Why are the Taliban excluded from the negative examples of “regime change”?

[From FB post]

Note the subtly-orientalist secular bias when those who say (be they Trump or Sanders) “look at what happens when we ‘take out’ those secular dictators” never say “look at what happened when we took the Taliban out” (incidentally a 15 year insurgency – much longer than Libya’s post-Qadaffi troubles) – because the Taliban are dangerous turbanned Muzzies innit, unlike the wise, harsh-but-necessary Qadaffis and Assads (who we apparently don’t like but think they should get overthrown by flowers). Also of course we’ll sound terrible if we say something like that.

[Another example incidentally of how so many within the left seemed to have forgotten all the grievances they used to cite which were the springing beds for al-Qaeda etc, and jumped on the completely opposite bandwagon of “LOOK AL QAEDA” when it appeared on the opposite side of an indigenous post-colonial (colonial remnant) state instead of an “original” current-colonial one (all you need to see is how the likes of al-Qaeda etc were considered part of “the resistance” when they were fighting the US in Iraq and then reverted suitably back to “terrorists” when they were fighting the colonially-founded regime in Syria). Not that it needs mentioning but of course this is not to state that the likes of al-Qaeda or the Taliban were the solution to the region’s colonial hangovers, but to note that they were the product of it similarly to being the product of direct present colonial intervention.]

Bernie Sanders is the latest Western-narcissistic orientalist idiot, telling Hilary Clinton how “she needs to consider the consequences of these regime changes she rushes into” as if there weren’t country-wide rebellions going on, what planets do these people live on? How fucked up is it when the progressive option in these situations happen to coincide with the “genuine” neocons (as opposed to war on terror ones) instead of the left, how fucked up is that? and if he doesn’t know he’s an idiot, maybe he should look across the platform and see how his supposed opposites Trump and Cruz are saying exactly the same thing.

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Syria’s 1988

[From FB Post – originally written on 6th December but blogged later]

— 1988 —

The conspiracy was not about the Arab Spring, it was about how the West operated after the Arab Spring. It was about how the West “tactically retreated” under the guise of “leaving us to our business” to allow the full scale of former war on terror partners to unleash genocidal policies without interruption. The West’s retreat was never permanent or intentional, it was calculated – it could not be any other way. Amongst the euphoria at the time greeting the Arabs’ long-overdue awakening, the best thing that could be done was to allow the counter-revolutions to do their thing. People mistook this for “non-intervention”, it wasn’t: it was the only thing that could’ve been politically done, and was temporary. We would eventually return after a brief hiatus to fight the expected “extremism” coming out opposite the states’ brutality. A crucial bit in all this was Libya. The West did its “humanitarian” bit in Libya, a country of marginal location & importance (as opposed to Egypt, Iraq or Syria), with the most unpredictable Arab leader (after Saddam) and a lot of oil to make this all worthwhile. Libya’s “humanitarian” intervention was enough to suffice for the rest, to put a pretence of support for the Arab Spring; no one could claim that the West had active malice in doing nothing to support the Arab Spring, in Egypt, in Iraq, in Syria, because with Libya there was a cover, an alibi, there was no active malice in allowing the massacres and genocides in those other countries because “we helped in Libya!”. The decision to intervene in Libya took one month: one, month. This was calculated, not emotional. But where else did the West come back? Syria, Iraq. But not to topple the regimes in those much more important areas, but to back them up.

In certain cases lower level intervention continued, in Syria where the US acted as the border guard through its proxies for the quantities of weaponry that went in and out of the country, the four border countries (Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon) divided into two: “friends” of the rebellion and “friends of the regime”. All four countries happened to also be friends of the US. The most amazing, articulate of double games ensued. The US allowed regional states to send some arms to its rebel allies, through two of those countries, Jordan and Turkey. But it also allowed arms and thousands of loyalist militias to be enter from the other two of those countries, Iraq and Lebanon.

Which side did the US support?

At its height and greatest momentum in 2012 when the Syrian rebellion was exclusively that, with the widest, most non-sectarian base, the US allowed no weaponry at all, maintaining a blockade on rebels who had to rely almost exclusively on captured military equipment and DIY weaponry, the US included a blockade even of private arms-sellers. However the momentum of the rebellion and the disorientation of the regime was such that rebels were 6km away from the Presidential Palace. However they did not have enough ammunition to continue the campaign against the strongly defended centre. The regime pushed back. 2013: the US waits – and allows – Iran and Hezbollah get drawn in; the fight turns from a popular rebellion against a specific regime into a sectarian regional war. Now, and only now, does the US allow more weaponry to go in, for the fight now is not only a rebellion, it is a regional sectarian war, facilitating a sectarian Sunni-Shia bloodbath with decades’ long repurcussions.

