Traces of Reality
December 17, 2012
NATO’s Agenda of Imperial Hegemony Focuses Its Crosshairs On Syria
UPDATE 2 (12/19/2012): Fortunately, Richard Engel and his crew members were freed from their captors yesterday. Engel recounts their abduction , being ambushed, blindfolded, and kidnapped by a pro-Assad Shiite militia with NBC’s Today show on Tuesday morning. They were to be used as hostages to exchange for the release of 4 Iranian agents and 2 Lebanese Amal members, and Engel maintains that their captors spoke openly of their support for Assad and made proclamations of their faith. Engel and his team were held for about five days, but did not sustain any physical harm. A gunfight which erupted as they were being transported left two captors dead, at which point Syrian opposition fighters took them to safety. Whether the captors were indeed aligned with Assad as Engels describes, or merely acting in such a capacity so as to produce a propaganda piece against the new Axis of Evil — Iran, Syria, Lebanon — is a bit of speculation I’ll leave to you, the reader.
UPDATE: As this blog was being edited for posting, breaking news from Gawker reports that NBC News correspondent Richard Engel has gone missing in Syria and has been out of contact with his network since Thursday morning. A media blackout was in effect once word began to circulate, and NBC remains mum about the situation. Will this trigger Obama’s next scope-limited, humanitarian kinetic action in Syria, or a larger showdown against their ally Iran?
While violent regime change in Iran remains on the the agenda for the Powers That Shouldn’t Be, always count on the warmakers to take the path of least resistance as they consider the next few moves on the Grand Chessboard. After the thorough debunking of the Associated Press-leaked hoax diagram, supposedly proving military-grade nuclear enrichment by Iran, NATO now turns its sights to Syria, frothing to depose Arab Socialist Ba’ath party evil-doer and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Recent allegations place blame on Assad for having breached a chemical weapons red-line, with intentions to use such atrocious weapons against his own people, the warmongering media claims. President Barack Obama spoke of this red-line back on August 20, 2012, only days after Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) mercenaries had joined the ranks of the Western-backed, anti-Assad Free Syrian Army (FSA), and three weeks after the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) waiver was issued permitting the United States “to provide logistical and financial support to the armed Syrian resistance,” as reported by Al-Monitor.
Conversely, Syrian officials fired back, cautioning that rebels would likely employ chemical weapons, citing the recent capturing of the Syria-Saudi Chemicals Company (SYSACCO) factory in the outskirts of Aleppo by militants belonging to Al-Nusrah Front. The Assad government continues to deny intentions of using chemical weapons on its own people while repeating its warnings concerning the toxic chlorine at the SYSACCO factory seized by opposition forces.
Although Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quick to back-track on the unsubstantiated chemical weapons claim after an unnamed senior defense official contradicted the narrative, the Obama administration continues to formulate plans for attacking Syria once an opportunity to do so is available. In pursuit of Assad’s imminent overthrow, last week, the Senate overwhelmingly approved of establishing a No-Fly Zone over Syria and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has parked off the coast of Syria, joining the 2,500-strong USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group. “If the US decides to intervene militarily in Syria, it now has at its disposal 10,000 fighting men, 17 warships, 70 fighter-bombers, 10 destroyers and frigates,” according to Israel’s DEBKAfile, via Russia Today.
During last week’s OSCE conference in Ireland, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear the intentions of the U.S. and NATO in saying that a free and peaceful Syria “cannot possibly include Assad.” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Middle East Envoy Mikjhail Bogdanov conceded that “victory for the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out,” prompting an immediate statement from Foreign Ministry spokeman Alexander Lukashevich asserting that “Russia stands for dialog and against foreign interference.” The following day, NATO Military Committee Chairman Knud Bartels reiterated Clinton’s position while discussing post-Assad contingency planning, saying, “You may say I am maybe assuming that Assad will disappear… I tend to believe that this is indeed the case.” Reuters quoted Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s retort: “The situation in Syria is getting more complicated [but] anyone who thinks the armed opposition can settle the situation on the ground is very very very mistaken.”
Meanwhile, domestic and foreign defense contractors have been busy training Syrian rebel groups to handle and secure chemical weapons, as Israeli Special Forces conduct a “cross-border operation [that] is part of a secret war to trail Syria’s non-conventional armaments and sabotage their development.” Ostensibly, these measures have been undertaken to assure that weapons of mass destruction remain out of the hands of the bad guys, but even a passing glance of the reports emerging from the ground in Syria reveal the brazen hypocrisy of such statements.
A New York Times story provides some exposition:
“The lone Syrian rebel group with an explicit stamp of approval from Al Qaeda has become one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces, posing a stark challenge to the United States and other countries that want to support the rebels but not Islamic extremists. [...]
“The group [Nusra Front] is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi officials and former Iraqi insurgents say, which has contributed veteran fighters and weapons.
“This is just a simple way of returning the favor to our Syrian brothers that fought with us on the lands of Iraq,” said a veteran of Al Qaeda in Iraq, who said he helped lead the Nusra Front’s efforts in Syria. [...]
But blacklisting the Nusra Front could backfire. It would pit the United States against some of the best fighters in the insurgency that it aims to support. While some Syrian rebels fear the group’s growing power, others work closely with it and admire it — or, at least, its military achievements — and are loath to end their cooperation.”
The NYT column also quotes Mosaab Abu Qatada, a rebel spokesman, saying that Jabhat al-Nusra (a/k/a Nusrah Front) “defends civilians in Syria, whereas America didn’t do anything.” Qatada then remarked, “America just wants a pretext to intervene in Syrian affairs after the revolution.”
