A Glimmer of Hope for Syria

Exclusive: With new negotiations starting in Vienna and with Iran now allowed to participate there is finally a glimmer of hope that the Syrian slaughter might end. But that will require concessions from all sides and President Obama standing up to the neocons who put “regime change” ahead of peace, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Despite all the ranting from armchair-warriors across Official Washington urging attacks on the Syrian military and even Russian warplanes inside Syria cooler heads may have finally prevailed with Secretary of State John Kerry agreeing to a formula that will let Iran participate in Syrian peace talks set to begin Friday in Geneva.

The point here is that Iran and Russia, as allies of the Syrian government, are in a strong position to urge concessions from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, much as Russian President Vladimir Putin did in 2013 when he pressured Assad to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Also, in late 2013, Putin helped wrest concessions from Iran over its nuclear program.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Assuming Kerry shows corresponding flexibility by relenting on the U.S. demand that “Assad must go” as a precondition to negotiations and puts pressure on the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition to accept some compromise with Assad perhaps this humanitarian catastrophe can be brought under some measure of control.

It is way past time for sanity and realism to replace the endless “tough guy/gal” posturing that has consumed Official Washington since 2011 as a quarter million Syrians have been killed and millions have fled as refugees across the Mideast and into Europe.

The only narrative that’s been allowed in the mainstream U.S. press is that Assad is responsible for nearly every bad thing that’s happened, ignoring the support that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Israel have provided to jihadist fighters, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh).

President Barack Obama has been part of the problem, too, as he has bent to the “regime change” demands of “liberal interventionists” and their close cousins, the neoconservatives.

To appease those political/media voices, Obama has “covertly” intervened in the Syrian conflict by arming and training some rebel forces. Though the administration insists that it has armed and trained only “moderate” rebels, the reality is that such a “moderate” force is largely mythical, with many of the CIA’s recruits later joining Islamist armies and surrendering U.S.-supplied weapons to these extremists.

How U.S. officials have defined “moderate” is also in question. A source briefed on this strategy told me that the CIA supplied 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to Ahrah ash-Sham, an Islamist force founded, in part, by Al Qaeda veterans. Ahrah ash-Sham collaborates with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two leading militias in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest.

The sophisticated TOW missiles have been “credited” with enabling the Army of Conquest to make major advances around the city of Idlib and block counter-offenses by the Syrian army. In other words, U.S. support for “moderate” rebels has strengthened the military position of Al Qaeda, even if the administration can technically argue that it isn’t giving weapons to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

A Grave Danger

The grave danger of such U.S. calibrations about ratcheting up the war pressure on the Assad government just enough for Assad to leave but not for his government to collapse is the high probability of a miscalculation that could lead to a disintegrating Syrian army and open a path for Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State to capture Damascus, raising the black flag of Sunni terrorism over a major city in the Middle East.

As grim as the human rights situation in Syria is now, a victory by the Sunni terrorists would very possibly lead to genocide against the Alawites, Christians, Shiites and other “infidels.” Millions more Syrians would flee the slaughter, destabilizing not only Turkey and other Mideast nations but Europe as well.

Then, Official Washington’s “regime change” tough-talkers would surely demand a full-scale U.S. military invasion and occupation of Syria, an extraordinarily costly and likely futile attempt to restore some semblance of order in the region.

So, any sign that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have gotten down off their “Assad must go” high horses represents a glimmer of hope that a political solution may finally be possible. But a deal would also require Obama and Kerry getting tough with Sunni “allies” and aggressively clamping down on the continued flow of money and weapons to the Islamist rebels.

If a political power-sharing arrangement between Assad’s side and the U.S.-backed “moderate” Sunni politicians can be arranged and if the borders can be sealed off to prevent resupply of the extremists then Syria might eventually restore enough order to conduct elections so the Syrians themselves can decide who they want as their leaders.

But Official Washington’s neocons/liberal interventionists seem determined to wreck any possible peace deal. These influential opinion leaders bolstered by the “human rights” community continue to insist on “regime change” in Syria, a top neocon goal since the 1990s. The Assad family’s ouster was expected to be the quick follow-on to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, except that the Iraq operation didn’t turn out exactly as the neocons had drawn it up at their think tanks.

The neocons also wanted to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran and force another “regime change” there. But their fuzzy dreams of installing their favorite Iraqi/Syrian/Iranian puppets were dashed by the hard realities of the Middle East. Still, the dreams did not die. They were just put on hold until a more advantageous moment presented itself.

That moment almost came on Aug. 21, 2013, when a sarin gas attack outside Damascus killed hundreds of civilians. Though the whodunit was never clear, U.S. officials and mainstream media rushed to pin the blame on Assad and demand that Obama launch a major military strike to punish Assad for crossing a U.S. “red line” against using chemical weapons.

