Sunday, January 19, 2014

Will Syria Be Next? (Part 5)

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The Saudi Bull in Arab China Shop. The Saudi-Israeli Marriage of Convenience against Syria and Iran
Global Research, January 08, 2014
Url of this article:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-saudi-bull-in-arab-china-shop/5364254
Obsessed with the “Iran threat,” which leads to its warmongering in Syria, Saudi Arabia is acting like a bull in a china shop, wreaking regional havoc in an already Arab fragile political environment and creating what George Joffe’ of Cambridge University’s Centre of International Studies, on last December 30, called the “second Arab cold war,” the first being the Saudi-led cold war with the Pan-Arab Egypt of Gamal Abdul Nasser since the 1960s.
The kingdom stands now almost isolated politically. Its “going it alone” in the Syrian conflict has cornered Saudi Arabia into a self-inflicted foreign policy no-win deadlock, to be at odds with three super powers, including its strategic U.S. ally as well as Russia and China, in addition to regional heavy weights in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and Algeria, all who advocate a political settlement of the conflict.
Within the six-member Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), the kingdom navigates no better.
It is at loggerheads with Qatar over the latter’s sponsorship of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and consequently over the two countries’ disagreement over the removal of the MB-led Mohammad Morsi’s presidency.
Saudi Arabia’s hostility to the MB and its support of their removal from power in Egypt have reflected negatively on the Saudi-Turkish relations as well and had repercussions in Syria, leading to a restructuring of the insurgent political and military competing leaders who claim the representation of the Syrian people: Qatari and Turkish-supported leading figures and organizations were replaced by Saudi loyalists and accordingly, for example, the “Free Syrian Army” has simply disappeared to be replaced by the Islamic Front.
In the last GCC summit meeting in Kuwait , the other five members of the GCC, Oman in particular, rejected the kingdom’s proposal to develop the “cooperation council” into a confederation.
Despite the Saudi bailing out of the post-Morsi interim government in Cairo with a few billions of US dollars, Egypt doesn’t see eye to eye with Riyadh neither on Syria , where it joined the political solution advocates, nor on relations with Russia , which Egypt is now reviving to balance its US ties.
According to Wall Street Journal online on this January 5, the ensuing situation “is placing the White House in a growing diplomatic quandary as its regional allies fall into competing camps.”
The fact that the United States has chosen diplomacy instead of military confrontation with Tehran and Damascus has politically isolated the kingdom, which had hedged its bets on a western military intervention led or blessed by the United States . It feels betrayed by its American strategic ally. For a long time it relied on a long mistaken understanding that the US marines will be always available as mercenary soldiers ready to fight Saudi wars as long as the wealthy kingdom would pay for it, not aware of the US understanding of the vice versa.
However, instead of maneuvering wisely to backtrack to steer in harmony with the US , the kingdom stubbornly decided to “go it alone.”
In an op-ed published by The New York Times on last December 19, Saudi Ambassador to the UK, Prince Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, said his country “will go it alone” against Syria and Iran, because it “will not stand idly by” while the US compromises Saudi Arabia’s security and “risk[s] the region’s stability.”
However, “in spite of its great wealth, the kingdom is not able to confront significant threats in its strategic environment on its own,” former Iran Coordinator in Israel’s National Security Council, Yoel Guzansky, wrote in Haaretz on last December 25, adding that as regards the Saudi “deterrence of and protection from Iran, ... no other major power is currently interested in or capable of filling the role played by the United States.”
As of late this summer, Saudi Arabia had given $400 million in arms and other equipment to Syrian Salafi Jihadists, the Wall Street Journal online reported on last December 29.
True, Saudi warmongering over Syria and Iran could abort the Geneva II conference on Syria, scheduled to convene on this January 22 in Montreux, Switzerland to wrap up a political settlement, but in the end of the day the Saudi kingdom is more likely to end up the only loser in the face of a regional and worldwide consensus on political settlement as the only possible exit out of the Syrian conflict.
Logic dictates that Iran should be in and Saudi Arabia out, but the Geneva II guest list includes warmongering Saudi Arabia, but excludes Iran, which has been calling from the start for a political solution. Such an arrangement warns of including the only “spoiler-in-chief,” in the words of the Assistant Professor of International Studies at Arcadia University , Pennsylvania , Samer N. Abboud, writing in the Qatari www.aljazeera.com on this January 5.
The US and Russian top diplomats, John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov were scheduled during a meeting ahead of Geneva II to decide on Iran’s participation, according to Martin Nesirky, spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
There is no way the kingdom could succeed in Syria where a US-led Qatari, Turkish, French and British alliance failed. Saudi former intelligence chief, former ambassador to the US and an influential member of the royal family, Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, admitted their failure when he told CNBC on this January 7 that the United States failed in its dealing with the Syrian conflict.
Thanks to Saudis, Syrian Conflict Spills over
The three-year old conflict in Syria has somewhat been contained within its own borders, but Saudi Arabia’s ongoing warmongering threatens to perpetuate the conflict and, more importantly, to spill it over regionally without achieving the Saudi proclaimed goal of changing the regime in Damascus at any cost.
The protracted Syrian conflict is already spilling over into neighboring countries through the Saudi sectarian agitation and incitement.
In the east, Iraqi officials had already appealed to the Saudi and other GCC governments to stop their intervention in Iraq ’s internal affairs by arms and political, financial and logistical support to insurgents whose terrorism claimed the lives of some ten thousand overwhelmingly civilian Iraqis in 2013.
West of Syria, “Lebanon is paralyzed right now,” Gen. Michel Aoun, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), the second largest bloc in Lebanese parliament, told www.al-monitor.com on last December 13. After a two-week power vacuum, a prime minister-designate was nominated last April, but he has yet to form his government. His efforts have reached a dead end. The country since then was administrated by a caretaker government. No breakthrough seems imminent.
Saudi Arabia is the reason. It is exploiting its historical influence with loyalists and allies to prevent any inclusive government. It insists on the exclusion of Hizbullah as a precondition. The dead end polarized the country between pro-Syria and pro-Saudi camps. Riyadh , to guarantee a no-return by its loyalists, has recently fueled this polarization with a three billion “gift” over five years to arm the Lebanese army with French weapons in the hope of creating a counterbalance to Hezbullah, thus qualifying Lebanon for a civil war.
Meanwhile the northern and eastern parts of the country have slipped out of the control of the central government in Beirut and became a bastion of a Saudi-supported training camp, safe haven, manpower reservoir and a host of foreign Jihadists, fueling the Syrian conflict with arms and fighters.
Deterred by the military successes of the official Syrian Arab Army against them and falling back on Lebanon, those “Jihadists” are retaliating with the escalation of suicide bombings inside Lebanon, which are claiming more and more Lebanese civilian lives of all sects.
In the south in Jordan, where the kingdom succeeded for three years to keep balance between its geopolitical links with Syria and its strategic alliance with the US and Saudi Arabia, warnings against a mounting Saudi pressure to change course have been voiced recently.
For example, former premier and member of the upper house, Ma’arouf al-Bakhit, quoted by www.ammonnews.net on last December 30, warned that the disparity between the US and Saudi approaches to solving the Syrian conflict is pressuring Jordan, which is now facing the “challenge” of the possibility that Saudi Arabia “might act to impose its vision on Jordan,” indicating that “Syria no longer views Jordan as neutral” and accuses the kingdom of “hosting a Saudi – Israeli operations room to run military operations in Syria.” If Syria decides to act on this accusation, al-Bakhit added, it is “possible” to “move part of war” to “the interior of the kingdom’s territory.” Al-Bakhit should have cited Lebanon and Iraq as live precedents.
Further away, in Russia , the latest terror attacks in Volgograd were interpreted as an integral part of and attributed to the same terror network and mastermind in the Middle East , thus alienating the emerging Russian world polar. Russian media reports were implicating Saudi Arabia as responsible.
Saudi Strategy Fails in Syria
Since the so-called “Arab Spring” sprang out in Tunisia three years ago, the Saudi-led GCC monarchies succeeded in defending themselves against the tidal popular protests by a preempting financial bailout (Oman, Bahrain) or by direct military intervention (Bahrain) and by financial, political and indirect, but public nonetheless, military intervention to hijack the burgeoning revolutions in the “republics,” which have become more like china shops, either stateless or failed states, breathlessly in a life or death fight against “Islamist” terror organizations, which are armed and financed by none other than this same Saudi-led petrodollar monarchies and sheikhdoms.
This Saudi-led strategy is best manifested in Syria , where it met its first failure. Internal, regional and international consensus on political settlement and anti-terror campaign is gaining momentum to put an end to this strategy. Saudi Arabia has no other option but either to backtrack or being isolated. It either changes course or changes its leadership.
Its warmongering in Syria is portraying the kingdom in public opinion as the regional mastermind of violence and instability, vindicating American accusations, fueled by Israeli incitement, in the aftermath of the terror attacks in US on September 11, 2001 that the Saudi sectarian ideology is an incubator nurturing violence and terror, despite the kingdom’s long war against its own Islamist terrorists.
