FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Getting Serious About Syria

by SAUL LANDAU

The Syrian conflict continued to boil — or boil over — when Syrian troops fired across the Turkish border on April 9, apparently killing either fleeing refugees or armed combatants.

Then the UN team entered and began monitoring a shaky ceasefire – shaky because the Syrian National Council in exile and their backers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Washington and western capitals don’t want the fighting to stop. They want to overthrow the Assad government by force and violence.

However, despite continued words of caution from the Pentagon and White House about getting into another messy Middle East war, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton pressed for more intervention. The Syrian Accountability Act of 2003 began the formal US attempt to bring down Assad, but Clinton, the imperial princess, now demands Syrian President Assad resign in favor of the Syrian National Council (SNC). This hastily formed group composed of exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood members, and other groupings, many in exile, would, magically transform Syria via fair elections into a good democracy — and sheep will fly.

Washington’s “humanitarian” assistance fund for Syria escalated into “non-lethal” aid — sophisticated satellite communications equipment, and night-vision goggles so “rebels” could “evade” Syrian government assaults.

US and western media have underscored Assad’s butchery, but offered little of substance on the opposition and its often savage behavior. Just weeks after the first March 2011 protests – Arab Springtime – the media disregarded eye witness evidence of armed groups shooting at and killing members of Syria’s security forces as well as civilians. Reporter Pepe Escobar witnessed “the shooting deaths of nine Syrian soldiers in Banyas” as early as April 10, 2011.

By focusing only on Assad’s violence western leaders could promote a lopsided view of the conflict. In recent weeks, however, the media could not ignore all “photos and video footage of armed men with heavy weapons proudly declaring their stripes – some of them religious extremists advocating the killing of civilians based on sectarian differences.”

Suicide bombings took place in Damascus and Aleppo, and Al Qaeda called its minions “to battle.” The US government ignored Al Qaeda’s role and refers only to the “good” SNC, the majority of whom appear to ally themselves with Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood.

At a March meeting in Istanbul sponsored by Turkey and Qatar, however, an unlikely source of dissent emerged. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: “We reject any arming [of Syrian rebels] and the process to overthrow the [Assad] regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region.”

Al-Maliki questioned the motives of Qatar and Saudi Arabia who “are calling for sending arms instead of working on putting out the fire.”

Iraq, he continued, opposed “arming” the Free Syrian Army, and, he feared, “those countries that are interfering in Syria’s internal affairs will interfere in the internal affairs of any country.”

Maliki, who governs Iraq as a result of the US invasion and devastation of that country, questioned equating a cause backed by Saudi funding with freedom.

“What’s wrong with the Free Syrian Army getting funding from Saudi Arabia? Or, when did Saudi Arabia ever support freedom?” he asked.

These remarks were not featured in headlined stories; nor did TV or radio news provide coverage of Maliki’s statement. Until recently, we might have depended on Al-Jazeera, whose Iraq war coverage won it praise from journalists. However, the network’s Syria reports led some reporters to resign over the network’s biased reporting. Hassan Shaaban, the Beirut bureau’s managing director, resigned in March, “after leaked emails revealed his frustration over the channel’s coverage.” Shaaban had filed a story showing armed men fighting with the Syrian army in Wadi Khalid. Al Jazeera dropped the story. Two other Al-Jazeera staff quit for the same reasons.

Al Akhbar calimed Qatar’s foreign policy influenced the reporting on Syria. Al Jazeera maintains headquarters in Qatar and the royal family helped establish the network.

 

The question in Washington should be: will adding fuel to the violence make matters worse? Assad’s forces have defeated – with huge civilian casualties — the formal rebel uprisings, but the SNC could sponsor a prolonged terrorist war, which would increase civilian casualties, and not succeed in removing Assad or his Party [the Baath Party]from power.

 

Logic and reason dictate that Obama should follow the Syrian majority. A February 2012 poll showed “55% of Syrians want Assad to stay,” [NOT] motivated by fondness for his government, but “by fear of civil war.” The polls also ascertained “that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power believe he must usher in free elections in the near future.” (YouGov Siraj poll on Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation, connected to the royal family. The family has taken a hawkish position on Syria. See Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, January 17)

 

These facts have not oozed into State Department consciousness, where the rush for US entanglement appears contagious. Good sense should command Secretary Clinton to help save the process former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan set in motion for a negotiated cease fire. The opposition and the Assad side negated the April 10 deadline. This means Syrians will pay a higher human toll. The suffering is already immense.

 

Washington should weigh in now with Russia, China and the western powers – not Saudi Arabia and Qatar – to pressure both sides to stop shooting and start serious talking.

 

 

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens, in the U of Wisconsin Milwaukee Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. Monday, Monday, April 23 at 7:00 pm

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
Thomas Knapp
Florida’s Shenanigans Make a Great Case for (Re-)Separation of Ballot and State
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail