22 July 2012
The United States and its European NATO allies along with Turkey and Saudi Arabia, and of course Israel, are now in a state of undeclared war against Syria, as part of their ultimate goal of containing Iran. That is, until they gather more coalition partners to take on Russia and China. The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has unsubtly weighed in on the side of the NATO aggressors following the failure of the Security Council resolution for sanctions against Damascus.
War, and the resultant anguish it brings on all sides, is therefore the tragic destiny of the Syrian people, just as it was of the Libyan people last year; of the Iraqi people for a decade, of the Afghan people… This seems almost certain to continue until the old colonial West succeeds in bringing the whole world into a new united slavery.
But the war has only just been joined, and as the Syrian regime gears up to fight back, it will try to extract a heavy price from the fragile western economies, which could yet fall prey to the classic phenomenon of imperial overreach. Iran, which needs Syria to check Israel in the Levant, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah which is heavily dependent upon Syria, have reiterated support for Assad. Moscow needs the access Syria provides to the Mediterranean Sea, and Beijing is reluctant to let Washington acquire unbridled dominance over every strategic territory and sea or ocean that it covets.
Meanwhile, it is undeniable that the NATO-Sunni Arab sponsored civil war has badly hurt the ruling dynasty. On July 18, Defense Minister Daoud Rajha (an Orthodox Christian), deputy defence minister Assef Shawkat (President’s brother-in-law), deputy vice president Hassan Turkomani (Assad’s chief of crisis management), were assassinated at a cabinet meeting at the National Security building in Damascus. The several injured included Hisham Ikhtiar, director of the National Security Bureau (who died Friday, 20 July), and interior minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar.
Preliminary reports suggest that a bodyguard of the President’s inner circle turned suicide bomber [some reports say an IED was planted in the room, and hint at a Mossad hand]. Whatever the truth, the attack, the boldest in the 16-month turmoil that has already taken 14,000 lives, indicates a high level security breach in the top echelons of the Assad regime. It so excited the regime’s enemies that both the rebel Free Syrian Army and an obscure Islamist group (Lord of the Martyrs Brigade) claimed credit.
Washington and its allies swiftly backed a British resolution at the UN Security Council for sanctions against Syria, which was repulsed by Russia and China. Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, accused the West of thinking only of “its own geopolitical interests, which have nothing in common with those of the Syrian people.”
The resolution mooted non-military sanctions against the Syrian regime if it fails to withdraw heavy weapons and troops from urban areas within 10 days, and is linked to Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which provides for use of force to end the escalating conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this year vowed not to allow a repeat of the “Libya scenario” which ended in the ouster and murder of Muammar Gaddafi after a NATO military campaign. Russia has emphasized that adoption of the West’s resolution would be tantamount to “direct support” for rebel forces who claim to have launched the final battle for control of the capital. But Russian analysts predicted that the West would now openly arm the rebels, along with its Arab allies, to topple Basher Assad by force.
In a repeat of the unfortunate trend of India ditching traditional allies under the auspices of the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA regime, New Delhi voted in favor of this scandalous resolution. Worse, though the resolution clearly invoked Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, New Delhi justified its vote on the specious plea that it was intended “to facilitate a united action by the Security Council in support of the efforts of the Joint Special Envoy [Kofi Annan].”
New Delhi has thus committed India to the NATO agenda of “regime change” in Syria, violating our principled stand against foreign intervention in sovereign nations. Pakistan, like South Africa, made a principled abstention. Diplomatic and strategic experts worry that with India making active enemies of traditional friends, what goodwill and support can it call upon the day Western redesigning of the world map demands an independent Kashmir as per the original British plan? This can happen sooner than expected, say, around the time the US decides to implement the plan for an independent Balochistan.
How long can the world go along with the subterfuge of nations advocating Democracy in one breath and then using acts of terrorism to force regime change on nations? Democracy is only one form of government, and by no means the best if we truthfully assess the state of democracies today. Ironically, the ‘dictatorships’ recently overthrown by Western military intervention – Iraq, Libya – were nations that provided the best social support to their people in terms of free education, medicare, civic amenities, etc, and now Syria which gives its people the same standard of life is on the hit list. Surely there is a message here that the world needs to read and understand.
Syria is the only remaining independent state in the Arab world. The ruling Baath party has popular support, is secular and anti-Imperialist, and integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze people. It supports the Palestinian cause and is thus at odds with Israel.
So how authentic is the opposition to this regime? Barely 16 months ago, the Syrian opposition was weak, fragmented, and poor; government forces successfully routed the rebels from strongholds in Homs and other northern towns. But from the time the Kofi Annan peace plan was announced in mid-April, the military capability of the rebels has vastly improved. At a meeting of the Friends of Syria in Istanbul on 1 April, $100 million was pledged to the armed opposition groups.
