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.


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