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Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:53

9 Ways America Has Fueled the Bloody Civil War in Syria

Written by  By Nicolas J. "Sandy" Davies | AlterNet
9 Ways America Has Fueled the Bloody Civil War in Syria Shutterstock.com

U.S. policy has undermined efforts to bring the Syrian people the ceasefire and peaceful political transition they need.

President Obama's threats against Syria are framed by the carefully crafted image of a responsible superpower reluctantly drawn into a horrific conflict caused by others.  But the reality is very different.

For more than two years, U.S. policy has quietly fueled the escalation of the conflict in Syria and undermined every effort to bring the Syrian people the ceasefire and peaceful political transition they need and want.  Whoever is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths in the latest alleged chemical weapons incident, the critical covert and diplomatic role the United States has played in a war that has killed at least 100,000 people means that their blood is also on our hands.
 
As Haytham Manna, a leader of the  National Coordinating Body for Democratic Change (NCB) in Syria recently  told Le Vif, the largest French language news magazine in Belgium, "The Americans have cheated.  Two or three times they have withdrawn at the very moment that an agreement was in the works… Everything is possible but that will depend mainly on the Americans.  The French are content to follow.  A political solution is the only one that could save Syria."
 
So, if Manna is correct, we Americans have played a decisive role at the critical moments for war or peace in Syria, including the one we are now confronting.  If it comes as a surprise to you as an American that you are responsible for the horrific nightmare taking place in Syria, please review the well-documented record of what has been done in your name, albeit secretly and without your knowledge in many cases:
 
1)  As protests spread through the Arab world in 2011, the mostly leftist groups who organized the Arab Spring protests in Syria formed the NCB to coordinate peaceful protests and resistance to government repression.  They agreed, and they still agree, on three basic principles: non-violence; non-sectarianism; and no foreign military intervention.  But the U.S. and its allies marginalized the NCB, formed an unrepresentative "Syrian National Council" in Turkey as a government-in-exile and recruited, armed and trained violent armed groups to pursue regime change in Syria. 
 
2)  The United States, the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar began flying in fighters, weapons and equipment to turn the Syrian Spring into a bloody civil war.  Once they had overthrown the government of Libya, at the cost of 25,000 to 50,000 lives, they began adapting the same strategy to Syria, despite knowing full well that this would be a much more drawn-out, destructive and bloody war.
 
3)   Even as a Qatari-funded YouGov poll in December 2011 found that  55% of Syrians still supported their government, unmarked NATO planes were flying fighters and weapons from Libya to the "Free Syrian Army" base at Iskanderum in Turkey.  British and French special forces were training FSA recruits, while the CIA and US special forces provided communications equipment and intelligence, as in Libya.   Retired CIA officer Philip Giraldi concluded, "Syrian government claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained and financed by foreign governments are more true than false."
 
4) Over the past two years, we have learned more about who is doing what in Syria.   Anti-government sources acknowledged in June 2013 that 2,100 of the 16,700 rebel fighters killed so far in Syria were foreigners, while only 145 of 41,600 loyalists killed in action were foreign Hezbollah members.
 
5)  Journalists in the Balkans have reported that wealthy Gulf Arab paymasters fund  hundreds of hardened mercenaries from Croatia and elsewhere, who earn up to $2,000 per day as rebel snipers and special forces in Syria.   Saudi Arabia has sent convicts to fight in Syria as an alternative to prison and  funded shipments of weapons from Croatia to Jordan.  Qatar has spent $3 billion to pay rebel fighters and ship at least 70 planeloads of weapons via Turkey.  
 
6) On the diplomatic front, as Haytham Manna told Le Vif, the United States has played an equally insidious role.  As Kofi Annan launched his peace plan in April 2012, the U.S. and its Western and Arab monarchist allies made sure that their Syrian proxies would not comply with the ceasefire by pledging unconditional political support, backed up by more weapons and generous funding.
 
7) The US joined France and its other allies at three Orwellian  "Friends of Syria" meetings to launch what French officials referred to as a "Plan B", to escalate the war and undermine the Annan peace plan.  At the second Friends of Syria meeting, nine days before Annan's ceasefire was due to take effect, the U.S and its allies agreed to provide funds for the Free Syrian Army to pay its fighters, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia pledged to increase their supply of weapons.   
 
8) Annan finally assembled all the permanent members of the Security Council and other governments involved in the war in Syria  in Geneva at the end of June 2012.  The Western powers briefly dropped their previously non-negotiable demand to remove President Assad as the first step in a political transition, so that all sides could finally sign on to the Annan plan.  But then the U.S. and its allies rejected a UN Security Council resolution to codify the agreement and revived their previous demands for Assad's removal.
 
9) In May 2013, after tens of thousands more Syrians had been killed, Secretary Kerry finally went to Moscow and  agreed to renew the peace process begun in Geneva in June 2012.  But since May, the United States has once again reneged on the Geneva agreement and chosen to escalate the war even further, by providing direct weapons shipments and now missile strikes to support its proxies in Syria.
 
So, far from being reluctantly dragged into a terrible conflict not of its own making, the United States and its allies have in fact followed a quite coherent policy of regime change, modeled roughly on their successful overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011.  The main difference has been the absence of foreign air support for the Syrian rebels.  In Libya,  NATO conducted 7,700 air strikes, demolishing Libya's air defenses in the early stages of the campaign and thereafter bombing at will throughout the country.  The fact that Syria possesses a far more extensive, modern, Russian-built air defense system has successfully deterred the West and its Arab royalist allies from following the same strategy in Syria.
 
Until now that is.  The somewhat arbitrary "red line" regarding chemical weapons is serving as a pretext to launch missile strikes, degrade Syria's air defenses and expose it to future air strikes.  While President Obama tries to assuage liberals with promises of limited and proportionate strikes, there has been a steady parade of hawkish Republicans emerging from closed door meetings at the White House reassured that,  as theGuardian wrote on Tuesday, this is indeed "part of a broader strategy to topple Bashar al-Assad."
 
In fact, Obama admitted in  an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg for the Atlantic in March 2012 that his entire assault on Syria is itself part of a broader strategy to isolate Iran by destroying its strongest Arab ally.  When asked what more the U.S. could do to topple Assad, Obama laughed and said, "Well, nothing that I can tell you, because your classified clearance isn't good enough."
 
But enough details have now emerged of the true contours of this policy to make his crocodile tears for alleged nerve agent victims seem grotesque.  The atrocious position in which he has placed the American public in whose name he acts should spur outrage, at a political class who connive in such cynical and murderous policies; at commercial media who laugh all the way to the bank as they misinform and mislead us; and yes, at ourselves for being patsies for serial aggression and genocide, in Vietnam, Iraq and now Syria.
 
To paraphrase Mr. Obama speaking in Sweden on Wednesday, the world set a "red line" when the  UN Charter prohibited the use of military force except in self defense or in legitimate collective security operations mandated by the UN Security Council.  The US Senate set a "red line" when it ratified the UN Charter by 89 votes to 2.  As Obama said, "The international community's credibility is on the line, and America and Congress's credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important."  And when we are talking about war and peace, it is not just our credibility that is on the line, but the very nature of the world that we live in.
 
So please take a few minutes and call your "Representatives" in Congress to insist that they vote "No" on the authorization of U.S. aggression against Syria.  Ask them instead to pass a resolution recommitting the United States to the June 2012 Geneva peace plan, which starts with a ceasefire by all parties to the conflict, including the United States.            

Nicolas J. S. Davies is author of Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He wrote the chapter on "Obama At War" for the just released book, Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama's First Term as a Progressive Leader.

Original article on AlterNet

Read 921 times Last modified on Thursday, 05 September 2013 00:55

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    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 23:05 Read more...
  • End Student Debt!
    End Student Debt!

    The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:13 Read more...
  • Women: Occupy the Left
    Women: Occupy the Left

    Women’s rights have always been a bit of an add-on for the left. At this spring’s Left Forum, only fifteen of 440 panels touched on any feminist issue, broadly understood. New Left Review is famous, at least in my apartment, for its high testosterone content (despite being edited by a woman); ditto Verso, the left’s flagship publishing house, where women authors are as rare as Siberian tigers.

    Written on Thursday, 03 May 2012 20:06 Read more...
  • Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist
    Conservative Nonprofit Acts as a Stealth Business Lobbyist

    Desperate for new revenue, Ohio lawmakers introduced legislation last year that would make it easier to recover money from businesses that defraud the state. It was quickly flagged at the Washington headquarters of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a business-backed group that views such “false claims” laws as encouraging frivolous lawsuits. ALEC’s membership includes not only corporations, but nearly 2,000 state legislators across the country — including dozens who would vote on the Ohio bill.

    Written on Monday, 23 April 2012 19:50 Read more...
  • Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency
    Meet the US media companies lobbying against transparency

    Corporate owners or sister companies of some of the biggest names in journalism against FCC order to post political ad data. News organizations cultivate a reputation for demanding transparency, whether by suing for access to government documents, dispatching camera crews to the doorsteps of recalcitrant politicians, or editorializing in favor of open government.

    Written on Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:31 Read more...
  • Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic
    Former ALEC Supporters Now Find Connection Toxic

    With thousands of consumers expressing their concerns about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to corporations across America, even former supporters of ALEC are feeling the heat, and some are rushing to distance themselves from the organization. YUM! Brands (owners of KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut) became the 12th corporate member of ALEC to announce it is leaving the organization yesterday.

    Written on Friday, 20 April 2012 15:24 Read more...
  • A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die
    A Cruel Ethos - Pay Upfront or Die

    Our acceptance of death for those who can’t afford medical care is unique among the advanced industrialized nations of the world. This ethos allows people who don’t have enough money or enough medical insurance to die everyday. We remain blind to the humanistic healthcare ethos of other nations, that result in greatly reduced costs and superior outcomes.

    Written on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 03:20 Read more...
  • Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America
    Drug War Nightmare: How We Created a Massive Racial Caste System in America

    The drug war has created a new Jim Crow system. Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.”  Obama’s election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America. 

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 19:15 Read more...
  • How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States
    How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

    Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

    So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 17:42 Read more...
  • We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill
    We Need More Heels Running Around Capitol Hill

    "[I]t will come, but I shall not see it ... It is inevitable. We can no more deny forever the right of self-government to one-half our people than we could keep the Negro forever in bondage. It will not be wrought by the same disrupting forces that freed the slave, but come it will, and I believe within a generation."

    Written on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 13:31 Read more...
  • The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%
    The 1%’s Doctrine for the 99%

    Many on the American Right insist federal actions from the Civil War to recent banking regulations were encroachments on states’ rights and personal liberties, but underlying these claims – in the 1860s and today – is the greed of the richest 1 percent treating the 99 percent as chattel, writes Mark Ames.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:21 Read more...
  • Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back
    Congress Takes a Step or Two Forward, Two Steps Back

    Watching some of the news coming from Capitol Hill this week, two old music videos started buzzing around in our heads. One was the classic “I’m Just a Bill,” from Schoolhouse Rock, in which a beleaguered piece of legislation sits outside on the marble steps hoping to someday become a law.

    Written on Monday, 26 March 2012 21:15 Read more...

PDA In Your State

Join "Countdown to Coverage" Share TPP with your Daily Newspaper

CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!

Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.

Button-ShareTPPWithNewspaper

Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of