety from being engulfed in blood and fire.
The disarray is not confined to politics. It applies to the armed opposition factions as much as the political groupings. A significant proportion of the opposition insideSyriarejects militarization, though it decided some time ago not to condemn those who resort to taking up arms. Now these figures and groups complain that it is impossible to create a framework within which all armed groups would defer to the political authority of a single leadership – especially with the entry onto the scene of extremist groups, bringing with them a plethora of bloody experiences from Afghanistan and Pakistan, or North Africa and Iraq.Once collectively known as the “Arab Afghans,” these groups are now referred to as the “Arab fighters” in Syria. They function in accordance with their own hierarchical structure. They copy the modus operandi which was devised by the leadership of al-Qaeda, and then became public property available to anyone who wants it. This is based on providing men who want to sacrifice themselves for goals which they believe to be pleasing to the Almighty, while supplying them with their needs by various means that are readily available the world over, especially in our region.
The actions of these groups, and the sectarian massacres they have committed in several parts ofSyria, have dismayed a large section of the opposition: those who have “gone back home,” or lost confidence in the direction taken by what began as a genuine struggle to improve the political, economic, human and social condition of the country.
The opposition routinely blames all acts of violence on the regime. The regime and its agencies are not innocent. Its security forces and army commit crimes in the course of their suppression of its civilian or paramilitary opponents. Yet things have reached the point of prompting some opposition supporters to want a restoration of stability. That does not mean accepting restoration of the status quo ante. It means no longer allowing a justified popular uprising to be used to subjectSyriato a process of wholesale destruction – one which also benefits powerful hardliners in the security and military elites.
As the Assad regime’s Syrian, Arab and Western enemies prepare to usher in a new stage in the bloody confrontation, the Syrian authorities have been mulling over their own plans for a comprehensive military showdown. The aim this time will not just be to prevent the creation of armed opposition concentrations or enclaves, but to “destroy all armed groups, irrespective of their nature or identity.”
This is the prevalent notion in Syrian military and security circles, according to sources in contact with them. “The rationale and motivation for launching wholesale cleansing operations are increasing by the day,” they say. “To repeat with the UN observers the free-for-all that came with the Arab observers, would only open the door to further deterioration and bloodshed.”As seen from Damascus, the difference now is that “a hardline majority of the armed groups have come to be led by non-Syrians, and the foreign intelligence agencies that work with them act as though they’re willing to destroy everything in Syria – not just targeting the army and security forces, but all public civilian facilities on the pretext that they belong to the regime, and at the same time ratcheting up sectarian tensions through roving acts of criminality.”
Sources familiar withDamascus’ thinking do not deny the involvement of pro-regime loyalists in sectarian crimes. But they believe that it is intent on “achieving blows of the kind that would change the look of the entire scene, military, political, and popular.”
It would appear that the current focus of security activity is aroundDamascus, where a sweeping operation has been ordered aimed at curtailing rebel activity in the capital’s hinterland, all the way to the Lebanese border. This in turn reflects a top-level decision to take all necessary action, over an indeterminate period, to eliminate any “threat from the West.”
Informed sources explain that what is being considered is “extensive and very harsh operations in the area of the Lebanese borders, against all sites used by the oppositionists, even if that means directing strikes at forces operating directly on the border, possibly including Lebanese groups that support them. ” The message is that so long as the Lebanese are incapable of preventing parts of their country from becoming havens for armed rebels, the Syrian authorities will act to neutralize those areas.
In addition to pursuing the goal of clearingHomsand its hinterland of armed opposition enclaves and cells, action is being taken against concentrations of opposition fighters elsewhere, especially bases and training sites near the Turkish, Iraqi and Jordanian borders. The Syrian army appears to have embarked on a campaign described as “extremely harsh.” aimed at “exterminating entire groups” of rebels.The Syrian leadership has been coordinating closely with the Russian leadership on such matters. According to informed sources,Moscowmay even have intervened to block the execution of some military orders after they were issued. But this was in the context of its efforts to strengthen its diplomatic hand.Russiais not expected to stand in the way of the Syrian authorities as they embark on actions that could be of different order to what we have seen so far.
In the wake of the Houla massacre and the flow of disinformation aimed at blaming the Syrian government for the atrocities, Global Research brings to the attention of its readers a selection of key articles, which demonstrate unequivocally that the massacre was commited by the US-NATO supported Free Syrian Army (FSA).
There is no credible, independent entity that can help reveal the entire truth about the Houla massacre. The United Nations Human Rights Council which has passed a resolution condemning the massacre hastily targeted the Syrian government as the culprit without waiting for reports from the UN-Arab League Observer Mission in Syria. This is one of the reasons why China, Cuba and Russia voted against the resolution. The Council has since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria 14 months ago adopted an antagonistic attitude towards the government. In all its submissions to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, it has ignored or downplayed the views of the Syrian government.
