Clearly the Syrians are going through unimaginable hells with the merciless oppression of their leadership. According to Nadin Abbott:
The Syrian unrest started in March 2011, on the heels of the successful Arab Spring In Tunis and Egypt. As Syrians took to the streets to demand that President Bashar Al Assad step down, the regime quickly clamped down. The Syrian government used armed personnel and snipers against peaceful demonstrators. Many people were kidnapped and taken by the security forces, after which they were tortured and in many cases killed.
On July 31, the Free Syrian Army was formed. Its reported objective was to protect fleeing soldiers, and chiefly civilians, from the regime. This force is made up of former soldiers of the regime, as well as civilian volunteers. This followed the pattern that we saw in Libya, although the FSA has not officially asked for foreign help.
As the regime’s brutal crackdown on the Syrian people has escalated, a horrific number of Syrians have been displaced, internally as well as refugees who have fled across both the Turkish and Jordanian borders. On December 1, 2011 Robert Cowan wrote in Foreign Policy Magazine about an expanding war: “Any such escalation would almost certainly involve a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Thousands of refugees have already left Syria (itself home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis and Palestinians). There are nearly 10,000 Syrians being sheltered in camps in Turkey. If the conflict intensifies, the number could jump exponentially: up to a million fled Libya earlier this year.”
He continued, “Faced with this potential crisis, regional leaders and European policy-makers seem to be edging toward proposals for some sort of humanitarian intervention."
If only R2P really did stand for “responsibility to protect”, the alleged intention of the UN’s mandate, and an evolved international community with honorable intentions could enter stage left, WITHOUT guns blazing, to help a hapless and endangered citizenry and to promote peace and national welfare. Instead, as Pepe Escobar has declared, “R2P” has clearly come to stand for “right to plunder” among the hyper-militarized, avaricious, and what might well be called “Axis of Western Evil,” the US, NATO and Israel (and their new and growing collection of Arab/African puppets).
So, as more and more innocent citizens die in Syria by the bloody hand of their government, the imperialist vultures (another Escobar apt coinage) circle, ready to ruthlessly exploit and expand the destruction of Syria’s infrastructure, seriously ignoring the hellish plight of the people save for possible shallow and shameless pr war-perpetrating purposes.
“No fly zone” in Libya had such peaceful connotations upon first hearing, did it not? HAH! As did “humanitarian interference.” As with Libya, as violence toward Syria inevitably breaks out from the faux-humanitarian “Western Axis of Evil” will the citizen-killing chaos be hidden behind a fraudulent, “international community” mask? Will the word "war" Orwellianly and shamelessly be dropped from the Western corporate media once again?
The Syrian citizens are damned from within, damned from without. One might say, forgive the pun but it also seems apt, they are between “I-raq” (a looming and dooming “Iraqization” of their country, so to speak) and a hard place (their betraying, vicious government).
Googling for reality on the ever-worsening situations in Syria and the Middle East in general, thanks to conscienceless US/NATO imperialism, and sidestepping the war-mongering corporate mainstream propaganda media sources, I have assembled a short, random group of questions with some relevant excerpts from “non-war-mongering for the USWarMachine” sources in response.
1) Will regime change in Syria set the stage for an unbelievably deadly US/NATO War with Iran and perhaps beyond? Why?
President Obama voiced his support for regime change in Syria on Tuesday as calls for intervention in the Middle Eastern country continued to mount. (SeeBill Van Auken.)
This will be a vicious war with the U.S. utilizing its “tactical” nuclear weapons (light weight nuclear devices and also drones) to destroy the Iranian nuclear plants underground.
This represents yet another escalation of weaponry, just as did Mustard Gas in WWI; as bombing, conflagration and destruction of entire cities during WWII, culminating in nuclear war; as Agent Orange did in the American War against Vietnam; and torture and drones have in these wars in the Middle East.
The U.S.’s commitment to destabilize every Muslim country in the Middle East is almost complete. Iran and Syria are among the last remnants of independent nation-states in that area of the world, with lackeys such as Saudi Arabia, and a handful of other client states prepared to do whatever the U.S. demands. It will be decades before any Muslim country will have the economic and military independence it would take to prevent the U.S. from intervening when and where it chooses.
What the U.S. media doesn’t discuss is why we seek to destabilize the entire Arab world. The reason is obvious: by destroying the infrastructure of countries that have valuable natural resources, the U.S. and Europe ensure the stability and price-fixing capacities of U.S. and European oil interests as well as artificial control over other natural resources worldwide. It is not necessary for us to steal Iraq’s or Iran’s oil. By destroying their ability to compete on the world market, our oil companies are free to set whatever prices they want, and can insist on a regulation-free environment within which to maneuver.
By manufacturing a non-existent threat, and engaging in another unwarranted, one-sided war, Obama can once again bow down to corporate America, pretend to be concerned for the welfare of the American people, and do nothing to control the war mongers.
The American people are so marginalized and disenfranchised that there is simply nothing that can be done to stop this madness. Just as we sat by and watched the destruction of Libya, the bailout of Wall Street, the theft of jobs, money and houses from right under our noses, the latest imperial assault is a done deal. (See Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken.)
Americans should be concerned about what is happening in Syria, if only because it threatens to become another undeclared war like Libya but much, much worse. Calls for regime change have come from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who several weeks ago predicted a civil war. That is indeed likely if the largely secular and nationalist regime of Bashar al-Assad falls, pitting Sunni against Shia against Alawite. Indigenous Christians will be caught in the meat grinder. Ironically, many of the Christians in Damascus are Iraqis who experienced the last round of liberation in their own country and had to flee for their lives.
NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davitoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the civilian population based on the “responsibility to protect” doctrine that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation forces. (See Philip Geraldi.)
The likely presence of U.S. special forces inside Syria, a nation descending into civil war, may come as a surprise to the American public. But it’s no secret to many in Congress, where testimony before the Armed Services Committee as of last year by a top military official confirmed that the US has Special forces in over 20 Mideast countries including Syria, The Nation reported in 2010.
According to U.S. Navy Admiral Eric Olson, outdoing chief of Special Operations Command, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee last year said that the U.S. had special operations troops in 20 countries in the Middle East. The Nation further reported that Colonel Tim Nye estimated in August that by the end of 2011, the U.S. would likely have special forces deployed in 120 countries. http://www.thenation.com/article/162566/secret-war-120-countries. That’s a big jump from June 2010, when the Washington Post reported special operations in 70 countries. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/con.... (See Nadin Abbott.)
2) Will Turkey invade Syria (with help from NATO) acting as a US proxy?
Last month, the American Conservative carried an article by former CIA agent Philip Giraldi providing a detailed description of the operation that is being mounted by the US and its NATO allies to foment armed conflict inside Syria.
“Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals as well as volunteers” from Libya, Giraldi wrote. “Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the CIA and US Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers.”
Turkey appears to be taking the lead in these operations, reportedly providing a base near the border for training Syrian insurgents and discussing with its NATO allies the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone over Syrian territory.” (SeeBill Van Auken.)
But NATO's wet dream is really to push Turkey to do the dirty work. Irretrievably broke as they are, NATO countries - including the US - simply cannot launch yet another Middle East war that would send oil prices through the roof. (SeePepe Escobar.)
3) Did NATO’s so-called UN-approved “humanitarian interference” on behalf of the citizenry of Libya really honor those standards? Just what kind of “democratization” (or NOT) has the US and NATO war provided for the citizens of Libya?
In terms of NATO’s role, the report cites evidence that in addition to NATO air strikes, the US-led alliance deployed troops on the ground, which coordinated the offensive of the so-called “rebels” with the bombing campaign.
"NATO participated in what could be classified as offensive actions undertaken by the opposition forces, including, for example, attacks on towns and cities held by Gaddafi forces,” the report states. “Equally, the choice of certain targets, such as a regional food warehouse, raises prima facie questions regarding the role of such attacks with respect to the protection of civilians.”
Among civilian sites visited by the mission that had been struck by NATO bombs and missiles were schools and colleges, a Zliten regional food warehouse, the Office of the Administrative Controller in Tripoli, and private homes.
The mission found its strongest evidence of war crimes in the coastal city of Sirte, a center of support for Gaddafi, which was the last major area to fall to the NATO-backed forces.
It cites a September 15, 2011 incident in which NATO warplanes struck two jeeps guarding a coastal road, killing or wounding 10 pro-Gaddafi fighters. When residents of the area came out of their homes to help the wounded and retrieve the bodies of the dead, the NATO warplanes struck again, firing a third missile into the crowd. Approximately 50 civilians were killed in the attack.
The report also detailed war crimes by the NATO-backed “rebels.” In addition to summary executions of alleged pro-Gaddafi fighters, witnesses provided reports of “indiscriminate and retaliatory murders, including the ‘slaughter’ (i.e., throat slitting) of former combatants.”
The mission reported on visits to detention centers holding individuals charged in many cases with nothing more than having supported the Gaddafi regime. At one of them, in Zawiya, visibly “panicked” and “desperate” detainees “recounted receiving frequent beatings by guards, and showed bruises and other marks consistent with prolonged and recent abuse. These bruises and marks typically appeared on the torso and upper thigh area of the detainees, and consequently were hidden from casual observation by clothing. Beatings were reportedly carried out using fists and electric and plastic cables. Detainees also reported 2 recent deaths in custody.”
