Torpedoing a Syrian-led Peace

Earlier this week, the Syrian government accepted the peace plan proposed by United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan.  Mr. Annan called the development “an important initial step that could bring an end to the violence and the bloodshed.”

Importantly, the first two points of the six-point initiative proposed by Mr. Annan call for 1) a “Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people” and 2) “a cessation of violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians and stabilise the country [emphases added].”

In other words, the balanced nature of the Annan peace proposal would appear to throw yet more cold water on the West’s lusting over Syrian “regime change.”  Such desires, one will recall, have been frustrated ever since Russia and China blocked a U.N. Security Council resolution in early February, which had called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to go.

Unsurprisingly, the West has acted quite coolly to Mr. Annan’s diplomatic breakthrough.  As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary (“We came. We saw. He died.”) Clinton warned on Tuesday,

Given al-Assad’s history of overpromising and underdelivering, that commitment must now be matched by immediate actions. We will judge Assad’s sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not what he says.

The American punditry has also largely dismissed the Annan plan.  Writing in the New York Times on Thursday, former state department official Aaron David Miller took particular umbrage with Annan’s proposal for a Syrian-led political process.

“It reduces the chances of an internationally mediated transition in Syria. And that’s the way the Assads want it: a Syrian solution to a Syrian problem,” Mr. Miller wrote of the Annan plan.

(A Syrian solution to the country’s present crisis, though, is precisely what the majority of Syrians—the regime and its domestic opponents alike—would prefer.  After all, what kind of nationalist, democratic movement would ever seriously advocate for imperial intervention?)

Amidst the rampant public disparaging of Mr. Annan’s peace plan, the West also continued through the week to increase its pledge of aid to the Syrian rebels.  As the Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday:

Britain said it was doubling non-military aid to opponents of Assad and expanding its scope to equipment, possibly including secure telephones to help activists communicate more easily without fear of detection and attack.

The aid, worth $800,000, “includes agreement in principle for practical non-lethal support to them inside Syria,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

This follows on the heels of an announcement earlier in the week from Turkey and the U.S. that they both also plan to provide “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian rebels.  According the New York Times, delivery of American aid has already begun.

The notion, however, that all such aid is somehow “non-lethal” is quite absurd.  Despite official Western claims, the true purpose of providing such equipment is to help the armed Syrian opposition better coordinate their attacks against Syrian government forces.  And, needless to say, in the event of a foreign intervention, such equipment will be readily used by Syrian rebels to pinpoint targets for their NATO cohorts flying above—the latter dutifully fulfilling their Orwellian “responsibility to protect,” a la Libya.

Of course, fashioning Libya 2.0 has been the true Western interest in Syria from the beginning.  And as the NATO supplied rebels continue to attack Syrian government forces, drawing a return of force in response, these imperial plans may just come to fruition.  For by responding to continuing rebel attacks, Assad will no doubt be fingered by the West for his “failure of action.”  The bloodthirsty tyrant is simply incapable of brokering peace, we will be told.  Thus, NATO powers will once again resume their previously thwarted push for “regime change” under the cover of a U.N. Security Council resolution.  Or as Mr. Miller would have it, the push for “an internationally mediated transition.”

Scuttle those notions of a Syrian-led political peace process.  Imperial ambitions never die easy.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon. He may be reached at: bnschreiner@gmail.com. Read other articles by Ben.