Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Stoking the Syrian Inferno

The bloody U.S.-led proxy war in Syria, laying unimaginable waste to its cities and people, escalates daily.  For Washington, “all options” are now clearly in play in the quest for “regime change” in Damascus.

Capitalizing on the resignation of joint Arab League-United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan on Thursday, Washington and its imperial cheerleaders in the U.S. mainstream media immediately began to lay the ground for a greater degree of foreign military intervention into the Syrian crisis.

The Washington propaganda line swallowed whole by the U.S. media and spit back out for public consumption?  Diplomacy is dead solely due to the intransigence of Russia and China, leaving increased Western support for the freedom-loving rebels of the Free Syrian Army as the only means to save Syria.

Assuming its favored role as “respectable” huckster of U.S. imperialism, the hawkish Washington Post editorial board was typical of the U.S. media reaction to Annan’s departure.

“Now that diplomacy has utterly failed to stop him [Assad],” the Post wrote, “it is time for the Obama administration to consider measures that stand a real chance of accelerating his downfall — beginning with greater material support for the opposition.”

Such calls for greater U.S. involvement into the Syrian crisis come just as it is confirmed (yet again) that the U.S. has long since interjected itself into the conflict.  As Reuters reported, President Obama signed a secret order earlier this year—this is, when the U.S. was publicly playing lip service to the Annan peace plan—which permits the “C.I.A. and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.”

And according to Reuters reporting, the C.I.A. is actively coordinating with a secret command center operated by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar along the Turkey-Syria border established to better organize the military campaign against the Syrian state.

“This ‘nerve center’ is in Adana,” Reuters notes, “a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.”

All such heightened U.S. support for the “Free” Syrian Army coincides with mounting evidence of rebel atrocities and an increasing al-Qaeda infiltration into the ranks of the armed opposition.  Nonetheless, the U.S. facilitated arms spigot continues to pump increasingly lethal weapons to oppositional forces.

As NBC News reported this past week, the militarized Syrian opposition has now received its first batch of surface-to-air missiles via Washington’s N.A.T.O. ally Turkey.  The blowback possibilities astound.

As one might expect, though, determining exactly who the C.I.A. is overseeing deliveries of surface-to-air missiles to, has been sidestepped by a U.S. press deeply infatuated by the ruggedly heroic image of the rebels it so eagerly nurtures.  Just how allying with al-Qaeda fits into the ongoing U.S. “war on terror” is thus utterly ignored.  Depending on the day then, al-Qaeda is either presented to the U.S. public as a menace to all who cherish freedom, or a necessary instrument in the “liberation” of Syria.  Orwell would no doubt feel at home is such a world.

In lieu of serious inquiry and honest reporting, the U.S. establishment media instead busies itself with baseless repetitions of the tired mantra that Assad’s days are numbered—the “liberation” of Aleppo and Damascus imminent.  As the New York Times reported this weekend, such folly is also ripe within the very nexus of empire.  As the paper revels, the Pentagon and U.S. State Department, “mindful of American mistakes following the invasion of Iraq in 2003,” are in the midst of hurriedly planning for a post-Assad Syria.  (No doubt, Washington planners will use their inevitable “mistakes” in Syria when planning the post-Khamenei Iran.)

Such dreams of Assad’s imminent fall, however, belie reality.

In a rare report by a Western journalist actually on the ground in Damascus, Austin Tice reported for McClatchy that government forces retain a firm grip on the city.

“Finding myself in the capital,” Tice writes, “made me re-evaluate the rebels’ prospects for a victory soon. The city is huge, just huge, and seizing it will be an enormous undertaking.”

Instead of an impending triumph for Syrian “freedom” to come at the hands of U.S. military might, in reality Syria appears set for a protracted, foreign-infused bloodletting.  One would be wise, then, to heed the warning of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued all the way back in April.

“It is clear as day that even if the opposition is armed to the teeth,” Lavrov remarked, “it will not defeat the Syrian army, and there will simply be slaughter and mutual destruction for long, long years.”

The destruction of the Syrian state and the slaughter of its people, however, do not represent the grisly “collateral damage” of U.S. imperial ambitions, but rather a principal aim.  After all, a fragmented and war-ravaged Syria presents nothing less than a strategic victory of sorts for Washington in its larger preoccupation with weakening Syria’s regional ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  And any opportunity to target Iran, no matter the costs in human life and misery for the Syrian people, is to be taken.

As former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy coolly argued in a New York Times op-ed earlier this year: “The current standoff in Syria presents a rare chance to rid the world of the Iranian menace to international security and well-being.”

And so with the dream of ultimately purging the “Iranian menace,” Washington wildly stokes the Syrian inferno.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Oregon.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

More articles by:

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

May 24, 2018
Gary Leupp
Art of the Dealbreaker: Trump’s Cancellation of the Summit with Kim
Jeff Warner – Victor Rothman
Why the Emerging Apartheid State in Israel-Palestine is Not Sustainable
Kenn Orphan
Life, the Sea and Big Oil
James Luchte
Europe Stares Into the Abyss, Confronting the American Occupant in the Room
Richard Hardigan
Palestinians’ Great March of Return: What You Need to Know
Howard Lisnoff
So Far: Fascism Lite
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Norman Finkelstein on Bernie Sanders, Gaza, and the Mainstream Treatment
Daniel Warner
J’accuse All Baby Boomers
Alfred W. McCoy
Beyond Golden Shower Diplomacy
Jonah Raskin
Rachel Kushner, Foe of Prisons, and Her New Novel, “The Mars Room”
George Wuerthner
Myths About Wildfires, Logging and Forests
Binoy Kampmark
Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist
Dean Baker
The Marx Ratio: Not Clear Karl Would be Happy
May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail