by Phil Greaves / September 16th, 2013
Current events surrounding the Syrian conflict appear to be on the brink of a partial agreement toward peace. Brokered by the United States and Russia, the new quick-fire round of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov have been promoted as a bilateral effort to disarm Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and move forward with talks to help end the crisis (Geneva II). Yet parallel to the alleged chemical weapons attack in eastern Ghouta – which subsequently led to the diplomatic breakthrough between Washington and Moscow – a chain of events largely ignored may provide equally justifiable explanations as to why the United States chose to renege on its threats of overt military intervention, and towards public diplomacy and reconciliation.
Analysing the sequence of events leading up to, and surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Ghouta shows that Syria, and its ally Russia, have thwarted a determined attempt by the United States to overtly attack the Syrian Army, in what was a last-ditch effort to save the crumbling insurgency and avoid a regime victory.
The failure of the “Re-branded” insurgency
Several reports leading up to the alleged chemical attack claim that the United States – in line with its covert policy of over two years – had prepared and deployed a ”rebranded,” moderate, non-jihadist battalion of rebel fighters into Syria with the desired objective of creating a buffer-zone in the southern province of Da’raa (birthplace of the insurgency); from which the rebels would regroup and replenish supplies lost in consecutive defeats in preparation for a “Storm on Damascus”: a carbon-copy of the CIA’s strategy during the overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – minus the crucial NATO airforce.
An article from August 22, authored by Yossef Bodansky, an Israeli-American political scientist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004 claims:
Starting Aug. 17 and 18, nominally Free Syrian Army (FSA) units — in reality a separate Syrian and Arab army trained and equipped by the CIA as well as Jordanian and other intelligence services — attempted to penetrate southern Syria from northern Jordan and start a march on Damascus. Two units, one 250-strong and one 300-strong, crossed into Syria and began advancing parallel to the Golan Heights border. Their aim was to break east and reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a “Free Syria”. However, the CIA’s FSA forces met fierce resistance by the unlikely coalition of the Syrian Army, local jihadist forces (mainly the locally-raised Yarmuk Brigades), and even tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain. By Aug. 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in three villages not far from the Israeli border.
Bodansky’s article is
corroborated by a report published on the 22nd of August in French daily Le Figaro, which also alleges that a similar sized
US-trained force, accompanied by Israeli, Jordanian and US commandos,
The alleged chemical weapons attack
There is already a plethora of literature and credible analysis that debunks Washington’s allegations surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack, the claims are most importantly coming from a lead belligerent and architect of the conflict, yet even if one were to wrongly judge Washington as a neutral actor, they are still unverified, circumstantial, questionably sourced (to say the least), and in the words of top CIA officials “no slam dunk”, which makes them even-less credible than what turned out to be outright lies emanating from US intelligence sources in the lead up to Iraq. Washington’s claims simply don’t stand up to any serious scrutiny. Yet contrary to the many outstanding, and growing, contradictions and scepticism of the allegations; many analysts have pushed the theory that the regimes motive to use chemical weapons lay in its desperation to avoid defeat at the hands of the rebels. Incidentally, this supposed regime motive formed the “analysis” propagated by recently outed fraud “Liz O’Bagy” – a rebel lobbyist paid by the State Department and neocon think-tank the Institute for the study of war; to provide “tailored analysis” in a months-long propaganda campaign to portray the extremist dominated rebels as “moderate” western-friendly secularists. Yet when viewed with the above context, the supposed motive of a Götterdämmerung act by a regime in its final moments becomes even-less credible than it first appeared. The regime was arguably in the strongest position it has been since it lost vast swathes of land during the height of the insurgency, not to mention the growing amount of anti-rebel sentiment within public opinion working in the regimes’ favour – both inside and outside of Syria.
Conversely, the rebels on the ground in Syria were
becoming increasingly desperate, losing battles with the SAA consecutively for
months on end, and increasingly turning to fighting between themselves over the
spoils of war, or simply through ethnic intolerance, extremism and
fundamentalism. The regime had long been
planning a large military offensive in Ghouta to consolidate the gains it had made in recent months and
secure its hold on the
Regardless of who actually committed the attack that occurred on August 21st in Ghouta, its desired outcome from Washington’s perspective (a casus belli – intentional or otherwise – to garner western intervention), did not play out how the administration would have hoped.
UK Parliament set the tone for Congress
A major blow to Washington’s war-plans came at the hands of the UK general public and Parliament. Unfortunately for David Cameron, earlier this year UK MP’s forced the government to agree to a vote in the commons to determine any future military intervention in Syria. Now, with Cameron threatening immediate military “action” against Syria he recalled Parliament in an attempt to rush through the vote and kickstart the war alongside the United States. Cameron, in typical establishment arrogance presumed the massive public sentiment against military intervention would go unnoticed by the publics representatives and ministers would vote in favour of war. Cameron was sorely mistaken, the “shadow of Iraq“ provided a platform for a resurgence of anti-war sentiment and low-level activism. MP’s were bombarded with mail and phone-calls from angry constituents demanding a no vote. Crucially, the immediate scepticism of US “intelligence” was brought out into the public realm in real-time and exposed as reminiscent of the fabrications that led to Iraq. Accordingly, on the 29 August, Cameron lost his vote.
The Obama administration was deeply concerned by
the result of the UK vote, their most loyal ally and partner in militarism
would no longer be at their side, years of war-plans and covert logistics had
fallen apart, and the illusion of the United States “leading the International
Community from behind” was crumbling even quicker. Obama’s
surprise decision to
gain the approval of Congress for military intervention in
Following Cameron’s defeat in Parliament, and
facing what looked to be a certain defeat in Congress, Obama’s proposed war on
Syria was arguably more unpopular than any before it. Polls on both
sides of the Atlantic regularly
showed massive disapproval ratings for any intervention, with numbers only
slightly higher even if the White House allegations were proven to be true. Alongside the usual uncritical repetition of US
“intelligence assessments” and government stenography emanating from the
majority of corporate media; the ever-growing alternative and independent
outlets allowed the public to express their massive scepticism, and more
importantly share independent and credible alternatives of information to a
wider audience. Obama was facing a humiliating defeat, and was arguably by this
point already searching for a way out of his self-imposed ultimatums. Yet
factions within the US alliance have a very different agenda, there are several
actors that would prefer the Syrian war to remain “hot” indefinitely. The hawks
within Israel are the most obvious candidates to be upset by this turn of
events, as has been evidenced by what the IDF have termed their ”optimal scenario” of endless civil war and partition. No doubt
Last throw of the Dice: missiles in the Med
On September the 3rd, two days prior to the G20 summit in St Petersburg, the world awoke to reports that Russia’s defensive radar systems had detected two ballistic “objects” launched from the central Mediterranean on a flight path toward Syria’s eastern coast, where Russian navy ships currently reside; the missiles post-launch had apparently “fell into the sea”. At the time the finger was immediately pointed to Israel – who have attacked Syria at least three times with impunity in the past year alone – or possibly the United States, whose large Naval presence in the Med seemed the obvious primary suspect. Curiously, both Israel and the United States denied responsibility when the Russian reports were first released, then, only a few hours later Israel claimed responsibility for an apparent joint “test” launch with the Pentagon of a defensive missile system. The sheer recklessness of such an act – even if the innocent explanation were true – is hard to explain in such a circumstance. The US eventually confirmed the Israeli line that it was indeed a “test” missile launch with US assistance; after having first denied any knowledge of the incident.
„Am 3. September 2013, 2 Tage vor dem G20 Treffen wurde die Welt durch Berichte wach, die aussagten, dass das russische Abwehrsystem 2 ballistische ‚Objekte‘ auf einem Flug zu der Ostküste Syriens aufgehalten haben, die dann ins Mittelmeer fielen…..
Eine der best unterrichtesten Quellen erzählte der Zeitung Al-Safir, dass „der US-Krieg gegen Syrien in dem Moment begann und endete, als 2 ballistische Raketen abgeschossen wurden“.
