People may have noticed that the official narrative concerning Syria changes on a daily basis – except for continuing to heap contempt and scorn on the Russians and Chinese for their Security Council veto. To be frank, this veto makes more and more sense as events on the ground unmask US culpability in the civil war in Syria. Yes, civil war. That’s what you call it when an armed resistance takes up arms against a sovereign government. The interim report by the Arab League Observer Mission (although the Arab League declined to “approve” the report, it was leaked) clearly confirms the presence of an “armed entity” in Syria. Detailed descriptions of militants firing on government forces, as well as planting bombs and blowing up government and civilian infrastructure tend to support Assad’s claims that militant Islamists are attempting to overthrow his government. You can read the Report of Arab League Observer Mission for yourself on the Columbia University website
At first the Obama administration explained all this away by asserting that Syrian’s nonviolent protestors had become so frustrated with Assad’s intransigence that they joined forces with defectors from the Syrian Army. A day and a half ago, when two bomb blasts in Alepo killed twenty-five people, we were told the Syrian government had done this in a devious ploy to discredit the Free Syrian Army. This story wouldn’t wash after militants assassinated a Syrian general, a doctor responsible for running a military hospital in Damascus. Now the current line is that Iraqi members of Al Qaeda are taking advantage of Syrian civil unrest to cross the border and become Syrian Al Qaeda
NATO Support for Syria’s Armed Militants
The problem with this new version of events is that a number of credible Middle East analysts, including former FBI interpreter and whistle blower Sibel Edmunds, former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, British author and foreign correspondent John R. Bradley, and Canadian economist and globalization analyst Michel Chossudovsky have been reporting on Syrian’s armed resistance for many months. Moreover all four also cite a growing body of credible evidence that the US, Turkey and other NATO forces, along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supplying these armed militants with funding, arms and training.
Edmonds first broke the story last November that the US and NATO were involved in arming and training Syrian militants. On November 21, 2011 sources in Turkey informed her of the presence of secret training camps at the US air force base in Incirlik. They were reportedly established in April-May 2011 to organize and expand the dissident base in Syria. According to her sources, these support activities included smuggling US weapons into Syria, participating in US psychological warfare inside Syria and opening a humanitarian/medical corridor between Syria and Turkey to assist opposition groups.
On December 11 she reported, based on Jordanian sources that included a Jordanian military officer, that hundreds of foreign speaking troops had been observed near the Jordan-Syria border. Her informants also revealed that NATO had established a second secret training camp near Mafraq, Jordan to train the armed wing of Syria’s Islamic brotherhood. She was also informed, by a London-based Iraqi reporter, that an unknown number of US troops had been deployed from Iraq to Mafraq Jordan.
Eight days later former CIA officer Philip Geraldi essentially confirmed Edmonds’ assertions in NATO vs Syria. This was an article he wrote for the American Conservative, based on information leaked by CIA analysts concerned by the Obama administration’s apparent “march to war” in Syria. According to Geraldi, the CIA was refusing to sign off on the frequently cited UN report that more than 3,500 civilians had been killed by Assad’s soldiers. In their view, this information was based on rebel sources and uncorroborated. They also asserted that the Syrian government’s claims of being assaulted by rebels armed, trained, and financed by foreign governments were more true than false.
Unnamed CIA sources also informed him that NATO warplanes were arriving at Turkish military bases near Iskenderum on the Syrian border, with weapons from the late Muammar Gaddafi’s arsenals, as well as volunteers from the Libyan Transitional National Council. There, the latter, along with French and British special forces, engaged in training members of the Free Syrian Army. Reportedly the CIA and US Special Ops role in all this was to provide communications assistance and intelligence.
Popular Support for Syria’s Secular Government
According to John R Bradley, author of After the Arab Revolution and the only analyst to predict the Egyptian revolution, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also providing arms and funding to the Free Syrian Army. In an interview with Russia Today, Bradley supports the prevailing view of Assad as a ruthless despot. However, he also points out that Syria’s president is one of the last secular Arab leaders in the most ethnically diverse nation in the Middle East. At the moment, he enjoys wide popular support because many Syrians view him as the last bastion between them and a fundamentalist Islamic government, like the one just installed in Libya.
Recent callers from Homs (the Syrian city under siege) to the February 10, 2012 BBC Have Your Say seem to support this perspective. While none are big Assad fans, the growing strength of the Islamic resistance worries them. Moreover they see Assad’s secular administration as far preferable to Sharia Law.
The US Military Agenda in the Middle East
Michel Chossudovksy, who has also been writing for months on the covert US war in Syria, is more alarmed about its significance in the context of broader American objectives in the Middle East. He explains that the US has targeted Syria, both because of its strategic alliance with Iran and because of Pentagon’s underlying strategy of isolating and encircling Iran as a prelude to toppling its current government. In a recent interview on Guns and Butter, he describes how the US has systematically occupied and/or militarized nearly all the countries that border Iran. First, you have US-occupied Afghanistan and Pakistan (the target of a second undeclared US war) on Iran’s western border. Then you have Iraq, which is still partially occupied, Kuwait (where the US deployed 15,000 troops in December), and Turkey on Iran’s eastern border. Finally you have Saudi Arabia (also host to major US military bases) and Qatar to the south. According to Chossudovksy, US military intervention in Syria will spill over and involve the Hezbollah in Lebanon, effectively neutralizing Iran’s last remaining allies.
In a recent disturbing article entitled When War Games Go Live, Chossoduvsky quotes from retired General Wesley Clark’s 2003 book Winning Modern Wars regarding the role of military intervention against Syria and Iran in the Pentagon’s grand Middle East strategy. According to Clark, the Pentagon has been making preparation to attack both countries since the mid-nineties. On page 130 of Winning Modern Wars,Clark states
As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.
The reliability of these predictions, despite a 2008 regime change from George Bush, the so-called neocon hawk, to Barack Obama, a supposed soft power advocate, is uncanny. The US persists in its occupation of Iraq, in addition to major military engagements in Somalia and Sudan. Presumably the military intervention in Libya is complete, now that the new US-friendly regime has agreed to privatize Libyan oil for the benefit of US oil companies.
According to Chossoduvsky, countries such as Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Iran and Sudan became US military targets because they refused to play ball by allowing Anglo-American oil company unlimited access to their oil resources. In contrast, oil-poor countries like Syria and Lebanon are current targets because of strategic alliances with oil-rich Iran.