Yet even after the US opens the tap, the tap is not a permanently open one. It closes whenever the “supported” rebellion achieved serious victories. Meanwhile curious developments begin. Sanctions on Iran are not tightened when its militias enter the country in thousands, but are relieved. Hezbollah is not treated worse when it enters another country altogether, but is in fact taken off the “terror” list. These things seem suspicious to those looking from afar, but not as much for those who’ve already noticed the direction. Things they once demanded for their former friends are suddenly accepted at the precise moment when they have become the worse of enemies. How are those thousands of militiamen propping up an “enemy” regime allowed to enter Syria through US-allied – indeed dependent countries?

Trump card comes in: ISIS

ISIS was the death of the rebellions, and ISIS was *allowed* to rise for a very long time before intervention occured. Very, long time. Considering intervention in Libya took a month, it was a very, very long time. Why was ISIS allowed so much time to build itself up? Well ISIS allowed the Arab Spring, which had already been transformed from a popular rebellion to a sectarian “civil war”, to enter the third stage of an altogether War on Terror. Support for one side, in effect was transformed by the end of the conflict into much more tangible support for the other. Here, we see the Iraq-Iran war repeated. “Encouragement” of one-side ends with undeclared support for the other. Remarks emerge that “We do not want to see Assad’s “collapse”, but “negotiated” ousting”. Remarks emerge: “there is no military solution to the conflict”, or “notion of rebel victory was always a fantasy”. Remarks change from “Assad has to go” to “Assad’s timing is negotiable”, or “Assad can lead transition period”. Latest remarks include “Assad and the rebels could work together against ISIS”. The remarks are sweeteners for those following the story, for those who could not read between the lines and were left waiting for the one year at a time installments to the full-version. The remarks were not necessary, for those who observed US policy knew all they needed. The remarks were torturous, insult to injuries. A stringing out of torture, rage and betrayal. The worse the situation became, the worse the remarks got, the further away from reprieve the desperate were. The carrot of reprieve held above but never delivered, getting higher, and higher the more the need for reprieve was. It was never going to be delivered. It was the Arab Spring’s psychological Guantanamo.

Meanwhile, those on the ground understand, get the hint. They turn to their lord for help, to their faith. They have fell into the trap. They no longer want to be part of factions whose decision making was curtailed by foreign control – factions which could not launch campaigns in the areas they needed. They have become independents and build forces lacking the inhibitions of the others. They threaten the status-quo of equilibrium, they threaten the delicate balance of power (destruction). They get attacked. Not by the Russians mind, but by the “friends”. Idlib is taken. Latakia is threatened. Bombs start falling on their heads. You should’ve toed the line. You can play along, but don’t cross the red lines. The red line? Those who we will return to business with after this segment of fun is over. Things can’t always be like this, and we must think of the aftermath. We like destruction, but we will not allow your overthrow of those we can work with. They must distance themselves from us now, and us them, but we are collaborators, we are not enemies. The elites, they stay. The centres of power, they stay. They know how this game works, and we will resume dealings after this charade is over.

Remarks come out: Syrian ministers praise the US intervention. Syrian media celebrates the US change of opinion. “We are in the same ditch against terrorism”. Ah there’s that T word. In the past, peoples were colonised in the name of “bringing civilisation”. Today, they are colonised in the name of “fighting terrorism”.

Why did the Russians take so long to bomb (the rebels, not ISIS)? The Russians bombed only after the US had launched bombing campaigns of the same side, a side which had been achieving non-stop victories which threatened the state’s collapse. It is not a coincidence that a week before the Russians came in the Americans had bombed the same areas. And very possibly at their behest. Yes, at their behest. The Russians did what was too politically embarassing for the Americans themselves to do. They could justify bombing the rebels every now and then amongst the ISIS airstrikes, but the Russians would bomb ISIS every now and then amongst the rebel airstrikes.

But hold on, so which side does the US support?
It is the side on which the bombs did not fall. After all this depth, the answer may be a coincidence. It is the side that became a friend when for all others it became the enemy. It is the side that smeared “terror” on those who once batted the word away from them. It is that side that the US supports.

1988 is here once again.

5 points to make on Syria and its future prospects

[From FB post]

5 Points to make on Syria and its future prospects:

1) In any imperialist-imposed “political solution” Nusra will of course be targeted in as similiar an intensity as ISIS (of course it has already been significantly targeted but all restrictions will be off once the US can achieve its “political solution” and ignore complaints by the Syrian opposition), however having alienated quite a lot of Syria’s rebels it is questionable whether all will run to its support. Of course they should rally to defend it against any US/Russian attack, as for all its faults (and these would have to be challenged by Syrians in their own time) it came to support the Syrian people at a time when no one else did – and has more importantly committed far less crimes than either the US coalition, Russia, Assad or his sectarian loyalist militias (who will be spared from the “terror” list, including Hezbollah) – however I suspect Nusra will be a prickly subject.

It is Ahrar al-Sham however which will be the connecting and crucial junction. It is almost certain that Ahrar al-Sham will be put on the US-Russian “terror” list. While unfortunately I think the majority of the FSA (Southern Front in particular) are likely to accept the “political solution” (that brings about the promise of Assad’s eventual resignation and keeps in tact the regime), the FSA MUST stand in solidarity with Ahrar al-Sham if it gets attacked. This cannot be stressed enough.

2) Jaish al-Fatah were repeatedly bombed by the US long before Russia’s intervention for precisely the reason that it did not respect the operational red lines that the US had imposed on other rebel coalitions, notably the Southern Front (with regards to the extent of military campaigns undertaken, such as taking over the entirety of Idlib and proceeding onto Latakia). They were not attacked because they were “extremist”, as we could see in the bombing of even its non-ideological (FSA) components. The same fate could be expected of factions that do not accept the regime-relegitimising “political solution”.

(It is also important to note that any distinctions between attacking the FSA or other rebel groups by the US should be made essentially obsolete, as the vast majority of the 150 or so rebels killed by the US coalition were likely to have been “FSA” at one point in time, and departed it due to a combination of poor funding & lack of operational independenc, and the US fully knows this)

3) The US has not “been defeated” by Russia in Syria, and not even remotely. Rusian strikes in Syria came *right off the back* of an intensification of US bombing against Jaish al-Fatah. [This again betrays a lack of understanding of Russia’s rise being indicative of a return to a “Cold War”, when it is in reality much more reminiscent of a return to a 19th century – not 20th century – world order, in which imperialist relations are based primarily on *geopolitical expansion* not on ideological competition (though the USSR was of course still an imperialist power); this was a form of relationship which routinely entailed ‘competitor alliances’ between ostensibly adversarial powers when dictated by the common interest (in this case, an anti-Islam “War on Terror”)]. For the follower of the Syrian context it is not a stretch to say that the US may have directly (& covertly) requested Russian strikes on the Syrian rebels (incidentally even before this began it was directly wondered whether this would occur), after seeing that its strikes were insufficient to stop Jaish al-Fatah’s advances (requiring a much larger operation, which is what has happened – with Russia’s blitzes hitting everything liberated, military targets or civilian installations and infrastructures – Jaish al-Fatah’s advances have grinded to a halt). Even if the US had not “directly” requested Russian intervention, they had already sent a clear signal to Russia that bombing mainstream Syrian rebels was fair game.

The fact that the US continues to block Arab provided anti-aircraft missiles from the revolutionary forces 3 months into Russia’s massacres should pay put to any idea of the US trying to draw Russia into an “Afghanistan”. That the Russian airstrikes have come with US approval, tacit or requested is beyond dispute.

[Note: there is a reason I focus on US policy in my analyses rather than Russia, because it – not the Russians – is the real powerbroker of the Syrian war (on a level playing field the rebellion would’ve succeeded without a shadow of the doubt, possessing both a greater manpower and popular base than the regime – the fact that there is not a level playing field is due less to Russian and Iranian support for the Syrian government as it is to the US limitations on the provision of anything approaching an equal level from Qatar, Saudi and Turkey)]

4) US policy in Syria has never been to support a *revolutionary movement*, but to support an *opposition movement*. This cannot be stressed enough. The US has never called for the collapse or “downfall of the regime” (indeed it has called for precisely the opposite), it has called for Assad’s negotiated resignation. Whilst I believe that Assad will probably step down, I also sincerely believe that even if he didn’t the US would much more likely accept his remaining (and the so-called political embarrassment that comes with that) than his forcing out by a seriously enroaching rebellion. US policy has been to reach a *settled rebellion* (or to settle the rebellion), not a *successful rebellion*.