The narrative that is being spread by much of the mainstream western and Arab satellite media is a narrative that blames the Assad government for the Houla massacre. At first that media claimed that the people killed, including the women and children, had been killed by shelling from Syrian troops attacking the town.
In examining the videos and photos put online or provided by the opposition making these claims, however, it became evident that many of the victims, particularly the women and children, had been killed at close range by bullets and knives and not by the shelling of heavy weapons by the Syrian military.
These two reports dispel the lies and fabrications of the Western media. Entire pro-government families in Houla were massacred. The terrorists were mercenaries and professional killers operating under the auspices of the self-proclaimed Free Syrian Army (FSA).
An earlier report published in Der Spiegel (March 2012) suggests that the FSA is involved in a routine and organized process of mass-murder. The article focusses on extra-judicial killings in Homs conducted under the mandate of so-called “burial brigades”.
The nature of the Syrian crisis has changed. The process of destabilization that was to open the path for legal military intervention by the Atlantic Alliance has failed. Removing its mask, the United States has publicly announced the possibility of attacking Syria without the approval of the Security Council, as it also did in Kosovo. Washington must be pretending not to have noticed that the Russia of Vladimir Putin is not that of Boris Yeltsin. After being assured of Chinese support, Moscow literally fired two warning shots in the direction of Washington. The continuing violations of international law by NATO and the GCC threaten to unleash a global conflict.
President Vladimir Putin began his third mandate under the sign of sovereignty in the face of direct threats launched against the Russian Federation by the United States and NATO. Moscow has repeatedly denounced the expansion of NATO, the installation of military bases, the deployment of a missile shield on its borders, and the destruction of Libya and the destabilization of Syria.
In the days following his inauguration, Mr. Putin reviewed the Russian military industrial sector, his armed forces and his treaty alliance system.  He pursued this course of action while choosing to draw in Syria a line in the sand that must not be crossed. For Putin, NATO’s invasion of Libya was equivalent to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Third Reich and that of Syria, should it occur, would be comparable to the invasion of Poland that started WWII.
Any interpretation that what is currently happening in the Levant is the result of an internal dynamic of revolution/repression within Syria is not only false but a distortion of the real stakes involved, and simply amounts to more political maneuvering. The Syrian crisis is first and foremost a further stage in the project of “remodeling of the greater Middle East“; a further attempt to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” and the first “war for gas” being played out .
What is actually at stake in Syria is not whether Bashar al-Assad will be able to democratize the institutions he has inherited or whether the Wahhabist monarchies of the Gulf will succeed in destroying the last secular regime in the region and impose their sectarianism, but to determine the lines of separation between the emerging power blocs of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) .
Some of our readers will be startled to read the preceding phrase. Indeed, the Western and Gulf media have been hammering the point day after day that President El-Assad is a sectarian dictator working to the advantage of the Alawite minority, while the armed opposition to his authority is portrayed as the incarnation of democratic pluralism. Just a glance at recent events is enough to belie this version.
Bashar al-Assad has successively convened municipal elections, a referendum, as well as legislative elections. All observers unanimously agreed that the elections unfolded in a transparent manner. The degree of popular participation was more than 60% even while the West was denouncing the electoral process as “a farce” and while the Western-backed armed opposition was preventing citizens from getting to the polls in the four districts under its control. At the same time, the armed opposition stepped up its attacks not only against security forces but also against civilians and all the symbols of national culture and of Syria’s multi-confessional character.
They assassinated progressive Sunnis, then randomly killed Alawites and Christians in order to force their families to flee. They burned more than fifteen hundred schools and churches. They proclaimed an ephemeral Independent Islamic Emirate in Baba Amr where they instituted a Revolutionary Tribunal which condemned more than 150 felons, who were then beheaded in public one by one by an executioner. It is certainly not the woeful spectacle of some vagrant politicians, meeting up at the exiled Syrian National Council and erecting a facade of democracy having no relation to the reality of the crimes being committed by the Free “Syrian” Army, that will prevent the truth from coming out much longer. In the circumstances, who can believe that the secular Syrian regime, whose exemplary character was celebrated not so long ago, would have turned into a confessional dictatorship, while the Free “Syrian” Army, supported by the Wahhabist dictatorships of the Gulf and obeying the injunctions of Takfirist preachers would conversely be advanced as a paragon of democratic pluralism?
The announcement by U.S. leaders of a possible international intervention outside a U.N. mandate in the same fashion as NATO dismembered Yugoslavia elicted both apprehension and anger in Moscow. The Russian Federation, which until now held itself in a defensive position, has moved to take the initiative. This strategic shift flows from the urgency of the situation from Russia’s point of view and favorable shifts on the ground in Syria .
Moscow proposes to create a Contact Group on Syria that would bring together the ensemble of concerned states, meaning Syria’s neighbors as well as both regional and international powers. Its purpose is to put in place a forum for dialogue to substitute for the current bellicose approach imposed by the West under the Orwellian rubric, the “Friends of Syria Conference.”
