I’ve long thought that the red line that would indicate an intolerable assault on Asia and her assets runs through Iran. However, at the moment I’m not so sure. What I mean is, that a war with Iran, once initiated, would eventually draw in all of the Middle East, and then China and Russia. I still believe that is true. And God knows, the current game of chicken in the Persian Gulf is certainly looking very threatening. With two American Carrier Groups including several French and British ships and, most likely, a couple of Israeli nuclear subs, along with a third US Carrier outfitted as a Forward Operating Base, the risk of an accident alone is enough to set one’s nerves on edge. Meanwhile the Iranians are conducting joint exercises in the straits of Hormuz with Oman. It is, after all, the Persian Gulf. The Western fleets are purportedly there to keep the Gulf free for oil traffic. I would argue that filling the Gulf with warships is not conducive to peaceful trade relations.
But, while all eyes are on Iran, and we are deafened by the din of Iranophobic threats and tirades, the situation in Syria continues to boil, in fact, has begun to boil over. The population is increasingly caught up in the internal violence. With all the big international players are becoming more and more engaged in the struggle, diplomacy on Syria has come to a standoff. The UN representatives of concerned parties have lost patience with the process and with one another, and their communications have become increasingly harsh and bitter. Inside Syria, the government is openly warring with the Free Syrian Army and their associates in neighborhoods ins and around the city of Homs. Outraged newscasts of atrocities in the mainstream media are appropriate except for one tiny detail. They neglect to mention that the armed opposition is the reason for the fire fight, and that it was armed by our allies in the region, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel with our blessing and most likely our assistance. A Russian Carrier Group is now docked at Tartous, along with a couple of Iranian Warships, permitted by the new Egyptian SCAF + Muslim Brotherhood Government to take the short route to the Mediterranean through the Red Sea and the Suez. This is a tinder box waiting for a match.
Even China has joined the fray with a special diplomatic mission now in Damascus advising the Assad government. Russia has opted out of the ‘Friends of Syria’ meeting where the ‘international community’ will discuss how best to support the opposition in the country. Their statement is docked in Tartous. But the firefight in Homs has provided ammunition to the Imperial propaganda machine that is priceless. It is refined so that only the Assad government is responsible for the disaster. We hear the voices of those under fire, and it breaks our hearts. But the broad context of the disaster is viewed as a support system for the oppressed rather than a cold blooded initiative to use them as pawns on the world chessboard. The fact that external forces are exacerbating and prolonging the violence is never mentioned. The possibility of mediated diplomacy is dismissed. The government’s claims that they are under attack by international enemies are ridiculed in the same reports where that attack is righteously supported.
The question isn’t whether the people aren’t suffering or that they don’t have legitimate complaints. Of course they are and they do. The question is whether violent civil war is the best or only way to protect their interests and guarantee their rights. I want to suggest that violence and war are not, and would not in any context be the best approach to achieving justice, peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, the problem of a legitimate government to replace the Assad regime clearly frames the fallacy of this approach. It is assumed that, just as it has been for the last 100 years, whomever the Western Masters choose to put in power will be supported by the locals. Since the majority of the Syrian army is loyal to the government, this is a questionable assumption. The Syrians know this and so, nationally, the support for maintaining the present power structure and engaging in negotiations that lead to better governance is relatively strong. However this stance is slowly eroding under the combination of real damage from the firefights and the associated flood of propaganda. In other words, violence begets violence.
Since the Western Gods choose to oppose diplomacy on all fronts, their proxies will fight on to the last man and the circle chaos and destruction will continue to spiral outwards. While the majority of us in the west spin around wildly unrealistic election debates and lament the fate of our Syrian sisters and brothers, or cheer the most intransigent factions of the opposition in Syria, the risk is growing that the Immortals (our governments) and their minions (us) will be swept up in the fire storm they have nurtured and fed with the hopes and dreams, as well as the flesh and bone of the Syrian people.
JUDITH BELLO can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org