That dangerous plan was only averted at the last minute because of growing doubts among intelligence analysts that Assad was responsible, with later evidence suggesting a “false flag” attack by extremist rebels trying to draw the U.S. military into the war on their side. The bombing plans were also derailed because Russian President Putin came up with a compromise in which Assad gave up all his chemical weapons while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

The Putin-Obama Team

Later in 2013, Putin also teamed up with Obama to work on a tentative agreement to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb, a move that derailed neocon hopes for a military strike by U.S. or Israeli warplanes against Iran. In other words, the neocons were again thwarted in their plans for violently remaking the Middle East.

By January 2014, it also seemed possible that this Putin-Obama collaboration could make progress on Syrian peace talks in Geneva with Iran invited to join the negotiations, holding out the prospect that Russia and Iran could extract concessions from Assad while the Obama administration could twist the arms of its Syrian proxies.

But Official Washington’s neocons rose up in fury over the idea of Iran in the negotiations. After all, Iran was still Israel’s bête noire and the neocons had not given up their hopes for a bombing campaign. Faced with this political/media fury, Obama and Kerry buckled under the pressure and insisted that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon disinvite Iran from the talks, which then degenerated into a shouting match, with the U.S. side demanding that “Assad must go” and the Assad side leaving in a huff.

It also became clear to the neocons that the Obama-Putin collaboration presented another danger. It carried the possibility of the two major powers pressing Israel and the Palestinians into an agreement on a Palestinian state, another prospect that upset the neocons who prefer giving Israel free rein over the Palestinian territories.

So, this Obama-Putin cooperation itself had to be blown up and it was. In February 2014, U.S. neocons including Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, Sen. John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman helped orchestrate a coup in Ukraine, ousting a democratically elected government friendly with Moscow and replacing it with a fiercely anti-Russian regime that even deployed neo-Nazis to help put down resistance among Ukraine’s ethnic Russians.

When the people of Crimea many of them ethnic Russians voted by 96 percent to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the neocon-dominated U.S. news media pronounced the referendum a “sham” and detected a Russian “invasion,” although Russian troops were already in Crimea under an agreement for the Russian naval base at Sevastopol.

As the Ukraine crisis worsened, a wave of Putin bashing swept through U.S. and European political and media circles. Rather than resist this “group think,” President Obama joined it. He agreed that Putin and Russia had to be frozen out of polite international society. The neocons and the liberal interventionists were again riding high.

But the situation in Syria continued to worsen. In summer 2014, the Islamic State, which had begun a decade earlier as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” fighting the U.S. occupation of Iraq, suddenly emerged as a potent force, seizing large swaths of Syria and then Iraq. The Islamic State’s lightning military strikes and its gruesome videos of beheading Westerners and other “infidels” shocked the world and prompted Obama to hit back both in Iraq and Syria.

Half-Hearted Campaign

Yet, the U.S. alliance of anti-Islamic State forces was half-hearted, since Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states had been supporting Sunni jihadists in Syria, including elements of the Islamic State. Thus, many Sunni participants in the U.S.-led alliance were less than enthusiastic partners, with their principal goal still the ouster of Assad, an Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam.

The ineffectual campaign against the Islamic State and the embarrassing results of Obama’s $500 million plan to train “moderate” Syrian rebels, which ended up inserting only about five fighters into the field, helped convince Putin that stronger measures were needed to prevent the eventual collapse of the Syrian military and a victory for Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Since Putin had already been turned into an international pariah over Ukraine, there was also less downside for his acting more assertively in Syria. With the permission of the Assad government and Iran’s help on the ground, Russia launched an ambitious air campaign, hitting a variety of “terrorist” targets, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

Howls went up from the neocons, liberal interventionists and much of the mainstream U.S. media that Putin’s air offensive was killing “our guys.” In an extraordinary interview aired Oct. 11 on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” correspondent Steve Kroft baited President Obama to do something to stop Putin.

“[Putin’s] bombing the people that we are supporting,” Kroft wailed. “He’s challenging your leadership, Mr. President. He’s challenging your leadership. [People] say you’re projecting a weakness.”

Though Obama had gone along with the demonization of Putin even listing Russia along with Ebola and the Islamic State as the three top threats to the world he appears belatedly to have recognized that the only solution to the Syrian conflict is a political compromise in which all sides make concessions and Russia and Iran play key roles in assuring more give from Assad.