[Incidentally I do not think it is a coincidence that the SNC (though not regime collaborators a la the PA in Palestine for example are nonetheless essentially the indigenous US front for Syrian policy, regardless of any potentially well-meaning intentions) possess as relatively a tame name as the National Coalition for OPPOSITION and Revolutionary forces, its tone perhaps sets out a political compromise from the very beginning (a much less radical name incidentally than a revolutionary council/higher command), though I may be reading too much into this. Its structure though of course was as essentially a negotiating opposition coalition rather than a revolutionary leadership structure/government-in-waiting (indeed the SNC’s Interim Syrian Government is not recognised by the US)]

Although this was clear to Syrian revolutionaries at least from a couple of years ago, John Kerry’s statements that he does not see the Syrian Army or the regime as his enemy, reducing all the problems, all the massacres, all the genocidal carpet bombings to the figure of Assad himself, are of course completely ludicrous and indicative.

5) In any political solution I believe the choice of the flag adopted will hold much more than symbolic value. I do not believe the revolutionary flag will be adopted and find it much more likely that the regime flag remains in place (of course there is a compromise flag which was used by Syria during the 60s as well as Iraq later on which essentially combines the two – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Syria… – but I think the regime’s flag is likely to stay)

A 5 minute guide on debunking the notion “Syria is not about Assad not wanting to give up power”

[From FB post]

A 5 minute guide to debunk the notion that Syria’s conflict is not to do with Assad not wanting to give up power:

– Lets assume that there is literally no indigenous Syrian opposition (even though Assad of course acknowledged that there is and has the “harbouring” of “millions” of his population, but lets assume otherwise). Lets assume that every single “attack” the Syrian regime/state (one of the same in the context of Syria) have been subjected to has been an Israeli invasion, lets assume that all the destruction in the country is because of an Israeli airforce. Lets assume that all the destruction in Syria is because of Israel (note: it was Israel that suggested and brokered the chemical weapons deal in 2013 that spared the regime from Obama’s “punitive strikes” – but lets put that aside).

Now considering the scale of the destruction and humanitarian crisis, surely any regime that’s so miserably failed to defend the country against such an “attack” would be expected to make changes in leadership, resignations, etc. When Egypt was defeated in 1967 (in 6 days, not 5 years) Gamal Abdel Nasser came out on national TV and offered his resignation (be it a bluff or otherwise, he did it). If they were truly “patriotic” that is, they would not be able to sit in front of their people with a face betraying anything other than shame and utter abashedness at what’s happened to their country – the shame Nasser showed on his face in his speech. What you have with Assad though, is someone who STILL looks utterly relaxed and cracks jokes 5 years on his country’s utter destruction. Compare that even to Saddam, who would appear genuinely troubled when interviewed with Western media, and would implore them to change policy (again this does not take away from the fact that he was a egotistical melgomaniac as well).

Now unless there is someone who seriously thinks that the Assad’s regime’s “resistance” to this Israeli attack has been successful, this leaves only one option – that the scale of the humanitarian disaster isn’t really that bad, which is *why* the Syrian regime does not go on about the sheer scale of the disaster in the country, even though it would presumably further its “this is what the West and Israel are doing” narrative – it tries to hide it with “come have fun in summer” PR campaigns.

In other words – admitting the humanitarian disaster either means that 1) you have a government whose failure to stand up to its enemies entailing the worst humanitarian catastrophe (nakba) since WW2 could only be put in the most humungous epic failures in military history.

2) You have a government that is actually carrying out this humanitarian disaster.

And this is why the Syrian regime hides the scale of the humanitarian disaster, because even if you follow its lie of a narrative, of a conspiracy by those who’ve actually protected its continued, albeit more and more pathetic existence, it still leaves them entirely deficient and indeed completely emasculated.

This is unlike, note, Saddam’s Iraq during the 90s – though he too was a melgomaniac who wouldn’t give up power even if his whole people suffered and starved (imperialism needs melgomaniacs, have no doubt), his state routinely showed the humanitarian catastrophe (malnutrition, children being born with deformed limbs etc.) that came out of the US-led decade of economic embargo in the country which killed a million Iraqis (half of them children according to the UN).

Because his state was truly under “Western attack” in that instance. When has the Syrian government ever showed pictures of the emaciated figures of those under siege (even lets say by the Israeli proxy terrorists) on its media?

Of course the reality is that it is not a coincidence that the areas which the Syrian regime lost control of happen to be the areas that were the centres of protest against him in 2011 – Idlib, the capital of the revolution, Dara’a, the working-class half of Aleppo, the riff-raff suburbs of Damascus, as well of course as all the smaller cities, towns and village of Syria’s provincial countrysides (countrysides of Homs, Hama, Idlib, Dara’a, Aleppo as well of course as Raqqa, Hassakah and Deir al-Zor – note the only countryside which the rebels have very limited presence in is Latakia). The idea that the regime could have lost these wide swathes of territory when it is armed by a state-of-the-arts military (given all the developed Russian weaponry the US could ever bestow on anyone, as its media routinely brags) as well as an unchallenged airforce, were it not for insane popular resistance against the odds is as delusional as the idea that this conflict ultimately does not boil down to the reluctance of a family, representing a clan, representing (unfortunately) a sect to lose power, and their inflicting of absolute horrors to maintain their ultimate superiority.

“You’re either with us or with the terrorists” – say Bush’s “leftist” disciples

John Ross, “Socialist Action”, arguing for “imperialist intervention” to back Syrian regime.

“Everything else is just empty talk or aids ISIS”

http://www.socialistaction.net/International/Middle-East/Syria/Boris-Johnson-s-correct-choice-on-Syria-it-is-necessary-to-fight-on-the-side-of-Assad-Russia-against-ISIS.html

Never ceases to amaze me incidentally how easy Stop the War types don’t mind platforming/agreeing with Iraq War supporters when they meet on Syria – goes to show just how emotionally disconnected they are from the decisions and moral responsibilities of “Imperialism” and how there might be an element of viewing this all as just a game.

(Note: Not necessarily including “Elliot Murphy” below as a Bush disciple (a la John Ross, John Wight and the various other War on Terror leftist hawks) –  don’t know him or the extent of his views – just sharing the exchange)

(Crispin Blunt was a consistent supporter of the Iraq War, though he claims that the aftermath shows he was mistaken. But has he ever publicly apologised for it? (at least before being hosted on STW platform?) I have asked him this directly and am awaiting a response – if he has publicly apologised please let me know)

(Updates – Responses)

 

The reality is that there are effectively 4 positions on Syria: pro-Iraq, anti-Assad (you can call these “genuine neocons”, a la John Mccain – increasingly rare), pro-Iraq, effectively pro-Assad (e.g. Hillary Benn, whose record of voting for “imperialist intervention” failed only in 2013 whilst Assad’s genocide was ongoing), anti-Iraq, effectively pro-Assad (STW elements, authoritarian left), anti-Iraq, anti-Assad (us).

 

How the US is playing both sides of the Syrian War: Exposing the US’s real and duplicitous policy in Syria

[This piece is still to be fully referenced but bear with me, it is sourced from things read over the duration of 4 years, unfortunately not everything’s been bookmarked and so some things may take time to find]

How the US is playing both sides of the Syrian War, and how Iran-Iraq, not “Afghanistan”, is the more appropriate analogy:

Syria is surrounded by 5 countries, 4 of which are providing weaponry (and in some cases) to the sides in the conflict.

All 4 of are strong US allies. These are Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon.

Jordan and Turkey act as conduits for the provision of Arab weaponry to the Syrian opposition. Turkey has also acted as conduit for the provision of foreign fighters.

Despite being American allies (with very strong American influence), Lebanon and Iraq act as conduits for the provision of thousands of foreign loyalist militiamen and weaponry. US support has been redoubled, not sanctioned to both these states.

The US has provided direct weaponry to only one side in the conflict, the YPG. It has coordinated airstrikes with 3 sides, the YPG, the Syrian regime and single-digit remnants of the 54 trained “rebels” (who signed declarations not to fight the regime) with remit to call in airstrikes against ISIS.

