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Issue #1615      October 23, 2013

Bankrupt at home and abroad

US policy on Syria could be described as a “comedy of errors” if the consequences for human suffering were not so brutal. Having largely created a quagmire of terrorism and lawlessness in Syria through covert insurgency operations over the past two and half years, the US government looks like a hapless Doctor Frankenstein who has lost control of the beast, or should we say beasts.

The creation from the laboratory of American regime change has many forms, from savage death squads on the ground to effete exile political groups ensconced in five-star Persian Gulf hotels. But none of these creations seem to respond to the supposed master. The situation is evidently out of control and the US appears to the world like a mad, impotent fool.

First, Washington repeated calls last week on its manufactured Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, to attend the Geneva II political talks. But the SNC flatly rejected the admonition.

Then, a joint statement by the motley crew of foreign mercenary militias in Syria turned around again and issued a terse repudiation of the Syrian National Coalition or any other political group.

In a released video, the statement representing some 70 militant brigades said: “Having seen the failure of the political groups that claim to represent the opposition and the revolutionary groups ... we leaders of the military groups in the southern provinces withdraw our recognition from any political group that claims to represent us”.

This was the second slap in the face for the Western-lionised so-called National Coalition. Last month, some 13 insurgent organisations in the northern Syrian provinces also issued a blunt statement rejecting the coalition as having any legitimacy as a political representative.

Significantly, among those latter groups repudiating the SNC were the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Al Nusra and the Free Syrian Army. The Western governments claim to support the FSA, led by General Salim Idriss, because of its supposed “moderate” credentials and non-association with the extremist Takfiri networks, such as Al Nusra.

Awkwardly for the Western propagandists, the FSA does not seem to be reading the memos, and has publicly aligned itself with “the extremists”. In other words, there is no separation of “moderates” and “extremists”, or “good rebels” and “bad rebels”.

That putative distinction is seen more than ever as merely a propaganda fiction that the Western governments have concocted in order to give themselves a political and moral cover for fomenting a criminal war of aggression in Syria – by hiding behind the pretence that they are supporting pro-democracy, freedom-loving good rebels. Shamefully, the Western mainstream so-called journalism industry has assisted in contriving this preposterous façade, instead of rigorously investigating and ripping it apart.

The reality is that the Western governments have unleashed a wave of terror on Syria since March 2011, under the guise of the Arab Spring, for the geopolitical objective of regime change. That wave of aggression to destabilise the government of President Bashar al-Assad is comprised of hundreds of mercenary groups of varying extremist tendencies, most of whom originate from as many as 30 countries, including Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Russia, as well as Western states such as Australia, Britain, France and Canada.

The illusory Western dichotomy of “moderates” and “extremists” was blown away during the massacres carried out in Syria’s Western Latakia Province during August. Even Human Rights Watch, which is normally dutiful to the pro-Western political agenda, reported hundreds of atrocities against civilians during the raids on villages in Latakia. These atrocities included the kidnapping of over 200 women and children, whose whereabouts remain unknown. There are credible reports that the victims may have been brutally slain for the purpose of fabricating the East Ghouta chemical gas attack on August 21. During the Latakia offensive, the Free Syrian Army commander General Idriss was filmed on the ground proclaiming the success of the campaign under his leadership.

So, like the proverbial best-laid plans that come unstuck, the US and its Western and regional allies, flooded Syria with terrorism while lining up a government-in-waiting in the form of careerist exiles and political opportunists. The political puppets were to have moved in when the government in Damascus had been cleaved from the general population through the terrorism of the death squads. But it didn’t work out like that.

The American-led regime-change plan for Syria was fatally flawed because it did not reckon on the genuine popular mandate of the Assad government, the professionalism of the Syrian army, the robust regional alliance between Syria, Russia and Iran, and the resilience of Russia in particular to oppose Western political manoeuvres through the UN Security Council. In addition, the US-led axis did not count on the immense opposition among the war-sickened Western public towards further insidious imperialist machinations in the Middle East.

From this incompetent chess play, Washington has ended up with an unholy incoherent mess from which it cannot extricate. Its mercenaries on the ground are losing and turning in on themselves through internecine turf wars. Al Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and Shams and the Free Syrian Army are more a threat to themselves than from the Syrian national army.

Meanwhile, whatever unity is forged between these groups it is based on outright rejection of the Western-backed political opposition.

As noted, the Western-engineered political opposition has come out against any dialogue at Geneva despite pleas from US Secretary of State John Kerry. These political pawns are probably reacting with umbrage out of a sense of being used as, well how can we say, pawns.

The Geneva talks aimed at forming a new consensus government in Syria were originally hatched back in June 2012, but have been continually delayed because the US and its Western regime-change allies, Britain and France, were coaxing their Syrian exile clients not to participate. Now the US wants these pawns to participate, only because Washington calculates that it has run out of options on the military field.

When Russia threw the US a political lifeline last month in the form of a deal on Syrian chemical weapons disarmament, to help Washington avert its disastrous warpath, part of the deal was for the speedy convening of Geneva talks, scheduled for next month in the Swiss capital.

A year ago, Washington and its allies were gung-ho about forcing regime change in Syria by fomenting a dirty war through an array of proxy mercenary groups. Never mind that many of these proxies are linked to the Al-Qaeda franchise and are on the official US terror list.

The covert military agenda has turned out an abject failure, with the key turning point some four months ago being the defeat of the foreign militants in the mid-region town of Qusayr. With the covert military agenda losing traction, the East Ghouta false flag chemical attack was Washington’s last-chance gambit for launching an overt war on Syria to force its regime change plans.

However, Washington and its allies did not foresee the formidable opposition from within their own populations to any such military adventurism. The Western axis also did not foresee the trenchant international resistance to any such militarism. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning against American aggression resonated with many ordinary people around the world, including the American and European public.

Having painted itself into a corner, Washington was offered a political get-out by Russia when Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hammered out the Syrian chemical weapons decommissioning deal with Kerry in Geneva on September 14.

That deal put the political process back on centre stage. Lavrov urged the US last week to “use whatever power it has” to exert its influence on the multifarious opposition to make good on the Geneva II talks.

The Russian top diplomat said: “The main obstacle on this path remains our [American] partners’ inability to make the Syrian opposition, which they are looking after, go to Geneva and sit at the negotiating table with the government”.

Lavrov is too much of a statesman to use impolite language. But the essence of what he is saying is this: Washington has created a mess in Syria that it doesn’t have the power to fix.

Rather fittingly, in a world where the US government is seen as financially bankrupt, it is also being seen, glaringly, as a bankrupt geopolitical force.

Bankrupt at home and abroad, Syria underscores the inescapable fact that Washington is a spent geopolitical player.

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