Thus, with negotiations resuming in Vienna on Friday, it appears there is finally the possibility of progress toward ending the horrific war in Syria. But that result will not come easily. Secretary Kerry will have to demand significant concessions from both the U.S.-funded Syrian “moderates” and from the regional Sunni powers to get serious about cutting off their “covert” assistance to the Sunni jihadists inside Syria.

If some stability can be restored in Syria, the ultimate solution might be an election that will let the Syrian people decide who their leaders should be.

But President Obama will have to contend with Official Washington’s neocons, liberal interventionists and “human rights” community which will continue to put their “regime change” agenda ahead of a pragmatic effort to end the slaughter and to stanch the destabilizing flow of refugees across the Mideast and into Europe.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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25 comments for “A Glimmer of Hope for Syria

  1. Joe Tedesky
    October 29, 2015 at 11:43 am

    I am providing a link to an article, which describes what I believe to be one of the biggest problems facing the security of the United States. This article I am linking you to, also has many links for reference. Basically, the problem is how the U.S. cannot account for, since 1996, 8.5 trillion dollars of it’s defense spending. When Kruschev banged his shoe declaring ‘we will bury you’, what he was predicting was the fall of capitalism due to it’s unregulated greed. No, I am not advocating we become communist, but what I am urging, is the U.S. do more to become fiscally responsible. This doesn’t mean, that the U.S. should cut social agreements with it’s citizens, but knock off this fascination with war, and all of it’s products we have developed to kill other countries people with. America, won’t be defeated by it’s enemies, as much as it may be defeated by it’s own hand. We Americans can only hope how the lyrics to the song from ‘MASH’ maybe true, as the song goes, ‘Sucide is painless’.

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/11/8-5-trillion-taxpayer-money-doled-congress-pentagon-since-1996-never-accounted.html

  2. October 29, 2015 at 11:44 am

    President Obama will not only have to contend with “Official Washington’s neocons, liberal interventionists and the ‘human rights’ community.”

    He will have to contend with Pentagon and CIA, who have most likely already put “boots on the ground,” and the MIC (military industrial complex) lobbyists, who need continuous war to boost profits.

    He will have to contend with Turkey, which doesn’t want to share the waters of Euphrates and Tigris with Syria and Iraq, openly supports the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra with logistics and weapons, summoned the Russian and American ambassadors to protest against support of the Kurdish YPG, and just started firing at and bombing the Kurdish border towns of Kobane (Kobani) and Tal Abyad.

    He will have to contend with Israel, which loves chaos in Syria, doesn’t intend to give back the water rich Golan Heights, and is more than glad when the most generous and efficient supporter of the Palestinian cause is obliterated.

    He will have to contend with Saudi Arabia and other Arab monarchies, who regard any secular, socialist government as dangerous example of an alternative political system.

    He will have to contend with Qatar, which wants to have a pipeline through Syria to deliver gas to Europe.

    Did I forget a party? Anyway, good luck!

  3. Joe L.
    October 29, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Mr. Parry… One thing that I think could be added to this article seems to be more recent declarations within Europe itself who I think has come to the realization of the destructive effects of US foreign policy. I see 2 such comments which gave me a little hope that Europe (along with Merkel and Hollande helping with the creation of the Minsk agreements) might defend its’ own interests rather then just being vassals of the US.

    Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President:

    “Russia must be treated decently… We can’t let our relationship with Russia be dictated by Washington. We must make efforts towards a practical relationship with Russia. It is not sexy but that must be the case, we can’t go on like this.I know from my conversations with Putin that he does not accept phrases like when Barack Obama said Russia was a regional power. What does that mean? You can’t talk about Russia like that.”

    Angela Merkel, German Chancellor:

    “We need to talk more with Turkey and Lebanon, and we also need to find a solution for Syria and Libya. That means also talking to Bashar al-Assad. We have to speak with many actors, this includes Assad, but others as well. Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

    So I think that Europe should also be added into this discussion since it is the “neighbourhood” of Europe, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey that is experiencing the effects of US fantasies for “regime change” all across their region.

    • F. G. Sanford
      October 29, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      A new “neighborhood” is emerging. Eurabia promises to be a dysfunctional conglomeration of statelets plagued by controversy over multiculturalism, nationalism, monetary sovereignty and fiscal austerity. It promises to remain a willing vassal of American hegemonic fantasies unless it finds the courage to send NATO packing – an unlikely scenario.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 29, 2015 at 5:18 pm

        Can we move there?

    • Abe
      October 29, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      The term “Eurabia” is a political neologism rooted in the conspiracy theories of Bat Ye’or (pen name of Gisele Littman), a Jewish writer in Britain.

      Ye’or’s family fled Egypt in 1957 after the Suez War of 1956.