This sectarian ideology is creating a sectarian clash across the Middle East between two theocracies, the “Shiite” theocracy of Iran and the Sunni theocracy of Saudi Arabia , thus blurring the real dividing line of the regional battle between the US-protected Israeli occupation of Arab lands in Palestine , Syria and Lebanon and the self-proclaimed Iran – Syria axis of resistance. The survival of a secular Syria will be the first regional step towards the containment of this destructive sectarian clash.
Within this context it is noteworthy that Saudi Arabia, the godfather of the “Arab peace initiative,” postures as a peace maker against the Israeli occupying power, but insists on military solution in Syria whose Golan Heights is occupied by Israel since 1967.
Ironically, Saudi – Israeli crossroads seem to meet as the only regional relief for the kingdom. This approach of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is creating a fait accompli of a Saudi-Israeli marriage of convenience against Syria and Iran , which places the two countries on a higher moral ground among the overwhelming majority of Arabs and Muslims.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. [email protected]
Copyright © 2014 Global Research
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A few older articles but nevertheless ...
Syria and US Imperialism

By Sara Flounders
Global Research, May 6, 2011
When U.S. imperialism engages in an attack on any government or movement, it is essential that the workers’ and progressive political movements for change gather as much information as is available and take a stand.
It is cowardly to be neutral and rank betrayal to stand on the same side as the imperialist octopus, which seeks to dominate the world.
This has been an ABC for workers’ movements through 150 years of class-conscious struggles. It is the very basis of Marxism. It is reflected in union songs that raise the challenge “Which side are you on?” and by labor organizers who explain again and again: “An injury to one is an injury to all.”
A social explosion is shaking the Arab world. U.S. imperialism and all the old regimes tied to it in the region are trying desperately to manage and contain this still unfolding mass upheaval into channels that do not threaten imperialist domination of the region.
The U.S. and its collaborators are also trying to divide and undermine the two wings of the resistance -- the Islamic forces and the secular nationalist forces -- which together overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. There is now a concerted U.S. effort to turn these same political forces against two regimes in the region that have opposed U.S. domination in the past -- Libya and Syria.
Both Libya and Syria have their own development problems, which are exacerbated by the general global capitalist crisis and decades of compromise imposed on them as they tried to survive in a hostile environment of unrelenting attacks -- political, sometimes military and including economic sanctions.
The U.S./NATO bombing of Libya has clarified where imperialism stands regarding that country. The transnational exploiters are determined to totally seize hold of the richest oil reserves in Africa and cut off the billions of dollars that Libya was contributing toward the development of much poorer African countries.
Syria is also targeted by imperialism -- because of its heroic defense of Palestinian resistance over decades and its refusal to recognize the Zionist occupation. Syria’s assistance to Hezbollah in their struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and their strategic alliance with Iran cannot be forgotten.
Even if a great deal of Syria’s internal situation is difficult to understand, it is important to note that in this unfolding struggle clear statements of support for the Syrian government and against U.S. destabilization efforts have come from Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and several exiled leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian organization that was elected by the people of Gaza. These political leaders have experienced first-hand U.S. destabilization campaigns that used corporate media fabrications, externally financed opposition groups, targeted assassinations, special ops sabotage and well-trained Internet operatives.
On the side of the supposedly “democratic opposition” are such reactionaries as Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chair of the powerful Senate Homeland Security Committee, who called on the U.S. to bomb Syria next, after Libya. Outspoken supporters of the opposition in Syria include James Woolsey, former CIA Director and advisor to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign.
Wikileaks exposes U.S. role
An article entitled “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups” by Craig Whitlock (Washington Post, April 18) described in great detail the information contained in U.S. diplomatic cables that Wikileaks had sent to news agencies around the world and posted on its web site. The article summarizes what these State Department cables reveal about the secret funding of Syrian political opposition groups, including the beaming of anti-government programming into the country via satellite television.
The article describes the U.S.-funded efforts as part of a “long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad,” which began under President George W. Bush and continued under President Barack Obama, even though Obama claimed to be rebuilding relations with Syria and posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
According to an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time, Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.” The Washington Post article describes in some detail the links between the U.S.-funded opposition Barada TV and the role of Malik al-Abdeh, who is on its board and distributes videos and protest updates. Al-Abdeh is also on the board of the Movement for Justice and Democracy, which his brother, Anas Al-Abdeh, chairs. The secret cables “report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from Washington.”
Role of Al Jazeera
Perhaps the most revealing challenge to and exposé of the destabilization campaign in Syria came with the resignation of Ghassan Ben Jeddo, the best-known journalist with Al Jazeera’s television news programs and chief of its Beirut bureau. Ben Jeddo resigned in protest of Al Jazeera’s biased coverage, especially noting a “smear campaign against the Syrian government” that has turned Al Jazeera into a “propaganda outlet.”
