Speaking in Dublin last Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a new effort was under way by “oppressive governments” to “re-Sovietize” Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She took a stab at Russia and her regional allies for their alleged crackdown on democracy and human rights, only hours ahead of meeting Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss Syria and other issues of mutual concern.
Addressing a group of “civil society advocates” on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers’ meeting, Clinton decried a wave of repressive tactics and laws aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” in Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, and other Soviet successor states. “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” Clinton declared. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” she said, alluding to Moscow’s initiatives for greater regional integration. “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”
To support her claims Clinton presented one Igor Kochetkov, an activist with the “Russian LGBT Network”—a homosexual advocacy group financed by U.S. taxpayer money—who declared that Russian authorities were stifling the discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation. She also produced one Olga Zakharova, supposedly a journalist, who said that the use of social media was being restricted by the Russian authorities. Clinton warned that there is a concerted effort under way to eliminate American and international assistance to such human rights advocates.
It is noteworthy that the “Eurasian Union and all of that” is, in Clinton’s view, a neo-Soviet project primarily designed to violate human rights as she defines them. In fact the Eurasian Union (EAU) is a project of regional political and economic integration openly modeled on the European Union. It was first suggested by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1994, and the idea was revived by Russia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in October 2011. The following month the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement to establish the EAU by 2015. The agreement included the blueprint for the future integration and established the Eurasian Commission—clearly emulating the European Commission in Brussels—which started work on the first day of this year.
Clinton’s pledge to throw a spanner into this project—“we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it,” as she put it—reflects her dangerous arrogance. Her ability to do anything of the kind is limited, however, and if she believes otherwise she is deluded. More seriously, there is no rational reason for the United States to oppose regional integration of post-Soviet countries. The EAU is not a threat to American interests—unless those interests are defined as open-ended, full-spectrum dominance over the planet. She is unnecessarily throwing down the gauntlet and thus undermining a cooperative relationship with Russia, which in view of America’s many challenges in the greater Middle East and in the Pacific region—not to mention the disengagement from Afghanistan—should be among our top foreign policy priorities.
Secretary of State’s complaint about Russia’s “repressive tactics” aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” is hypocritical in the extreme. She was alluding to a recently enacted law regulating the work of Russian regime-change focused “NGOs” funded by the U.S. taxpayer money, and funneled through organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the National Democratic Institute. In fact the Russian law regulating such activities was patterned directly on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which regulates activities of foreign governments in the United States. FARA would require full public disclosure of those same activities that the U.S. Department of State has been lavishly funding in Russia during Clinton’s tenure. She is forgetting that the Federal Election Campaign Act flatly prohibits foreign involvement in American political process that she regards as legitimate and desirable when conducted in Russia by Washington’s protégés under the guise of promoting democracy.
As for the restrictions on social media, Russia blacklists websites devoted to drug use, suicide promotion and paedophilia. The government was accused of using the law as a tool for censorship after two—two—popular sites were banned. We may take Clinton’s criticism seriously when she expresses similar concern over Internet censorship by our NATO ally Turkey—which bans access to thousands of sites—or by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which block access to all sites which engage in the criticism of those countries’ governments, not to mention those “deemed offensive to Islam.”
Hillary Clinton’s performance in Dublin reinforces my view (see the September 2012 issue of Chronicles) that she is the worst secretary of state in U.S. history. The substance and style of her foreign policymaking have undermined the national security of the United States. Her standing abroad is abysmal. It ranges from raw hate in the Muslim world—Egyptian protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade last July—to contempt (Jerusalem), eye-rolling irritation (Moscow, Beijing, most of Latin America), or grudging endurance (Europe).
Clinton has abused her position in pursuit of a radical ideological outlook formed in the late 1960’s. Her disregard for long-established international norms and mechanisms is as revolutionary on the global scene as Obama’s presidency is domestically. She has undermined this country’s national security in various ways—her support for the misnamed Arab Spring, her Syrian policy, her Russian policy, her Balkan policy, her obsessive advocacy of “gay rights” in traditionally Christian countries—but the roots of those decisions are in her view of the United States as an ideological proposition. She does not see America as a real country populated by real people, whose security interests are rationally quantifiable on the basis of tangible costs and benefits. “When I ask people, ‘What do you think the goals of America are today?’ people don’t have any idea,” she told MSNBC in 2007. “We don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. And I think that in a life or in a country you’ve got to have some goals.”
The notion of a country having “goals” is the product of an un-American, corporatist, liberal-fascist paradigm that demands permanent cultural revolution at home and permanent “engagement” abroad. The result is a foreign policy that is part-Ribbentrop, part-New Age. Any outcome desired by Hillary Clinton becomes nonnegotiable; any opposition to it is more than a personal affront; it is an insult to “history.” To lie for the higher truth is a virtue, and to enforce the lie is a test of will.
Subterfuge came first. Mrs. Clinton has reduced the ability of American diplomats to function effectively by signing orders early in her tenure—revealed by Wikileaks—instructing Foreign Service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations. She also told State Department officials overseas to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans of foreign leaders, and to obtain passwords and credit-card numbers used by foreign officials. Some spies have always masqueraded as diplomats, but under Clinton all American diplomats are rightly assumed to be at least part-time spooks. Remarkably, she has succeeded in evading scrutiny by congressional oversight committees. Three or four decades ago, such revelations would have resulted in the offending secretary of state’s resignation, but the legacy of her husband and his successor have altered the moral climate, making Mrs. Clinton safe from sanction.
More serious in their impact on America’s national security are Hillary Clinton’s strategic blunders. There is no rational explanation for her support for the forces of jihad in North Africa, the “Arab Spring” that is predictably reshaping the region (and particularly Egypt, the key player in that region) into a foreign policy realist’s nightmare. Clinton turned the Egyptian “revolution” into her own pet project because of her ideological makeup: a seemingly popular mass movement was ipso facto historically preordained, and therefore worthy of support. Her relentless pressure on Egyptian generals to surrender to the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the country was patently not in the American interest. The process now continues in Syria, where a false-flag chemical weapons atrocity is a distinct possibility.
Clinton and her team treat meddling and intervention as a moral imperative and a test of American leadership. The doubters are maligned in terms unprecedented in diplomatic discourse. That Russia and China vetoed her U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war against Syria was, according to her U.N. Ambassador and possible successor Susan Rice, “disgusting and shameful.” Such “diplomacy” is indicative of neurosis, not statesmanship. It merely hastens the decline of American power and influence around the world, the long-term process enhanced during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom.
“Nuclear, ecological, chemical, economic — our arsenal of Death by Stupidity is impressive for a species as smart as Homo sapiens” 1
The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves … the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods … ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don’t believe at all that it’s man-made. But if there’s even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There’s too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.
The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?
Why does Barack Obama not pursue the battle against climate change with the same intensity he pursues war? Why does he not seek to punish the American bankers and stockbrokers responsible for the financial calamity as much as he seeks to punish Julian Assange and Bradley Manning?
In both cases he’s putting the interests of the corporate world before anything else. No amount of fines or penalties will induce corporate leaders to modify their behavior. Only spending some hard time in a prison cellblock might cause the growth in them of their missing part, the part that’s shaped like a social conscience.
Only prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their partners in bombing and torture will discourage future American war lovers from following in their bloody footsteps.
The recent election result can only embolden Obama. He likely took it as an affirmation of his policies, although only 29.3% of those eligible to vote actually voted for him. And an unknown, but certainly significant, number of those who did so held their nose while voting for the supposed lesser of two evils. Hardly indicative of impassioned support for his policies.
Last week the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Doha, Qatar. The comments which came from many of the activists (as opposed to various government officials) were doomsdayish … “Time is running out … time has already run out … the climate has already changed … Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come.” The Kyoto protocol is still the only international treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a touchstone for many environmentalists. But the United States has never ratified it. At the previous conferences in Copenhagen and Durban, the US blocked important global action and failed to honor vital pledges.
At the Doha conference the US was acutely criticized for failing to take the lead on planet protection, especially in light of its standing as the largest historic contributor to the current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (“The most obdurate bully in the room”, declared the Indian environmentalist, Sunita Narain. 2)
What motivates the American representatives, now as before, as ever, is concern about corporate profits. Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions can hurt the bottom line. A suitable epitaph for the earth’s tombstone. Shamus Cooke, writing on ZSpace, sums it up well: “Thus, if renewable energy is not as profitable as oil — and it isn’t — then the majority of capitalist investing will continue to go towards destroying the planet. It really is that simple. Even the best-intentioned capitalists do not throw their money away on non-growth investments.”
A brief history of Superpowers
From the Congress of Vienna of 1815 to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to the “Allies” invasion of Russia in 1918 to the formation of what became the European Union in the 1950s, the great powers of Europe and the world have gotten together in grand meeting halls and on the field of battle to set the ground rules for imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, to Christianize and ‘civilize’, to remake the maps, and to suppress revolutions and other threats to great-power hegemony. They have been deadly serious. In 1918, for example, some 13 nations, including France, Great Britain, Rumania, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Japan, and the United States, combined in a military invasion of Russia to “strangle at its birth” the nascent Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.
And following World War 2, without any concern about who had fought and died to win that war, the Western powers, sans the Soviet Union, moved to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, along with the European Union, then joined the United States in carrying out the Cold War and preventing the Communists and their allies from coming to power legally through elections in France and Italy. That partnership continued after the formal end of the Cold War. The United States, the European Union, and NATO are each superpowers, with extensive military, as well as foreign policy integration — almost all EU members are also members of NATO; almost all NATO members in Europe are in the EU; almost all NATO members have had a military contingent serving under NATO and/or the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Together, this Holy Triumvirate has torn apart Yugoslavia, invaded and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, crippled Iran, Cuba and others with sanctions, overthrown the Libyan government, and are on the verge now of the same in Syria. Much of what the Triumvirate has told the world to justify this wanton havoc has concerned Islamic terrorism, but it should be noted that prior to the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria all three countries were secular and modern. Will the people of those sad lands ever see that life again?
In suppressing the left in France and Italy, and later in destabilizing the governments of Libya and Syria, the Holy Triumvirate has closely aligned itself with terrorists and terrorist methods to a remarkable extent. 3 In Syria alone, it would be difficult to name any Middle East terrorist group associated with al Qaeda — employing their standard car bombings and suicide bombers — that is not taking part in the war against President Assad with the support of the Triumvirate. Is there anything — legally or morally — the Triumvirate regards as outside its purview? Any place not within its geographical mandate? Britain and France have now joined Turkey and Arabian Peninsula states in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people. “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognizing a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” France was the first Western state to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition and was swiftly joined by Britain, Italy and the European Union. 4 The neck irons tighten.
The European Union in recent years has been facing a financial crisis, where its overriding concern has been to save the banks, not its citizens, inspiring calls from the citizenry of some member states to leave the Union. I think the dissolution of the European Union would benefit world peace by depriving the US/NATO mob of a guaranteed partner in crime by returning to the Union’s members their individual discretion in foreign policy.
And then we can turn to getting rid of NATO, an organization that not only has a questionable raison d’être in the present, but never had any good reason-to-be in the past other than serving as Washington’s hit man. 5
The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 21 years in a row
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We don’t hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
|Year||Votes (Yes-No)||No Votes|
|1993||88-4||US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay|
|1995||117-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1996||138-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1997||143-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|2000||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2001||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2002||173-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2003||179-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2004||179-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2005||182-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2006||183-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2007||184-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2008||185-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2009||187-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2012||188-3||US, Israel, Palau|
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.
Placing American presidents in their proper context
“Once upon a time there was a radical president who tried to remake American society through government action. In his first term he created a vast network of federal grants to state and local governments for social programs that cost billions. He set up an imposing agency to regulate air and water emissions, and another to regulate workers’ health and safety. Had Congress not stood in his way he would have gone much further. He tried to establish a guaranteed minimum income for all working families and, to top it off, proposed a national health plan that would have provided government insurance for low-income families, required employers to cover all their workers and set standards for private insurance. Thankfully for the country, his second term was cut short and his collectivist dreams were never realize.
His name was Richard Nixon.” 7
Films on US foreign policy
The Power Principle is a series of three films by Scott Noble. Part one, “Empire”, is the only one I’ve seen completely so far and I can say that it’s great stuff. The three parts, with their times, are:
Featured in the films are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Stockwell, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee, Philip Agee, Nafeez Ahmed, John Perkins, James Petras, John Stauber, Russ Baker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Nancy Snow, William I. Robinson, Morris Berman, Peter Phillips, Michael Albert, and others of the usual suspects.
To comment about these films or others by Scott Noble, write to him at email@example.com.
Much more publicized is the new film and book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Entitled The Untold History of the United States, it is a 10-part series appearing on Showtime. Only Stone’s name could get this dark side of US history and foreign policy on mainstream television. It will be interesting to observe what the mass media has to say about this challenge to some of America’s most cherished beliefs about itself.
- Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, September 17, 2009 ↩
- Democracy Now!, December 7, 2012 ↩
- For France and Italy, see Operation Gladio Wikipedia; and Daniele Ganser, Operation Gladio: NATO’s Top Secret Stay-Behind Armies and Terrorism in Western Europe (2005) ↩
- Agence France Presse, November 26, 2012↩
- For the best coverage of the NATO monolith, sign up with StopNATO. To get on the mailing list write to Rick Rozoff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see back issues at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato ↩
- Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 ↩
- From the review of the book: I am the change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles Kesler. Review by Mark Lilla, The New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2012, p.1 ↩
If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake? Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there was rampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food. Sadly, “Black Friday” also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity. This year was no exception. Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods. And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior. Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods. But is this kind of “me first” mentality really something that we want to foster as a society? If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families? Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?
Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was not really a commercial holiday. It was a time to get together with family and friends, eat turkey and express thanks for the blessings that we have been given.
But in recent years Black Friday has started to become even a bigger event than Thanksgiving itself.
Millions of Americans have become convinced that it is fun to wait in long lines outside retail stores in freezing cold weather in the middle of the night to spend money that they do not have on things that they do not need.
And of course very, very few “Black Friday deals” are actually made in America. So these frenzied shoppers are actually killing American jobs and destroying the U.S. economy as well.
The absurdity of Black Friday was summed up very well recently in a statement that has already been retweeted on Twitter more than 1,000 times…
It has gotten to the point where it is now expected that there will be mini-riots all over the country early on Black Friday morning each year. The following are a few examples of the craziness that we saw this year…
Fortunately, many Americans are starting to get fed up with Black Friday. In fact, one activist named Mark Dice actually went out and heckled Black Friday shoppers this year. I found the following You Tube video to be very funny, and I think most of you will too…
In the end, it is not that big of a deal that people want to fight with one another to save 50 dollars on a cell phone.