      Though Ye’or never finished her master’s degree and has never held an academic position, she has provided briefings to the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and has given talks at major universities such as Georgetown, Brown, Yale, Brandeis, and Columbia. Her penchant for neologisms has found an enthusiastic political audience.

      The term Eurabia has been used across a wide range of the political spectrum, including far-right activists, anti-islamists and conservative activists.

      In Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis (2005), Yeor claims a conspiracy of Europe, allegedly led by France and Arab powers, to Islamise and Arabise Europe, thereby weakening its existing culture and undermining an alleged previous alignment with the U.S. and Israel.

      Ye’or’s “Mother conspiracy theory” has been used for further subtheories. The narrative grew important in expressing Islamophobic sentiments and was used by movements like Stop Islamisation of Europe.

      The term Eurabia gained renewed interest after the 9/11 events and the use of the term by 2011 Norway attacker Anders Behring Breivik. It is as well a part of classical Anti-Europeanism, a strong influence in American culture and American exceptionalism which sometimes sees Europe on the decline or as a rising rival power, or, as is the case here, both.

      Ye’or is known for her earlier neologism “dhimmitude”, which she discussed in detail in Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2001).

      The term itself is made up of the word “dhimmi”, which means “protected” in Arabic and “refers to the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule”.

      Ye’or describes dhimmitude as the “specific social condition that resulted from jihad,” and as the “state of fear and insecurity” of “infidels” who are required to “accept a condition of humiliation.”

      Using Ye’or’s neologism, we may accurately describe the condition of Muslims living under Zionist rule in Israel and occupied Palestine, and Israel’s plan for the entire Southern Levant, as “dhimmitude”.

      • Abe
        October 29, 2015 at 6:33 pm

        Ot kumt di mishuggene:

        Pamela Geller, admin of the anti-Muslim site Atlas Shrugs, declares: “Bat Ye’or is the world’s foremost leading scholar on Islam.”
        http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/anti-muslim-loon-with-a-crazy-conspiracy-theory-named-eurabia/

        • Evangelista
          October 29, 2015 at 9:16 pm

          Abe,

          “Bat Ye’or” could translate “Daughter of Ye’or”.

          I wonder, is the “Ye’or” Miz Gisele bat Ye’or is descended from the same ‘Ye’or’, also spelt ‘eeyore’, ‘eor’ and (his signature) ‘eoR’, who is a literary personality in A.A.Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh”?

          I suspect yes for detecting what appears a descending thread of intellectual continuity between the two literary figures…

        • Abe
          October 29, 2015 at 10:05 pm

          Eeyore is an onomatopoeic representation of the braying sound made by an burro.

          A. A. Milne’s perpetually kvetching grey stuffed donkey lives in the southeast corner of the Hundred Acre Wood, in an area labeled “Eeyore’s Gloomy Place: Rather Boggy and Sad” on the map in the book.

          Eeyore’s favorite food is thistles.

          According to Torah, the covenant between God and Israel was conditional, the claim to Israel and the right to nationhood based solely on the observance of G-d’s commandments, and the prophets routinely threatened the people with a plague of briers and thistles (Isa. v. 6; Jer. xii. 13).

          The myth that Zionist ingenuity “made the desert bloom” reflects a new covenant. Predictably, the land is positively overrun with burrs and munching asses. Even so, Israel’s loudest braying advocates prefer to live and kvetch elsewhere.

    • passerby
      October 30, 2015 at 4:00 am

      If history is any measure, we’ve had “peak EU”. Compare:

      Roman empire: restless provinces. EU: Britain sputters, and ponders seceding from the EU.

      Roman empire: failed military campaigns. EU: the Ukraine campaign disaster: instead of the EU annexing Ukraine, the Russians annex Crimea.

      Roman empire: invasion of barbarians. EU: refugees streaming into Germany.

      Roman empire: builds Hadrian’s wall to keep barbarians out. EU: border fences going up in south-east Europe.

      Roman empire: a series of increasingly ineffectual puppet Emperors. EU: affable Luxemburgers head the commission.

      Roman empire: managed to hang on for a few centuries, but eventually the Roman empire split into feudal states. EU: the future will tell whether the EU breaks up in individual nation-states, but I feel the moment of maximum european integration has come and gone.

      • John Mynona
        October 30, 2015 at 10:55 pm

        The EU is a neoliberal totalitarian project for bankers and industrialists and most europeans have zero interest in being an empire and have very little trust in this monster. Its just a copy of the US congress including 35 000 lobbyists.

  4. Abe
    October 29, 2015 at 11:54 am

    On October 8, into the second week of Russian airstrikes against ISIS and other so-called “moderate” terrorists at the request of the Assad government, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist from Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that his company had found a major oil reservoir on the Golan Heights: “We’ve found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities.”

