21 June 2013 — Strategic Culture Foundation
So the White House has actually decided to supply arms to Syrian rebels. London and Paris announced the same even earlier. And although everyone can see that at the heart of this decision is the fear that if Damascus wins, they will end up losing a war that they themselves started in the first place, leading Western capitals are once again justifying their actions by suggesting that chemical weapons are being used.
It is interesting how the information on the alleged use of chemical weapons by Damascus was presented by the White House… US Deputy National Security Advisor to the President, Ben Rhodes, told reporters «in a telephone briefing» (1), so without looking them in the eye or answering questions, in other words. Evidently being young and experienced – Rhodes is in his early thirties – he has not yet lost the ability to blush. According to Rhodes, the US «with a high degree of confidence has established that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale more than once, and that these attacks have killed 100-150 people. We have passed on our opinion to the Russians and made it clear that it is in their interests to help us stabilise the situation in Syria». However, no reference was made to the fact that the UN Commission, in partnership with Public Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, are saying quite the opposite – that it is the opposition using chemical weapons. Washington, London and Paris are completely ignoring the fact that the only fully-proven case in which there has been an attempted use of the much talked-about sarin was recorded on the side of the opposition, when Turkish police detained a group of jihadists at the Turkish border with 2 kg of this poisonous gas (2). So what if «they were the ones who stole it from him, he was still involved in the theft». According to Rhodes, the use of chemical weapons has changed President Barack Obama’s calculus regarding Syria. «The Assad regime should know that his actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we are providing the opposition, and these efforts will continue to increase» (3).
The corresponding dossier was presented by the US and Russia but, as Russian Presidential Aide Yuri Ushakov observed, it proved to be addressless and unconvincing (4). In Moscow, meanwhile, the absolute military pointlessness of Assad using «pharmaceutical doses» of the chemical weapon to win the war convincingly has been pointed out.
Moscow is not alone in such an opinion. Not given to sparring with susceptible Americans but cherishing his reputation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, after familiarising himself with the information put forward, also believes it to be inadequate. «The validity of any information on the alleged use of chemical weapons cannot be ensured without convincing evidence. I am therefore continuing to emphasise the importance of investigating events on the ground in Syria», the head of the world organisation said (5).
The British press writes that nobody in the Middle East believes the allegations that Damascus has used chemical weapons against the opposition, believing them to be just as «nebulous» as George W. Bush’s claims regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (6).
Former US Congressman Ron Paul has rejected the claims put forward by the White House regarding the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons as unsubstantiated. He also points out that in many respects, the claims are similar to the allegations by the US on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, made prior to the US intervention in that country. (7)
In his article published in The Independent, British journalist Robert Fisk, who is currently residing in Beirut, refers with sarcasm to the statements made by the US that they are apparently not planning on sending weapons to the «horrid terrorists» from the «al-Nusra Front», who are engaging in cannibalism, barbecuing the heads of those killed and murdering schoolboys. They are allegedly going to be sending arms to the «nice rebels» calling themselves the «Free Syrian Army» (FSA). «Anyone who believes this knows nothing about war, killing, barbarity», Fisk writes (8). The FSA will instantly resell the weapons it has received to al-Qaida and other extremist organisations. If needed, the more powerful movement «Jabhat an-Nusra» «will easily take the weapons for themselves» without compensation (9). Incidentally, on 31 May 2013, the UN Security Council had already included the Syrian group «Jabhat an-Nusra» on its list of terrorist organisations due to its links with al-Qaida. (10)
How is the West’s virtual «deal with the devil» in Syria to be assessed? Evidently, after realising that even the murder of such jihadist leaders as Osama Bin Laden was not getting them any nearer to defeating terrorism, certain politicians then decided to «harness» the process, having sent it in the direction of those «who didn’t mind». It was the same during the war in the Balkans and the North Caucasus. The fact that they will be used to fire at their own people does not really worry those at the top. The custom of thinking beyond a single mandate is a generic trait of the US Administration.