The report focuses, in particular, on the treatment of black African immigrant workers and black Libyans, who have been indiscriminately rounded up and charged as “mercenaries.” People “with dark skin are being detained as presumed mercenaries. In such instances, there appears to be a presumption of guilt. The alleged mercenaries interviewed by the Mission in detention claimed to have been migrant workers, some of whom had been resident in Libya for over five years prior to the revolution,” the report states. (See Bill Van Auken.)
Then there's the Libya front. In his first public address in Tripoli, the chairman of the dodgy Transitional National Council (TNC), Mustafa Abdel Jailil, stressed Islamic sharia law would be the main source of legislation. But he crucially added, "We will not accept any extremist ideology, on the right or the left. We are a Muslim people, for a moderate Islam.
There's no evidence yet the TNC will be even able to hold the country together, not to mention promote "moderate Islam". The (foreign) vultures continue circling. NATO's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has been warning that Libya is in danger of falling into the hands of Islamic extremists who would "try to exploit" the current power vacuum. ...” (see Pepe Escobar.)
4) Are illegitimate, covert US-NATO operations occurring re Syria now in Jordan without mainstream corporate media or UN monitoring or mention at present?
Now comes the confirmation, via the website of former United States Federal Bureau of Investigation whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, that a pincer movement may be in effect, involving Jordan.
Edmonds quotes local sources according to whom "hundreds of soldiers who speak languages other than Arabic" have been "moving back and forth ... between the King Hussein air base in al-Mafraq" and "Jordanian villages adjacent to the Syrian border".
Edmonds sustains none of this is being reported by US media because of a gag order from above that in theory expired this Tuesday. And don't try asking King Abdullah of Jordan about it.
The base at al-Mafraq is virtually across the border from Dar'a. A lot of action has been going on in Dar'a recently - an epicenter of the anti-President Bashar al-Assad movement. As far as the Syrian news agency Sana is concerned, security forces have been routinely killed by "terrorist gangs". As far as the "rebels" are concerned, these are patriotic army defectors attacking military supply lines.
By adopting this pincer movement, NATO in Syria is now actively diversifying into an Iraq-in-the-1990s strategy; to submit Syria to a prolonged state of siege before eventually going for the kill. (See Pepe Escobar.)
For immense GCC wealth it's a piece of cake to control Jordan - a small country, where most of the population is actually Palestinian, with a tiny organized opposition (no wonder; Jordanian intelligence imprisoned or killed any dissidence). For the GCC that's pocket money compared to the billions of dollars earmarked for Egypt and Tunisia so they don't dare becoming "too" democratic. (See Pepe Escobar.)
5) What is the actual makeup of the Syrian opposition that US and NATO are backing? Does it include some questionable members, as did the rebel contingent in Libya during that fateful fiasco?
As for the Syrian opposition stalwarts - the Syrian National Council (SNC) - they are a joke. Most are Muslim Brotherhood, with a sprinkling of Kurds. The leader, Burhan Ghalioun, is an opportunist Paris exile with zero credibility (for the average Syrian) although in a recent Wall Street Journal interview he made all the right noises to appease the Israel lobby (no more ties with Iran, no more support to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza).
The FSA [Free Syrian Army] claims 15,000 army defectors. But it's infected with mercenaries and what scores of Syrian civilians describe as armed gangs. The SNC, in thesis, is anti-guerrilla. But that's exactly what the FSA is actively practicing, attacking Syrian soldiers and Ba'ath party offices.
The SNC key tactic for now is to sell Western public opinion the Libya-style "potential" nightmare of an imminent massacre in Homs. Not many are buying it - apart from the usual, strident, corporate media suspects. Although both are based in Istanbul, the SNC and the FSA can't seem to get their act together; they look like a lethal version of The Three Stooges. (See Pepe Escobar.)
6) How is the Arab League handling the Syrian crisis?
Then there is the Arab League, which is now controlled by The Eight Stooges; the six GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council, aka Gulf Counter-revolution Club [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and UAE] monarchies plus "invited" GCC members Morocco and Jordan. The stooges are subcontractors of NATO's Greater Middle East on (humanitarian) steroids. Nobody, though, is asking where were the stooges were when Beirut and southern Lebanon were destroyed in 2006, and when Gaza was destroyed in 2008 - in both instances by Israel. The stooges don't dare question the divine rights of the US/Israel axis. (SeePepe Escobar.)