    This oil find has now made the Golan Heights a strategic “prize” that clearly has the Netanyahu government more determined than ever to sow chaos and disorder in Damascus and use that to de facto create an Israeli irreversible occupation of Golan and its oil. A minister in the Netanyahu coalition government, Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs and leader of the right-wing religious party, The Jewish Home, has made a proposal that Israel settle 100,000 new Israeli settlers across the Golan in five years. He argues that with Syria “disintegrating” after years of civil war, it’s hard to imagine a stable state to which the Golan Heights could be returned. Further a growing chorus in Tel Aviv is arguing that Netanyahu demand American recognition of Israel’s 1981 annexation of the Golan as an “appropriate salve to Israeli security concerns in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.”

    Energy war has been a significant component of US, Israeli, Qatari, Turkish, and, until recently, Saudi, strategy against Syria’s Assad regime. Before the latest Golan Heights oil discovery, the focus on Assad pivoted on the huge regional natural gas resources of both Qatar and of Iran on opposite sides of the Persian Gulf, comprising the largest known gas discovery in the world to date.

    In 2009 the government of Qatar, today home to the Muslim Brotherhood and a major funder of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, met with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus.

    Qatar proposed to Bashar that Syria join in an agreement to allow a transit gas pipeline from Qatar’s huge North Field in the Persian Gulf adjacent to Iran’s huge South Pars gas field. The Qatari pipeline would have gone through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey to supply European markets. Most crucially, it would bypass Russia. An Agence France-Presse report claimed Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of his Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.” In 2010 Assad instead joined talks with Iran and Iraq for an alternative $10 billion pipeline plan that would also potentially allow Iran to supply gas to Europe from its South Pars field in the Iranian waters of the Persian Gulf. The three countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2012 – just as Syria’s civil war was spreading to Damascus and Aleppo.

    Now an apparent discovery of huge volumes of oil by a New Jersey oil company whose board includes Iraq war architect, Dick Cheney, neo-con ex-CIA head James Woolsey, and Jacob Lord Rothschild, business partner of one of Vladimir Putin’s most bitter critics, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, bring the stakes of the Russian intervention on behalf of Syria’s Assad against ISIS, Al Qaeda and other CIA-backed “moderate” terrorists” to a new geopolitical dimension. The US coup in Ukraine in 2014, and its financing and training of ISIS and other “moderate” terrorist gangs in Syria all have one prime target–Russia and her network of allies, a network, ironically, which Washington and Israeli policies are expanding almost by the hour.

    Genies and Genocide: Syria, Israel, Russia and Much Oil
    By F. William Engdahl
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/26/genies-and-genocide-syria-israel-russia-and-much-oil-2/

    • Boris M Garsky
      October 29, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Frankly, I find the timing of the announcement as very suspicious. Is Israel attempting to persuade investors into becoming a mouthpiece for the annexation of the Golan Heights?

      • Evangelista
        October 29, 2015 at 9:33 pm

        An oil stratum massively deeper than any in surrounding geology would be anomalously unusual. It would behoove potential investors in a development scheme dependent on a destabilization and routing of currently occupying natives and native cultures to be be conservative and cautious. The history of oil exploration includes instances of both ‘dry-holes’ and ‘salts’. And “If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.” remains as cogent today as it was in the days of the Crusades, when Jerusalem was advertised the Earthly Location of Paradise.

  5. Abe
    October 29, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    ISIS Serves US Geopolitical Interests, Threatens Russia’s

    It has become clear that the US’s main objectives in Syria is not their expressed goal of ‘fighting ISIS’, but regime change, isolating Russian influence, the Balkanization and the creation of failed states. US presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton herself stated that ‘removing Assad is the top priority”.

    The US sees the Syrian state as one of the last spheres of Russian influence beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union, and a threat to its Israeli ally in the region. The presence of ISIS and other terrorists groups serves these interests. The US has a history of using terrorism to topple governments friendly to Russia. Al Qaeda itself was borne of the US objective to topple the Soviet friendly government of Afghanistan. The dismemberment of Russian-friendly Serbia and the creation of Kosovo was done via the same means.

    More recently ISIS was a direct result of the US’s intervention in Iraq, and have only arrived in Libya and Syria in the wake of overt US-backed regime change efforts there. Although Libya and Iraq did not have relations with Russia as strong as Syria’s, Russia was still their main weapons supplier. It is therefore not surprising that since Russia entered the war in Syria, Saudi clerics and the Muslim Brotherhood – both US state assets – declared ‘jihad’ on Russia.