Al Jazeera favorably covered the unstoppable mass upsurge of millions in Egypt and Tunisia. However, this satellite news channel has also extensively reported every claim and political charge, regardless of how unsubstantiated, made by the political opposition in both Syria and Libya. It became the strongest voice in the region, watched by millions of viewers, to call for U.S. “humanitarian” intervention, no-fly zones and bombing of Libya. So it is important to understand the position of Al Jazeera as a news corporation, especially when it claims to speak for the oppressed.
Al Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, never reports that 94 percent of the work force in Qatar is made up of immigrants who have absolutely no rights at all and exist in conditions of near slavery. The brutal repression of the mass movement in the absolute monarchy of Bahrain, which is just next door to Qatar and is now occupied by Saudi troops, also receives little coverage on Al Jazeera.
Is this censorship because Al Jazeera TV News is funded by the absolute monarch of Qatar, the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani?
It is especially important to note that Al Jazeera never mentions the huge U.S. Central Command military air base right there in Qatar. Drones on secret missions throughout the region regularly take off from this base. Qatar has also sent planes to participate in the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya.
Qatar works closely with the U.S. State Department in supporting U.S. intervention in the area. Qatar was one of the first Arab states, and the first among the Gulf States, to establish relations with Israel. During the 2009 Israeli bombardment of Gaza, it canceled these relations but has since offered to renew them.
Facebook and counter-revolution
The CIA and National Endowment for Democracy have become expert at utilizing a barrage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube to overwhelm targeted governments with millions of fabricated messages, wild rumors and images.
Fabricated alerts about struggles and splits among rival factions in Syria’s military leading to resignations turned out to be false. For example, Major Gen. al-Rifai (Ret.) denied as baseless news broadcasts over satellite television that he was leading a split in the military. He added that he had retired 10 years ago.
Izzat al-Rashek of the Hamas Politburo and Ali Baraka, Hamas representative in Lebanon, denied published claims that the leadership of this Palestinian resistance organization was relocating to Qatar from Damascus. Ali Baraka explained that this was a U.S. fabrication to pressure Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and obstruct Palestinian reconciliation while raising conflict between resistance movements and Syria.
The Syrian government has charged that snipers fired into demonstrations, shooting army and police in an effort to have police open fire on demonstrators.
Rumors, anonymous Internet postings and satellite television reports aimed at heightening sectarian differences are part of the destabilization campaign.
Dual character of Syria
It is not difficult to see why U.S. imperialism and its pawns in the region, including Israel and the corrupt dependent monarchies of Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, would want to see “regime change’ in Syria.
Syria is one of the few Arab states that have no relations with Israel. Several Palestinian resistance organizations have offices-in-exile in Syria, including Hamas. Syria is allied closely with Iran and with Lebanon.
Syria today is not socialist nor a revolutionary country. Capitalism with its resulting inequality has not been overturned. There is a capitalist class in Syria; many within it have benefited from “reforms” that sold formerly state-owned industries to private capital.
However, the Syrian state represents contradictory forces. It has been a bulwark to protect the gains won in the anti-colonial struggles and upheavals by the Arab masses in 1960s and 1970s. During that period many important social gains were made, major industries and resources that had belonged to foreign capital were nationalized, and big advances were made in guaranteed health care, living standards and education.
Syria under the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party is fiercely secular. It has maintained religious freedom for all while allowing no one religious grouping to dominate or be promoted by the state.
But the regime in Syria has also harshly repressed efforts of mass movements based in Lebanon and Syria that wanted to take the struggle further. It has defended its repression of past movements by pointing to its precarious position right next to Israel, the impact of two Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, and the resulting Israeli occupation and annexation of the important Golan Heights region of Syria for 44 years.
Years of U.S. sanctions and past destabilization efforts have also had a cumulative effect. The state apparatus, ever fearful of continuing outside intervention, has become fearful of change.
It is essential to recognize this dual character and not apologize for or ignore all the problems that flow from it.
Syria has had the added burden of providing for more than 500,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants for the past 63 years. Their conditions are better than in any surrounding countries because, unlike in Lebanon and Jordan, healthcare, education and housing are accessible to Palestinians in Syria.
Impact of Iraq war
The massive U.S. invasion and destruction of neighboring Iraq, the Bush-Blair discussion of a similar attack on Syria in 2003, and the harsh new sanctions on Syria have added intense pressure.
But the most dislocating factor is never discussed in the corporate media: More than 1,500,000 Iraqis have flooded into Syria to escape the last eight years of U.S. occupation.