Washington planned its moves carefully, beginning with the appointment of Robert S. Ford as US envoy to Damascus in late January 2011. Ford was ‘Number Two’ at the US embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) under Ambassador John D. Negroponte; he played a key role in the Pentagon's ‘Iraq Salvador Option’ which supported Iraqi death squadrons and paramilitary forces modelled on the experience of Central America.
Michel Chossudovsky notes that currently America is involved in four distinct war theaters – Afghanistan-Pakistan, Iraq, Palestine and Libya. An attack on Syria would result in the integration of these theaters and eventually lead to a broader Middle East-Central Asian war.
Charlie Skelton of the UK Guardian has made a detailed and brilliant analysis of the persons claiming to represent the Syrian people, specifically representatives of the Syrian National Council (SNC) which is projected in the West as the ‘the main opposition coalition’. What is true is that the SNC is deeply embedded with the West and was among the first voices to call for foreign intervention in the country.
Skelton’s list is an eye opener, a strong warning about the use of Diaspora dissidents to destabilize regimes targeted by the West.
Take, for instance, the Syrian National Council’s most senior spokesperson, the Paris-based Syrian academic Bassma Kodmani, member of the council’s executive bureau and head of foreign affairs. Just days before the Security Council resolution, she demanded “a resolution under Chapter VII, which allows for the use of all legitimate means, coercive means, embargo on arms, as well as the use of force to oblige the regime to comply.” And she has been invited to the secretive Bilderberg conclave twice, once in 2008 and again in 2012. At the 2008 conference, she was listed as French, but in 2012, she became ‘international’ (whatever that means).
In 2005, Kodmani worked for the Ford Foundation in Cairo, as director of governance and international co-operation programme. This was the time US-Syrian ties collapsed and President Bush recalled his ambassador from Damascus. Many Syrian opposition projects began in this period, according to the Washington Post.
By September 2005, Kodmani was executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), a research programme launched by the powerful US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). It was mentored by an international board chaired by General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft.
Brent Scowcroft is a former national security adviser to the US president; he succeeded Henry Kissinger. His colleagues on the Arab Reform Initiative board include geo-strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski (former national security adviser) and Peter Sutherland, chairman of Goldman Sachs International. And in 2005 itself, the Council on Foreign Relations gave ‘financial oversight’ of the project to the Centre for European Reform (CER). Enter the British.
The Centre for European Reform (CER) is overseen by Lord Kerr, deputy chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, former head of the diplomatic service and senior adviser at Chatham House, the most important UK think tank. Daily operations are run by Charles Grant, former defence editor of the Economist, and member of the European Council on Foreign Relations, a ‘pan-European think tank’ packed with diplomats, industrialists, professors and prime ministers. Members include Bassma Kodmani (France/Syria), Executive Director, Arab Reform Initiative.
The Centre for European Reform includes George Soros, one of the main financiers of the European Council on Foreign Relations. See how the worlds of banking, diplomacy, industry, intelligence and various policy institutes and foundations mesh together. Kodmani – in the midst of it all – is also research director, Académie Diplomatique Internationale, ‘an independent and neutral institution dedicated to promoting modern diplomacy’. The Académie is headed by Jean-Claude Cousseran, a former head of the DGSE or French foreign intelligence service.
Then there is Radwan Ziadeh, director of foreign relations, Syrian National Council. Ziadeh is a senior fellow at the federally-funded Washington think tank, the US Institute of Peace, where the Board of Directors is packed with alumni of the defence department and national security council. The president is Richard Solomon, former adviser to Kissinger at the NSC. Ziadeh has powerful connection in Washington and London. In 2009 he was Fellow at Chatham House.
SNC member Najib Ghadbian, a University of Arkansas political scientist, became a link between the US government and the Syrian opposition in exile way back in 2005. He is now on the advisory board of a Washington-based policy body called the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies (SCPSS), which is co-founded by Ziadeh.
Ziadeh has spent years in such networking. In 2008, he participated in a meeting of opposition figures in a Washington government building called ‘Syria In-Transition’, which was co-sponsored by a US-based body called the Democracy Council and a UK-based body called the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD). The MJD website said: “The conference saw an exceptional turn out as the allocated hall was packed with guests from the House of Representatives and the Senate, representatives of studies centres, journalists and Syrian expatriats [sic] in the USA.”
MJD’s public relations director, Ausama Monajed, was present at this meeting. The Guardian report says that the SNC includes the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2008, Monajed was invited to lunch with George W Bush, along with a few of other favoured dissidents; the guests included Condoleezza Rice.
The MJD, according to a Washington Post story picked up from WikiLeaks, was amongst the recipients of huge money from the US state department. Monajed’s Barada TV, a London-based network of Syrian exiles, received as much as $6m since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria.
And there are so many others, all ready to sell their motherland for a fistful of silver. At this moment, the money is flowing faster than flood waters…
The author is Editor, www.vijayvaani.com