    The former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) Chief Michael Flynn said in an interview that he believed the US had made a willful decision to allow ISIS to grow in Syria. A 2012 declassified DIA report, wrote if the US and its allies continued to destabilize Syria by arming extremist insurgents “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

    The CIA had trained thousand of ‘rebels’, not to fight ISIS, but admittedly to fight the Assad government and Syrian military – showing once again that the real objective behind the US’ involvement is regime change. Media across the West has even admited this, including the Washington Post which would report:

    …the CIA has since 2013 trained some 10,000 rebels to fight Assad’s forces. Those groups have made significant progress against strongholds of the Alawites, Assad’s sect.

    Russia Has More to Gain by Truly Fighting Terrorism

    On the other hand Russia has clear geopolitical interests behind defending the Syrian state against terrorism. Syria has been an ally of Russia for decades, and it hosts Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that Russia is entering Syria to prevent ‘another Libyan scenario,’ or in other words – to prevent it from turning into a failed state as the US had done to Libya.

    Furthermore Russian interests in fighting terrorism are tied directly to Russia’s own national security. Russia has had problems in the past with terrorism within their own borders and in particular, Chechnya. Chechen fighters who have joined ISIS in Syria, have now threatened to take the fight to Moscow. Jabhat Al Nusra, Syria’s Al Qaeda faction, have also called for terror attacks in Russia. In an interview with 60 minutes, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin stated that it is better to fight terrorists in Syria than wait until they return to Russia.

    Terrorism poses far greater risks to Russia’s national security than it does to the US. Not only is their proximity closer, but terrorists in Russia have the potential to cleave off part of the state and overrun entire Russian towns. This is not the case for the US, whose only risk to national security would be civilian deaths due to bombings, and that is not necessarily something that the US government would find a real ‘problem,’ and in fact, might even see as a possible opportunity.

    Why Russia is Serious About Fighting Terrorism and the US Isn’t
    By Maram Susli
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2015/10/why-russia-is-serious-about-fighting.html

  6. James lake
    October 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I don’t know why Russia continue to trust in the western systems; and push for negotiated peace talks blah blah.
    It’s almost as if they are desperate for recognition and a seat with the western powers who continue to treat them like dirt. Lavrov is particularly annoying in the relationship with John Kerry which has proved useless.

  7. Abe
    October 29, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    The latest “Glimmer of Hope for Syria” is properly understood as yet another “information operation” conducted by Washington and its proxy forces.

    As noted by Christian Malis in the chapter “Unconventional Forms of War” in The Oxford Handbook of War (2012):

    Machiavelli had already emphasized psychological warfare as a permanent dimension of the art of warfare, the tactical means of which are still valid: command of information, propagation of false news, intimidation through atrocities, manipulation of (religious) beliefs, terror, action on prisoners, etc. Hitler’s ‘war on nerves’ was part of an ‘enlarged strategy’ (erweiterte Strategie) to divide and weaken the enemy before striking militarily. Raymond Aron had emphasized in 1955 that ‘psychological warfare is a new word for a very old thing and since men have fought there is action upon the adversary’s morale … In a number of battles, there were weapons which were more psychologically than physically efficient.’ A novelty of the twentieth century is the huge expansion of the mass media (the internet being the last and decisive ‘new new thing’) and of social psychology techniques (study of opinion changes). Strictly speaking one should not speak about ‘psychological warfare’ but about psychological action taking a military shape (either to deceive: trickery, stratagem, intoxication, etc.; or to frighten: strategic bombing, terrorism; or to convince politically: propaganda, censorship). This is consistent with the British definition of ‘psy-ops’: ‘planned psychological activities designed to influence attitudes and behaviour affecting the achievement of political and military objectives’.

  8. Boris M Garsky
    October 29, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    It is my guess that the USA is playing poker in order to get a partition of Iraq and Syria. This will not happen since, Russia, Iran, Syria, and China are aware that this would put US forces permanently and dangerously close to their borders. Further, Israel and the USA would continue to train and arm terrorists and send them north. It would be immensely dangerous for the USA to bring a carrier into the region. One cruise missile and…There does not have to be a political solution and the west knows that- Russia will call their bluff. The terrorists are in disarray and are surrounded. Time is on Russias side and being there in strength is a decided advantage over western forces. Washington can only bluff at this point. They had their chance, but were greedy and they blew it.

  9. Peter Loeb
    October 30, 2015 at 6:17 am

    “SUGAR PLUMS DANCING IN HIS HEAD?”