This was a huge influx for a country with a population in 2006 of 18 million. According to a 2007 report by the office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Refugees, the arrival of 2,000 desperate Iraqis per day had an extreme impact on all facets of life in Syria, particularly on the services offered by the state to all its citizens and all refugees. Syria has the highest level of civic and social rights for refugees in the region. Other surrounding countries require a minimum bank balance and ban destitute refugees.
The unexpected arrival of these Iraqi refugees has had a dramatic impact on the infrastructure, on guaranteed free elementary and high schools, on free healthcare, on housing availability and other areas of the economy. It has led to a rise in costs across the board. The prices of foodstuffs and basic goods have gone up by 30 percent, property prices by 40 percent and housing rentals by 150 percent.
Iraqi refugees also benefited from Syrian state subsidies in gasoline, food, water and other essential goods provided to everyone. Such a large mass of unemployed people led to the lowering of wages and increased competition for jobs. The impact of the global economic downturn during this difficult period added to the problems. (Middle East Institute, Dec. 10, 2010, report on Refugee Cooperation)
The U.S. created the refugee crisis, which left more than 25 percent of the Iraqi population displaced by sectarian violence. Yet it accepts the lowest number of refugees and has donated less than the cost of one day of the war in Iraq toward U.N. relief costs. U.S. sanctions on Syria have increased the economic dislocations.
All this has increased the awareness of the Syrian government and people about the dangers of U.S. occupation and the internal destabilization and bloodbath that can come with U.S.-instigated sectarian violence.
Washington claims it is worried about instability in Syria. But U.S. imperialism as a system is driven to create instability. The overwhelming dominance and power of military and oil corporations in the U.S. economy and the enormous profits of military contracts endlessly reinforce the drive to seek military solutions.
Every statement made by the Syrian government has recognized the importance of making internal reforms while maintaining national unity in an extremely diverse country that has historic differences in religion, tribes and regions and now contains almost 2 million refugees.
The diverse nationalities, religions and cultural groupings in Syria have every right to be part of this process. But what they need most is an end to constant, unrelenting U.S. intervention.
U.S. hands off!

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SYRIA: Who is Behind The Protest Movement? Fabricating a Pretext for a US-NATO "Humanitarian Intervention"
By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, May 3, 2011

There is evidence of gross media manipulation and falsification from the outset of the protest movement in southern Syria on March 17th.
The Western media has presented the events in Syria as part of the broader Arab pro-democracy protest movement, spreading spontaneously from Tunisia, to Egypt, and from Libya to Syria.
Media coverage has focussed on the Syrian police and armed forces, which are accused of indiscriminately shooting and killing unarmed "pro-democracy" demonstrators. While these police shootings did indeed occur, what the media failed to mention is that among the demonstrators there were armed gunmen as well as snipers who were shooting at both the security forces and the protesters.
The death figures presented in the reports are often unsubstantiated. Many of the reports are "according to witnesses". The images and video footages aired on Al Jazeera and CNN do not always correspond to the events which are being covered by the news reports.
There is certainly cause for social unrest and mass protest in Syria: unemployment has increased in recent year, social conditions have deteriorated, particularly since the adoption in 2006 of sweeping economic reforms under IMF guidance. The IMF's "economic medicine" includes austerity measures, a freeze on wages, the deregulation of the financial system, trade reform and privatization. (See IMF Syrian Arab Republic — IMF Article IV Consultation Mission's Concluding Statement, http://www.imf.org/external/np/ms/2006/051406.htm, 2006)
With a government dominated by the minority Alawite (an offshoot of Shia Islam), Syria is no "model society" with regard to civil rights and freedom of expression. It nonetheless constitutes the only (remaining) independent secular state in the Arab world. Its populist, anti-Imperialist and secular base is inherited from the dominant Baath party, which integrates Muslims, Christians and Druze.
Moreover, in contrast to Egypt and Tunisia, in Syria there is considerable popular support for President Bashar Al Assad. The large rally in Damascus on March 29, "with tens of thousands of supporters" (Reuters) of President Al Assad is barely mentioned. Yet in an unusual twist, the images and video footage of several pro-government events were used in an utterly twisted fashion by the Western media to convince international public opinion that the President was being confronted by mass anti-government rallies.

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Tens of thousands of Syrians gather for a pro-government rally at the central
bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)
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Syrians display a giant national flag with a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a
pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)
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The "Epicenter" of the Protest Movement: Daraa: A Small Border Town in southern Syria
What is the nature of the protest movement? From what sectors of Syrian society does it emanate? What triggered the violence?
What is the cause of the deaths?
The existence of an organized insurrection composed of armed gangs involved in acts of killing and arson has been dismissed by the Western media, despite evidence to the contrary.