The issue of the US “vetting” of Syrian rebels is often mentioned as example of the US supporting the rebellion, when it is the complete opposite. The “vetting” process is a (bureaucratic, stalling & time-eating) limitation imposed on Saudi and Qatar on which factions they could provide anti-tank guided (TOW) missiles for in Syria. Though these states have this weaponry in stock they are bound by the agreement with which they purchased them to attain US approval before moving them onto a third party. Even after the “vetting” the US has still limited the quantities of anti-tank missiles these Arab states could provide.

The vetting is exclusive to the anti-tank provisions, which is why these Gulf states have supported other non-vetted factions as well (like the Islamic Front), just not with anti-tank missiles (I’ve yet to see a video of the Islamic Front using a TOW for example, despite known Qatari support). The vast majority of Syrian rebels are not “vetted” and consequently most do not have these TOWs. All of the Syrian rebels do not have MANPADs (anti-aircraft guided missiles) despite their presence in both Saudi and Qatari stock, due to the absolute and unwavering US refusal (something which should be considered by those who cite Afghanistan) to provide them – and not because they may fall in the hands of extremists, the ridiculous excuse they use when the entire Iraqi Army’s weaponry fell into the hands of ISIS within two offensives and the US still poured billions of dollars more into the government after it – but because they would be a complete game changer to the military balance in Syria.

When the statement is made that “the Syrian regime would’ve collapsed had it not been for the US” as Al-Jazeera’s Faysal al-Qassem routinely says nowadays – this is not an exaggerative or emotive statement. Not only did the US overwhelmingly limit the quality and quantities of weaponry allowed through Jordan and Turkey between 2012-2015 (during 2012 this blockade was at its strongest and the rebellion was overwhelmingly self-arming), it imposed no such restrictions whatsoever on its allies in Iraq and Lebanon. To add insult to injury the US declared a variety of indigenous resistance groups in Syria to be effectively “terrorists” and bombed them, whilst foreign loyalist groups were completely spared. Hezbollah was taken off the terrorist list and not a single of the tens of Shia loyalist groups were targeted. Iraq and Lebanon, two states which were essentially emeshed with the militias, had redoubled support and arming (in the billions) and their prime patron, Iran, instead of having tightened sanctions (as would presumably be the case if the US wanted to undermine the regime) was in fact sanctions-relieved.

To emphasise just the extent of perverse US cynicism in Syria – it has used the fact that it is supposedly a supporter of the rebellion to limit the supplies going to  the rebellion by putting pressure on its pro-rebellion allies – yet has not applied any such pressure whatsoever on its allies on the regime side because of the excuse “We are not part of that side” – even whilst they support the Iraqi and Lebanese states with billions. This is the sheer degree of the US’s cynicism in Syria when one gets to study its details and goes beyond the empty statements (although even the statements of course stated that the Syrian rebels could not succeed and the Syrian state has to remain in tact, whether with or without Assad as its head).

The Syrian regime’s strength was always derived of a minority army (founded by the French that way incidentally – the Syrian Arab Army’s former name was the Troupes Speciales, a colonial proxy army founded by the French and made exclusive to minorities in Syria, in particular the Alawites to “divide and conquer”, keeping out the pro-independence Sunni majority). Its Sunni conscripts do not like to fight, they try to escape or defect, and when captured by rebels almost beg to say that they really had no choice (unlikes Alawite prisoners) and speak in a way that show clear support and knowledge of the rebellion, whilst the army’s elite Alawite base has been wiped out – the Alawites have sacrificed a third of their young men for the Assad family.

So when we say that the US is the main reason for the regime’s continued survival, it is taking this in mind – because the regime is now completely reliant on foreign militias that have come through US allies, and whilst it was long said, in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that the Syrian Army “is on the verge of collapse”, this was never the case until recently – it was never dominated by foreign militias and its operations were still led by pro-regime Syrians. This changed in particular this year when the regime’s Syrian manpower clearly showed that it had gone and was now being led in operations by foreign fighters. The Syrian Army would collapse within a year without them. And why? Because of a long-known rule: minority regimes do not fare well in civil wars, because sooner or later they run out of manpower – a problem that does not exist for the almost exclusively-based indigenous rebels. This is what has happened in Syria yet the regime survives precisely because foreign militias have entered to ensure its survival, with the direct approval of the US. This is the reason for the sudden haste to find a “political solution” in Syria.