    Despite Robert Parry’s perceptive analysis of the Syrian
    situation, with all due respect I beg to dissent from his
    optimism between the paragraphs. For example:

    “…So, any sign that President Obama and Secretary Kerry have gotten
    down off their “Assad must go” high horses represents a glimmer of
    hope that a political solution may finally be possible. But a deal would
    also require Obama and Kerry getting tough with Sunni “allies” and
    aggressively clamping down on the continued flow of money and
    weapons to the Islamist rebels….” (Parry excerpt from above article)

    No such deal seems in the offing for perhaps half a century due
    primarily to the intransigence of the west.

    With the continued rhetoric of Washington, the persistent use of
    “political transition” as a code for “Bashir (Assad) must go”, Washington
    is far from being ready to consider any resolution in concert with the
    Assad Regime (as urged in the Security Council on February 22, 2014, S/Res/2139(2014) point 14 —page 4 of the document, available on
    the UN webbsite) —passed unanimously— there seems at this time to
    be no possibility whatsoever of any agreement with Russia its allies.

    Was the current government of Syria—B. Assad—a party to the Vienna
    talks which at this point seem destined for avoiding any resolution,

    The US DEMANDS its “political transition” (“Bashir must go!”) as a non-
    negotiable precondition for any and all agreements.

    I cannot imagine this being a recipe for Russia,Syria, Iran etc. to suddenly
    stop their airstrikes (which evidently hurt especially when they strike
    “our—COVERT—guys.”

    There happens to be an election in the US as there almost always is
    year round. I cannot imagine any of the current “front runners” making
    any significant change in the now prevalent “neocon” policies.
    Voters in the US are not deeply involved in such concepts vital as
    they are to life and death. As in past wars that “failed”, they do
    respond once American “body bags”(dead so-called “heroes”)
    return and are buried “with honors” etc.

    I do not believe Russia is involved for charity alone. It is dangerous
    for those on the left in the west to operate with a view of Russia—
    or anyone else—operating in a saintly, humanitarian , altruistic spirit.

    From material supplied by Robert Parry and commenters, it
    seems that at present Russia and its allies surprised the west and
    has for the moment upset its apple cart which only allowed for
    its own easy victory. Remember those old stories in the western
    media about Syria’s immanent collapse and planning for a
    post-Assad Syria and Middle East. True enough, Assad may
    fall some day indeed. But those fabricated stories are certainly
    out-of-date,

    Many special thanks for Parry’s specificity as to who is fleeing and
    what they are fleeing. If all the migrants maintain that they are
    fleeing the demon B. Assad, it just may be to gain credibility
    in a new home in the west where they would quickly become “heroes”,
    interviewed on the media. In migrations, one does what must be
    done as history has shown time and again.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  10. Zachary Smith
    October 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    After seeing today’s headline on Google News, I’m of the opinion that the title of this essay is overly optimistic.

    Obama to Send Special Forces to Syria

    First thought was to remember how many NATO and US soldiers got killed in Afghanistan by supposedly friendly people who they trying to train.

    Second thought was to recall the instances of jihadis selling weapons and captives to a better heeled outfit. Sometimes the people being sold ended up getting beheaded.

    Finally, it dawned on me that BHO may be even more callous than I’d even imagined. Each and every one of those US soldiers is a dare to the Russians to bomb that particular group of “good terrorists”.

    The neocon newspapers have made the Afghan hospital war crime bombing pretty much disappear, but imagine how they’d play a story about the evil Ruskies murdering a US Special Forces soldier. They’d be screaming for that no-fly zone at the top of their lungs, and of course demanding that all the Russians involved be sent to the US for trial.

    • Abe
      October 30, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      According to Ashton Carter, Obama sent US Special Forces to Syria earlier this year.

      In May 2015, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter claimed that a raid was ordered by President Obama on the “unanimous recommendation” of US national security officials. A high-level ISIS official and a dozen other militants were allegedly killed in the attack. The US troops suffered no casualties despite the supposedly fierce firefight and “hand-to-hand” combat.

      Syrian official television initially claimed that the raid was conducted by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, not those of the United States, and that five leaders of ISIS were among the dead, including a Tunisian, a Chechen, a Turk, a Saudi and an Iraqi.

      The White House adamantly denied the Syrian claim. National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told reporters, “The US government did not coordinate with the Syrian regime, nor did we advise them in advance of this operation.”

      Meehan continued, using a different acronym for Islamic State, “We have warned the Assad regime not to interfere with our ongoing efforts against ISIL inside of Syria. The Assad regime is not and cannot be a partner in the fight against ISIL.”