Russia continues to support the Annan Plan—which is in fact the scarcely modified plan submitted earlier by Sergei Lavrov to the Arab League. Russia deplores that the plan was not implemented, assigning responsibility for that failure to the opposition faction which took up arms. According to A.K. Lukashevich, spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, the Free “Syrian” Army is an illegal organization according to international law. It is assassinating twenty to thirty Syrian soldiers each day yet is publicly supported by NATO states and the GCC in violation of the Annan Plan .
Positioning himself as a peacemaker confronting NATO warmongering, Vladimir Putin has demanded that the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) ready itself to deploy its “blue chapkas” in Syria, to both separate the belligerents and combat foreign forces. Nicolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the CSTO, has confirmed that he is ready to deploy 20,000 men trained for this type of mission and immediately available .
This would be the first time that the CSTO deploys a peace force outside of former Soviet territory. Cut to the quick, Ban Ki-Moon attempted to sabotage the initiative, countering with his own sudden effort to organize a Contact Group. Convening in Washington the Sanctions Working Group of the Friends Of Syria Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defied the Russian proposal and raised the ante in favor of regime change .
In Turkey, opposition legislators have visited the Syrian refugee camps. They have confirmed the absence of more than one thousand refugees registered by the United Nations in the main camp and noted, by contrast, the presence of an arsenal in the camp. They have also demanded in Parliament that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reveal the rising amount of humanitarian aid being given to phantom refugees. The deputies maintain that the refugee camp is a cover for a secret military operation, sheltering in reality combatants, principally Libyans who are using it as a rear base. The deputies are asserting that the combatants are those who were introduced in the district of Houla when the massacre was being perpetrated.
These revelations confirm the accusations of the Russian ambassador to the Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, according to which the Special Representative of Ban Ki-Moon in Libya, Ian Martin, had used U.N. funds destined for refugees to bring al Qaeda combatants into Turkey .
In Saudi Arabia, the fracture between King Abdullah and the Sudairi clan has reappeared. At the invitation of the monarch, the Supreme Council of the Oulema issued afatwa stipulating that Syria is not a land of jihad. At the same time, however, Prince Faisal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been calling to arm the opposition against the “Alawite usurper.”
Thursday, June 7 was a day of many significant events. While Ban Ki-Moon and Navi Pillay, respectively Secretary General and High Commissioner of Human Rights, were pleading their case against Syria before the U.N. General Assembly, Moscow proceeded with two test-launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Bulava missile draws its name from an ancient Slavic mace used as a baton by the Marshall of the Cossack Armies.
Colonel Vadim Koval, spokesman of the Strategic Missile Troops of the Russian Federation (RSVN) confirmed the test of aTopol—launched from a silo near the Caspian Sea, but has not confirmed that of the Bulava from a submarine in the Mediterranean. But the firing was observed from all over the Near East, Israel and Armenia and there is no other known armament that leaves similar tracings in the sky .
The message is clear : Moscow is ready for world war if NATO and the GCC do not comply with the international obligations as defined in the Annan Plan and persist in aiding terrorism.
According to our sources, this this shot across the bow was coordinated with the Syrian authorities. Moscow equally had encouraged Damascus to liquidate the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr once the authority of President al-Assad was confirmed by constitutional referendum, as it also encouraged the president to wipe out mercenary groups present in the country as soon as the new Parliament and new Prime Minister were installed. The order was given to move from a defensive strategy to offensive action to protect the population from terrorism. The national army moved to attack the strongholds of the Free “Syrian” Army. The combat in the coming days is going to be difficult, all the more so in that the mercenaries possess mortars, anti-tank missiles and, as from now, surface to air missiles.
To lessen the rapidly-increasing tension, France immediately accepted the Russian proposal to participate in an ad hoc Contact Group. Washington hurried Frederic C. Hof to Moscow. Contradicting the statements made the day before by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Hof also accepted the Russian invitation.
The time is past to lament the expansion of combat into Lebanon, or to conjecture about the possible regionalization of conflict. Over the past sixteen months of the destabilization of Syria, NATO and the GCC have created a situation without exit that might well degenerate into global war.
 President Putin’s agenda: May 7—President Putin is inaugurated. May 8—Dmitry Medvedev is nominated Prime Minister May 9—Commemoration of victory over Nazi Germany May 10—Visit of the Russian military-industrial establishment May 11—Reception for the President of Abkhazia May 12—Reception for the President of South Ossetia May 14-15—Informal meeting with heads of state of the CTSO May 18—Visit of the CYCLONE Central Research Institute May 25—Review of atomic sub-marines May 30—Meeting with key defense officials May 31—Meeting with the Russian security council June 4-7 Visite to China, SCO Summit June 7—Visit to Kazakhstan during the Topol missile launch