Syria Next

Update: Without a mandate to openly bomb the Assad government into submission the ‘West’ has come up with another ruse. It is now covertly attacking Syrian citizens under the pretext of defending them from ISIS, the latest incarnation of Al Qaida, which is itself a creation of the West.

February 2012

Syrians do not have to be protected from a brutal dictator. They need to be saved from the US and its allies intent on regime change. It takes remarkable cynicism, in the wake of Libya, to argue humanitarian intervention is anything but a cold-blooded pretext.

It paves the way for bombing Damascus into submission and fragmenting Syria, like Yugoslavia, into client ethnic enclaves. That’s the real objective. In the short term, the US will secure strategic oil reserves and pipelines, check Iranian influence in the Levant and guarantee Israeli hegemony in the region.

Further down the line a strike on Iran, confrontation with Russia and China, and a devastating third world war is in the offing. We should be thankful the Russians and Chinese still have a veto.

Navi Pillay the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has led the diplomatic assault on Syria. From the outset, she’s blamed President Bashar Al Assad for the spiraling violence. The report of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria, which actually investigated the situation on the ground, differs.

The Mission travelled across the country from 24 December 2011 to 18 January 2012 and interviewed a broad spectrum of Syrians. It confirmed that the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups were attacking government forces and civilians, bombing buses, trains and fuel lines and targeting the police and journalists.

“In certain situations, Government forces responded to attacks against their personnel with force.” The report also said the media had smeared the Mission viciously.

The High Commissioner has repeatedly asked the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. She’s accused the authorities of systematically detaining and torturing children and operating a shoot to kill policy.

Little wonder she’s considered “the fig leaf required for adoption of a Security Council resolution against Syria’. Following the carnage in Al Houla in May, in which 108 people including 49 children were killed, she warned that Syrian forces accused of the slaughter could face prosecution for crimes against humanity.

The Al Houla atrocity parallels other opinion shifting “events”. The announcement that 8 000 Bosnian Muslims were slain in Sbrenica in July 1995, ‘the worst massacre since World War 11’,  was the pivotal moment justifying NATO air strikes.

The massacre of 40 people in the village of Racak, Kosovo, in January 1999 – discovered by a UN team – was described by U.S. Foreign Secretary Madeleine Albright as the “galvanising incident’. It would contribute to 78 days of NATO “humanitarian bombing” of Yugoslavia. Both claims were fraudulent.

The story of Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait tearing  babies from incubators and leaving them to die on cold floors was vital to getting Americans onside in the 1990 -91 Gulf War. PR Corporation, Hill & Knowlton, invented and marketed the story tearfully sold to a Congressional caucus by 15 year-old Nayirah. Only later would it emerge that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family and that her father was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait’s Ambassador to the US.

In April last year Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN claimed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape. Another mind-changing story hit the headlines.

Media Lens noted that “virtually all UK corporate media instantly found, not just the Syrian government, but its leader Bashar Assad, wholly responsible for the brutal massacre” in Al Houla.’ There was revisionism in the face of inconvenient facts that emerged but the basic charge remained.

A report in Germany’s leading newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), that the Houla victims were almost exclusively from the Alawi and Shia communities, and were killed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, was ignored completely by UK newspapers. At which point it is apposite to mention a shopkeeper in Coventry, England.

Brave little draper Rami Abdulrahman is the campaigner behind the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He ran it single-handedly from his two-bed roomed terrace. By the end of last year, it had become the primary source of information from inside Syria for much of the media, and Abdulrahman important enough to be met in November by British Foreign Secretary, William Hague.

There is now another Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London, the rivalry mirroring factions in the rebel opposition. Those crying harder for intervention seem to have the edge on Mr Abdulrahman. But at least we have a vague idea of where the news comes from.

Syria is the only remaining independent secular state in the Arab world. The dominant Baath party integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze. It supports the resistance against occupation in both Palestine and Lebanon and is hated by the Gulf monarchies which have a deal with Wahhabism – and control the Arab League.

There’s cause for complaint and protest, especially since the IMF imposed its usual structural adjustment package in 2006. Unemployment has soared, wages have been frozen and the elite have been enriched unequally. Pro-US factions have also developed creating divisions. But the initial protest movements were peaceful and wrested concessions.

Bashar al-Assad has successively convened municipal elections, a referendum, as well as legislative elections – all deemed by observers to be transparent. The failure of the much vaunted Kofi Annan peace plan has been blamed on the Azad government. There is considerable evidence it was a ploy destined to fail but also to buy time for arming and strengthening the opposition. The Istanbul meeting of the “Friends of Syria” on 1 April connects the dots more than adequately.

It’s telling that this contact group of nations, ostensibly seeking a solution to the Syrian crisis outside the UN, was initiated by former French president Nicholas Sarkozy. And it’s worth remembering the role he played, together with his friend the warrior philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, in egging on the rebels in Libya.

In short, at this meeting 10 days ahead of a cease-fire, Arab nations pledged $100 million to pay opposition fighters, and the Obama administration agreed to communication equipment to help the rebels organise and evade Syria’s military. You couldn’t be asked more nicely to continue the mayhem.

Moreover there are two main political umbrella organisations within the opposition. The Syrian National Council (SNC) chaired by Burhan Ghalioun –notably seen at the recent Bilderberg conference – and the Syrian National Coordination Committee (NCC).

The former – whose armed wing is the Free Syria Army – is all for outside intervention and is accordingly pampered and treated as the Syrian government in transition. Beneath this veneer of civility are the real actors, Muslim fundamentalists and terror operatives primed to bring down yet another secular government.

It’s a long-standing pattern going back to at least 1953 when the CIA recruited right wing Mullahs to overthrow Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran. Through the 70s, the Carter administration provided huge sums to Muslim reactionaries – and drug traffickers – to subvert a reformist Peoples Democratic Party government in Afghanistan.

CIA backed mujahideen brutally attacked schools and teachers. When the Soviets responded to appeals for help, the US famously created and unleashed Al Qaeda. Hilary Clinton’s recent account of how that happened is incredibly popular on the Net.

The pattern of US collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists was repeated in Bosnia and Kosovo through the 90s. More brazenly in Libya, Abdelhakim Belhaj- leader of the Al Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) –  was appointed chief of the rebel Military Council leading the onslaught on Gaddafi, Libyan civilians and African immigrants.

In Syria the opposition, funded by the US and its allies, also includes Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. They’re staging attacks on civilians and blaming it on the government.

In February, US intelligence confirmed that the car-bombings that killed 50 people in Damascus at Xmas last year were the work of Al Qaeda. Peter Osborne quipped in the London Telegraph, “So it’s official. Al-Qaeda is acknowledged as an ally of Britain and America in our desire to overturn the Syrian government”.

A week later US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton admitted, ‘We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, Al Qaeda, Hamas and those who are on our own terrorist list to be sure, supporting, claiming to support the opposition.’

Syria, unlike Libya and Iraq, will not be a pushover. In the face of a Russian and Chinese veto, the responsibility to protect R2P doctrine will be invoked. Usually couched as an emergent norm, R2P justifies international intervention when a state fails to protect its citizens.

The use of force will still require Security Council sanction but that won’t matter once no-fly zones and safe havens are green-lighted. Syria is on the chopping block and we’re all a little closer to the edge.

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