Die wahrscheinlichste Erklärung dafür ist, Dass entweder Israel, oder die USA ohne Wissen der Russen eine Attacke auf Syrien starteten, um das syrische Küstenabwehrsystem zu testen…“
The most likely explanation is Israel or the US
were attempting to test Syria’s coastal defenses prior to any possible attack,
but to do this without giving any notice to Russia in such a tense scenario
seems reckless to say the least. Russian
repeatedly hinted that
A well-informed diplomatic
source told As-Safir newspaper that “the
Whether this account of events holds true or not, at the very least the missile launch appears to be an intentional provocation by either Israel or Washington, in a last-ditch attempt to incite retaliation and salvage the now broken strategy against Assad. Either way, Russia’s decision to quickly publicise the detection and subsequent flip-flop of denial and acceptance from Israel bolsters the theory in the As Safir report: why would Israel accept responsibility for this provocative “test”, yet deny responsibility for every other act of aggression they commit unimpeded? Could it have been to save the face of another defeated attempt to continue the war? It was following this incident, that Obama and Putin were due to meet at the G20 conference. With both leaders eager to go into any negotiations on Syria from a position of power at such a crucial stage, it also adds to the theory that Obama was in a rush to commence the war before opposition became too overbearing; as indeed it now evidently has.
Contrary to Obama’s plans, he entered the G20 summit from a position of weakness, both globally and domestically, opposition to a unilateral US war on another Arab state was only ever-increasing. Obama – or US foreign policy in general – has long-lost the vote of confidence within the UK population, and the Parliamentary vote may indeed yet herald a new era of UK foreign policy. Obama was losing the confidence vote in Congress; his domestic population; and within world leaders at the G20 – the majority of which started to make clear their desire to move towards Russia’s longstanding position based on the Geneva communique. Despite the mass effort western media put into spinning support for Obama, he came out of the G20 further weakened, it is likely by that point Obama had already made his decision that lead to Kerry’s supposed “gaffe”.
John Kerry’s “gaffe” and the bargain
In the two days following the G20, the US upheld its intransigent rhetoric in its attempts to rally support for war. John Kerry was scheduled to fly around Europe to pimp war on radio shows and TV interviews as any self-respecting humanitarian does – of course Willy Hague was more than eager to stand alongside Kerry to drum up support for a war the UK population has just stated clearly it wanted no part in. It was during this visit that Kerry made his now infamous “gaffe”, in which he flippantly offered Syria a way of avoiding imminent attack by giving up its chemical weapons stockpiles to international inspectors, Kerry said: “if Assad were to turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” there would be no US attack. It is indicative that once Russia had pounced on the deal the US chose to immediately play it down – for all of around two hours. The narrative then quickly shifted to what the US is now sticking to: the “deal” on CW was only implemented through the threat of US force. Yet the key point that both media and diplomats are avoiding is this: if the chemical weapons disarmament is due to run until “mid-2014″ under the Assad regime and the Syrian Army’s cooperation, and is likely to run into considerable setbacks and require a concerted logistical and cooperative effort from the government; then that is surely a tacit admission from Washington that Assad will remain in power until at least the proposed operation is over.
In a revealing
interview on Sunday,
Obama gave further sign of a shift in
These are questions only time can answer. Regardless of future events and subsequent geopolitical dynamics, there are still thousands of extremists, mercenaries, and outright criminals currently waging war upon Syria and its people. To regain any semblance of stability and peace it is the United States that ultimately holds the levers to end the arms flow and state-sponsorship of the rebels. Tellingly, in a recent interview President Assad revealed a critical precondition of his own on any future CW disarmament deal:
It is a bilateral process aimed principally at making the US cease pursuing its policy of aggression against Syria and proceed in compliance with the Russian initiative. When we see the US genuinely working towards stability in the region and stop threatening, striving to attack, and delivering arms to terrorists then we will believe that the necessary processes can be finalised.