The Road To Tehran Goes Through Damascus
By Nile Bowie
February 15, 2012
Between the chaos and artillery fire unfolding in Homs and Damascus, the current siege against the Ba’athist State of Bashar al-Assad parallels events of nearly a century ago. In efforts to maintain its protectorate, the French government employed the use of foreign soldiers to smother those seeking to abolish the French mandated, Fédération Syrienne. While former Prime Minister Faris al-Khoury argued the case for Syrian independence before UN in 1945, French planes bombed Damascus into submission. Today, the same government – in addition to the United States and its client regimes in Libya and Tunisia – enthusiastically recognize the Syrian National Council as the legitimate leadership of Syria. Although recent polls funded by the Qatar Foundation claim 55% of Syrians support the Assad regime, the former colonial powers have made a mockery of the very democratic principles they tout.
Irrespective to the views of the Syrian people, their fate has long been decided by forces operating beyond their borders. In a speech given to the Commonwealth Club of California in 2007 retired US Military General Wesley Clark speaks of a policy coup initiated by members of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Clark cites a confidential document handed down from the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2001 stipulating the entire restructuring of the Middle East and North Africa. Portentously, the document allegedly revealed campaigns to systematically destabilize the governments of Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Iran. Under the familiar scenario of an authoritarian regime systematically suppressing peaceful dissent and purging large swaths of its population, the mechanisms of geopolitical stratagem have freely taken course.
Syria is but a chess piece being used as a platform by larger powers. Regime change is the unwavering interest of the US-led NATO block in collaboration with the feudal Persian Gulf Monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). This is being accomplished by using Qatar-owned media outlets such as Al-Jazeera to project their version of the narrative to the world and by arming radical factions of the regions Sunni-majority population against the minority Alawi-Shia leadership of Assad. Since 2005, the Bush administration began funding Syrian opposition groups that lean toward the Muslim Brotherhood and their aspirations to build a Sunni-Islamic State. The Muslim Brotherhood has long condemned the Alawi-Shia as heretics and historically attempted multiple uprising in the 1960’s. By arming radical Sunni factions and importing Iraqi Salafi-jihadists and Libyan mercenaries, the NATOGCC plans to topple Assad and install an illegitimate exiled opposition leader such as Burhan Ghaliun (leader of the Syrian National Council) to be the face of the new regime.
The recent example of implementing foreign policy by arming Al-Qaeda fighters in Libya has proved disastrous – as the rule of law passes from the NATO-backed Libyan Transitional Council to hundreds of warring guerilla militias. At a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Hillary Clinton, Davutoglu pledged to find ways outside the United Nations Security Council to pressure Assad. In addition to bolstering longstanding sectarian divides in Syria, the US is smuggling arms into Syria from Incirlik military base in Turkeyand providing financial support for Syrian rebels. Syrian opposition forces led by defected Syrian colonel Riad al-Assad have been trained on Turkish soil since May 2011. Exclusive military and intelligence sources have reported to Israel’s DEBKAfile that British and Qatari special operations units are assisting rebel forces in Homs by providing body armor, laptops, satellite phones and managing rebel communications lines that request logistical aid, arms and mercenaries from outside suppliers.
Although the UK has vehemently denied these reports, Qatar’s leader Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani recently suggested sending troops into Syria to battle Assad’s forces. Military bases situated near Turkey’s southeastern border with northern Syria have become a crucial hub used for the delivery of outside supplies. Unmarked NATO warplanes near Iskenderum have received fighters from Libya’s Transitional National Council wielding weapons formerly belonging to Gaddafi’s arsenal. Abdel Hakim Belhaj, (former leader of the extremist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group turned NTC military governor at the directive of NATO) is leading the infiltration of Libyans into Syria in person with the help of the Turkish government. It has also been reported that Mahdi al-Harati, resigned from his functions as deputy chief of the Military Council in Tripoli to oversee the Free Syrian Army.
Syrian press has also reported that armed terrorist groups brandishing up-to-date American and Israeli weapons have roamed the countryside of Damascus committing blind acts of terror by setting off explosive devices and kidnapping civilians. As the NATOGCC continue to insist that Assad is committing acts of genocide against unarmed civilians, one must draw correlations between events reported by the Syrian state media and recent statements released by the leadership of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, praising the arrival of Iraqi fighters in Syria and advising rebels to use roadside bombs. Paradoxically, Al-Qaeda front man Ayman al-Zawahri has called on Muslims from across the Arab World to mobilize and support the Free Syrian Armyafter the disappointing Russian and Chinese veto at the UNSC. Few things are more absurd than the notion of Al-Qaeda terrorists – unanimously portrayed as ostensible “savages” by virtually all-Western media sources – entrust the apparatus of the United Nations and their capacity to resolve the Syrian conflict. The true purpose of Al-Qaeda and its role in influencing foreign policy has never been more evident.
Surely, Assad accusing foreign-sponsored terrorist groups of fomenting violence in Syria is simply evidence of his illegitimacy – as Western and Gulf allies assert. Even as Syrian state TV broadcasts reports showing seized weapons stockpiles and confessions by terrorists describing how they obtained arms from foreign sources, the NATOGCC continues to draft legislation in an effort pressure the Assad regime into dissolution. In the face of an outright campaign of foreign-funded sabotage, Syrian hackers have targeted Al-Jazeera’s “Syria Live Blog”, which provides ongoing coverage of the unrest. The hacker-ring boldly denounced Al Jazeera for broadcasting “false and fabricated news to ignite sedition among the people of Syria to achieve the goals of Washington and Tel Aviv.”
Through the fiery rhetoric of Susan Rice and her relentless condemnation of Assad – like Gaddafi before him – the United States is again attempting to invoke the Right to Protect (R2P) doctrine to take direct action against the Assad regime. In another parallel to the Libyan conflict, the UN’s astounding official death toll in Syria is taken solely from human rights groups, backed by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Criminal Court and the Syrian National Council. The official numbers rely exclusively on an obscure organization known as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) – based in London, not Damascus – whose evidence is largely reliant on hearsay, pixelated YouTube videos and activist Twitter feeds. SOHR’s disputed reports present evidence that would not hold up in any court of law, much less should it be the basis of United Nations resolutions. The Observatory’s director Rami Abdelrahman collaborates directly with British Foreign Minister William Hague and derives legitimacy solely from connections with corporate/foundation-funded civil society networks. Claims that Assad’s security forces indiscriminately kill scores of newborn babies are palpably a product of Britain’s foreign office.
As a further indication of the on-going media war in Syria, none is more telling than the report produced by the Arab League’s observer mission into Syria. The contents of the report were completely ignored by the corporate-media after Qatar disputed its findings, the only nation to do so in the Arab League’s Ministerial Committee. The report unalterably concluded that the Syrian government was in no way lethally repressing peaceful protestors. Furthermore, the report credits armed gangs with the bombing of civilian buses, trains carrying diesel oil, bombing of police buses and the bombing of bridges and pipelines. During an interview with Arab League observer Ahmed Manaï, he praises the Sino-Russian veto at the UNSC and encouraged the Syrian leadership to implement reforms. Manaï states, “The Arab League is entirely discredited by burying the report of its own observers’ mission and its appeal to the Security Council. It missed the opportunity to participate in the settlement of the Syrian affair. All it can offer in the future will be worthless.”
While the initial observer report is predictably absent from mainstream media coverage and cited as inept (presumably for contradicting the official line of the allied Western-Gulf powers), Arab League mission leader Mohammed al-Dabi officially resigned, stating, “I won’t work one more time in the framework of the Arab League, I performed my job with full integrity and transparency but I won’t work here again as the situation is skewed.”The United Nations and the Arab League are now considering what was originally a joint observer mission – now referred to as a peacekeeping mission. The Arab League, in tandem with Saudi Arabia is preparing a nearly identical resolution calling for an armed peacekeeping council to present to the UN. Much like the indistinguishable saber rattling seen before Libyan intervention, the new resolution condemns Assad for lethal repression and calls for a transitional shift to democracy. The resolution is expected to create similar Sino-Russian divisions over its implementation, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, previously scorned the document as “the same unbalanced draft resolution text.”