Last Tuesday, President Obama formally recognized the Syrian Opposition Coalition (with concomitant approval by the so-called “Friends of Syria” collective, formed to bypass UN vetoes from Russia and China) describing the group as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”
It’s a “diplomatic designation will allow the United States to more closely support rebel efforts, including the organization of a future post-Assad government,” writes ABC News. Obama qualified this endorsement by repudiating the aforementioned Al Qaeda brothers: “al-Nusrah has sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition while it is, in fact, an attempt by [Al Qaeda in Iraq] to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes.”
Following the blacklisting of Jabhat al-Nusrah, at least 29 opposition groups which comprise the larger, recognized coalition have disregarded Obama’s Nusrah exception and chosen to abide by their allegiance to the group perceived as “the most aggressive and successful arm of the rebel force.” Even the Syrian National Coalition (referred to as the Syrian Opposition Coalition by Obama) president Moaz al-Khatib disagreed, suggesting that “labeling one of the factions fighting the regime as a terrorist organization should be reconsidered,” according to an article from Associated Press. The same piece also noted that “[t]he world’s recognition of the Libyan opposition gave it a huge boost in the battle against Moammar Gadhafi last year and paved the way for Western airstrikes,” a comparison acknowledged by Syrian National Council executive committee member Haitham Maleh.
Hostilities against many coveted, resource-rich and/or geostrategic MENA countries have been exacerbated since the American taxpayer-financed “Arab Spring” protests swept across the region. Indeed, as political vacuums develop within these countries, NATO’s hard-line imperialists and soft-power interventionists alike will seize upon opportunities to capture its next pawn/proxy. The March 15, 2011 demonstration outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt, likely the product of the National Endowment for Democracy and the International Republican Initiative (where NED honoree Senator John McCain is Chairman of the Board of Directors), offered such a pretext. Deep coffers courtesy of Saudi despots will ensure a prolonged and bloody civil war.
An even more convincing provocation for armed intervention, however, would have been the killing of a Western journalist at the hands of Assad’s Syrian Armed Forces, an event narrowly avoided by British journalist Alex Thomson. Russia Today reports that “[Thomson] and his group were deliberately given incorrect directions by a group of Syrian rebels” putting them in a free-fire zone “in the middle of no-man’s land.” Thomson remarked, “Dead journos are bad for Damascus.”
As the UN/NATO keep a low-intensity conflict brewing in Syria, American public opinion remains skeptical of a Syrian threat. Before the masses can accept overt military action against Syria, the Western political class requires that Assad or his loyalists deliver the first (observable) blow. In lieu of such a move, however, an unrelenting psyop campaign will have to suffice (absent necessary reality checks, of course).
These incidents surrounding Syria come in identical fashion to prior examples now evident with the invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The pattern of demonization and dehumanization, along with collective punishment by imposing economic sanctions, produces predictable results. A desperate antagonized population, or the leaders they depend on, are pushed into a corner to instigate retaliation. Then, the United Nations Security Council unleashes the dogs of war toward the present, non-compliant villain amid the furor.
Anticipating this escalation, Western allies have continued to train Syrian rebels and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has issued an order to deploy U.S. Patriot missile batteries and 400 troops to Turkey. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton portrayed the move as being “meant to send a clear message to Syria that Turkey is backed by its allies.” Iranian Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, however, did not share the sentiment and was quoted by Associate Press as saying “[t]he wise and the elite in Europe, U.S. and Turkey should dismantle the Patriots and take them away from the region before a fire breaks out.”
Syrian National Coalition head al-Khatib, who endorsed the deadly terrorist group Nusrah Front, now recommends that international forces allow the opposition forces to finish the mission of toppling Assad, saying that rebels “no longer need international forces to protect them.” Stories detailing FSA captures of government armories and rebel hardware such as a home-made armored tank bolster that viewpoint.
Of course, if and when Assad’s regime is overthrown, who or what is expected to replace it? NATO satellites proceed with ultimatums as Syria’s civil war reaches a boiling point. It seems little can be done to avert the repercussions of yet another MENA coup d’etat.
Yet, the same hired guns that have been destabilizing Afghanistan, raiding, kidnapping, and imprisoning its children, and dodging “insider” attacks from the Afghan soldiers they trained now seek to bring humanitarian aid to Syria! Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and other regional officials harbor the same reservations, attributing Syria’s turmoil to actions of the U.S. and European Union.
As the conflict rages, a breakaway militia consisting of Syrian Kurds aims to repel aggressors from both Assad’s forces and FSA mercenaries, and the U.S. seeks to offer support to these Kurdish fighters as well. This civil war within a civil war, in which the Partiya Yekitiya Demokrat (or Democratic Union Party, PYD) “claims to be neutral and has made unofficial deals with both Syrian rebels and the government to take control of more Kurdish areas,” may well strengthen Assad’s hand as the PYD pushes back against FSA rebels and Turkish influence, reports Asia Times. Interestingly, just yesterday, Turkish security forces seized a significant cache of drugs, guns, ammunition, and ammonium nitrate from suspected Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants aligned with the PYD in the city of Diyarbakir, near the southeastern border with Syria and Iraq.
Tensions on the ground have precipitated a crisis with Syrian refugees numbering somewhere between half a million to over 700,000 already. Even Palestinian refugees living in Syria have been compelled to escape the bloodshed. Violence is fomented by extremists on both sides — foreign mercenaries attempting to oust an authoritarian precariously clinging to power — and fleeing Syrian civilians hoping to go about their lives in peace have been trapped in the crossfire. It may only be a matter of time before the Assad government is unable to withstand NATO’s forces and their proxies. When that day comes, expect a full-scale civil war to ignite, where sectarian groups clash to defend the places they call home and there are no winners. The story remains the same and history repeats — just as has been witnessed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and the slew of other territories unfortunate enough to find themselves in NATO’s crosshairs.