The Independent is calling it «horribly ironic» that «those same Sunni Wahhabis who blew up the Twin Towers on 11 September 2011» are becoming «trusted allies of the Obama Administration» (11). After all, it is a capitulation of the US to the jihadists, despite their boats about the «brilliant operation» to eliminate bin Laden. On the website of «Voice of America», for example, the US’ official state propaganda agency, is a video report entitled «Battles for Aleppo Loom on Syria’s Northern Front» (12). Every American needs to watch it and listen to it. The video was filmed on 13 June this year in Khan al-Asal, a town seized by the opposition 8 km south of Aleppo where they, in turn, are gathering forces to withstand the advancing army. The correspondent, an apparently honest man, does not discover any supporters of democracy anywhere near there. He openly acknowledges that there are jihadists all around. The boys all look as if they are from the familiar photographs of al-Qaida’s training camps. They look at the Americans morosely but not resentfully – they are still their allies, although it is obvious that it is only a temporary arrangement. Islamists are occupying the palaces in this resort town which previously belonged to Aleppo’s business elite, but which have now received significant damage in a variety of actions through holes in the walls. To the west of Khan al-Asal «are international jihadist forces from Asia, Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa». According to eyewitnesses, they have been spending their time breaking off the heads of statues in the nearby park «Magic World», since they believe them to be «idols». These «oppositionists» are going to accept aid from the Americans, of course, but should the opportunity arise, they would also happily break off the head of the Statue of Liberty. So I would like to say: «Mr Obama, turn on your television!»
The violation of democratic principles, which is already becoming the norm under «liberal» Obama, is also astonishing. Thus a study carried out by the well-known American company Gallup shows that 68 percent of Americans are categorically against their country’s military invasion of Syria, with just 24 percent in favour (13). But it is no longer just Republican Fundamentalist McCain who is calling for intervention; during a meeting with McCain, «Liberal Democrat» Bill Clinton, with his tower of experience initiating a war against Serbia, criticised President Obama’s indecisiveness, declaring that the leader should «look ahead» rather than at public opinion polls. The loud declarations of «protecting the Syrian people from tyranny» are not standing up to criticism either. Middle East expert Patrick Cockburn in the UK writes that during recent «excursions» in Aleppo, a commander of local pro-Western Free Syrian Army (FSA) units, a certain Abu Ahmed, admitted to him personally that due to «the lack of revolutionary awareness», 70 percent of the local population supported Assad (14).
It is not just the USA that is counting on channelling the energies of jihadists in Syria. In London, The Independent has found out from «local intelligence sources» that British jihadists are also choosing this Middle Eastern country as their primary destination (15). And it is tempting – ridding the London Streets of them in this way and then there, you see, if they do not lay down their impetuous lives in far-off sands, maybe they will be grateful for any help given. Do not count on them not coming back in large numbers and with better weapons, however, although it is possible this might be under future governments which apparently worries today’s officials much less than their current prosperity.
Experts believe that on the heels of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Syria is close to becoming «the target of large-scale military intervention from the West». Meanwhile, attempts to improve the situation by sending arms to the rebels will only exacerbate the conflict, but basically change nothing. Western countries can only influence the course of the war being won by Assad by turning into a combatant in large-scale military actions. It is impossible to be «a little bit pregnant» – that will come to nothing. The war is sucking them in.
Even former NATO Secretary Generals Javier Solana and Jaap de Hoop Scheffer have expressed the opinion that rather than securing humanitarian space and establishing the conditions for political change, Western military intervention in Syria is probably going to provoke further escalation on all sides, deepening the civil war, strengthening the forces of extremism, deepening the schism and leading to widespread criminality throughout the country. «The idea that the West can empower and remotely control moderate forces is optimistic at best. Escalation begets escalation and mission creep is a predictable outcome if the West sets out on a military path.» The Syrian opposition and its regional supporters will see Western military support as a sign that their long-held strategy aimed at dragging in the West to achieve total victory is working, and as a consequence «they will be even less inclined to engage in politics and abandon maximalism» (16).
However, recent events indicate that the voices of the «moderates» will be cast aside and the «war hawks» in favour of intensifying aid to terrorists will prevail, placing the Middle East on the brink of a large-scale war.