But this kind of extreme selfishness and desperation could become a massive problem someday if society breaks down and suddenly millions of extremely selfish and desperate people are scrambling for survival.
With each passing day our economy is getting even weaker, and the next wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching. What are people going to do when the next spike in unemployment hits us and nobody can find work?
To get an idea of where things are headed, just look at Europe. In both Greece and Spain the unemployment rate is over 25 percent and civil unrest has become almost a constant problem in both of those countries.
So what kind of riots will we see in the United States when the economy gets much worse than it is now?
Already there are signs of social decay all around us, and most Americans are completely unprepared for what will happen if a major disaster or emergency does strike.
Sadly, the reality is that most Americans live on a month to month basis. Most families do not have any emergency savings to speak of, and one recent poll found that 55 percent of all Americans only have enough food in their homes to survive for three days or less.
To me, that is an absolutely insane number.
We just came through a summer of extreme drought and global food supplies have dropped to a 40 year low. Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and the global financial system could fall apart at any time. Most of us just assume that there will always be huge amounts of very cheap food available to us, but unfortunately that simply is not a safe assumption. The following is from a recent article in the Guardian…
Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”
When I watch my fellow Americans trample one another to get a deal on a television or a video game, it makes me wonder what they would be willing to do if they went to the store someday and all the food was gone.
Desperate people do desperate things, and someday if there was a major economic breakdown in the United States I think the level of desperation in this country would be extremely frightening.
Source: The Economic Collapse
The headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, was under investigation and his promotion to top commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his ‘inappropriate’ comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian female friend. We are told that a ‘hard-charging’ local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr., had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend-biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of ‘cyber-stalking’. Out of concern that the General’s ‘adulterous behavior’ posed a risk to US national security, Florida-based FBI Agent Humphries handed the evidence over to one of Washington, DC’s most powerful Republican, Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn passed them on to the Director of the FBI… leading to Petraeus resignation.
In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low-ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: one in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement – on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter!
Nothing could be more far-fetched simply on prima facie evidence.
In the sphere of tight hierarchical organizations, like the military or the CIA, where the activity and behavior of subordinate functionaries is centrally directed and any investigation is subject to authorization by senior officials (most especially regarding prying into the private correspondences of the heads of the CIA and of strategic military operations), the idea that a lone agent might operate free-lance is preposterous. A ‘cowboy’ agent could not simply initiate investigation into such ‘sensitive’ targets as the head of the CIA and a General in an active combat zone without the highest level authorization or a network of political operatives with a much bigger agenda. This has much deeper political implications than uncovering a banal sexual affair between two consenting security-cleared adults despite the agent’s claim that fornication constitutes a threat to the United States .
Clearly we are in deep waters here: This involves political intrigue at the highest level and has profound national security implications, involving the directorship of the CIA and clandestine operations, intelligence reports, multi-billion dollar expenditures and US efforts to stabilize client regimes and destabilize target regimes. CIA intelligence reports identifying allies and enemies are critical to shaping global US foreign policy. Any shift at the top of the US empire’s operational command can and does have strategic importance.
The ‘outing’ of General Allen, the military commander in charge of Afghanistan, the US main zone of military operations occurs at a crucial time, with the scheduled forced withdrawal of US combat troops and when the Afghan ‘sepoys’, the soldiers and officers of the puppet Karzai regime, are showing major signs of disaffection, is clearly a political move of the highest order.
What are the political issues behind the beheading of these two generals? Who benefits and who loses?
At the global level, both Generals have been unflinching supporters of the US Empire, most especially the military-driven components of empire building. Both continue to carry out and support the serial wars launched by Presidents Bush and Obama against Afghanistan and Iraq , as well as, the numerous proxy wars against Libya , Syria , Yemen , Somalia , etc. But both Generals were known to have publicly taken positions unpopular with certain key factions of the US power elite.
CIA Director, General Petraeus has been a major supporter of the proxy wars in Libya and Syria . In those efforts he has promoted a policy of collaboration with rightwing Islamist regimes and Islamist opposition movements, including training and arming Islamist fundamentalists in order to topple targeted, mostly secular, regimes in the Middle East . In pursuit of this policy – Petraeus has had the backing of nearly the entire US political spectrum. However, Petraeus was well aware that this ‘grand alliance’ between the US and the rightwing Islamist regimes and movements to secure imperial hegemony, would require re-calibrating US relations with Israel . Petraeus viewed Netanyahu’s proposed war with Iran, his bloody land grabs in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and the bombing, dispossession and assassination of scores of Palestinians each month, were a liability as Washington sought support from the Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Iraq and Yemen.
Petraeus implied this in public statements and behind closed doors he advocated the withdrawal of US support for Israel ’s violent settler expansion into Palestine , even urging the Obama regime to pressure Netanyahu to reach some settlement with the pliable US client Abbas leadership. Above all, Petraeus backed the violent jihadists in Libya and Syria while opposing an Israel-initiated war against Iran, which he implied, would polarize the entire Moslem world against the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance and ‘provoke the US-proxy supplied Islamist fundamentalists to turn their arms against their CIA patrons. The imperial policy, according to General Petraeus world view, was in conflict with Israel ’s strategy of fomenting hostility among Islamist regimes and movements against the US and, especially, the Jewish state’s promotion of regional conflicts in order to mask and intensify its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Central to Israeli strategy and what posed the most immediate threat to the implementation of a Petraeus’ doctrine was the influence of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in and out of the US government.
As soon as General Petraeus’ report naming Israel as a ‘strategic liability’ became known, the ZPC sprang into action and forced Petraeus to retract his statements – at least publicly. But once, he became head of the CIA, Petraeus continued the policy of working with rightwing Islamist regimes and arming and providing intelligence to jihadi fundamentalists in order to topple independent secular regimes, first in Libya, then on to Syria. This policy was placed under the spotlight in Benghazi with the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and several CIA/Special Forces operatives by CIA-backed terrorists leading to a domestic political crisis, as key Republican Congress people sought to exploit the Obama administration’s diplomatic failure. They especially targeted the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, whose maladroit efforts to obscure the real source of the attacks in Benghazi , have undermined her nomination to replace Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.
General Petraeus, faced with mounting pressure from all sides: from the ZPC over his criticism of Israel and overtures to Islamist regimes, from the Republicans over the Benghazi debacle and from the FBI, over the personal investigation into his girlfriend and hyped up media smear, gave in. He ‘fessed up’ to a ‘sexual affair’, saluted and resigned. In so doing, he ‘sacrificed’ himself in order to ‘save the CIA’ and his strategy of long-term alliance-building with ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes while forming short-term tactical alliances with the jihadists to overthrow secular Arab regimes.
The key political operative behind the high-level FBI operation against Petraeus has been House Majority leader Eric Cantor, who cynically claims that the General’s romantic epistles represent a national security threat. We are told that Congressman Cantor gravely passed the e-mails and reports he had received from the ‘Lone Ranger’ FBI agent Humphries to FBI Director Mueller ordering Mueller to act on the investigation or else face his own Congressional inquiry.
Washington-based Representative Cantor is a zealous lifetime Israel-firster and has been hostile to the Petraeus report and the General’s assessment of the Middle East . Florida-based, Agent Humphries was not just any old conscientious gum-shoe: He was a notorious Islamaphobe engaged in finding terrorists under every bed. His claim to fame (or infamy) was that he had arrested two Muslims, one of whom, he claimed, was preparing to bomb the Los Angeles airport while the other allegedly planned a separate bombing. In a judicial twist, unusual in this era of FBI sting operations, both men were acquitted of the plots for lack of evidence, although one was convicted for publishing an account of how to detonate a bomb with a child’s toy! Agent Humphries was transferred from Washington State to Tampa , Florida – home of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).
Despite their clear differences in station and location, there are ideological affinities between House Majority Whip Cantor and Agent Humphries – and possibly a common dislike of General Petraeus. Concerns over his Islamophobic and ideological zealotry may explain why the FBI quickly yanked Agent Humphries out from his mission of ‘obsessive’ prying into CIA Director Petraeus and General Allan’s e-mails. Undeterred by orders from his superiors in the FBI, Agent Humphries went directly to fellow zealot Congressman Cantor.
Who would have benefited from Petraeus ouster? One of the top three candidates to replace him as head of the CIA is Jane Harmon, former California Congresswomen and Zionist uber-zealot. In another twist of justice, in 2005 the Congresswoman had been captured on tape by the National Security Agency telling Israeli Embassy personnel that she would use her influence to aid two AIPAC officials who had confessed to handing classified US documents to the Israeli Mossad, if the AIPAC could round up enough Congressional votes to make her Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Intelligence, an act bordering on treason, for which she was never held to account. If she were to take his position, the ousting of CIA Director Petraeus could represent to the greatest ‘constitutional coup’ in US history: the appointment of a foreign agent to control the world’s biggest, deadliest and richest spy agency. Who would benefit from the fall of Petraeus? – first and foremost – the State of Israel.
The innuendos, smears and leaked investigation into the private e-mails of General Allen revolve around his raising questions over the US policy of prolonged military presence in Afghanistan . From his own practical experience General Allen has recognized that the puppet Afghan army is unreliable: hundreds of US and other NATO troops have been killed or wounded by their Afghan counterparts, from lowest foot soldiers to the highest Afghan security officials, ‘native’ troops and officers that the US had supposedly trained for a much ballyhooed ‘transfer of command’ in 2014. General Allen’s change of heart over the Afghan occupation was in response to the growing influence of the Taliban and other Islamist resistance supporters who had infiltrated the Afghan armed forces and now had near total control of the countryside and urban districts right up to the US and NATO bases. Allen did not believe that a ‘residual force’ of US military trainers could survive, once the bulk of US troops pulled out. In a word, he favored, after over a decade of a losing war, a policy of cutting the US ’ losses, declaring ‘victory’ and leaving to regroup on more favorable terrain.
Civilian militarists and neo-conservatives in the Executive and Congress refuse to acknowledge their shameful defeat with a full US retreat and a likely surrender to a Taliban regime. On the other hand, they cannot openly reject the painfully realistic assessment of General Allen, and they certainly cannot dismiss the experience of the supreme commander of US ground forces in Afghanistan .
When, in this charged political context, the rabidly Islamaphobic FBI agent Humphries ‘stumbled upon’ the affectionate personal correspondences between General Allen and ‘socialite’ femme fatale Jill Kelly, the Neocons and civilian militarists whipped up a smear campaign through the yellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal implying another ‘sex’ scandal – this time involving General Allen. The neo-con– militarist-mass media clamor forced the spineless President Obama and the military high command to announce an investigation of General Allen and postpone Congressional hearings on his appointment to head the US forces in Europe . While the General quietly retains his supreme command of US forces in Afghanistan , he has become a defeated and disgraced officer and his expertise and professional views regarding the future of US operations in Afghanistan will no longer be taken seriously.
Key Unanswered Questions Surrounding Elite Intrigues and Military Purges
Given that the public version of a lone-wolf, low ranking, zealously Islamophobic and incompetent FBI agent who just happened to ‘discover’ a sex scandal leading to the discrediting or resignation of two of the US highest military and intelligence officials is absurd to any thinking American, several key political questions with profound implications for the US political system need to be addressed. These include:
1. What political officials, if any, authorized the FBI, a domestic security agency to investigate and force the resignation of the Director of the CIA?
2. Have the current police state structures, with their procedures for widespread and arbitrary spying led to our spy agencies spying on each other in order to purge each other’s top personnel? Is this like the sow devouring her own offspring?
3. What were the real priorities of the political power-brokers who protected the insubordinate FBI agent Humphries after he defied top FBI officials’ orders to stop meddling in the investigation of the CIA Director?
4. What were FBI Agent Humphries ties, if any, to the neo-con, Zionist or Islamophobic politicians and other intelligence operatives, including the Israeli Mossad?
5. Despite Obama’s effusive praise of his brilliant ‘warrior-scholar’ General Petraeus in the past, why did he immediately ‘accept’ (aka ‘force’) the CIA Director’s resignation after the revelation of something as banal in civilian life as adultery? What are the deeper political issues that led to the pre-emptive purge?
6. Why are critical political issues and policy disputes resolved under the guise of blackmail, smears and character assassination, rather than through open debates and discussions, especially on matters pertaining to the nation’s choice of strategic and tactical ‘allies’ and the conduct of overseas wars?
7. Has the purge and public humiliation of top US military officers become an acceptable form of “punishment by example”, a signal from civilian militarists that when it comes to dealing with politics toward the Middle East, the role of the military is not to question but to follow their (and Israel’s) directives?
8. How could a proven collaborator with the Israeli-Mossad and Zionist zealot like Jane Harmon emerge as a ‘leading candidate’ to replace General Petraeus, as Director of the CIA, within days of his resignation? What are the political links, past and present between Congressman Eric Cantor, (the fanatical leader of the pro-Israel power bloc in the US Congress, who handed Agent Humphries’ unauthorized files on Petraeus over to the FBI Director Muellar) and Zionist power broker Jane Harmon, a prominent candidate to replace Petraeus?
9. How will the ouster of Director Petraeus and Jane Harman’s possible appointment to head the CIA deepen Israeli influence and control of US Middle East policy and the US overtures to Islamist countries?
10. How will the humiliation of General Allen affect the US ‘withdrawal’ from the disaster in Afghanistan ?
The purge of top-level generals and officials from powerful US foreign policy and military posts reflects a further decay of our constitutional rights and residual democratic procedures: it is powerful proof of the inability of leadership at the highest level to resolve internecine conflicts without drawing out the ‘long knives’. The advance of the police state, where spy agencies have vastly expanded their political power over the citizens, has now evolved into the policing and purging of each other’s leadership: the FBI, CIA , Homeland Security, the NSA and the military all reach out and build alliances with the mass media, civilian executive and congressional officials as well as powerful foreign interest ‘lobbies’ to gain power and leverage in pursuit of their own visions of empire building.
The purge of General Petraeus and humiliation of General Allen is a victory for the civilian militarists who are unconditional supporters of Israel and therefore oppose any opening to ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes. They want a long-term and expanded US military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The real precipitating factor for this ugly ‘fight at the top’ is the crumbling of the US empire and how to deal with its new challenges. Signs of decay are everywhere: Military immorality is rampant; the be-medaled generals sodomize their subordinates and amass wealth via pillage of the public treasury and military contracts; politicians are bought and sold by millionaire financial donors, including agents of foreign powers, and foreign interests determine critical US foreign policy.
The disrepute of the US Congress is almost universal – over 87% of US citizen condemn ‘the House and Senate’ as harmful to public welfare, servants of their own self-enrichment and slaves of corruption. The economic elites are repeatedly involved in massive swindles of retail investors, mortgage holders and each other. Multi-national corporations and the fabulously wealthy engage in capital flight, fattening their overseas accounts. The Executive himself (the ever-smiling President Obama) sends clandestine death squads and mercenary-terrorists to assassinate adversaries in an effort to compensate for his incapacity to defend the empire with diplomacy or traditional military ground forces or to prop-up new client-states. Cronyism is rife: there is a revolving door between Wall Street and US Treasury and Pentagon officials. Public apathy and cynicism is rife; nearly 50% of the electorate doesn’t even vote in Presidential elections and, among those who do vote, over 80% don’t expect their elected officials to honor their promises.
Aggressive civilian militarists have gained control of key posts and are increasingly free of any constitutional constraints. Meanwhile the costs of military failures and burgeoning spy, security and military budgets soar while the fiscal and trade deficit grows. Faction fights among rival imperial cliques intensify; purges, blackmail, sex scandals and immorality in high places have become the norm. Democratic discourses are hollowed out: democratic state ideology has lost credibility. No sensible American believes in it anymore.
Is there a broom large enough to clean this filthy Augean stable? Will a ‘collective Hercules’ emerge from all this intrigue and corruption with the strength of character and commitment to lead the revolutionary charge? Surely the sell-out and crude humiliation of American military officials on behalf of the ‘chicken-hawk’ civilian militarists and their foreign interests should make many an officer re-think his own career, loyalty and commitment to the Constitution.
Source: Prof. James Petras | GlobalResearch.ca
The heavy loaded cargo boats, passenger liners, cruise ships and plentiful ferries packed with tourists steam by the Maiden Tower rising from the black rock amid lucid waters; they gingerly make their way past the mountain-like mosques on the mainland into the Bosporus, this huge God-made river running between the Med and the Black Sea. The City, one of the greatest Capitals of Man of all time, has straddled Europe and Asia since the days of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who established this New Rome. It was the biggest city on earth a millennium ago, and it is still vast. Fifteen million people live in the City, twenty million visit it annually. Its greatness explains a strange vision of the heretic Russian historian Anatol Fomenko who claimed that Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon, Moscow and London are but misplaced images of this city, the original Empire.
Despite its size and history, the city is alert and vibrant in a peaceful, even demure way. It does not feel crowded – apart from the hotspots. The streets are clean, the greenery is neatly trimmed, the ugly street flea markets of recent years are gone; old buildings have been given a facelift, crumbling palaces have been repaired at no cost spared. The Bosporus has been cleaned up too, and sewage no longer flows into it – for the first time ever. Modern freeways encircle and cross its suburbs but do not intrude into the historical precincts.
The former seat of the Caliphate and home to an Islamist government, the City found a good balance between faith and modernity. Sufi schools are plentiful and learned men discuss theology, comparing Aquinas and Palamas with Ibn Arabi and Ibn Tufail. Muezzins’ harmonious calls to prayer do not disturb café customers sipping their drinks. Girls are free to wear headscarves or miniskirts and they do exercise both options.
More importantly, the government does not subscribe to unrestricted market economics and has thereby avoided the neoliberal excesses of its neighbours. There are many municipally-owned cafés, especially in the parks, where prices are quite affordable, even in the luxurious old imperial palaces, where no entrance fees are charged. They do not serve alcohol, and attract families with children. Downtown, the rents are kept low to allow bookshops to survive and flourish. The global squeeze is as apparent in Turkey as everywhere else, but here poor people receive tangible subsidies in kind, while the salaried classes are given generous loans to tide them over. Prices are kept under control, avoiding rapid increases; conspicuous consumption is discouraged. The rich are rich, and the poor are poor, but rich are not ostentatious and the poor are not desperate.
People are modest, helpful and inoffensive;- a far cry from the Turkey of theMidnight Express. They are rather honest and straightforward, and do not make a show of themselves. They are not very artistic, and their cuisine is comparable to the British one. If it is not a great compliment, it was not meant to be: they were Empire builders, and such nations usually are no great gourmands. The French ate too well, and their women were too appealing for their empire to last.
Istanbul is not the only oasis of prosperity in the country, as is often the case with capital cities outside of Europe. Now I have travelled the breadth of Turkey and all over I’ve witnessed the modernisation of the last ten years. Roads are smooth, houses are in good repair, markets are full, people are well-dressed, the cities are neither drab nor garish but quite up-to-date. This is a great achievement of the moderate Islamist government led by Prime Minister Erdogan.
Turkey is no longer the basket case it was in 1960s and 1970s. I’ve met a few Turkish immigrants in Germany, who said that their fathers made a hasty decision when they left home for Europe forty years ago. They would like to go back to Turkey, though it would not be easy to find work and to reconnect to a new environment, for they were reared in Western Europe. Anyway, there is no mass emigration out of Turkey; the nightmare of millions of Turks moving to Europe has dissipated. They would rather stay at home, for the Turks are very proud of their own country.
Erdogan is popular with the people. He is a real charismatic, people tell me. He defeated his adversaries, and his position at the helm is undisputed. And for good reasons: Turkey is doing nicely, thank you. The country prospers, incomes have doubled, and the GNP tripled (a very remarkable one trillion euro GNP is within reach). The Erdogan government can really congratulate itself on the fine job they’ve done in Turkey.
The Turks have overcome the huge trauma of the Transfer, as the mass deportations and expulsions of 1920s are called. Though the Greeks of the City weren’t expelled, almost all other Christian communities of Turkey were sent to Greece, while the Muslims of Greece were deported to Turkey: a violent and painful divorce of two closely knit communities. As in many a divorce, the separated partners – the clever wife and the strong husband – spent years adjusting to their new position.
The Greeks suffered the most. They were spread all over the Empire and occupied central positions. Some Turkish historians prefer to call the Ottoman rule “The Turko-Greek Empire”. The Greeks were Great Viziers of the Empire; they ruled and managed the Med from Alexandria to Damascus to Istanbul; they traded and wrote poems in the days of the Second Rome just as they did under the sceptre of First Rome. Suddenly, they were corralled into a small and parochial Greece where they hardly could find their place. The Alexandrian poet Kavafy strongly felt that little Athens could never substitute for the loss of the great seaboard cities. Today’s Greek crisis can’t be understood without this bit of history.
The Turks suffered as well. Traditionally, they had served in the military and worked the soil; without the Greeks, trades and crafts declined, militarisation went unchecked, food shortages were common, life was drab and brutish, as if their culture had sailed overseas with the Greeks. Only now, many years later, the Turks have managed to recover, and recover they did.
Erdogan’s government is good to the Christian communities. The previous Kemalist governments of the Turkish Republic were viciously anti-Christian, even more than they were nationalistic and anti-Islamic. They deported even Caramanli Turks, for they were Christians. They forbade the remaining churches to be repaired; the priests could not be brought from abroad. Now, church properties are being restored, funds returned, priests are allowed to come, stay and acquire Turkish citizenship.
The Islamist government allowed the Greeks and Armenians who had left the country after the riots and pogroms of 1950s to come back, reclaim their property and settle again in Turkey. Previously unimaginable, an idea of a union with Greece began to be pondered again.
The Turks are not the only suitors of the beautiful Hellas: the Russians also would like to take her, their sister-in-Christ, ditched by the West, into the embrace of their Eurasian Union. So declared Sergey Glaziev, the coordinator of the union (including now Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan) at the recent Rhodes Forum, a top-crème gathering of Russians, Asians and dissident Westerners. The offers are not mutually exclusive: one can imagine their ménage-a-trois, a new Byzantine Empire Resurrected. The moderately Muslim and Turkic Kazakhstan is an old friend to Turkey, so such an alliance is plausible. Another turn of the screw by Frau Merkel, and it is may happen.
In Greece, re-evaluation of the Empire is also going on. There are voices calling for the reassessment of the past, for recognition of the advantages to both sides, and for proceeding cautiously. Dimitri Kitsikis is one such voice, and I’ve heard more of them while visiting Athens. The interaction is not limited to practicalities, either. Last Sunday, I went to a modest Greek Church in a suburb of Istanbul, and there I met a young Greek priest, a recent arrival from Greece who had already mastered Turkish, and even more surprisingly, I met a few ethnic Turks who had embraced Orthodox Christianity and were attending the service. The participants benevolently and indulgently smiled while they recited the Lord’s Prayer in Turkish.
And all these wonderful achievements they intend to destroy, squander and let go down the drain. I refer to the Turkish government’s plotting against Syria. It would be bad enough if they were to send their legions to Damascus. It would be wrong but comprehensible, for Damascus and Aleppo are as much parts of their past for Turks, as Kiev and Riga are for Russians, or Vienna and Tirol are for Germans. But what they are doing instead is much worse.
The Turks are about to replay the Afghan scenario as it was played by Pakistan: they bring together from all over the Muslim world the most fanatical militants, supply them with arms, and infiltrate them over the Syrian border under their artillery cover.
There are reports that the jihadists of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were flownfrom North Waziristan in Pakistan to the Turkish border with Syria, for instance on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, under auspices of the Turkish intelligence agency, via the Karachi-Istanbul flight route. The
93 militants were originally from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and included a group of Arabs residing in Waziristan. This report could not be independently checked, but there are many reports of foreign jihadists who made their way to Syria via Turkey.
This is exactly what Pakistan did under the US guidance in 1980s. Then, Afghanistan had a secular government, women worked as teachers, universities were full, factories were being built, and opium was unheard of; Pakistan was in a good shape, too. A few years later, Afghanistan imploded in civil war (under the guise of “fighting the godless communists”), and Pakistan followed it to perdition. After undoing Afghanistan, the warriors began to terrorise their Pakistani host. Now Pakistan is one of the most miserable countries in the world. It was eaten up by the disease they nourished and exported, by mindless jihadism.
This ideological disease is akin to biological warfare. You may hope your neighbours will be infected with the pest you have delivered, but you may be sure your population will eventually get it, too. For this reason nobody has tried biological warfare on a large scale. It is suicidal. And that is the equivalent of what the Turkish government is doing now. They bring jihadists to Syria, but it is only a question of time when the jihadists will turn on Turkey.
I respect the Islamic feelings of the Turks. I see them in the mosques; I know their Sufi orders and their mass appeal. So many Turks gather in Konya, where they venerate the memory of the great Sufi poet Rumi, who is loved from California to Teheran. The Islamic government was a real success in Turkey. So why do they now want to follow Pakistan’s way to perdition?
An essay written by Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister and chief promoter of Turkish intervention in Syria, answers this question. He wrote it as a university student, over 20 years ago, and an acquaintance who studied with him, remembers it well. We can and we should make a deal with Satan if necessary, the young Davutoglu had written.
In his view, Sunni Islam of the type practiced in the Empire under Sultan Selim the Grim and his successors (that postulates an unbridgeable schism between the Creator and Creation) is not just the only true faith; it is an iron-clad guarantee of good results. A state guided by it can’t do wrong. Even evil deeds by such a state will be turned by the Almighty into good results. For this reason, he wrote, the Empire managed to survive and rule for 600 years.
That’s why, wrote the young Davutoglu, Islamist Turkey may build alliances with powerful partners, and it is irrelevant whether these powers are bad or good. This means, that we may even make a Faustian pact with the devil himself, for we shall triumph by our beliefs and with the Almighty’s help. America is a Satan for Davutoglu, as it is for many Muslims, but armed with his dubious philosophy, he is prepared to join with Satan for the further glory of Turkey.
Could this very unorthodox reading of Islam be influenced by his contacts with Yezidis, whose attitude to Devil is at best ambiguous, or, more probably, with the Dönmeh, followers of Sabbatai Zevi who believed that everything is permitted, and a sin is the best way to salvation? People of more orthodox beliefs know that whoever deals with Satan will eventually come to grief, for no spoon is long enough to sup with him.
Then came the moment when his dubious theology was transformed into dubious policy. The US asked him to bring militants to Syria, and so he did.
My Turkish friends stressed that Erdogan personally does not subscribe to these theological beliefs, but is guided by practical considerations. The question of an alliance with the US and NATO caused a rift between Erdogan and his erstwhile teacher Necmettin Erbakan. Erbakan was against it; Erdogan considered it as a given. Erdogan carried a day; a majority of Erbakan’s followers went with Erdogan, formed the reformist AK Party, came to power ten years ago and have been generally successful. The minority formed the hardline (or even ‘revolutionary Islamist’) Saadet Party, which was not successful at the polls, though it retains a certain influence.
Unexpectedly for an outsider, it is the hardline Saadet Party that strongly objects to the Syrian adventure of Erdogan and Davutoglu. Though the intervention in Syria is often described as “Islamic help to slaughtered Muslims”, the Saadet leaders perceive it as an American plot against Syria and Turkey. The Saadet led strong demonstrations against the intervention.
Perhaps this is the right time for Prime Minister Erdogan to listen to his old comrades, disavow the devil-supping policy regarding Syria, and to stop the war machine before it destroys all of the achievements he can so rightly be proud of. The dream of bringing Syria into a closer union with Turkey still can be realised, but not through unleashing the dogs of war.
Syrian Volunteers Exhibit Their Humanity, Despite International Politicizing of Emergency Aid…
Over the past twenty months, as the Syrian crisis continued beyond most early predictions, this observer learned something about the Syrian people that I had known for decades about Palestinians. And that is their great concern for their countrymen wherever they are found and whatever their current condition. When I am in Syria I am frequently asked “how are our people doing in Lebanon as refugees from this crisis?” In Lebanon, I am often asked “how are our (internal) refugees in Syria and what of our people in Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, how are they being treated and are they getting the basic necessities they need to live?”
And many Syrian refugees there are these bitter days. As of early November, 2012, close to 700,000 have fled their country with the UN now expecting close to one million by early next year if the fighting does not stop. Soon, it is likely that there will be close to 2 million displaced persons inside Syria according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). There are currently, according to the 10/12 UNHCR Syrian Refugee Report, 205,000 in Jordan, approximately 60,000 in Iraq (the first known refugees who have sought refuge in Iraq during the past quarter century) 110,649 in Turkey and 110,095 in Lebanon. The true figures are higher by an estimated 13% if one were to include the many Syrian refugees who are unable or do not want to register with local authorities or NGO’s for various reasons.
“Many more Syrians have recently been displaced within our borders and we are bracing for a long conflict.” Dr. Abdul Rahman Attar, Director of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent told this observer during a meeting in his Damascus office. Dr. Attar explained that “internally displaced persons” now exceed 1.5 million and close to 8.5% of the entire population have fled their homes during the last 19 months of conflict. Nearly 400,000 in Damascus alone. Panos Moumtzis, UNHCR’s regional co-coordinator for Syrian refugee’s advised that more than 3,000 refugees flee to neighboring countries every day, or approximately 90,000 per month. Both agree that due to the collapse of public services, and given that perhaps 1.2 million people need humanitarian aid inside the country, it brings the total number of Syrians requiring some form of relief to 2.7 million – or roughly 12 per cent of the total population.
Politicizing Humanitarian Aid
Whereas in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq, official refugee camps are providing shelter at no cost to more than a quarter million Syrian refugees, the government in Lebanon has not yet permitted the construction of similar sites due to confessional fears that perhaps a political or other advantage might somehow accrue to a rival sect-once more exposing how deeply its current anarchist confessionalist arrangement paralyzes Lebanon. Unfortunately it is the same mentality and prejudices that so far has prevented Palestinian refugees in Lebanon from being granted the same elementary civil rights to work and to own a home that Syria and every other country granted the victims of the Zionist colonial enterprise usurpation of Palestine, six decades ago.
The number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon who fled the violence in their homeland have increased sectarian tensions with one result being Syrian workers and refugees being targeted by elements of the Lebanese government. This despite the enormous aid Syria gave Lebanese refugees during the 2006 war when hundreds of thousands of Lebanese sought safety next door in Syria. Nadim Houry, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, has documented growing political harassment of Syrian workers in Lebanon. He reports: “We’ve seen the army and the police detaining and roughing up a number of Syrian workers. Most recently, the Lebanese army beat up 72 workers; most of them were Syrian,” Houry reported. “The Lebanese army rounded up the migrant men in the neighborhood and decided to ‘teach them a lesson’ instead of doing police work.”
Against this dismal backdrop one can find across the border in Syria hope and even inspiration. It is coming from the Syrian people themselves and their mainly Arab friends. Between 10,000 and 11,000 volunteers, including Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, are manning across Syria more than 80 Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARC) aid “sub-stations.” These include more than a dozen mobile clinics and pharmacies as well as 10 “on the spot readiness centers.” Depending on the level of localized conflict on any given day, SARC volunteers operate 24/7 anywhere from 6 and 30 ambulances, as they liaise with the Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers, among others. Since mid-summer, SARC volunteers have been opening centers for psychological support services for children as well as adults. Recently a phone “hotline” has been set-up to help citizens find emergency help. International volunteers are most welcomed at any of SARC’s centers.
SARC’s volunteers have recently been praised by the UN World Food Program and many others for their work delivering humanitarian aid to internal refugees here in Syria. They distribute necessities of life during the chaos and killing to their fellow countrymen without regard to religion or political views. Foreign donor countries giving the most support currently include Germany, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Italy and Britain. Others help as well, including money and foodstuffs from Iran and cash from the American Red Cross, the latter channeled through the ICRC so as not to raise Congressional outcries about possible violations of heavy US sanctions being imposed on the Syrian people.
Founded in 1942, as the French colonizers withdrew from this 7000 year old civilization which they occupied in 1917, as part of the English-French Sykes-Picot arrangement, the Syria Arab Red Crescent society became linked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in 1946. SARC receives no government funding. This observer had the opportunity to meet SARC staff and volunteers of such singular commitment to helping their countrymen that more than a dozen have given their lives while trying to bring assistance to those stranded in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa and elsewhere. One SARC team leader to me: “When one of our people is killed we bury the martyr and by the next morning we have 20 or more new volunteers who want to take their place and bring aid to those trapped in the most dangerous areas. I must tell you that this hell we are living through-we are confronting directly—it has made me very proud of my people and to be Syrian. Enshallah, we will overcome this chaos and killing and we will be stronger than before as a people.”
At the United Nations on 11/5/12, a top relief official said the UN aid effort in Syria, which means mainly SARC’s volunteers, “is very dangerous and very difficult.” The official, John Ging, director of operations of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that the aid efforts in Syria (mainly being done by SARC volunteers) was supplying 1.5 million people in with food and that nearly half was being delivered into areas of conflict, but “there are areas beyond our reach, particularly areas under opposition control for quite a long time.”
Despite UNCHR’s role in studying the refugee problem and coordinating yet more studies and some registration of aid applicants during the current crisis, some familiar with its activities in Syria, including a few other NGO’s and some Syrian officials, have been critical of its performance to date. One highly respected governmental official told this observer recently, “I said to UNCHR’s local administration, “We have noticed the many fine vehicles that you flew into Syria, and we have met some of the well paid staff that you have brought to help us, but please can you show us that you have to date delivered even one loaf of bread to our desperate people?”
In fairness to UNCHR, after an admittedly slow start in Syria, it has recently picked up steam and its international staff is learning much from the local Syrian Arab Red Crescent volunteers.
Nor is SARC is without its critics.
Tawfik Chamaa, spokesman for the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) speaking from his comfortable Geneva office issued an ad holmium broadside on 11/6/12 against the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society and its nearly 11,000 volunteers. He charged that cash or materials sent to SARC was being “confiscated by the regime. It will not reach the civilians who are bombed every day or besieged,” telling reporters in Geneva, “Ninety, even 95 percent of everything that is sent to Syrian Red Crescent headquarters in Damascus goes to support the Syrian regime, especially the soldiers.”
However, according to AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN World Food Program (WFP), which both work closely with the Syrian Red Crescent Society, strongly denied their aid was being seized by the government or anyone else. This observer, during the late night of 11/7/12 contacted “Wassim”, a friend and a volunteer at the Damascus SARC HQ who last week arranged visits for me of SARC aid distribution centers and Wassim also flatly denied the UOSSM report. Wassim informed this observer on the evening of 11/7/12 that SARC will immediately prepare a response to the USOOM allegations.
UOSSM itself has been criticized, as have a few other NGO’s working in Syria, for becoming politicized, polarized and for being inordinately top heavy administratively with bloated salaries and ” humanitarian team leaders” sitting in offices in Paris or Geneva and elsewhere far from Syria. Mr. Chamaa, himself, is a high salaried founding member of the Western group of 14 aid organizations from countries including France, Switzerland, Turkey and the United States. According to SARC volunteers working in field aid distribution centers in Syria, Mr Chamaa could learn more were he to visit Syria and actually observe what’s happening on the ground before making unsupported claims. The UOSSM was set up at the beginning of the year mainly by Syrian doctors living in NATO countries. Some speculate that UOSSM hopes to be part of a possible future NATO affiliated “transition team” while others claim its political charges against SARC volunteers, without proof, are irresponsible and hurt those suffering most in Syria. The reason is because such alarmist press releases tend to damp down much needed donations of medical aid and necessities. This affects directly the 1.5 million people inside Syria who are in need of emergency humanitarian aid.
In response to Charmaa’s sensationalistic headline grabbing charges, UN World Food Program spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told the media on 11/7/12: ”I believe there is absolutely no confiscation. WFP food monitors are able to visit most areas to check that food is reaching the people who need it most. Even in some dangerous areas, they use WFP armored vehicles.” She insisted that the Red Crescent, “as the designated coordinator of humanitarian assistance in Syria, operates through branches in an independent manner”.
The ICRC said it was aware of Chamaa’s allegations. Its HQ stated on 11/7/12: “Whenever such facts are clearly established, which does not appear to be the case in Syria, we treat them very seriously and would address directly the management of (the Syrian Red Crescent) and Syrian authorities” ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk stressed that the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent “strive to assist all populations in need without any discrimination, which is a challenging task given the deteriorating humanitarian situation and security conditions.” The ICRC and SARC volunteers recently managed to deliver medical and food aid to 1,200 people in the Old City of Homs, and since the beginning of the year they have provided food, water and other assistance to more than one million people across Syria, according to ICRC spokeswoman Anastasia Isyuk, and as reported by AFP.
On 11/8/12 exhibiting exasperation, a sense of foreboding and just a whiff of defeatism, ICRC president Peter Maurer to a conference in Geneva that “We are in a situation where the humanitarian situation due to the conflict is getting worse. And we can’t cope with the worsening of the situation. We have a lot of blank spots, we know that no aid has been there and I can’t tell you what the situation is or what we can do.”
In a late breaking development Friday morning, 11/9/12, the UN human rights chief expressed concern after the ICRC said it was struggling to deliver aid in war-ravaged Syria. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told AFP during an interview at the Bali Democracy Forum in Indonesia: “The fact that they’ve now said they are unable to perform their core functions makes the humanitarian crisis in Syria extremely critical. Nearly hopeless.”
Don’t tell that to Zeinab Tamari, a thirties something Palestinian volunteer from the Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp in Damascus who is traveling across Syria bringing aid and relief to her fellow Arabs.
And don’t tell either it to Syrian student Mahar Saad whose home was destroyed during fighting in Homs and who daily risks his life remaining in his neighborhood helping his neighbors despite losing family members in the fighting. Both are SARC volunteers appeared without being asked at one of the aid organizations outlets across Syria to help. They inspire hope for Syria and for all humanity, regardless of the outcome of the current crisis.
The staff and volunteers who perform the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society’s humanitarian work undertaken in the main by Syrians for Syrians, with Syrians are a credit to their country and warrant the blessings and support all people of good will as they risk their lives to bring aid to their countrymen.
In the Middle Eastern corrida, the moment of truth is approaching fast. Assad’s Syria is running around the arena like a wounded bull, fraught and worn down by a year of cruel strife. Banderillas of mujaheeds stick out of his broken hide. The public, the Europeans, the Americans, the Gulf rulers call: Kill him! And the Turkish matador steps forward, pulling out his sword. His cannons rain death on Syrian slopes; fire and lead storm consumes the hills. Erdogan is preparing to deal last blow to his exhausted neighbour.
“Don’t do it, Erdogan! Desist!” – cry thousands of Turks demonstrating against the bloody war. Syria was a good neighbour of Turkey: Assad did not allow the Kurdish separatists to open the second front against the Turks, he delivered Ocalan to their hands, he did not turn the loss of Antioch into a national cause, he kept Israeli army at bay, he bore the brunt of war in Lebanon, supporting the brave warriors of Hezbullah. Post-Assad Syria will be worse for Turkey.
If Erdogan’s Janissaries will deal treachourous strike to Syria, and cause its collapse, a terrible whirlwind will ensue, and it will engulf Turkey as well. Inevitable massacre of Syrian Christians by the mujaheeds with Turkish support will remind the world of so many forgotten Christian villages and cities smashed and depopulated by the victorious Turks. The ghosts of slaughtered Armenians and Greeks will emerge from the lanes of Smyrna and the shores of Van. From broken Syria, Kurdistan will definitely come to being, reducing Turkey to the size envisaged by the Versailles Conference.
Saudis will be the great winners of the war, not the Turks. The dream of Caliphate will be centered on the Gulf, not on the Bosphorus. With their own hands, the Turks prepare their own defeat.
Good relations with Russia will suffer immensely. Russia has called upon Turkey to restrain its actions and reminded of terrible responsibility to be born by the aggressor. Russia wants Syria to find its own way. Russia is the biggest trade partner of Turkey; thousands of Turkish engineers and technicians work in Russia, thousands of Russians holiday in Turkey.
Moreover, the relations of Russia and Turkey are important beyond practical mercantile considerations. These two great countries are heirs to one greatest Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans inherited her main body that was broken in 1918 into many splinters; her most important offshoot, Russia inherited her spirit and faith. If you seek symmetry, think of the Western Roman Empire: her main body, Western Europe, was fragmented and is now in the process of being united, while her most important offshoot, the United States of America, inherited her imperial spirit.
Russians and Turks are very similar to each other; the Turks are “Russians in shalvars”, they say. Both nations went through modernisation and Westernisation, but preserved their own identity. Both nations passed through violent denial of faith from 1920s to 1990s, and rediscovered their religious leanings afterwards.
The Russians see the Turks as equal human beings and feel empathy to them. The leading Russian historian Lev Gumilev exalted the Russian – Turkic comradeship-in-arms that broke the wave of Western Crusades in 13-14th Centuries. In modern times Vladimir Lenin gave a hand in friendship to Mustafa Kemal and forfeited all Russian claims to defeated Turkey, for he expected Turkey to sustain its historical role of protector of the East. The Russians and the Turks must remain friends. If the Russians ask Erdogan “Do not do it!” he should listen. Instead, he grounded their plane.
The Russians are not obsessed with Bashar al Assad, nor is he their best friend. He came to power in year 2000, but his first visit to Moscow took place only in 2005, meanwhile he frequented Paris and London. Russian trade with Syria is not too big, either. Israeli PM Netanyahu promised Russian President Putin to protect Russian interests in Syria in case of the rebels’ victory. The Russians aren’t selfish; they insist on peaceful transformation, in accordance with Syrian people’s will, and they do object to the rape of Syria as envisaged by Saudis and the West.
The relations of Turkey with Iran will suffer. For Iran, Syria is an important partner, a window to the Mediterranean. Victory of pro-American forces in Syria will close the window. Iranians will be mighty upset with Turkey. It is not a good idea to spoil these relations.
The people of Turkey do not want war with Syria; even Turkish generals are not keen to unleash the dogs of war. Only pro-NATO Westernisers within Turkish leadership desire to overturn the legitimate government in Damascus. Other Turks remember that doing Western bidding never led Turkey – or Russia – to any good result.
I understand why the Turkish leaders decided to embrace and support the rebels a year ago: they were misled by the Western-cum-Gulf spin of Syrian government’s forthcoming speedy collapse, and they wanted to be on the winning side. But after the noisy media campaign, reality came and debunked the propheciers: despite billions of dollars wasted by Qatar, Saudis and the West, despite heaps of armaments transported through Turkish-Syrian border, the Assad regime stands fast and still enjoys enough popular support.
This is the right time for reassessment. In every game, there is a moment for it, when you decide not to throw good money after bad one. And reassessment started, with many Turks calling to write off the losses, stop supporting the rebels and try to restore normalcy under the good slogan “with neighbours – no problems”. The New York Times reported a few days before the flare-up of the U-turn in Turkish minds: people are disappointed with flow of unruly Syrian mujaheddin, with lawlessness, with flood of refugees, with growth of Kurdish resistance. Turks are known for their daring U-turns. In 1940, they sided with Germany being certain of the Reich’s victory, but in 1944 they understood that the USSR is winning, and changed sides. Now is the time to change sides, to go back to strict neutrality, to stop support of the rebels and seal the border, said the people to the New York Times reporter.
But people overseas who planned the Syrian Disaster, drew different conclusion of this turn of mind: they decided to speed up their operations and provoked the artillery exchanges. We do not know who aimed the mortars at the Turkish border villages: whether it was done by the Syrian Army in the heat of the battle, or by the rebels trying to trigger the war. The Turkish Yurt newspaper reported that the shots were fired from the NATO weapons recently given to the rebels by the Turks: “Erdogan’s Government Handed over the Mortars to Armed (Free Syrian Army) Groups in Syria which Shelled Akcakale Town” – they headlined. The ammunition was reportedly NATO ammunition 120 AE HE-TNT. Even the New York Times admitted that it’s unknown who’s responsible for mortars landing in Turkey. A German TV canal ZDF reported: mortars were launched from territory controlled by FSA fighters. A leaked video clip said they admitted responsibility for striking Akcakale and killing five Turkish nationals.
But it is possible that the shells were fired by the government troops who shot at the rebels and the Turkish villagers became innocent victims. Provided the Turks allow the rebels to operate freely on their territory, it is quite possible.
It is still not a good reason to begin war. Let us remember 2010, when the Israelis murdered mafia-style nine unarmed Turkish volunteers on board of Mavi Marmara. This was brutal murder at full daylight, filmed and undoubted. Erdogan threatened to send Turkish Navy to the shores of Palestine and relieve Gaza by force. Now, did he do it? No, he did not. Now he is brave to shoot at tired and devastated Syria; but why he was not brave enough to deal with Israel, like the Syrians did?
Now Israelis hope Erdogan will help the rebels to destroy Syria; they asked Turks to coordinate joint action with them. So instead of punishing Israel, Erdogan ends with doing Israel’s desire.
I remember snowy February 2003 in Istanbul, when I came to argue for banning the US army passage to Iraq. I told them that “the long standing Zionist plan is being realised. First, Iraq must be destroyed. After that, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, until all the former Ottoman Empire and its neighbours from Pakistan to Africa are turned into a Zone of Special Interests for Israel, policed by the Turks.
This plan was outlined by General Sharon many years ago, re-formulated by the Zionist Neo-cons Richard Perle and Douglas Feith in 1996, and is now upheld by the Wolfowitz Cabal, the people who run the US foreign policy. If it will be done, it will have been done with the connivance of Turkey, of its ‘Islamic’ government.
I am sorry for you, friends. You were shepherds of the Middle East, now you help the Wolves. You were the rulers of men, now you have become the servants of your masters. You were the protectors of Islam, now you are about to allow desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque.”
What I said then, became true; nothing good came out of Iraqi war. And now, I can say it again: nothing good will come out of Syria War.
The stories of multiple massacres are often just stories. Wikileaks published a Stratfor report saying: “most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” And the events on the ground are certainly not worse than whatever was done to Kurds in Turkey, and the Turks probably do not cherish a R2P intervention in their country.
My advice: do not try to finish off Syria, return to your policy of strict neutrality, cease fire and logistic support of the rebels. Let the Syrians sort out their problems themselves, without foreign intervention.
Yesterday and today (October 14-15) I’ve been taking part in an interesting conference at the Patriarchate of Peć, in the occupied Serbian province of Kosovo. Organized by Bishop Jovan (Ćulibrk), an old friend of Dr. Fleming’s and mine, The Balkans and the Middle East Mirroring Each Other marks the centenary of the First Balkan War and the liberation of Kosovo and Southern Serbia after four centuries of the Ottoman misrule.
The conference has brought together an eclectic group of scholars: Ambassador Darko Tanasković of the University of Belgrade, Boris Havel of the University of Zagreb, Col. Shaul Shay of BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Martin van Creveld of Tel Aviv University, Gordon Bardos of Columbia University, and myself. The proceedings were attended by Patriarch Iriney of the Serbian Orthodox Church (R) and an array of Western diplomats and military officers based in Kosovo.
On the first day Professor van Creveld caused some controversy by suggesting that there existed a significant parallel between Israel and Serbia. The former needs to give up all occupied territories, including most of East Jerusalem—he argued—just as the latter needs to give up its claim to Kosovo. Regardless of how attached both nations feel to their ancient shrines and monuments that would be left behind, van Creveld argued that “amputating the gangrenous leg” was the only way to halt the sapping of strength and resources with no end-game in sight.
Disputing van Creveld’s diagnosis, Dr. Shay said that the apt metaphor was not an amputable leg but the patient’s heart that cannot be removed without killing the patient. My own paper reflected a similar point of view. The similarities between Kosovo and the West Bank are not obvious to the uninitiated, and prima facie similarities may appear superficial: In both cases there’s a small piece of disputed real estate, rich in history, poor in everything else, and badly mismanaged by the local Muslim majority which is chronically hostile to its non-Muslim neighbors. In both cases that majority craves internationally-recognized statehood. Far more important, in my view, is the spiritual parallel, with which I closed my remarks:
Proponents of Kosovo independence scoff at the Serbs’ claim that Kosovo, with its many ancient monasteries and the site of the famous battle, represents not just any part of their country but its very heart and soul—“Serbia’s Jerusalem.” Such attitude betrays a cynical contempt for the essence of any true nation’s identity, which necessarily rests on its historical, moral and spiritual roots. Without such foundation a people ceases to be a people and becomes but a random mob. If Serbia can be haughtily deprived of her Jerusalem today, and her historical and spiritual claims are dismissed out of hand, who is to say “al-Quds” will not be demanded of Israel tomorrow as the capital of an independent Palestine? And is it not hypocritical of the United States to actively support the former while claiming to be opposed to the latter?
Turkey is the common denominator in the Balkans and the Middle East, and its return to the center stage as a regional power is a remarkable phenomenon. It is historically unprecedented for a former great power which undergoes a period of steep decline to make a comeback and reestablish its position as a major player. After the Peloponnesian War Athens was finished for all time. Following the collapse of the Western Empire, Rome has never regained its old stature and glory. After Philip II Spain declined precipitously and has remained a third-rate power ever since. The list goes on, yet Turkey appears to be an exception to the rule.
Turkey’s neo-Ottoman strategy was the theme of Professor Tanasković’s presentation. He noted that at different times and in different contexts Turkey presents itself as a Mediterranean, Balkan, Middle Eastern, or NATO country, but that its most important, indeed defining feature is its Islamic character. Both the Balkans and the Middle East have been repeatedly singled out and openly named as priorities in the neo-Ottoman strategy of “Strategic Depth” as articulated by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. The ultimate goal is to recreate a sphere of strictly Turkish dominance, according to Professor Tanasković. He insists that the AKP government’s neo-Ottoman strategy is not an ideological projection focused on the past. Quite the contrary, it is a constant feature of Turkish foreign policy—logical and legitimate. The Islamists are rediscovering their heritage which was interrupted by the Kemalist revolution. Neo-Ottomanism is neither good nor bad, it is a reality based on the notion that parallel to globalization, we have macro-regionalization of the world. In reality, Tanasković went on, there is no “globalization” in world politics: in a sense we are still in the 19th century, with regional powers seeking to dominance in their zones of influence. Only the US is still hoping to transcend the spatial limitations by projecting power always and everywhere.
Professor Tanaskovic concluded by saying that Turkey may have overplayed her hand following Ankara’s decision last spring to support the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. That decision has changed the strategic equation in the region, and it now exposes Turkey to the possibility of both Russia and Iran coming to view it as an adversary.
Shaul Shay opened his presentation by saying that the term “Arab Spring” is flawed. The word “tsunami,” or perhaps “earthquake,” would be more appropriate. It was destructive, unexpected, and not significantly amenable to human intervention. Nothing significant enough had happened in 2010 to enable us to say that this was the trigger for what followed. In the end, Shay argued, the Islamic Evolution proved stronger than the Tweeter Revolution. The process launched by young activists using all the resources the Internet has to offer eventually paved the way for Islamist movements. The main actors for change have been the youth, but the beneficiaries have been the Islamists—they were structured, with deep roots in society, unlike the youth who have not had time to organize. The outcomes of recent Arab uprisings have confirmed the organizational superiority and appeal of Islamist political parties in a number of countries in the Middle East. The fragile transitions from secular pro-Western dictatorships through a “democratic procedure” to the formation of Islamic regimes was a “tsunami” which has moved the tectonic plates of the Muslim societies and will provoke aftershocks that will lead to a region dominated by political Islam.
In recent years, Say concluded, we’ve seen a change in strategy used by radical Islamic organizations. Muslim Brotherhood openly seeks to establish “democracy” based upon Islamic principles. They regard liberal democracy with contempt, but they are willing to accommodate it as an avenue to power but as an avenue that runs only one way.
Historic changes taking place in both the Balkans and the Middle East are the political equivalent to the shift of tectonic plates. This is a crossroad in history and the road the nations involved take will determine our future. In the meantime we might see more Islamization there rather than Western style democracies. Where it will really lead Middle East and the rest of the world only future will tell.
Russia and China represent Washington’s final frontier. Building up around their borders and encircling both countries with US bases makes anything ahead possible.
Prioritizing peace isn’t America’s long suit. Unchallenged global dominance assures war. One country after another is ravaged. Multiple direct and proxy wars remain ongoing. Flashpoints easily shift from one region to another or target several at the same time.
Currently, the Middle East is ground zero. Longstanding US plans want Syrian and Iranian governments replaced by pro-Western ones. Russia opposes US imperialism for good reason. Recent exchanges between both sides show strain.
On October 12, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland addressed Turkey’s anti-Russian/Syrian provocation. Fighter jets forced a Moscow inbound Syrian airliner to land in Ankara. “We have no doubt (about) serious military equipment” being shipped, she claimed. She lied.
In less than so many words, she accused Russia of aiding and abetting Washington’s enemy. AP said Obama officials “Friday accused Russia of pursuing a ‘morally bankrupt’ policy in Syria.”
“Everybody else on the Security Council is doing what it can unilaterally to ensure that the Assad regime is not getting support from the outside.”
“No responsible country (should help) the Assad regime and particularly those with responsibilities for global peace and security as UN Security Council members.”
Washington, of course, planned and initiated conflict. Stopping it is as simple as withdrawing support, halting Turkey’s involvement, telling Saudi Arabia and Qatar to back off, informing other regional and Western states the same way, and calling off its dogs.
Russian nationals were on board the inbound flight. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lied or didn’t tell all, saying, “We received information that the plane’s cargo did not comply with rules of civil aviation.”
Syria justifiably accused Turkey of “air piracy.” Its Foreign Ministry said “the hostile Turkish behavior is additional evidence of the aggressive policy adopted by Erdogan’s government, taking into account the training and harbouring of gunmen and facilitating their infiltration through its borders and bombing Syrian territories.”
Syrian Air’s Airbus A-320 departed Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport. On entering Turkey’s airspace, Turkish Air Force F-16s forced it to land in Ankara. On board were 37 passengers. They included crew members and 17 Russian nationals with children.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Turkey of endangering the lives of those on board. FM spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said “the Turkish authorities without explaining the reason and in violation of the bilateral Consular Convention did not allow diplomats to meet with the Russian citizens.”
They and others on board were forcibly held for nine hours without food or other assistance. They were abused. Crew members were accosted at gunpoint. Turkish authorities demanded they sign a statement saying an emergency landing was necessary. They refused.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been spoiling for a fight for months. He serves shamelessly as Washington’s lead regional belligerent. He’s little more than a convenient stooge. Obama may get the war he wants without direct US involvement.
Erdogan claimed Moscow was sending “equipment and ammunition” to Syria. Syria’s Foreign Ministry accused him of lying.
Russia was very irate. A formal protest was lodged. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “We have no secret, and we have scrutinized the details. There were no weapons on board the plane and could not have been any.”
“There was a cargo on the plane that a legal Russian supplier was sending in a legal way to a legal customer.” The plane carried radar parts. International agreements permit them.
The pilot landed “because he knew he was not transporting anything illegal. We are waiting for an official reply why our diplomats were not allowed to meet with Russian passengers on board.”
So far, Ankara stonewalled. It displayed no weapons seized because there are none. Vladimir Putin indefinitely postponed a planned visit. Weeks earlier, he accused Washington of being back in bed with Al Qaeda. It’s no secret. Hillary Clinton admitted it months ago.
Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party called for decisive action. It wants Turkey’s Moscow ambassador expelled.
Other hostile exchanges followed. Tensions already are heightened. Russian Foreign Ministry deputy media and press director, Maria Zakharova, said:
“Based on news coming from Syria, terrorism has become the top among the means of the armed opposition. This raises a serious concern as it obviously signals the growing role of the radical extremists in the ranks of the ‘Syrian opposition.’”
Security Council condemnation statements should be followed by corresponding deeds, she stressed. It hasn’t happened so far.
At Washington’s behest, Turkey falsely accused Moscow of shipping weapons and/or weapons grade material. At the same time, Western and regional countries actively supply anti-Assad mercenaries with heavy weapons and munitions.
It’s been ongoing since early last year. Funding, training, and directing foreign fighters are involved. CIA and UK intelligence elements are active players. So are Western and regional special forces.
Washington, Britain and Turkey actively wage war on Syria without declaring it. On October, 13 Hurriyet Daily News said Erdogan accused international countries of encouraging Assad. He told participants at an Istanbul World Forum:
“So what is the source of this attitude? If we have to wait for what one or two of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council will say, then the consequences for Syria will be very dangerous.”
“The UN, which was an onlooker to the massacres of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans 20 years ago, is having the same kind of blindness in Syria today. What kind of explanation can be made for the injustice and the inability that is being displayed here?”
His comments targeted Moscow and Beijing. On October 13, Hurriyet Daily News headlined “Syria row hits Assembly,” saying:
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) submitted a motion to censure Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. It was rejected. On June 6, so was an earlier one. Erdogan’s government was accused of aiding and abetting anti-Assad mercenaries in Turkish territory.
Davutoglu threatened to sue CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu. CHP deputy Osman Koruturk said Turkey was coming to “the last exit before the bridge (on Syria). If we miss this exit, we will proceed through uncertainties in foreign policies.”
At the same time, Ankara bolstered its presence on Syria’s border. Armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and 250 tanks were deployed in Sanliurfa, Mardin and Gaziantep provinces.
NATO was asked to activate radar and other technical capabilities against Syria. Syrian air defenses and offensive positions are targeted.
Erdogan ordered military readiness. Maybe he knows something he’s not revealing. On Friday, in response to a Syrian helicopter attack on Azmar bordering Turkey, Ankara scrambled two fighter jets.
Each incident builds on earlier ones. At some point perhaps, a point of no return gets crossed. Ankara warned Damascus. Baseless accusations claimed Syria fired mortars on Turkish territory.
Anti-Assad militants were responsible. Assad wants tensions cooled and good relations restored. Washington wants its lead regional belligerent stoking conflict.
Turkish Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel warned about launching cross-border attacks “with greater force.” Conditions are dangerously close to full-scale war. Ankara awaits word from Washington.
It’s ready to attack on cue. NATO support may be involved. Fresh from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, perhaps EU/North Atlantic Alliance countries want to say thank you. What better way than by waging war. It’s what NATO/EU nations do best.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante
The world watches as a nation is torn, slow motion, at the seams. Money and geopolitics has caused a feeding frenzy of western nations biting and tearing at Syria, all hoping to profit from the regime’s destruction.
Toward this effort, England, France, and the United States announced increased support to the “rebels” of Syria. The Obama administration promised $45 million more in funding for aid that has now totaled $175 million (is it any wonder there are budget problems inside the U.S.?).
And although much of the U.S. aid is designated as “humanitarian,” this money will directly help the military mission by bolstering the prestige of opposition groups, who will use the U.S. aid to gain adherents by being able to feed and house refugees fleeing the destruction (assuming that not all of this money will simply be used to buy guns).
Of course there is no accounting of the amount of money and arms the CIA is funneling into the country. But even The New York Times has admitted the CIA’s involvement; in June it wrote:
“A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers…the weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”
There you have the Syrian opposition in a nutshell: groups of mercenaries funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and France, and the Muslim Brotherhood inside Syria. All of these groups have their own self-interest in toppling the Syrian government, while destroying the country and its people in the process.
Saudi Arabia has used the Muslim Brotherhood as a key tool in its foreign policy for decades, funding the organization in countries all over the Middle East and North Africa. When Saudi Arabia beckons, the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups can be used to destabilize “unfriendly” regimes in the name of “jihad” — officially declared by clerics who work in tandem with the Saudi Arabian government to recruit fighters for the effort. This is why there are “terrorist” groups now fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, including Al Qaeda — itself born from the purse strings of Saudi Arabia, like the Taliban (there is an excellent chapter about this dynamic in Vijay Prashad’s book, the Darker Nations).
It is very revealing that, after the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and large amounts of weaponry has been trafficked into the country, the Syrian government still controls the vast majority of the country. This is because the majority of people inside Syria do not support the so-called Syrian Opposition. If this were the case, the Syrian government would have long since been overthrown. The revolutionaries of Egypt and Tunisia did not need any outside help in toppling their government, nor large amounts of money or weaponry.
Therefore, the steady destruction of Syria will continue until it reaches a Libya-like crescendo: a “no fly zone” will be the goal of the western powers, with the motive of toppling the regime.
But like in Libya, a no fly zone equals total war. Syria has advanced Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, which must be destroyed to enforce such a no fly zone. Syria also has fighter jets that must be destroyed. Additional ground support must be destroyed. And like Libya, once the bombs start dropping, the mission quickly changes from a “no fly zone” to “regime change,” i.e., war.
But Syria has a much more powerful army than Libya, requiring that the U.S. military become directly involved in the war, as opposed to outsourcing the conflict to England and France as they did in Libya. Only the U.S. military and its subordinate allies have the required weapons to deal with Syria’s Russian-made weaponry.
But the American people hate war, and thus the U.S. government must introduce the Syrian war slowly, through non-stop anti-Syria media coverage, in the hopes that opinion polls shift enough to allow direct military intervention, as opposed to the current indirect type.
What do the people of Syria really want? The New York Times revealed that, inside Syria, a group of twenty opposition groups recently met in Syria’s capital to demand that Syria’s democratic transition happen peacefully, in effect denouncing the armed rebels who are being funded by foreign nations.
The international implications of this war have already begun to manifest. Neighboring countries are experiencing stress and destabilization by the flood of refugees from Syria. The Kurds in Syria may soon call for independence, which will incite further violence from Turkey. Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, and Iran will work doubly hard to re-enforce the Syrian government as western powers do the opposite.
Ethnic and religious tensions are being stoked in all neighboring countries, which has already led to violence and will be used by politicians in those countries for political aims, leading to more violence. It’s also possible if an official war is declared against Syria, other powers will use the chaos as a shield to pursue their own interests —Israel for example, may opportunistically bomb Iran. Whatever the course of events, the emerging war in Syria has the potential not only to turn the Middle East into dust, but to drag larger powers like Russia — an ally of Syria — into conflict with the United States.
All working people in the United States have a duty to denounce this U.S.-made humanitarian tragedy and the future threat of war.
“Daddy, what is blowback?”
Once upon a time, during George “Dubya” Bush’s “war on terra”, the Forces of Good in Afghanistan captured – and duly tortured – one evil terrorist, Abu Yahya al-Libi.
Abu Yahya al-Libi was, of course, Libyan. He slaved three years in the bowels of Bagram prison near Kabul, but somehow managed to escape that supposedly impregnable fortress in July 2005.
At the time, the Forces of Good were merrily in bed with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – whose intelligence services, to the delight of the Bush administration, were doing their nastiest to exterminate or at least isolate al-Qaeda-style Salafi-jihadis of the al-Libi kind.
But, then, in 2011, the Forces of Good, under new administration, decided it was time to bury the oh so passe “war on terra” and dance to a new, more popular groove; humanitarian intervention, also characterized as “kinetic military action”.
So al-Libi was back from the dead – now fighting side by side with the Forces of Good to topple (and eventually snuff out) “evil” Col Gaddafi. Al-Libi had become a “freedom fighter” – even though he was openly calling for Libya to become an Islamic Emirate.
The honeymoon didn’t last long.
In September 2012, for the first time in three months, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, aka The Surgeon, released a 42-minute video special to “celebrate” the 11th anniversary of 9/11, finally admitting the snuffing out of his number two.
His number two was none other than Abu Yahya al-Libi – targeted by one of US President Barack Obama’s cherished drones in Waziristan on June 4.
An immediate effect of al-Zawahiri’s video was that an angry armed mob, led by Islamist outfit Ansar al Sharia, set fire to the US consulate in Benghazi. The US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed. It didn’t matter that Stevens happened to be a hero of the “NATO rebels” who had “liberated” Libya – notoriously sprinkled with Salafi-jihadis of the al-Libi kind.
Stevens was rewarded by Washington with the ambassadorial post only after “evil” Gaddafi was finally sodomized, lynched and killed by, what else, an angry mob.
So finally the blowback serpent was able to bite its own tail.
Terra, terra, terra
What happened in Benghazi may have been just an out-of-control protest against a crude, amateur, made-in-California movie produced and directed by an Israeli-American real estate developer and certified Islamophobe (an identity now being reported as a guise), financed with US$5 million from unidentified Jewish donors, depicting Islam “as a cancer” and Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, a pedophile and most of all, a fraud. The movie was duly promoted by wacko Florida pastor and Koran-burning freak Terry Jones.
Yet the killing of the US ambassador in Libya is just an hors d’oeuvre to what may happen in Syria – where scores of “freedom fighters” supported by the CIA, the Turks and the House of Saud are al-Qaeda-linked, either via the supposedly reformist Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) or acronym-infested subcontracting gangs such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) or al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM).
So how will Washington “bring the perpetrators to justice” in Libya? After all this is the same gang that was hailed as “heroes” when they sodomized, lynched and snuffed out “evil” Gaddafi.
Asia Times Online has been warning for over a year about blowback in Libya – and potentially in Syria, where medieval Saudi sheikhs frantically issue fatwas legitimating a widespread massacre of “infidel” Alawites. This is all a rerun of the same old 1980s’ Afghan jihad movie; first you call them “freedom fighters”, but when they attack us they revert to being “terrorists”.
Now we have NATO-armed Salafi-jihadis in Libya, and House of Saud-financed and Turkey-based Salafi-jihadis in Syria – deploying “terra” antics such as suicide bombers to bring down the Assad regime – all wired up and ready to roll. It certainly adds a new meaning to Obama’s “kinetic action” gig.
Blowback – as in Afghanistan – might have taken years. This time Mr Blowback reared its ugly head in only a few months. And that’s just the beginning.
So what now? Who’re you gonna bomb? Who’re you gonna drone to death? What about bombing Benghazi a year after condemning Gaddafi to death because he might have threatened to … bomb Benghazi?
Ask US Secretary of State Hillary “We came, he saw, he died” Clinton, who claims to talk on behalf of the “Libyan people”. Maybe she will come up with a policy of retroactively aligning the US with Gaddafi.
And since this is an electoral year, why not ask invisible former president Bush himself? After all, he proclaimed on September 20, 2001 that “either you are with us, or you are with the terra-rists.”
Well, Mr Blowback would say, beware of what you get when you are in bed with the terra-rists.
Source: Pepe Escobar | Asia Times Online
Fourteen centuries of Islam have fatally undermined Christianity in the land of its birth. The decline of the Christian remnant in the Middle East has been accelerated in recent decades, and accompanied by the indifference of the post-Christian West to its impending demise. Once-thriving Christian communities are now tiny minorities, and in most countries of the region their percentages have been reduced to single digits. Whether they disappear completely will partly depend on Western leaders belatedly taking an interest in Christian plight and persecution. This seems most unlikely, as the examples of Iraq, Egypt and Syria demonstrate.
In Syria the Obama administration is fully committed to supporting the rebels, although it should be well aware of the ideological outlook and long-term objectives of Bashar al-Assad’s foes. They are Sunni fundamentalists. The partnerships forged thus far are ominous. The New York Times reported last June that CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, deciding which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms. The weapons are being funneled across the Turkish border “by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.”
Syria is the region’s only remaining country where Christians live effectively as equals with their Muslim neighbors. It has the second largest Christian community in the region (after Egypt), some 2.5 million strong. Most of them are supporting President Bashar Al Assad amidst ongoing rebellion in the country because they prefer a dictator who guarantees the rights as a religious minority to the grim future that Assad’s departure might bring. According to George Ajjan, an American political strategist of Syrian origin, an existential fear about a bloody fate awaiting them—should the Assad regime fall in Syria—is the main driver behind the Christian community’s almost unanimous support of its policies:
“The secular regime of the Baath Party dominated over the past four decades by the Alawites, a heterodox Shiite sect to which the Assad family belongs, undoubtedly secured life and liberty for the Christians— although dire economic circumstances resulting from the regime’s failure to provide growth have driven many middle-class Christians to emigrate, seeking a better standard of living abroad. Taking that into account, the commonly-cited figure of 10% Christians is perhaps close to double the real number living in Syria at the start of the uprising.”
It is not to be doubted that if the Obama Administration is successful in its stated objective of bringing Assad down, the Christians in Syria will follow their Iraqi brethren into exile. The predictable consequences of Assad’s fall and the Brotherhood’s victory would be the creation of a Shari’a-based Islamic state.
According to political analyst James Jatras, it sometimes appears as if Washington’s policy toward the unrest sweeping the Middle East is impacted by a network of Muslim Brotherhood agents working in cohorts with Obama who is only pretending to have strayed from his Islamic birth (as defined by Sharia). If this scenario is even only partly correct, Jatras says, then it would be hard to see how the result would be different from the one we have:
“If the conscious goal of the policy were the final uprooting of Christ’s followers from the region of His birth and earthly ministry, it could not have been better crafted. No one can doubt that should the regime of Bashar al-Assad fall, Syria’s Christians (primarily Orthodox), already singled out for attack by the ‘democratic’ opposition, would be subject to a full-scale campaign of elimination that they (unlike the Alawites, who at least can try to defend themselves in mountain areas in which they predominate) are unlikely to survive as a living community. It is thus not too strong to accuse, in so many words, those bipartisan champions of ‘Free Syria’ who urge outside intervention of advocating Christian genocide, whether or not that is their conscious intention.”
That this scenario seems acceptable to the Obama Administration became obvious in October 2011 when Dalia Mogahed, Obama’s adviser on Muslim affairs, blocked a delegation of Middle Eastern Christians led by Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai from meeting with Obama and members of his national security team at the White House. Mogahed reportedly cancelled the meeting at the request of the Muslim Brotherhood in her native Egypt. Rai has warned repeatedly that a Brotherhood-led regime would be a disaster for Syria’s Christian minority, but his admonitions are unwelcome in Washington.
Last July, the Department of State vigorously lobbied against bipartisan Congressional legislation to send “protection envoys” to the Middle East to examine the position of the Christian minorities. The State Department called the protection envoy role “unnecessary, duplicative and likely counter-productive.” In the meantime, tens of thousands of Syria’s Christians have already fled rebel-controlled areas as Islamists who dominate in the rebel ranks target them for murder, extortion and kidnapping. As George Ajjan concludes, this gradual downward demographic pressure of recent years will explode with the exodus of Christians from Syria that is occurring and will accelerate without an end to the current armed conflict:
“Should the uprising continue, with the regime losing control of more and more territory to armed rebels and law and order further breaking down, Christians will increasingly become the targets of intimidation tactics, kidnapping, and overt hostility—if not ethnic cleansing from mixed areas.”
At the same time, Administration officials pressed Egyptian generals into gradual surrender to the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the country. The decision to treat the Muslim Brotherhood as a strategic partner has been on the cards at least since February 10 of last year—one day before Hosni Mubarak’s resignation— when President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper made an astounding statement. He told the House of Representatives Select Committee on Intelligence that the Brotherhood “is an umbrella term for a variety of movements… a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried al-Qaida as a perversion of Islam.”
The assertion by a top-ranking member of Obama’s team that the Muslim Brotherhood is “largely secular” defies belief. It came into being in 1928 as an outright reaction against secularism, which the Egyptian elites had largely embraced during the British dominance in the country. To this day the Brotherhood’s simple credo remains the same: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Contrary to Clapper’s assurances, the Brotherhood is an archetypical Islamic revivalist movement that opposes the ascendancy of secular ideas and advocates a return to integral Islam as a solution to the ills that had befallen Muslim societies. Today it has branches in every traditionally Muslim country and all over the world, including the United States. Its members share the same long-term goal: the establishment of a world-wide Islamic state based on Sharia law. As is to be expected, they believe that the Koran and the Tradition justify violence to overthrow un-Islamic governments, and they look upon America as a sworn enemy.
During the Cold War, Washington routinely pandered to various Islamists as a means of weakening secular Arab nationalist regimes. In the mid 1950s, the Americans even promoted the idea of forming an Islamic bloc—led by Saudi Arabia—to counter the Nasserist movement. That approach may have made some sense during the Cold War, but it certainly makes none today. The strategy of effective support for Islamic ambitions against the Soviets in Afghanistan has helped turn Islamic radicalism into a truly global phenomenon detrimental to U.S. security interests. The ridiculous notion that the Muslim Brotherhood can become America’s user-friendly partner merely proves that the architects of our Middle Eastern policy have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.
Egypt’s dwindling Copts have seen their position deteriorate over the past year from precarious to perilous. Already facing discrimination and harassment from Mubarak’s secular regime, they now see that things could get a lot worse under the Islamists who are now poised to take complete power. Their annus horribilis started on New Year’s Day 2011, when a powerful car bomb targeted a Coptic church in Alexandria, killing 25 parishioners and wounding nearly 100 just as they were finishing midnight liturgy. The next turning point was the Maspero massacre on October 9, 2011, when 27 unarmed Christian protesters were killed and hundreds more injured, not by some shadowy Islamic extremists but by the military. An official commission—established by the Army—has unsurprisingly absolved the Army of all responsibility for the killings.
Egypt shows that the prospect of the end of Christianity in Syria as a direct consequence of American policy is not unique, nor limited to one party or administration. The almost complete Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt already is accompanied by an accelerating Coptic exodus, as church attacks and kidnappings (mainly of girls, who after rape and supposed “conversion” to Islam are denied return to their families).
The process is accelerating. On August 1 Sherif Gadallah, a prominent lawyer from Alexandria, submitted a report to the public prosecutor demanding the exclusion of Copts from the committee in charge of forming Egypt’s constitution. That same week a sectarian crisis escalated in the village of Dahshur, only 25 miles south of Cairo, where hundreds of Muslims torched and looted Coptic businesses and homes. “As 120 families had already fled the village … the businesses and homes were an easy game for the mob to make a complete clean-up of everything that could be looted,” said Coptic activist Wagih Jacob. “The security forces were at the scene of the crime while it was taking place and did nothing at all.” The Coptic Orthodox Church issued a statement criticizing officials “for not dealing firmly with the events, demanding the speedy arrest of the perpetrators, the provision of security to the village Copts, their return to their homes, and monetary compensation for all those affected.” Its adherents see the Dahshur incident as a continuation of the Mubarak-era policy of collective punishment of Copts. Renowned Egyptian novelist Alaa Al-Aswany said, “What if the Americans acted the same way as the extremists of Dahshur; would you accept the expulsion of Muslims of America in response to Bin Laden’s terrorism?”
Egypt’s ongoing transition to what passes for democracy in the Muslim world is going to make matters far worse for the Copts, who are fearful the army and courts will not shield them from ever-greater discrimination and harassment. The Freedom and Justice Party, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood, now controls the country’s parliament, and the president is a Brotherhood disciple. The adherents of political Islam are in charge. Their spiritual leader is Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, who in a recent video reminded the faithful that Christians are infidels. The Sheikh’s position is in line with orthodox Islamic teaching, which may explain the fact that he is still hailed in the West as a moderate. Five years ago, a U.S. News article described him as “a highly promoted champion of moderate Islam.” As a result, according to an August 14 report in El Fegr, jihadi organizations openly distribute leaflets inciting for the killing of Copts and promising them “a tragic end if they do not return to the truth” (Islam). The letter even names contact points and a location, Sheikh Ahmed Mosque in Kasfrit, where those supportive of such goals should rally after Friday prayers and join forces.
“Liberation” of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s secular dictatorship has devastated that country’s Christian community, with many taking refuge in Syria, where they are now again under threat. “At least proponents of Muslim liberation in the Middle East can claim, however implausibly, that the negative impact on local Christians is an unintended and regrettable consequence of a fundamentally humane and progressive program,” James Jatras says.
“But in the Balkans, specifically in Kosovo and in Muslim-controlled areas of Bosnia, no crocodile tears are required. The victims are Serbs, and of course they deserve everything they get. But excuses and window-dressing aside, the bottom line is the same: Washington—supposedly the great global opponent of jihad terror—in fact is the consistent supporter of militant Islamization of one country after another, with the predictable result of streams of Christian refugees, burned churches, murdered clergy, and enslaved girls. Given the collusion between our government and media, not one American in ten has a clue what our government is doing in our name and with our money.”
Iraq’s dwindling Christian population marked Christmas 2011 with bomb attacks across Baghdad that killed dozens of them. After U.S. forces completed their withdrawal from the country, Christian exodus from Iraq accelerated. “Our faithful in Iraq live in fear,” Chaldean Bishop Shlemon Warduni complained, “they feel there is no peace, no security, so they go where they can live in peace… The government cannot ensure their lives.”
The Christian community in Iraq was some two million strong before the US-led invasion of 2003. Up to four-fifths is estimated to have left the country in recent years following a series of attacks by Muslim extremists. While they were still there, the U.S. forces did little to protect them, leaving the task to the Iraqis. On October 31, 2010, an assault on a Baghdad church left 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force members dead. According to Louis Sako, Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk, “the security forces are not sufficiently prepared to ensure the protection of Christians.” He says that 57 churches and houses of worship in Iraq have been attacked since the invasion with a thousand Christians killed and more than 6 000 wounded.
At the outset of the Islamic conquests under Muhammad’s successors all of these lands were 100 percent Christian. By the time the Ottomans took over they had a Christian plurality, and in Palestine and Lebanon the outright majority. Under the British Mandate (1919-1947), Palestine officially was a Christian country. Bethlehem, for instance, had a population that was 90 percent Christian. Today, they are disappearing: Bethlehem is now less than 10 percent Christian. Among almost three million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, only 50,000 Christians remain. Within the pre-1967 borders of Israel there are six million people; only two percent are Christians. In the city of Jerusalem the Christian population has declined from 45,000 in 1940 to a few thousand today. At the current rate of decline, the Christian population will be a fraction of one percent in the year 2020, and there will be no living church in the land of Christ
If the Jewish or Muslim population of America or Western Europe were to start declining at a similar rate, there would be an outcry from their co-religionists all over the world. There would be government-funded programs to establish the causes and provide remedies, and heart-rendering Hollywood movies. The endangered minority would be awarded instant victim status and be celebrated as such by the media and academia. But the disappearing Middle Eastern Christians, or their remnant, remain invisible to the Western world. It is evidently hard to be “post-Christian” without becoming anti-Christian.
Over the weekend the Western-backed opposition in Syria stepped up its attacks on government buildings, military facilities and civilians as it aims to bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and install a pro-Western client regime in Damascus.
Fighting between the Syrian army and Western proxy forces has been intensifying since US President Barack Obama threatened Syria with direct military intervention two weeks ago. Last week French President Hollande, British Foreign Secretary of State William Hague and Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi demanded Assad’s fall. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu also called for a no-fly zone over Syria. However, for the moment decisions to enforce a no-fly zone and launch open warfare against Syria have not been finalized.
The Western powers are still relying on their armed proxy forces inside Syria—like the Turkey-based Free Syrian Army (FSA) and various Sunni Islamist terrorist groups—to fight Assad.
Media reports indicated intense fighting between the Syrian army and anti-Assad forces throughout the weekend. Opposition sources said that armed insurgents had seized an air defense base close to Deir-Ez Zor on Saturday, and that battles were raging near a military airport in the area. Opposition fighters also claimed that they had targeted the regime’s air installations near Aleppo and Idlib in the northern part of Syria close to the Turkish border, and that they had shot down a Syrian fighter jet.
On Saturday a car bomb near the Muaz Bin Jabal mosque in the Sbaineh suburb of Damascus killed 15 civilians. The explosion also reportedly wounded several people and caused damage to buildings in the area. The Sbaineh district is dominated by Palestinian refugees who are mostly reluctant to join the pro-Western opposition against Assad.
The Syrian state-run news agency, SANA, reported that earlier on Saturday another bomb killed Brigadier General Taher Subeir, when he got into his car in front of his home in the Damascus district of Rukn Addien. Since the outbreak of armed struggle in Syria, over 8,000 soldiers and security personnel have been killed by the Western-backed armed opposition.
In Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria, a suicide bomb attack on the pro-government al-Akhbariya TV station killed one person and injured two children.
On Sunday a bomb attack at the Syrian army’s General Staff headquarters in the Abu Rummaneh district in central Damascus wounded four officers. Islamist forces in the Free Syrian Army (FSA) took responsibility for the attack. A video statement released by the Grandsons of the Prophet brigade, a section of the FSA, said that “bombs were planted inside the army headquarters” and that “the operation targeted officers in the Assad army who have been planning and giving the go ahead for the massacres against the Syrian people.”
The blast was in the same district where an FSA suicide bomber killed four high-ranking Syrian officials—including Defense Minister Dawould Rajha and his deputy, Assef Shawkat—on August 15, and 55 people in a twin suicide car bombing outside a military intelligence building on May 10.
The FSA said it carried out the bombing as retaliation for an August 25 massacre in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, where more than 300 people were reportedly killed. While the FSA and other opposition groups blame the Syrian regime for the deaths, a report by Robert Fisk, the first Western journalist reporting from Daraya after the massacre, indicates that the FSA itself was involved in the killings.
Another element of the US-backed propaganda campaign is the release of ever-higher casualty figures, which are all blamed on the Syrian government. On Sunday the London-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that 5,440 people, including 4,114 civilians were killed in August. The Local Coordination Committees (LCCs), a faction of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), put the toll at 4,933 civilians.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the new United Nations (UN) envoy to Syria made clear that the offensive for regime change in Syria will be continued. In an interview withal-Arabiya TV he said that “the need for change is urgent and necessary. The Syrian people must be satisfied and their legitimate demands are met.”
He stated that the Syrian government is primarily responsible for the violence. Calling on both parties to stop the violence, he said that “this call is primarily directed to the government. More than others, it is the duty of governments, under any circumstances and anywhere, not just in Syria, to ensure security and stability for their people.”
Brahimi’s comments are deeply cynical. It is the intensification of the campaign by the US and its allies to oust Assad that is primarily responsible for the humanitarian disaster.
A former colonel of the Syrian army told the New York Times that he would not have defected if he had known that he would end up in a refugee camp in Jordan. He said: “We thought the regime would collapse in two months” explaining that now “the Syrians are getting killed in a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.”
This comment is particularly significant, in that it shows that Syrian refugees—presented in the Western media purely as victims of the Assad regime—view themselves as caught between the Iranian backers of the Assad regime and the reactionary Saudi monarchy, which is backing the anti-Assad forces together with Washington. They do not see the anti-Assad armed opposition as fighting for democracy, but for the strategic interests of the Persian Gulf monarchies.
Washington views regime change in Syria as the next step to deepen its hegemony over the energy-rich and geostrategically crucial Middle East and Central Asian regions. Iran feels increasingly threatened by the US war-drive against Syria and pointed to the danger of a wider regional war in the case of a US attack on its ally.
With cooperation from Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, America has the goal of striking a blow against Syria and making preparations for the fall of the Syrian government,” Mohammad Ali Assoudi, the deputy for culture and propaganda of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said.
He added, “if America were to attack Syria, Iran along with Syria’s allies will take action, which would amount to a fiasco for America. In the case of American stupidity and a military attack by this country on Syria, the joint military pact [Iran and Syria signed a mutual defense pact in 2006] of Syria’s allies would be implemented.”
Almost a year has passed since we last took note of Turkey’s increasing clout in three key areas of neo-Ottoman expansion: the Balkans, the Arab world, and the predominantly Muslim regions of the former Soviet Union. Each has played a significant part in reshaping the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East over the past decade. This complex project, which remains under-reported in the Western media and denied or ignored by policy-makers in Washington, is going well for Prime Minister Rejep Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP (Justice and Development Party).
On the external front, Ankara’s decision to support the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria has changed the equation in the region. Until last spring, Erdoğan’s team was advising Bashar to follow the path of political and economic reform in order to avoid descent into violent anarchy. Within months, however, Turkey has become a key player in Washington’s regime-change strategy by not only providing operational bases and supply channels to the rebels, but by simultaneously confronting Iran over Syria. The war of words between them is escalating. Earlier this week, Iranian Chief of Staff General Hassan Firousabadi accused Turkey of assisting the “war-waging goals of America. The AKP government has reinforced Turkey’s old position as a key U.S. regional partner. It is skillfully pursuing its distinct regional objectives, which in the long run are bound to collide with those of the U.S., while appearing to act at the behest of Washington and revamping its Cold War role as a reliable NATO-“Western” outpost in the region.
This newly gained credit has enabled Erdoğan to make a series of problematic moves with impunity, the most notable being Turkey’s growing support for Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and its treatment of Iraq as a state with de facto limited sovereignty. In a highly publicized symbolic gesture, on July 24 Erdoğan met Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at his official residence to break the daily fast during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. Ties between Turkey and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have blossomed since Turkey’s alliance with Israel collapsed following a raid by Israeli troops on a Turkish aid ship bound for Gaza in 2010. At the same time, Ankara’s links with the more moderate Fatah movement, which rules the West Bank, are at a standstill; Turkey wants Hamas to prevail in the Palestinian power struggle.
In northern Iraq, Turkey has developed close relations with the Kurdish leadership in Kirkuk. It has made significant investments in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region as a means of exerting political influence and thus preempting demands for full independence, which could have serious implications for the Kurdish minority in eastern Turkey. In an audacious display of assertiveness, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited the Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq earlier this month without notifying the government in Baghdad, let alone seeking its approval. Turning the putative Kurdish statelet in Iraq into its client is a major coup for the government in Ankara. The partnership is based on the common interest of denying the Marxist PKK guerrillas a foothold on either side of the border. In a joint statement, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan warned the PKK that they would act jointly to counter any attempt to exploit the power vacuum in Syria. Another far-reaching albeit unstated common goal is to provide Iraq’s Kurds with a potential northwestern route for their oil and gas exports, which Al Maliki’s central government would not be able to control. The net effect is likely to be further weakening of an already unstable Iraq in the aftermath of U.S. withdrawal; yet Washington appears unperturbed by Turkey’s gambit. It is apparently unaware of the fact that, in Ankara’s worldview, “nothing can stand in the way of its dream of becoming the ultimate energy bridge between East and West.”
The Obama Administration has been equally indifferent to Prime Minister Erdoğan’s trouble-making in the Balkans. Most recently, his provocative statement last month that Bosnia and Herzegovina is in the “care” of his country has caused no reaction in Washington. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is entrusted to us,” stated Erdoğan during a meeting of Justice and Development Party (AK Party) provincial heads held in Ankara on July 11,recalling the alleged statement of the late Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegović, whom Erdoğan visited on his deathbed in Sarajevo. “He whispered in my ear these phrases: ‘Bosnia is entrusted to you [Turkey]. These places are what remain of the Ottoman Empire’,” said Erdoğan. He went on to describe Izetbegović as “a legendary hero and captain,” and to declare that Turkey would “put this trust in God with high precision.”
The notion of Bosnia and Herzegovina being given as a ‘trust’ to Turkey in the name of its Ottoman legacy reflects an earlier statement by the outgoing leader of the Islamic community in Bosnia, Efendi Mustafa Cerić, who told Erdoğan that “Turkey is our Mother. That’s how it was always, and it will remain like that.” Erdoğan’s latest outburst was immediately welcomed by the leader of the biggest Muslim party in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sulejman Tihić.
The notion that Bosnia has been bequeathed by its fundamentalist Muslim leader to the Turkish state is unsurprisingly anathema to the non-Muslim majority of Bosnia’s citizens. “Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a land to be inherited,” said Igor Radojičić, the Bosnian Serb Parliament speaker. Bosnian Croat leader Dragan Čović expressed puzzlement that Izetbegović could imagine Bosnia was his to give away as a trust. Analysts outside Bosnia also expressed outrage. Serbian historian Čedomir Antić, called the statement “an unprecedented provocation” that should be “officially renounced by Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia”. Professor Darko Tanasković, Serbia’s former ambassador to Turkey, was not surprised, however. The statement represents a political reality, he said, that Turkey sees the Balkans as a priority in its ambitious foreign policy.
