Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hard Truths



Syria- the truth, the lies, the faultlines!

 The Western mainstream media is known to concoct narratives on issues depending on what their corporate bosses' demand of them. Syria is a typical case in point.

Watching television or reading newspaper outlets would make one believe that all Syrians are one cohesive unit of people determined to bring an end to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Very simplistic formulations are offered for public consumption. Mostly that the Syrians are engaged in a fight for human rights and to install a democratic system. This narrative obfuscates the truth and the real reason behind the US scheming which is to destabilise Syria until the point arrives when regime change becomes possible. It is, after all, the passage to war on Iran. 

Gullible westerners who have grown up on a diet of anti-Arab rhetoric want to believe that it is the Syrian regime is the villain of the piece – attacking innocent people, unarmed protesters and 'freedom fighters'.  The regime through some of its own miscalculations is now pushed to the corner and is trying to wriggle out. Now the situation is do or die- sheer political survival.
 
The best of attempts to strike a mid-way path through the mediation of Kofi Annan fell through. The rebels may have settled for a negotiated change, but it is wholly unlikely that the US would have consented to any sort of bargain. The US, Saudi Arabia, and some sources in Lebanon have already invested a lot in the conflict – providing weapons, training, financial support and equipment to the Syrian opposition right from the start. In fact, there never was a moment when the revolts were peaceful. The former head of Russian intelligence, Yevgeny Primakov, noted that the Syrian conflict "started with armed revolts against the authorities, not peaceful demonstrations".
 
The core of western strategy in Syria is to prompt and prop up sectarian conflict without direct intervention. They would rather avoid a repeat of Iraq where they spilled blood, and goofed up on reconstruction. The Brookings Institute in its March 2012 report "Assessing Options for Regime Change in Syria" posted the easy-way-out option for the US - "leave the dirty work on the ground to the Free Syrian Army", and evade the obligation of Iraq-style nation re-building. The US may have learnt at least this one selfish lesson after its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. What better way to achieve regime change than with clean hands. Never mind the polluted psyche! 
 
Sanctions have been put in place and this system is functioning to reach its goal of "starving the regime in Damascus and feeding the opposition". The imperialist US and European nations will act as the do-gooder – offering humanitarian aid, and offering make-believe that they support the ouster of an objectionable dictator. Indeed, the west is engaged in a secret war and refuses to countenance the option of a constructive mediation that will open up real solutions and democracy at the opportune moment. At this rate, Syria will end up being a carbon copy of Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq and every other country that the west has messed up in the name of freedom and democracy.
 
Democracy may be the most desirable option for Syria. The question, however, is: What are the foundations of such a democracy? The money-bag, corporate-controlled, spin-doctored version, or something rooted in the cultural particularities of the region? 
 
In an incisive piece titled 'Covering Syria: The information war' by Aisling Byrne, he says: "Syria, like other countries, needs reforms which the people are demanding ... the closest thing to democracy [in the Arab world] is Syria". Byrne describes how the west has portrayed the Syrian regime: "While we have seen extensive demonization of Assad, his wife and family, with the president depicted recently in the British press bathing in blood, you won't read articles demonizing the Saudi or Qatari regimes, or highlighting the hundreds of millions of dollars they have poured into political parties and groups, particularly Salafists, across the region in their "counter-revolution" against change; or the recent declaration by the official Saudi Mufti for all churches in the Arabian Peninsula to be demolished (which was not covered by a single Western mainstream news outlet); or as a senior Sunni political figure told me recently, the more than 23,000 detainees in Saudi prisons, a majority of whom (a recent report notes 90%) have degrees (to be fair, Chatham House did comment on this in a recent report that this "is indicative of the prevalence of a university education"). There is clear duplicity in the deliberate unwillingness of the Western mainstream media to acknowledge the nature of those who are the West's allies in the regime-change project - particularly Saudi Arabia and Qatar - and the danger they pose".
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that it was in the opposition's interest "to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to get a pretext to demand external interference", so it is not surprising that claims of "massacres", consistently show a significant inflation in numbers of casualties, sometimes wildly so.
 
With each passing day, the conflict is escalating to levels that spell danger not only for the long term future of Syria but, indeed, for the region itself. It is a safe bet that the conflict will extend beyond Syrian borders sooner than later. At the end of the day, the West will leave Syria in the same kind of chaos that now characterises Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. And when that happens, the western media will not be there to cover the story and tell the rest of the world the REAL truth. After all, their corporate bosses would have transferred them to another exciting news location where a new war would have been invented. The arms merchants have a creative spirit when it comes to inventing conflict. Who knows if that would be Iran? Or, on the other hand, don't we already know that Iran is the next war destination?
 
The rebels have been boosted by huge support – covert and overt- from elsewhere and that suggests that the revolution is neither home-grown nor geared to self-determination. Syria will take long years after the conflict to limp back to normalcy. It would have been damaged almost irreversibly.
 
Frustrated by its failure to push its way through the UN, the US is acting clandestinely with two strange bed-fellows- Turkey and Israel. The Saudi regime has thrown its hat in the ring- pumping in aid to its chosen armed groups. Rebel leaders cry hoarse that they are not influenced by externalities. However raucously they present this claim, the world knows that they have their backers who call the shots. For as long as the outside world shapes the conflict, the only guarantee that exists is a conclusion that will leave Syria deeply divided on sectarian lines. It has been claimed that Gulf funding has already sharpened religious sectarianism in the rebel camp. The militarized nature of the conflict has only succeeded in creating more anarchy, and multiplied the death toll.  Moreover, as the rebellion swells, rebel groups have resorted to torturing enemies, kidnapping, and prisoner executions. The militarized nature of the conflict has only succeeded in creating more anarchy, and multiplied the death toll.
 
There is the ghastly conjecture that the insurgents have seized hold of chemical weapons. The implications of this have potentially catastrophic implications. Apart from the catastrophically unthinkable havoc the rebels can wreak in Syria and in the region with the WMDs, the rhetorical question which remains is how these weapons of mass destruction have fallen into the hands of the insurgents who, according to Dr. Ismail Salami are chiefly composed of Wahhabi al-Qaeda mercenaries of different nationalities including Afghans, Iraqis, Turkish, Yemenis, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Saudis.
 
The regime in Syria cannot claim to be faultless. It has been authoritarian and has stubbornly refused the democratic option when it could have. The regime will fall without question at some point in time. Before that, the war in Syria will spill over Syria's borders and the prospect of large scale political and military complications loom large.
 
Without question Israel is tacitly fanning the flames in Syria. It has publicly stated its preference for regime change in Syria. President Bashar Assad has never been known to countenance Israel's belligerent occupation of Palestinian lands and The Golan heights. Israel's reckoning is that Assad's fall will also inaugurate the Iranian collapse- possibly a huge miscalculation. Parts of Israel's designs are grounded in its own desperation. The Zionist project is collapsing. Things are spiralling out of control with people protesting against social injustice almost on a daily basis. Says Ismail Salami, "Since last month, four Israelis have set themselves ablaze from an extremity of despair."
[1]
 
Prospects of a negotiated settlement in Syria are now close to zero. And yet a dialogue based solution remains the only hope for a region - people left to determine their own political future. The regime must be prepared to do what is required of it in the best interests of its people. The opposition must also recognize that its western and Gulf allies are, in no way, authentically interested in the future of Syria. The upshot of an all-out war is clear – more deaths, destruction, and a long period of instability.
 
Ranjan Solomon
 




[1] Ibid