FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Getting Serious About Syria

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

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail