By: Patrick Henningsen
July 10, 2012
With all the rhetoric and talk of democratic reform in Syria, the Syrian opposition’s message is clear: “No negotiations. We want power now”. Sounds more like a dictatorship in the making.
Yet, this is the very opposition being backed by the western powers led by Hillary Clinton and her ‘Friends of Syria’, currently killing, burning and and looting their way through to Damascus, and looking more and more likely to go the way of Libya.
The Syrian opposition, in the form of the Syrian National Council (SNC) were in Moscow today, lobbying to change Russia’s mind on Syria – lobbying for Russian support in removing the current Syrian regime. “No dialogue with Bashar al Assad and the ruling regime”, in effect demanding action before any talks of a new government can take place.
Critics describe this trip as pre-posturing, or going through the motions in order to creative a narrative for Washington to utilize later on. The narrative in this case is to make Washington’s SNC look legitimate and appear able to open diplomatic relations with major players in advance of their stealing power in Syria.
At the same time, Kofi Annan is in Tehran, essentially to convince the Islamic Republic to lend its influence in convincing Syria’s current government to step down – a stance Tehran is unlikely to take, but could be swayed in return for leverage with the UN in the wake of western economic sanctions and the threat of war.
Whether Iran cooperates in this instance is one matter, but for the UN organization, this trip achieves the very same element as the SNC’s trip to Moscow – it reinforces the western narrative that enemies of Bashar al Assad are pursuing a ‘diplomatic solution’ to a deteriorating situation in Syria – a situation which was seeded and further inflamed by the western and gulf ally-backed proxy guerrilla armies in Syria.
Despite the fact that he more or less enabled the illegal and neo-colonial US-led wars and occupations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, former UN head Kofi Annan is still regarded in the media as a sort of international negotiator. Although his recent proposal of ‘negotiations without preconditions’, namely those preconditions vehemently laid down by the US, UK and the Syrian opposition – ‘immediate regime change, no negotiations and total power in government’.
Geneva: Designed to Fail
Annan’s role today is no different than it was 10 years ago – to create a narrative of a concerned international community. In other words, sustaining a public illusion of international bilateral negotiations long enough until the US and its allies have all necessary chess pieces in position to achieve their own geopolitical and economic ends in the region.
Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan concluding remarks at the Meeting of Action Group on Syria last week in Geneva show rhetoric that can only exist in a political vacuum, and not connected at all to reality. Annan goes through the motions by stating last week, “I called this meeting in Geneva at this critical stage in the crisis to bring the international community and the countries with influence together – to take concrete action… everyone here is gravely alarmed at the situation in Syria. We strongly condemn the continued and escalating killing, destruction and human rights abuses.”
At no point does the UN Special Envoy ever acknowledge that the main driver of violence and so-called human rights abuses – and even ethnic and religious cleansing in Syria – are a result of US-UK-Saudi-Qatar-backed radical Sunni force known as the ‘Free Syria Army’ and al Qaida rebel factions operating within Syria.
Sadly for Syrians, the western powers will ultimately achieve their plan of regime change by default. Although more laborious and subtle in its execution, the sustained international illusion of dialogue and diplomacy between western allied regime change proponents and Syria and its allies, will eventually end in the same way that western Iraqi pre-posturing did in 2002 – forgotten and ultimately irrelevant, because the Washington and London’s agenda remains steady throughout.
Given enough time and external economic and military pressure applied, eventually, the nation state of Syria will implode from within and the west knows this.
A NATO humanitarian intervention would certainly be easier for Washington, but in the absence of a Libya-style ‘No Fly Zone’, the west’s strategy is simply:
Buy enough time until the plan of destabilization is successful and there is a collapse of law and order within Syria.
The Balkanization of Syria
In order to ensure regional destabilization and the presence of the ‘international community’ but more importantly for the western allied military and economic forces – the elimination of a strong secular nation-state in the Middle East, the process of Balkanization must occur in Syria.
In similar fashion to the French Mandate of Syria in 1921, western power brokers will aim to divide Syria along both ethnic and religious lines. The Assad regime has managed over the decades to maintain relative ethnic and religious harmony between Sunnis, Shi’ites, Alawites, Druze, Christians, and even Jews (there are currently some 1,200 Jews in Damascus and are traditionally protected from persecution by Syria’s ruling government) in Syria.
Sunni Muslims represent somewhat of a majority through central Syria and are presently the preferred ally of western powers seeking to divide influence and dissolve the nation state of Syria. They also comprise the majority of foreign and domestic guerrilla fighters being deployed throughout the country by planners in Washington and London. They will also have received the full backing of Gulf allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar whose interest is to spread Sunni influence in Syria.
Alawites represent a minority of Syrians, but are aligned with the traditional political power base of the current ruling regime in Syria. Western planners seek to drive them out of Damascus and towards the northwest of the country.
The ethnic Kurds to the northeast are also key in the break-up of Syria, not least because they are part of a larger regional population which stretches north into Turkey and east into Iraq. This group has been used as both a political and military wedge and bargaining tool by Washington and London throughout history and their significance will become more so once the maps a redrawn again this time.
Remaining Shi’ites cannot be allowed to hold any collective influence in Syria because of their affiliation with both Hezbollah and Iran, and therefore will be best left scattered throughout the region.
Similarly, the Christian population of Syria are of little use to western planners and are currently being persecuted and driven out of towns by western-backed radical Sunni rebels in cities like Hama.
The Druze are another important minority sect nested in the southern region of Syria. Druze have been used by Israeli interests past and present, to divide and rule over various sub-regions, and even serve within the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). If Syria is successfully divided by the west, the remaining portions of the fresh water-rich Golan Heights not currently occupied by Israel could very well fall into Israeli hands. Those areas are presently held in escrow by the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 350 of 1974 which called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Syria. The situation in this Israel-Syria sector has remained quiet with no serious incidents since its implementation. But that could change should the west destabilize and Balkanize the current nation of Syria. The mandate of UNDOF has been renewed every six months since 1974, with the most recent renewal until June 30, 2012. UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization) and UNDOF operate in the zone and continue to supervise the ceasefire.
Lebanon is similar to Syria in that it has maintained a secular shape to its government and many residents of Lebanon identify with their multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation-state.
But trouble in Syria will almost inevitably mean trouble in Lebanon. Syria, among other things, is a major trading partner with Lebanon and also provides Lebanon with electricity and other staple resources.
For war planners in Washington, Tel Aviv and London however, Lebanon mainly represents a shelter for what constitutes a ‘terror organization’ in western eyes – the Shi’ite-oriented Hezbollah. Just as the IRA made the political transition via its Sinn Fein political body, Hezbollah has made the transition from militia to politics in Lebanon. To date, its intricate organization of militias throughout Southern Lebanon remain as the only real barrier between Lebanon and its aggressive neighbor to the south, Israel.
In the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, the IDF was eventually sent home as walking wounded, but Israel managed to bomb and destroy a significant amount of Lebanese infrastructure as ‘collective punishment’ to the nation of Lebanon for hosting Hezbollah in the country – but also to block Syria from delivering much needed aid to their Lebanese allies. Israeli strikes were followed by Hezbollah rocket reprisal attacks into Israel.
If regime change is achieved by the west in Syria, Hezbollah’s greatest local ally will have been effectively eliminated, potentially opening the door again into Lebanon. The potential for destabilization in Lebanon is significant. Many old wounds still exist between the country’s Marionite Christian, Muslim and Druze populations – resulting in an incredibly fractured political landscape. If the west chooses to exaggerate and inflame these traditional differences in Lebanon, it could result in a rapid destabilization process in Lebanon which could reach fever pitch, not in a matter of months – but weeks.
Whether it’s by internal destabilization or by military confrontation, the elimination of Syria and the neutralization of Lebanon’s Hezbollah means that Israel’s on real potential foes in the region will have disappeared overnight – opening the door for itself and its ally the United States to engage in a joint-unilateral military strike against Iran.
‘Russia Gas’ versus ‘Qatari Gas’
Increasingly today, natural gas has become one of the most important commodities in determining regional power. The European Union currently imports 50% of its energy and with an increased dependence on natural gas, the EU has fallen victim during various periods with the suspension of the natural gas supplies from Russia. A major gas pipeline project has since been planned to counter this trend, and the pipeline will originate in Qatar via Saudi Arabia and Syria.
This little known fact is one major reason why Russia is taking the current situation in Syria very seriously – because the outcome will affect its own geopolitical standing within greater Europe.
Qatar is a country with rich natural gas reserves that can ensure source diversity in natural gas supply for the EU – the later has been seeking to reduce its dependence on Russia. Streamlining Syria and Turkey as the final mile to Europe is of paramount interest to the US and its NATO allies. It is a major piece of a larger puzzle of economic and political consolidation.
Also of great interest to the international banks, corporations and the IMF, will be all of Syria’s state-owned assets and resources.
It’s state-owned bank will also disappear within weeks, and replaced by a new debt-ridden private entity.
Before the west’s infiltration of Syria in 2011, the country was in the black and enjoying steady economic growth that beat China in terms of percentage – all during a period of recession in the west. With sanctions and destabilization, that has changed, and with further asset-stripping, just like Libya, Syria will remain deep in the red for the foreseeable future.
Baiting World War III
Military engagement, followed by the potential destruction of an independent Iranian military and industrial economy would be a favored outcome for Washington, NATO and Gulf state allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but for the rest of the planet it could pull in other regional powers like Russia, Pakistan and China which risks triggering off a wider World War III type theatre of conflict.
The result of such an escalation could risk a nuclear conflagration, but will almost surely result at very least in the choking of certain essential supplies to the west, possible inflation, followed by a protracted, global economic depression – a recipe for domestic unrest all over the globe.
In this Hegelian dream, and as it was following both WWI and WWII, the world will be clamoring for a brand new, more effective global government, along with a one world single currency and last but not least – a global military force to prevent future wars.
These are the clear and present risks in this 21st century global game of dominoes.