Three months earlier the leader of the Islamic Community in Montenegro (Islamska zajednica Crne Gore, IZCG),Reis Rifat Fejzić, signed an agreement with the authorities in Podgorica on the status of the Muslim minority there. The Agreement stipulates that any disputes within the Islamic Community will be referred for arbitration to the Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Turkish Republic (Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı). This is a remarkable development: the Republic of Montegnegro—a sovereign, non-Muslim Balkan state—has formally granted decision-making powers in matters affecting some of its citizens to an institution of another sovereign and nominally still secular state. Imam Fejzić’s explanation added an interesting twist to the story. Some disputes among Roman Catholics are referred to the Vatican, he said, so it is normal for Muslim disputes to be referred to Ankara. In other words, the Turkish state is to assume the role of an Islamic Vatican for the Muslim millets of the former Ottoman Empire. The Montenegrin precedent is the model Ankara will seek to apply elsewhere. Turkish politicians have already taken an active role in mediating between the rival factions of the Muslim religious and political establishment in Serbia’s Sanjak region.
The U.S. is sympathetic to Turkey’s Balkan ambitions not only because they seem to fit in with a Western strategy of long standing, but also because Turkey is seen as a counterweight to Iran’s influence in the region. As John Schindler, the author of the seminal book Unholy Terror pointed out recently, the close relationship between leading circles in Sarajevo and Tehran harks back to before the Bosnian war. During the war the Clinton Administration aided and abetted Iranian deliveries of arms to the Bosnian Muslim side, and the SDA has always had a soft spot for Tehran. Now, however, with a potential war with Iran looming, Schindler says,the U.S. and its European allies, who have done so much to help the Bosnian Muslims for a generation, have had enough. As reported by the Sarajevo daily Dnevni avaz, last week Patrick Moon and Nigel Casey, the American and British ambassadors to BiH, jointly read the riot act to Sadik Ahmetović, the country’s powerful security minister, telling him that the SDA and Sarajevo must sever their secret ties—espionage, political, financial—with Tehran:
Sarajevo officially has been given a warning to reset its course in a European and Western direction as war with Iran looms. Hard decisions will have to be made by the SDA. They have been repeatedly deferred for nearly two decades but can be avoided no longer. If the Bosnian Muslims opt to stick with Iran as tensions rise, the ramifications for them and all Europe may be dire indeed.
Bosnia’s Muslims, ever mindful of the need for foreign support in their disputes with the country’s Serbs and Croats, will likely opt for even closer links with Ankara to compensate for an eventual weakening of the Iranian connection —and they will do so with Washington’s approval. Yet again Turkey will strengthen its position in the Balkans while relying on the Western powers to do its field work.
At home, the parallel process of re-Islamization of the Turkish state and society is well-nigh-irreversible. The Army has been decisively neutralized as a political factor. Last February, Erdogan declared that it is not the goal of the AKP government to raise atheist generations, and he certainly has been true to his word. Earlier this month, Turkey’s Board of Higher Education appointed Islamic scholar Suleyman Necati Akcesme as its secretary-general. His duties will include appointing professors and rectors, as well as overseeing universities. Akcesme will occupy a position of direct influence over Turkey’s higher education —unimaginable for an imam in the old Kemalist setup. The influence of the shadowy Gülen Movement, a fundamentalist sect calling for a New Islamic Age based on the “Turkish-Islamic Synthesis,” is becoming all-pervasive, with rich businessmen and senior civil servants donating an average of 10 percent of their income to the cemaat. According to the August 8 issue of Der Spiegel,
Gülen’s influence in Turkey was enhanced when … the AKP won the Turkish parliamentary election in 2002. Observers believe that the two camps entered into a strategic partnership at first, with Gülen providing the AKP with votes while Erdogan protected the cemaat. According to information obtained by US diplomats, almost a fifth of the AKP’s members of parliament were members of the Gülen movement in 2004, including the justice and culture ministers. Many civil servants act at the behest of the “Gülen brothers,” says a former senior member… In 2006, former police chief Adil Serdar Sacan estimated that the Fethullahcis held more than 80 percent of senior positions in the Turkish police force . . .
Sharia-inspired legislation is affecting the society at large. Turkey’s recent laws and taxes on alcohol sales are more rigorous than those in Egypt or Tunisia before last year’s revolutions. Employers are now authorized to fire any employer who comes to work having had a drink, as opposed to being drunk. Having a single glass of raki, wine or beer with lunch—perfectly common in the business community until a few months ago—may now abruptly end a career. More troublingly, Turkey now leads the world in “honor killings” of girls, with a murder rate five times that of Pakistan. As Turkish affairs expert Barry Rubin has noted, many Turks are astounded by Obama’s policy of favoring the current regime in Ankara: “the regime has thrown hundreds of people in prison without trial or evidence… and it is turning Turkey into a repressive police state,” yet the Department of State and the White House remain indifferent. Turkey’s secularists feel abandoned and betrayed.
Turkey’s shift from Kemalism via post-Kemalism to anti-Kemalism is a process of historic significance for the Greater Middle East. In 2005 senior State Department official Daniel Fried declared, absurdly, that Erdoğan’s AKP was simply the Islamic equivalent of a West European Christian Democratic party and that Turkey remains a staunch ally of the United States. The diagnosis was evidently mistaken seven years ago. Today it amounts to an unforgivable act of willful self-deception.
In the meantime Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares for discussions in Istanbul on August 11 that will focus on forming a “common operational picture” with the Turks “to guide a democratic transition in post-Assad Syria.”
The sudden resignation of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan from the peace efforts circle in Syria, which evidently materialized under duress from the US government, has caused extreme joy for Washington officials, who now see this as a sign that the international community is ready accept that Syrian President Bashar Assad has to go and that the peace efforts would eventually reach a cul-de-sac.
Likewise, the move has caused frustration in those who had pinned their hopes on the possible fruition of these efforts and those who had been resistant to see Syria as another potential Iraq for US military expeditions.
The Syrian foreign ministry expressed “regrets” at Annan’s announcement, saying, “The countries seeking to destabilize Syria are the ones that impeded and continue to impede the mission.”
Russia expressed sorrow over Annan’s departure. Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said on Thursday his country regrets Annan’s decision to step down.
“We understand that it’s his decision,” Churkin told reporters. “We regret that he chose to do so. We have supported very strongly Kofi Annan’s efforts. He has another month to go, and I hope this month is going to be used as effectively as possible under these very difficult circumstances.”
Besides, Annan’s resignation has afforded Washington and its western allies the latitude to heap blame on China and Russia for what they claim to be an obstruction of democracy in Syria.
The United States on Thursday blamed China and Russia for the resignation of UN peace envoy Kofi Annan on the refusal of the two countries to back resolutions targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said, “His resignation highlights the failure in the United Nations Security Council of Russia and China to support meaningful resolutions against Assad that would have held Assad accountable for his failure to abide by the Annan plan.”
“Those vetoes… were highly regrettable and placed both Russia and China on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of the Syrian people.”
For its part, Germany said on Thursday that Kofi Annan’s resignation was partly due to China and Russia’s opposition to sanctions on the Damascus regime. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also said President Bashar Assad had not lived up to his vows to implement Annan’s peace plan.
“It is clear that Kofi Annan relinquished his mandate in part because of the deadlock in the UN Security Council, of which Russia and China” are permanent members, a statement said.
“It is high time that Russia and China stop shielding” Assad, it said.
Annan’s words upon his abrupt resignation are fraught with secret fear, “When the Syrian people desperately need action, there continues to be finger pointing and name calling in the Security Council,” Annan said. “It is impossible for me or anyone to compel the Syrian government and also the opposition to take the steps to bring about the political process. As an envoy, I can’t want peace more than the protagonists, more than Security Council or the international community, for that matter.”
Now with Annan’s resignation and the emerging void to be filled by a third party in order to resolve the crisis in Syria, Washington seems to be gaining firm foothold in the Security Council to push for a military invasion.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said the UK will increase the assistance it is giving to Syrian opposition forces in the coming weeks. In other words, the UK has already been giving out financial and military help to the insurgents in Syria.
British media confirm that military chiefs in London are already drawing up contingency plans if the UK ever decides to deploy troops to Syria and that the former Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers are training the insurgents in Syria in military tactics from weapon handling, leadership and the use of communications systems to tackle the Syrian government.
Colonel Richard Kemp, who led UK forces in Afghanistan, says the escalating civil war makes it very likely that the West would step in. It is estimated by military analysts that at least 300,000 troops would be needed to engage in a military intervention in Syria.
Col. Kemp said, “We do not always choose which wars to fight – sometimes wars choose us. Up to the point of Assad’s collapse, we are most likely to see a continuation or intensification of the under-the-radar options of financial support, arming and advising the rebels, clandestine operations and perhaps cyber warfare from the West.”
In another development, US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad and his government.
Known as an intelligence finding, Obama’s order, which was approved earlier this year, allows the CIA and other US agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.
The White House has reportedly set aside USD 25 million for aid to Syrian insurgents, the State Department said on Wednesday.
The Obama administration initially allocated USD 15 million to help the Syrian rebels. However, some time ago, it added another USD 10 million to the amount available, department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said.
“The 25 million dollar number actually is the number we’re working from,” Ventrell told a regular daily news briefing.
A US government source acknowledged that in the light of the presidential finding, Washington was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.
Interestingly, the West has undergone a mystical experience in defining who the rebels really were. Until a few weeks or months ago, they described them as “a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble” but now that they have entered into an unbreakable alliance with their pseudo-enemy al-Qaeda, they have fallen to confessing that the rebels have made “noticeable improvements in terms of coherence and effectiveness in the past few weeks”.
On July 27, 2012, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had built a secret nerve center in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border to “help direct vital military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.”
The Turkish city is also home to Incirlik, a US air base where US military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
In alliance with the West and Israel, the Saudi-led al-Qaeda elements have already started an all-out proxy war in Syria in the high hopes that the government of Bashar Assad will meet its doom soon. However, this is a figment of their imagination which they have nursed over years and the fire they have blazed will certainly engulf the entire region including Israel the US love child.
The U.S. media has made its intentions clear: the ‘rebels’ attacking Syria’s government must have more support to advance Syria’s “revolution.” This was the result of the much-hyped advance of Syria’s rebels into the country’s two largest cities, which the western media portrayed as a defining moment in global democracy. But “journalists” like these have blood on their hands, with much more in the works.
The systematic dismantling of Syria has more to do with western media lies and geo-politics than “revolution;” and the more that the U.S. media cheers on this bloodletting, the more politicians feel enabled to spill it.
The rebel attacks on the cities of Damascus and Aleppo were, in actuality, meant to convince the western media that the rebels are near victory, with the hopes of attracting more direct military support from abroad. In reality, however, the attacks in Damascus were instantly crushed by the Syrian government, but the U.S. media predicted “victory just around the corner” for the rebels.
Suddenly Syria is becoming a U.S. presidential topic of debate. Republicans have accused Obama of “outsourcing” the Syrian conflict, refusing to be involved when the rebels deserve extra support (guns mainly). But Obama is the principal cause of this humanitarian catastrophe. Middle East expert Robert Fisk explains:
“While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria…Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world.”
Fisk fails to mention that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are virtual puppets of U.S. foreign policy; they would never act independently to overthrow a regional neighbor; they do so on command.
Syria is conveniently surrounded by close allies of the U.S., and it is through these allies that guns and foreign fighters have poured into Syria to cause massive destruction. The rebel-held areas of Syria exist only on the rural borders of Turkey, Jordan, and Northern Lebanon, areas in alignment with U.S. foreign policy.
Revolutions are city affairs, but the Syrian revolution has been a rural undertaking ever since foreign powers decided to destroy the country. It is fortunate for the rebels that Syria’s two largest cities are close to these border countries: the rebels made a quick foray into the cities for some high profile attacks, and then drifted back to the border areas to seek protection from their friends.
Although it is true that the so-called Free Syrian Army includes defectors from the Syrian military, it is possible that these defectors are simply betting that, in the long term, the U.S. will spare no expense in overthrowing the Syrian government.
The commonsense question that the U.S. media never explores is whether Syrians want their country destroyed, the inevitable result of this conflict. In fact, there are numerous indications to the contrary. After constant cheerleading of the Syrian rebels, The New York Times has been forced to admit on several occasions that massive pro-government rallies have been held in Syria’s only two large cities:
“The turnout [at least tens of thousands] in Sabaa Bahrat Square in Damascus, the [Syrian] capital, once again underlined the degree of backing that Mr. Assad and his leadership still enjoy among many Syrians… That support is especially pronounced in cities like Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s two largest.”
This was further confirmed by a poll funded by the anti-Syrian Qatar Foundation, performed by the Doha Debates:
“According to the latest opinion poll commissioned by The Doha Debates, Syrians are more supportive of their president with 55% not wanting him to resign.” (January 2, 2012).
This should be of zero surprise. Syrians have seen Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya destroyed by U.S.-style “liberation.” Americans should know better too — and many do — regardless of their media’s blatantly criminal behavior.
The United States is using a strategy in Syria that has been perfected over the years, starting with Afghanistan (in the 1980′s) Yugoslavia, and most recently in Libya: arming small paramilitary groups loyal to U.S. interests that attack the targeted government — including terrorist bombings — and when the attacked government defends itself, the U.S. cries “genocide” or “mass murder,” while calling for foreign military intervention.
In each instance the targeted society is dismembered, mass murder and ethnic/religious violence is consciously used to gain military advantage that inevitably spirals out of control; refugee crises are also natural consequences, which inevitably lead to cross border destabilization and wider regional conflicts. Millions of lives are completely ruined in each instance, if not ended.
There is every indication that the Syrian conflict has the potential — as the Iraq war before it — to cause incredible ethnic and religious violence on a multi-nation scale. Neighboring Lebanon has already experienced armed conflict as a direct result of Syria and is a powder keg of ethnic and religious tension that needs only a spark to explode, and Syria promises to spew flames.
The U.S. population has largely been spared images of the incredible suffering and social destruction caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Syria’s crisis is thus happening in an already-destabilized region, having the potential to completely tear the social fabric of the larger Middle East.
These war crimes benefit nobody except the very rich who take over the helm of governments and use these positions to privatize the invaded country’s economy, though especially the oil. The people in Syria, however, are being used as cannon fodder for an additional reason: so that the U.S. can have a steppingstone towards destroying Iran (Syria is Iran’s close ally). But Russia and China are acting more boldly against this genocidal behavior, and may act with more vigor in defending their allies, a dynamic that could easily lead to a regional or even world war.
Thus, the hell that has become the Middle East is being poked and prodded by U.S. foreign policy with absolutely no regard for the global implications. Both U.S. major presidential candidates are cheerleading the flood of blood to different degrees, ensuring that the next election will provide fresh “legitimacy” to an equally barbarous U.S. foreign policy.