The demonstrations did not start in Damascus, the nation's capital. At the outset, the protests were not integrated by a mass movement of citizens in Syria's capital.
The demonstrations started in Daraa, a small border town of 75,000 inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border, rather than in Damascus or Aleppo, where the mainstay of organized political opposition and social movements are located. (Daraa is a small border town comparable e.g. to Plattsburgh, NY on the US-Canadian border).
The Associated Press report (quoting unnamed "witnesses" and "activists") describes the early protests in Daraa as follows:
The violence in Daraa, a city of about 300,000 near the border with Jordan, was fast becoming a major challenge for President Bashar Assad, .... Syrian police launched a relentless assault Wednesday on a neighborhood sheltering anti-government protesters [Daraa], fatally shooting at least 15 in an operation that began before dawn, witnesses said.
At least six were killed in the early morning attack on the al-Omari mosque in the southern agricultural city of Daraa, where protesters have taken to the streets in calls for reforms and political freedoms, witnesses said. An activist in contact with people in Daraa said police shot another three people protesting in its Roman-era city center after dusk. Six more bodies were found later in the day, the activist said.
As the casualties mounted, people from the nearby villages of Inkhil, Jasim, Khirbet Ghazaleh and al-Harrah tried to march on Daraa Wednesday night but security forces opened fire as they approached, the activist said. It was not immediately clear if there were more deaths or injuries. (AP, March 23, 2011, emphasis added)

The AP report inflates the numbers: Daraa is presented as a city of 300,000 when in fact its population is 75,000; "protesters gathered by the thousands", "casualties mounted".
The report is silent on the death of policemen which in the West invariably makes the front page of the tabloids.
The deaths of the policemen are important in assessing what actually happened. When there are police casualties, this means that there is an exchange of gunfire between opposing sides, between policemen and "demonstrators".
Who are these "demonstrators" including roof top snipers who were targeting the police.
Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths) provide a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18. The Israel National News Report (which cannot be accused of being biased in favor of Damascus) reviews these same events as follows:
Seven police officers and at least four demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.
.... On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and injuring as many as 100 others. According to one witness, who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, "They used live ammunition immediately -- no tear gas or anything else."
.... In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the government offered to release the detained students, but seven police officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday. (Gavriel Queenann, Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva, March 21, 2011, emphasis added)
The Lebanese news report, quoting various sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa: They were killed "during clashes between the security forces and protesters... They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a"
The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that protesters had "burned the headquarters of the Baath Party and the court house in Dara’a" (emphasis added)
These news reports of the events in Daraa confirm the following:
1. This was not a "peaceful protest" as claimed by the Western media. Several of the "demonstrators" had fire arms and were using them against the police: "The police opened fire on armed protesters killing four".
2. From the initial casualty figures (Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were killed: 7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators. This is significant because it suggests that the police force might have been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which were shooting at both the police and the protesters.
What is clear from these initial reports is that many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in premeditated acts of killing and arson. The title of the Israeli news report summarizes what happened: Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests.
The Daraa "protest movement" on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of radical Salafist groups (supported by Israel)
Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the protest movement.
What has unfolded in Daraa in the weeks following the initial violent clashes on 17-18 March, is the confrontation between the police and the armed forces on the one hand and armed units of terrorists and snipers on the other which have infiltrated the protest movement.
Reports suggest that these terrorists are integrated by Islamists. There is no concrete evidence as to which Islamic organizations are behind the terrorists and the government has not released corroborating information as th who these groups are.
Both the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (whose leadership is in exile in the UK) and the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation), among others have paid lip service to the protest movement. Hizb ut Tahir (led in the 1980s by Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad) tends to "dominate the British Islamist scene” according to Foreign Affairs. Hizb ut Tahir is also considered to be of strategic importance to Britain's Secret Service MI6. in the pursuit of Anglo-American interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. (Is Hizb-ut-Tahrir another project of British MI6? | State of Pakistan).  
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Hizb ut-Tahrir anti-Assad rally in Tripoli, Lebanon (40 km from Syrian border), April 22, 2011.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Syria
Syria is a secular Arab country, a society of religious tolerance, where Muslims and Christians have for several centuries lived in peace. Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is a radical political movement committed to the creation of an Islamic caliphate. In Syria, its avowed objective is to destabilize the secular state.
Since the Soviet-Afghan war, Western intelligence agencies as well as Israel's Mossad have consistently used various Islamic terrorist organizations as "intelligence assets". Both Washington and its indefectible British ally have provided covert support to "Islamic terrorists" in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, etc. as a means to triggering ethnic strife, sectarian violence and political instability.

The staged protest movement in Syria is modelled on Libya. The insurrection in Eastern Libya is integrated by the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which is supported by MI6 and the CIA. The ultimate objective of the Syria protest movement, through media lies and fabrications, is to create divisions within Syrian society as well as justify an eventual "humanitarian intervention".
Armed Insurrection in Syria
An armed insurrection integrated by Islamists and supported covertly by Western intelligence is central to an understanding of what is occurring on the ground.
The existence of an armed insurrection is not mentioned by the Western media. If it were to be acknowledged and analysed, our understanding of unfolding events would be entirely different.
What is mentioned profusely is that the armed forces and the police are involved in the indiscriminate killing of protesters.
The deployment of the armed forces including tanks in Daraa is directed against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border city since March 17-18.
Casualties are being reported which also include the death of policemen and soldiers.
In a bitter irony, the Western media acknowledges the police/soldier deaths while denying the existence of an armed insurrection.
The key question is how does the media explain these deaths of soldiers and police?
Without evidence, the reports suggest authoritatively that the police is shooting at the soldiers and vice versa the soldiers are shooting on the police. In a April 29 Al Jazeera report, Daraa is described as "a city under siege".
"Tanks and troops control all roads in and out. Inside the city, shops are shuttered and nobody dare walk the once bustling market streets, today transformed into the kill zone of rooftop snipers.
Unable to crush the people who first dared rise up against him - neither with the secret police, paid thugs or the special forces of his brother's military division - President Bashar al-Assad has sent thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Deraa for an operation the regime wants nobody in the world to see.
Though almost all communication channels with Deraa have been cut, including the Jordanian mobile service that reaches into the city from just across the border, Al Jazeera has gathered firsthand accounts of life inside the city from residents who just left or from eyewitnesses inside who were able to get outside the blackout area.
The picture that emerges is of a dark and deadly security arena, one driven by the actions of the secret police and their rooftop snipers, in which soldiers and protestors alike are being killed or wounded, in which cracks are emerging in the military itself, and in which is created the very chaos which the regime uses to justify its escalating crackdown. (Daraa, a City under Siege, IPS / Al Jazeera, April 29, 2011)
The Al Jazeera report borders on the absurd. Read carefully.
"Tanks and troops control all roads in and out", "thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Daraa"
This situation has prevailed for several weeks. This means that bona fide protesters who are not already inside Daraa cannot enter Daraa.
People who live in the city are in their homes: "nobody dares walk ... the streets". If nobody dares walk the streets where are the protesters?
Who is in the streets? According to Al Jazeera, the protesters are in the streets together with the soldiers, and both the protesters and the soldiers are being shot at by "plain clothes secret police", by "paid thugs" and government sponsored snipers.
The impression conveyed in the report is that these casualties are attributed to infighting between the police and the military.
But the report also says that the soldiers (in the "thousands") control all roads in and out of the city, but they are being shot upon by the plain clothed secret police.
The purpose of this web of media deceit, namely outright fabrications --where soldiers are being killed by police and "government snipers"-- is to deny the existence of armed terrorist groups. The later are integrated by snipers and "plain clothed terrorists" who are shooting at the police, the Syrian armed forces and local residents.
These are not spontaneous acts of terror; they are carefully planned and coordinated attacks. In recent developments, according to a Xinhua report (April 30, 2011), armed "terrorist groups" "attacked the housing areas for servicemen" in Daraa province, "killing a sergeant and wounding two".
While the government bears heavy responsibility for its mishandling of the military-police operation, including the deaths of civilians, the reports confirm that the armed terrorist groups had also opened fire on protesters and local residents. The casualties are then blamed on the armed forces and the police and the Bashar Al Assad government is portrayed by "the international community" as having ordered countless atrocities.
The fact of the matter is that foreign journalists are banned from reporting inside Syria, to the extent that much of the information including the number of casualties is obtained from the unverified accounts of "witnesses".
It is in the interest of the US-NATO alliance to portray the events in Syria as a peaceful protest movement which is being brutally repressed by a "dictatorial regime".
The Syrian government may be autocratic. It is certainly not a model of democracy but neither is the US administration, which is characterized by rampant corruption, the derogation of civil liberties under the Patriot legislation, the legalisation of torture, not to mention its "bloodless" "humanitarian wars":
"The U.S. and its NATO allies have, in addition to U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO Active Endeavor military assets permanently deployed in the Mediterranean, warplanes, warships and submarines engaged in the assault against Libya that can be used against Syria at a moment's notice.