GCC stands for Gulf Cooperation Council, the club of six wealthy Persian Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - UAE), founded in 1981 and which in no time configured as the prime strategic US backyard for the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, for the long-drawn battle in the New Great Game in Eurasia, and also as the headquarters for "containing" Iran.
There was no way for the GCC other than to become Counter-revolution Central after the initial democracy rush in North Africa. As Hanieh emphatically stresses, the ruling autocrats in the Gulf couldn't care less about the impoverished masses in MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa).
The GCC, essentially, is the core of the empire in the Arab world. Yes, it's essentially about oil; the GCC will be responsible for over 25% of global oil production within the next few decades. Their tiny ruling classes - from monarchies to business associates - function as a crucial annex to the mighty projection of US power all across the Middle East and beyond.
... In sum: the GCC is like a US aircraft carrier in the Gulf magnified to Star Trek proportions.
I prefer to refer to the GCC as the Gulf Counter-revolution Club - due to its sterling performance in suppressing democracy in the Arab world, even before Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia over a year ago.
(See Pepe Escobar.)
7) Why are the present Arab League representative monitors being “rushed out” of Syria (something akin to the fateful treatment of the neutral searchers for WMDs in Iraq)?
As the danger of full-scale war increases, Arab League foreign ministers are preparing to meet in Cairo this weekend to discuss the future of their Syrian mission. No doubt there will be western media reports highlighting remarks by those ministers who feel the mission has "lost credibility", "been duped by the regime" or "failed to stop the violence". Counter-arguments will be played down or suppressed.
In spite of the provocations from all sides the league should stand its ground. Its mission in Syria has seen peaceful demonstrations both for and against the regime. It has witnessed, and in some cases suffered from, violence by opposing forces. But it has not yet had enough time or a large enough team to talk to a comprehensive range of Syrian actors and then come up with a clear set of recommendations. Above all, it has not even started to fulfil that part of its mandate requiring it to help produce a dialogue between the regime and its critics. The mission needs to stay in Syria and not be bullied out.
The Western-backed Free Syrian Army called for the Arab League to pull out its monitors, saying they had “failed in their mission.” The group’s leader, Col. Riyad al-Asaad, told Reuters news agency that the group was calling on the Arab League “to turn the issue over to the UN Security Council and we ask that the international community intervene because they are more capable of protecting Syrians at this stage than our Arab brothers.”” (see Bill Van Auken.)
8 ) Is Jordan’s (a Sunni monarchy) role as supposed “peace promoter and monitor” over Syria less than honorable?
And all this while the Persian Gulf petro-monarchies - horrified by the Arab Spring - have proposed $2 billion in annual direct aid to Jordan so it will become part of the GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as the Gulf Counter-revolutionary Club. As a monarchical club, the GCC wants Jordan and Morocco as new members. The icing on the cake, though, would be a monarchical Libya. (See Pepe Escobar.)
After the NATOGCC win in Libya, no wonder they are on a roll. The GCC strategy of regime change in Syria is the preferred way to weaken Iran and the so-called Shi'ite crescent - a fiction jointly concocted during the George W Bush administration by the Playstation king of Jordan and the House of Saud. (SeePepe Escobar.)
Obama praised the Jordanian monarchy for being among the first Arab states to demand Assad’s ouster. As in the US-NATO intervention in Libya, Washington is attempting to line up various dictatorial regimes close to US imperialism to provide a cover for a Western intervention aimed at toppling the Syrian govern” (See Bill Van Auken.)
9) What is the significance of the petro-“dollar” to the Middle East crisis and the particular dynamic between the United States and the House of Saud?
Cueing to Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, the Rosebud inside the GCC is that the House of Saud sells its oil only in US dollars - thus the pre-eminence of the petrodollar - and in exchange benefits from massive, unconditional US military and political support. Moreover the Saudis prevent the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) - after all they're the world's largest oil producer - to price and sell oil in a basket of currencies. These rivers of petrodollars then flow into US equities and Treasury bonds.
That explains, among other things, why in October last year Washington closed a juicy US$67 billion deal - the largest bilateral deal in US history - to supply the House of Saud with a prime collection of brand new F-15s, Black Hawks, Apaches, bunker-buster bombs, Patriot-2 missiles and warships.
It explains why Washington will shower the UAE with thousands of bunker-buster bombs, and Oman with Stinger missiles. Not to mention another juicy mega-deal - worth $53 billion - with Bahrain, which has not gone through yet because human-rights associations - to their credit - have fiercely denounced it.
And there's the redeployment - or, in Pentagon speak, "repositioning" - of 15,000 US troops from Iraq to Kuwait.
