New Phase of Syrian Crisis By Boris DOLGOV
17 November 2012 — Strategic Culture Foundation
The Syrian opposition abroad held a session in Qatar to form a new organization to guide their activities – the so-called National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition. It is led by elected President Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, a Sunni Sheikh, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and an ardent opponent of Bashar Assad’s regime. He left Syria in 2012. The coalition englobed the Syrian National Council along with some other opposition groups to be called the “only representative of Syrian people”. President al- Khatib will be assisted by elected vice-presidents: George Sabra, who has many a time called for a military intervention in Syria, and Riad Seif, an opposition leader and a businessman living abroad.
The organization was established under pressure from the West and the monarchies of Persian Gulf. Prime-Minister of Qatar, Turkey’s Foreign Minister and US State Department officials were present at the meeting. Some appointments took place according to their direct instructions. The coalition’s goal is to unite the opposition groups at loggerheads with each other and form an “interim government”. The Prime-Minister of Qatar called for unification but not all opposition groups joined. The Arab League recognized the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces as the “representative of opposition” but not as “the representative of Syrian people”. The USA and Great Britain welcomed the new organization and promised any kind of support and assistance. France went farther than others; it was the first European Union member and the second country after Libya to recognize the Coalition as “the only representative of Syrian people”.
The very fact of creating a new governing body to guide the “insurgents” shows the former Syrian National Council, formed to topple the Bashar Assad’s regime, had not lived up to the expectations of the West and the sheiks of Persian Gulf. No wonder – the majority of Syrian population (75%) are active or passive supporters of Syrian government. The Syria’s military is one of the most effective fighting forces in the Middle East; it copes with the mission of “crushing” the militants of various anti-government groups with flying colors. The major part of them (according to Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League envoy for Syria, their strength is 5 thousand) are foreign mercenaries – radical Islamists, including those from Al-Qaeda, armed and funded by NATO and Persian Gulf leaders.
The Human Rights Watch has already qualified the activities of the opposition militants in Syria as military crimes, including the capture and killings of hostages, shootings of servicemen taken prisoner and civilian state employees such as teachers, schools destruction, mortar shelling of Christian churches and monasteries.
The Syrian National Council, that has become part of the Coalition, formed a kind of “coordination bureau” for direct contacts and interaction with the “Free Syrian Army” back in the early 2012. It makes it responsible for the crimes. Not so long before the Coalition was formed, some leaders of armed groups had declared the establishment of five military zones in the areas under their control. It was not an obstacle on the way of regular Syrian armed forces cleaning them up from the opposition militants.
The establishment of the Coalition is an outright violation of Geneva conventions signed by Western leaders. This agreement to principles of transition in Syria presupposes a political solution of the crisis. At that, the first statement of the Coalition says it seeks to overthrow the regime of Assad, no talks or political dialogue envisaged. Such outright, cynic ignoring of Russia, China, as well as a number of Arab and Muslim states and the BRICS group goes to show that democracy and human rights really mean nothing for the states supporting the radical opposition. Their main goal is the overthrow of Syrian leadership, dismember the country according to ethnic-confessional divisions, and then get it “out of the play” as a regional power and an Iranian ally. This goal achieved, the way is open for delivering a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, minimizing the Iran’s influence in Iraq and crushing Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Here the goals of NATO members and Israel coincide with those of Sunni Turkey and Persian Gulf monarchies that strive to create kind of a Sunni caliphate to counter the Shiite Iran. It’s clear the division of radical Islamists by the West into the “good” ones supported by the USA and France in Libya and Syria and the “bad” ones fought by the USA in Afghanistan will not lead anywhere; no good can ever grow out of evil. The same way France is ready to take part in a military operation against the self-proclaimed state of Tuaregs, where in practice power belongs to the Al-Qaeda militants.
Anti-US and anti-Western attitude is a basis of radical Islam ideology that temporarily recedes in to the background for tactical reasons to inevitably surface later. The brightest example is the assassination of US ambassador to Libya committed by the very same Islamist militants brought to power by the United States. Perhaps the bloody incidents start to make the US understand the alliance with radicals is a risky business. It’s not without a reason President Obama made a statement stressing the need to be cautious about rendering arms to Syrian opposition, “We have seen extremist elements insinuate themselves into the opposition. And one of things we have to be on guard about, particularly when we start talking about arming opposition figures, is that we’re not indirectly putting arms in the hands of folks who would do Americans harm, or do Israelis harm, or otherwise engage in actions that are detrimental to our national security,” he said. It had been reported earlier he gave a secret order to the CIA on arms delivery to Syrian militants, including shoulder-portable surface-to-air Stinger systems. The unwavering support of Syrian insurgents by France looks strange, at least in view of evident incompatibility between radical Islam and social-democratic views promulgated by French leadership and the Socialist Party. Perhaps it’s due to skewed picture of the situation in Syria presented by global media. Other factors are the funds kept in France by the Persian Gulf monarchies and significant clout the Jewish community enjoys in the country.
The Russia’s stance envisages involvement of all parties into the conflict management process to make them sit at the round table. It brings about positive results. It all could be seen as promising in case of minimum compliance by the other side with the existing agreements, the Geneva conventions in particular. It’s not the case at present. Russia Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said once the opposition refuses a dialogue with Damascus then unification was not based on the Geneva agreement.
Moreover, the anti-government opposition groups even voiced direct threats against Russia – they call for considering Russia as a “hostile state” if it doesn’t change its stance on Syria and the Assad’s regime.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich came out with a statement stressing the threats were unacceptable. Political solution of Syrian crisis is the only viable way out of the crisis, provided the terrorist activities are quelled in the country. No need to say “it’s up to the Syrians to decide”. Nobody will give them a chance to tackle the issue on their own. Al Qaeda militants will do it for them. Then Transcaucasia, the North Caucasus, the Volga region and other parts of Russia will be directly threatened. An “Islam spring” will come to Moscow. The interests of Syrian people and Russia coincide; the goal is to prevent the defeat of Syria and collapse of its statehood, the ensuing destabilization of the Middle East and unimpeded expansion of Islamism…