The conflict in Syria has brought light to longstanding Cold War divisions between world powers. The Sino-Russian veto of the UNSC resolution calling for intervention has blocked the opportunity for Western powers to exert overt aggression, as demonstrated by NATO in Libya. Instead, it appears that the Assad regime will be destabilized through covert mercenary groups bent on committing blind acts of terrorism by means of sniper assassinations and roadside bombs. Learning from the Libyan experience, Russia and China perceive the UN Human Rights Report authored by Karen Koning AbuZayd, a director of the Washington-based corporate-funded think-tank, Middle East Policy Council – to be explicitly comprised; victims among the civilian population are a result of armed paramilitaries doing battle with the Syrian military in residential areas. In an interview with former Russian Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov pledges that Russia will protect Iran, Syria, and the world from American fascism. In a show of support for the Syrian government, Russia has sent a large naval force into the region and China has further warned against a strike on Syria.
It is truly a paradox that the countries least fit to dictate principles of human rights, do so largely unhindered on the world stage. Without hesitation Hillary Clinton proclaimed, “What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty” referring to the Sino-Russian veto. She then called for the formation of an international alliance between the war-profiteering elite of the West and absolutist Wahhabi Persian Gulf monarchies – amusingly titled, the Friends of Syria. International calls to abstain from violence have done little to influence the Gulf Cooperation Council and their brutal crackdown against Shiites in Bahrain. Incredibly, Saudi Arabia has entered the dialogue on human rights and democracy promotion – perhaps the world’s most defining feudalistic theocracy, a nation that prohibits political parties and national elections and executes those who apostatize Islam.
Iran’s Press TV news network has reportedly leaked intelligence exposing the American agenda in Syria. The report calls for the recognition of the Syrian National Council as the legitimate government and their positioning in Turkey to work against the Assad regime. Washington would then task Turkey with sending troops into Syria to arm the opposition forces, followed by Wahhabi fighters and Libyan mercenaries. Ominously, the intelligence stipulates that Israel will enter the fray to carry out military operations against Syria. If the regime fails to dissolve, Syrian state television channels will be taken down and Assad will be assassinated. Considering how other enemies of the West have faired in recent times, the sequence of events reported by Press TV would be largely unsurprising. The Wahhabis of the Persian Gulf are playing junior to American aggression in an effort to dominate the Shia-Alawi religious faction presently upheld by the leadership of Syria and Iran, but also to secure their places as regional powers.
Domestic affairs in Syria are of little consequence to the powers trying to topple the nation; the real priority is to further isolate Iran by eliminating its Shia-Alawi ally in Damascus. Israel reaps enormous benefit from toppling the Assad regime, as the Syrian Nation Council pledges to cut ties with Iran and discontinue arms shipments to Hezbollah and Hamas. If Syria falls and Iran is directly threatened, the potential for a regional conflict of the utmost seriousness exists, assuming China and Russia move in to defend Iran. Such a conflict would create detrimental implications for the global economy, potentially triggering a hyper-inflationary financial crisis. William Hague and billionaire financiers behind the civil society groups bestowing legitimacy to violent opposition actors are not the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. Although the reforms have been slow, the Assad government is in the midst of drafting a new constitution. Syria’s sovereignty has come under direct fire from powers claiming to be defending Syria’s people. An attempt on the life of Bashar al-Assad may have similar consequences to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. As the Syrian National Council familiarly calls for the implementation of a no-fly zone, those members of the International Community with any integrity left must work diligently to diffuse conflict in the region.
[hat tip: Land Destroyer Report]