On April 27 Russia and China evidently prevented the U.S. and its NATO allies from pushing through an equivalent of Resolution 1973 against Syria in the Security Council, with Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Alexander Pankin stating that the current situation in Syria "does not present a threat to international peace and security." Syria is Russia's last true partner in the Mediterranean and the Arab world and hosts one of only two Russian overseas naval bases, that at Tartus. (The other being in Ukraine's Crimea.)" (Rick Rozoff,
Libyan Scenario For Syria: Towards A US-NATO "Humanitarian Intervention" directed against Syria? Global Research, April 30, 2011)
The ultimate purpose is to trigger sectarian violence and political chaos within Syria by covertly supporting Islamic terrorist organizations.
What lies ahead?
The longer term US foreign policy perspective is "regime change" and the destabilization of Syria as an independent nation-state, through a covert process of "democratization" or through military means.
Syria is on the list of "rogue states", which are targeted for a US military intervention. As confirmed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark the "[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]... a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan" (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark).
The objective is to weaken the structures of the secular State while justifying an eventual UN sponsored "humanitarian intervention". The latter, in the first instance, could take the form of a reinforced embargo on the country (including sanctions) as well as the freezing of Syrian bank assets in overseas foreign financial institutions.
While a US-NATO military intervention in the immediate future seems highly unlikely, Syria is nonetheless on the Pentagon's military roadmap, namely an eventual war on Syria has been contemplated both by Washington and Tel Aviv.
If it were to occur, at some future date, it would lead to escalation. Israel would inevitably be involved. The entire Middle East Central Asian region from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese-Afghan border would flare up.
Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (Emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and Editor of
globalresearch.ca. He is the author of The Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) and America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His writings have been published in more than twenty languages. He spent a month in Syria in early 2011.

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Syria: A Clenched US Fist Behind the Hand of Friendship
By Finian Cunningham
Global Research, February 17, 2010

The announcement by Washington today that it is appointing an ambassador to Syria after an absence of five years is being hailed in the western media as another example of the Obama administration s policy of engagement for regional peace.
The BBC reports: Analysts say the US now wants to renew dialogue with Syria as part of a wider push for Middle East peace.
Five years ago, the US withdrew its ambassador following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Washington accused Syria of masterminding. Damascus has always denied the accusation.
But Syria has long been on the US list of rogue states , blamed for sponsoring state terrorism through its support for militant groups Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine.
The appointment of US ambassador Robert Ford and the sending of top US state department official William Burns to have talks this week with Syria s president Bashar al Assad as part of a regional tour does not make any mention of Syria s alleged involvement in terrorism. In bringing Damascus in from the cold , there are apparently no Washington preconditions for Syria to renounce violence or links with terror groups.
We are led to believe, by fuzzy western media reportage, that Obama s policy of engagement is simply aimed at adding impetus to Middle East peace .
But as former US president Franklin Roosevelt once noted: Nothing in politics happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.
Washington s extended diplomatic hand to Syria must be seen in the context of a ramped US diplomatic offensive against Iran. Only days earlier, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrived in the Gulf state of Qatar to drum up support for tougher sanctions against Tehran. These sanctions include the cutting off of vital refined oil imports to Iran. Clinton did her best to enliven the hackneyed US mantra of a nuclear armed Iran being a threat to the region . Among the Gulf states, Qatar has a more independent foreign policy towards Iran, maintaining cordial relations with its neighbour to the north. It is no accident that Washington chose this location to shore up its attempt to further isolate Iran.
The next stop for Clinton this week was Saudi Arabia, where it was reported that discussions centred on the US urging the Saudis to reassure China over future oil supplies. China depends heavily on Saudi Arabia for energy and it is also a major investor in Iranian oil and gas development. Saudi assurance to Beijing over oil supplies can be seen as a way of bringing China onboard the sanctions bandwagon that Washington is pushing more than ever.
This diplomatic offensive comes only weeks after the US announced that it was upgrading missile systems in the four Gulf states of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Given this context, the seeming US hand of friendship towards Syria is more accurately understood as the further clenching of Washington s fist towards Iran.
Syria has been one of Iran s closest allies in the region. Washington engagement with Damascus is better understood to have nothing to do with a search for Middle East peace. By bringing Syria within the US fold, Iran is made all the more isolated and vulnerable to military attack. The latest US bid for peace is a cynical move to prepare the ground for war with Iran.

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Also See:
Will there be World War III?
(Part 2)
10 August 2013
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2013/08/will-there-be-world-war-iii-part-2.html
and
Chemical Weapons Used in Syria by the Rebels!
19 June 2013
and
Will Syria Be Next?
(Part 1)
14 February 2012
and
(Part 2)
30 May 2012
and
(Part 3)
14 December 2012
and
(Part 4)
24 August 2013
and
Unrest in Syria!
31 March 2011
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