Jordan’s position vis a vis the Syrian rebellion of course is (and has always been) a very ambiguous one (it denies supporting the rebellion and has maintained links, including intelligence links, with Damascus). Jordan is not a supporter of the Arab Spring, yet is more amenable to popular pressure (the MB is dominant in its parliament) than the other monarchies, and represents the more “constitutional” of these absolutist monarchies. Yet nonetheless, the Jordanian monarchy has refused to sign a statement condemning Russian airstrikes in favour of the Syrian regime, and has drawn up a “terror list” which includes some of the strongest factions of the Syrian rebellion, including former FSA factions (Liwa al-Tawhid) and independent FSA-type democratic-Islamist groups (Nour al-Zenki brigades), as well as the Islamic Front (the “terror list”, it should be noted, completely excluded the foreign Shia militias fighting on the side of the regime, such as Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and others).

Jordan’s support for the Syrian rebellion has been essentially in line with the American policy, and essentially represents the only really reflective/proxy example of American policy from its pro-rebel regional allies – of allowing limited, “reformist” scale opposition to the Syrian regime but nothing remotely approaching “revolutionary” scale opposition. Whilst both Saudi (since Salman’s ascension to power in particular) and Qatar want to forcefully bring down the regime, the US and Jordan do not, rather wanting a “negotiated, diplomatic solution” whereby Assad himself “is convinced” or “pressured” to step down but not forced or brought to collapse, and whereby the rest of his regime remains in place. This is often expressed in the US statement, “there is no military solution, there must be a negotiated solution” (which they have said since 2012, when American policy was against, and blocked – through Jordan – the arming of the rebellion altogether when it was at its height).

The Military Operations Command in Jordan has been well-known for its refusal to authorise various offensives in Syria’s south, most recently those which aimed to take control of the provincial capital of Dara’a (the still-stalled Operation Southern Storm). These MOC limitations [the MOC exists in Turkey as well but is much less influential, due to the lesser strength (if still considerable) of the FSA in north Syria and the predominance of independent FSA (& non-FSA) groups, who either still wanted to operate under the umbrella of the FSA but maintain operational autonomy (such as the Levant Front or the Fastaqim Kama Umert gathering), or split altogether from the official FSA structure to gain operational independence from the limitations imposed upon it] have been crucial in keeping Damascus by and large free from threat from the South – Damascus has always been a red line and an enforced one: the US and Jordan directly combined in 2012 to force the withdraw of an “unauthorised” rebel offensive on Damascus in the summer of 2012, with John Kerry pathetically saying at the time “We are not going to militarise the situation and do not want escalation”.

This is incidentally why the emergence of the independent and rapidly conquering Jaish al-Fatah coalition was repeatedly bombed by the USA long before Russia’s intervention – it is indeed not an exaggeration whatsoever to say that the US is not unlikely to have covertly requested Russia’s heavy handed intervention to carry out a role it itself could not do (those who take scepticism of the idea and believe there is a “cold war” (despite there being no ideological conflict whatsoever between the US and Federation Russia) completely do not understand the nature of inter-imperialist collaboration in multipolar worlds (see only the 19th century as the best example of how viciously competing geopolitical powers routinely dealt with one another)). Jaish al-Fatah, which had been advancing unimpeded from Idlib province into central and coastal Syria, has now been stopped by Russia’s intervention.

This is also why the main rebel faction in Damascus’s environs, Jaish al-Islam with its leader Zahran Alloush, who have been routinely subject to accusations of “treachery”, regime ties and “not opening fronts” against Damascus by revolutionary supporters – has been relatively favoured by the US and Jordan, not least for prioritising keeping ISIS outside of Damascus much more (allegedly) than troubling it (this is not to neglect his group’s fighting against the regime, but questions have been raised as to whether he has launched the full capabilities of his group against the regime in Damascus), and for having declared support for the “political solution” and thus spared the “terrorist” labeling (despite his group’s actual greater ideological conservatism than others put on the list). The terrorist labelling is not about terrorism, but about putting on those factions seen to be unlikely to cooperate with any political solution (even if they were ideologically moderate).