The rationale for all this weaponized orgy is provided by the usual suspect logic; the necessity of building a "coalition of the willing" to "counter Iran". Why Iran? Half-jokingly, because Iran is not part of the GCC - that is, a pliable US satrapy, just like in those jolly good times under the shah.
And in Bahrain itself, there was not only hardcore repression - with documented detention and torture of hundreds of pro-democracy protesters - but an outright invasion by Saudi and UAE troops. (See Pepe Escobar.)
Now imagine the House of Saud lavishly funding a double guerrilla war all across the Pentagon's "arc of instability" - Sunnis against Shi'ites in Iraq plus the already turbocharged Taliban in Afghanistan - while lobbying for an Islamist government in both Egypt and Turkey; and this while Egypt and Turkey for their part fully collide with an isolated and angry Israel. Now that's what the "birth pangs of the new Middle East" are all about. (See Pepe Escobar.)
10) How are Russia and China and the non-US/NATO enmeshed balance of the international community responding to the latest Syrian horrors of the Mideast crises?
As for foreign military intervention, it has already started. It is not following the Libyan pattern since Russia and China are furious at the west's deception in the security council last year. They will not accept a new United Nations resolution that allows any use of force. The model is an older one, going back to the era of the cold war, before "humanitarian intervention" and the "responsibility to protect" were developed and often misused. Remember Ronald Reagan's support for the Contras, whom he armed and trained to try to topple Nicaragua's Sandinistas from bases in Honduras? For Honduras read Turkey, the safe haven where the so-called Free Syrian Army has set up. (See Jonathan Steele.)
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow would use its veto if necessary to block any resolution in the United Nations Security Council authorizing the use of force in Syria. China has indicated support for the Russian position.
Both China and Russia abstained on the resolution authorizing the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya, which provided a legal fig leaf for the US-NATO war. In the war’s aftermath, both countries have suffered significant losses in terms of their interests in Libya, with the US and its NATO allies the principal beneficiaries.” (See Bill Van Auken.)
The immensely powerful secretary of the National Security Council and former head of the FSB (the successor to the KGB), Nikolai Patrushev - a frequent visitor to Iran - has already warned of a "real danger" of a US strike on Iran; the US, he says, is "trying to turn Tehran from an enemy into a supportive partner, and to achieve this, to change the current regime by whatever means".
Yet for Russia, regime change in Iran is a no-no. Russia's deputy prime minister and former envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, has already stated, unequivocally, "Iran is our close neighbor, just south of the Caucasus. Should anything happen to Iran, should Iran get drawn into any political or military hardships, this will be a direct threat to our national security."
So on one side we have Washington, NATO, Israel and the GCC. Not exactly an "international community", as the spin goes. And on the other side, we have Iran, Syria, a fed-up-with-Washington Pakistan, Russia, China, and scores of countries linked to the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
It's true that whoever dominates the GCC - with weapons and political support - projects power globally. The GCC has been absolutely key for US hegemony within what Immanuel Wallerstein defines as the world system.
Yet let's take a look at the numbers. Since last year Saudi Arabia is exporting more oil to China than to the US. This is part of an inexorable process of GCC energy and commodity exports moving to Asia.
So for the moment we have the pre-eminence of NATOGCC military, and USGCC geopolitically. But sooner rather than later Beijing may approach the House of Saud and quietly whisper, "Why don't you sell me your oil in yuan?" Just like China buying Iranian oil and gas with yuan. Petroyuan, anyone? Now that's an entirely new Star Trek. (See Pepe Escobar.)
And now a tragic joke reigns supreme; the GCC trying to intervene and actually financing hardcore Sunni fundamentalists in Syria under the cover of helping pro-democracy protesters. When the meek UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon urges President Bashar al-Assad to stop the violence against Syrian protesters and says the time of dynasties and one-man rule in the Arab world is coming to an end, obviously he believes the GCC is a colony in one of Saturn's rings. (SeePepe Escobar.)
Earlier this month, Russia dispatched an aircraft carrier-led naval battle group to the Syrian port of Tartus in what Moscow described as a gesture of “friendship” between the two countries. Russian officials have also dismissed US protests over a Russian ship’s delivery of arms to Syria, noting that Moscow’s actions—while they may have cut across unilateral US and Western European sanctions—have violated no international agreements.
Meanwhile, the Arab League is set to meet this weekend to discuss the future of its monitoring mission in Syria, whose mandate expires this week. Qatar is among those leading calls for the mission to be scrapped in order to clear the way for direct foreign intervention. (see Bill Van Auken.)[cross-posted on correntewire and sacramento for democracy]