  11. Abe
    October 31, 2015 at 12:38 am

    The NATO war machine is now engaged in its biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War. Exercise Trident Juncture began on September 28 and continues through to November 6 with exercises taking place in all NATO countries but with major field operations taking place in Portugal, Spain and Italy. The exercises, involving 35,000 personnel, over 200 aircraft and 50 warships […]

    There can be no other conclusion but that Trident Juncture is a preparation for aggressive war and is therefore a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace and constitutes an act of aggression. Therefore, the non-NATO members of the Security Council have every right to bring this to the attention of the Security Council and the people of the world and demand that these war preparations be stopped.

    The exercises are even a breach of the NATO treaty, Article I of which states that,

    “The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”

    Article 3 states that NATO can only act when its member states suffer an armed attack. But in the Trident Juncture scenario there is no armed attack on a NATO country and therefore under the NATO Treaty NATO cannot act.

    Further, Article 7 States that,

    “This Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

    NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said in relation to Trident Juncture that NATO is concerned about “Russia’s military build-up” from Kaliningrad through the Black Sea, Crimea, to Syria and Turkey.” In other words the NATO overlords are concerned that their aggressive moves in Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere, all directed ultimately at Russia, are being met with resistance and this the western military mafia cannot tolerate.

    Just a few days after the Trident Juncture exercise began Russian planes began hitting ISIL targets in Syria. On October 7th the NATO mafia were completely surprised by the cruise missile strike launched from the Caspian Sea. A few days later the US aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt, which was supporting the claimed US air strikes on ISIL targets in Syria, left the Persian Gulf, claiming on its website that is mission was over and was a success. A poor cover story but for the first time in a long time, the movement of the Roosevelt out of range of Russian cruise missiles meant there was no American carrier task force stationed in the Gulf. No doubt the Joint Warfare Centre did not take this new scenario into account when planning this massive exercise and we can only hope it upset their plans.

    Trident Juncture and the No To NATO Movement
    By Christopher Black
    http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/29/trident-juncture-and-the-no-to-nato-movement/

  12. Peter Loeb
    October 31, 2015 at 5:40 am

    LESSONS FROM WORLD WAR TWO

    In World War Two there was a tri-partite coalition which
    wasn’t really between equals. Anglo-Americans literally
    begged Russia to continue its war on the Eastern
    Front sacrificing hundreds of thousands of
    Russian lives. (The total lives lost by Russia was many
    times the total for all the other allies combined.)
    When Russia agreed even to the scheduling suggested
    by Winton Churchill, Churchill was effusive in his thanks
    in a letter to Stalin.

    I suggest that Syria in line with the unanimous UN Security
    Council Resolution of February 22, accept US help under
    Syrian command and direction. This was the case in
    World War two and Eisenhower was the Commander-
    in- Chief. The US forces in their zeal to fight ISIS
    should be delegated to attacks of ISIS in Iraq itself.

    The UN resolution makes no provision whatsoever for any
    “rebels” or opposition of any kind whose goal is
    to remove the government of Syria.

    Should this be unacceptable to Washington, one
    can only conclude that they are not really
    much interested in fighting ISIS but rather
    in fighting the current Syrian government.

    As Russia has made perfectly clear,
    this is unacceptable to them.

    If other self-proclaimed “rebel” groups—once
    known as “moderates” until it became clear
    that they were working in tandem with al-Quaeda’s
    affiliate al-Nusra.

    As the UN Security Council pointed out last year
    a concerted and coordinated effort would
    end the “civil war” in Syria. It would also maintain
    in power B. Assad.It would in probability reduce
    the number of refugees many of whom are in
    reality not fleeing secular Syria(B. Assad) but
    raqther the barbarous non-secular militant groups
    such as al-Quaeda and al-Nusra.

    The US government wants to have it every
    which way depending on the circumstances of
    that week.

    See Mike Whitney’s excellent piece in yesterday’s
    COUNTERPUNCH NEWS.

    —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA USA

    —-

  13. AriusArmenian
    November 1, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Why should Syria concede anything to the US and its vassal axis that has violated international law by invading Syria? Any Security Council resolution to that effect? No. Any invite by the Syrian government? No.

    If the Syrian army and Russian air force are defeating the US backed jihadi head choppers and liver eaters then why concede anything?

  14. Steve Miller
    November 1, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Like almost every Mid-East hot spot, Syria is mostly a mystery to me. But three things leap out. First, regime change hasn’t worked out that well in other states hit by the wave of change following the Arab Spring. Second, the Arab Spring demonstrations in Syria, were the only ones not initially demanding regime change, just some changes in how the existing government behaved. Third, Neither the Syrian administration or the original groups demanding change should have any interest in falling under the control of a lunatic group like ISIS. Seems like there should be room for negotiation and compromise to oppose a common foe.

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