Israel has not acted as a conduit but has repeatedly struck Hezbollah, bitch-slapping a competitor whilst its down. However people misinterpret the nature of Israel’s strikes on Hezbollah. Israel’s strikes in Hezbollah are not meant to empower the opposition, they are meant purely to hurt a historical competitor Israel for years routinely hit Egypt as well even after the peace treaty with it. It is what Israel does, it is an aggressive fascistic state. If it were up to Israel it would be hitting/weakening every army around it, regardless of the type of relations it has with them (it sees no real friends but “bulwark” rulers who are accommodated). In this case it has actually punitively broken Hezbollah and broken any remnant notion of “resistance” – Hezbollah no longer responds to Israeli airstrikes with rockets onto Israel.

As predicted, Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian war ultimately turned it more and more into a clone of the side they came to help (revealing a blatant sectarian brand in its slogans, mass and indiscriminate shelling, etc.), in this case catching the Syrian state’s flu of non-response to Israeli attacks. Israel never objected to Hezbollah’s entry in the war, in fact it probably welcomed it. In Syria Hezbollah has been legitimate target practice for Israel’s aggressive tendencies (since no peace treaty was ever reached with it, even if there was pretty much the same seperation of forces agreement with Hezbollah post-2000 that Syria enjoyed with Israel since 1974, whereby attacks were not permitted during this period from Southern Lebanon, barring in 2006).

Yet simultaneously Israel has been very careful not to alter too much in Syria. When a minor flare-up occurred between Israel and Hezbollah a few months ago after the targeting of a Hezbollah convoy and the killing of one of its leaders, earning on that occasion a Hezbollah response, both sides hastened to communicate (through proxy) to one another that they did not want an escalation in hostilities, and things eventually cooled down. Of course Israel has since violated that understanding and repeatedly struck Hezbollah, but notedly Hezbollah has not since responded. Israel essentially broke Hezbollah, confirming (or pushing over) its transformation into an sect-nationalist power from an ostensibly anti-Zionist/imperialist one (whether this was a transformation or whether Hezbollah has always been like this under the surface, as informed by past and present comments by Nasrallah that their allegiance is and has always been one of unquestionable obedience to the Velayet-e Faqih “Providence of the Jurist” – i.e. Shia Iran’s Supreme Guide, is a matter of debate). Thus Hezbollah has been claimed to have coordinated with US drone strikes against Jabhat al-Nusra in the Qalamoun.

Most importantly however, it was Israel that brokered the US-Russian 2013 Chemical Weapons Deal that “spared” the Syrian regime, and in fact had suggested it (though I maintain that these proposed “strikes” were limited (even if they were going to happen, which I did not believe they were) and the threat of them was overwhelmingly to scare Assad into giving up his chemical stash, for Western fear of no longer being able to control them (and consequently falling into the “wrong hands”) – which worked). This is something that has been amazingly under-reported despite its implications.

 

[Uploaded – 17/12/2015: Since the initial writing of this post John Kerry has come out declaring the 5-year end-point/terminus of US Syria policy, with a gluttony of statements – most importantly amongst which were “We are not seeking regime change” (I do not set too much weight in American rhetoric and statements and rather prefer to examine their actions, but others do). He has also criticised those who threaten bringing about the “collapse” of the regime (as opposed to a negotiated resignation of only Assad himself)]

13/12/2015: Massacre in Douma دوما تباد

14/12/2015..

After Russia’s jets missiled the rebel area repeatedly, Assad’s jets followed it up to attack the Syrian Civil Defence rescuers (“double-tap” bombing).

“Stories beyond expression”

Syrian mother above the remains of her son’s lifeless body.

“I want Mama”

 

 

 

 

 

According to Syrian Network (not Observatory) for Human Rights, monitoring group on the ground. Note that Syrian Armed opposition groups are ranked higher than Russians, ISIS, unidentified, Kurds, and Nusra (which makes sense due to their size and duration of fighting) so please lets not mention bias. For more statistics over types of casualties, see https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.937032056388808.1073741840.607756062649744&type=3

According to the Violations Documentation Centre – who only draw up statistics from casualties with verified names (hence the much lower death toll). The founder of the VDC as well as three other of its activists (the “Douma 4“: Razan Zaitouneh, Samira Khalil, Wael Hamadeh, and Nazem Hammadi) were kidnapped allegedly by a rebel faction, not the regime – so again, lets not have allegations of “pro-rebel” bias.

 

The Syrian genocide continues whilst Assad is propped up as a “transitional” leader, whilst the world diplomats state that “he must stay“, whilst US continues its tap-drip weapons embargo policy of handicapping the Syrian resistance, and the Arab states’ cowardly obligement.