Who Sabotaged The Syrian Ceasefire?


It’s been five years since the start of the civil war in Syria, so Western media informs us. In fact, there’s been unrest in Syria for generations, and many wars both civil, and against the French occupiers after WW1. In the 1970s, the Muslim Brotherhood, a powerful Sunni faction, organized a series of armed revolts against the secular government – notably after 1973 when the then President Hafez al-Assad rewrote the Constitution to state that henceforth the President of Syria was no longer required to be a Muslim.

The country had suffered countless murders and violence between Sunni and Shia elements throughout Assad’s reign, and nothing changed when his son, Bashar, succeeded him in 2000, despite attempts by the new president to introduce political reforms. Sunni elements, resenting Assad’s Alawite connections, constantly disrupted his reform policies, resulting in the imprisonment of many leading activists for fomenting revolution.

It’s likely the undercurrent of discontent would have continued in this manner for many years were it not for intervention by the U.S. administration of George W. Bush. After the attacks of 9/11 powerful elements within the Bush administration set out to destabilize the Syrian government via a prolonged media campaign, increasing sectarian tensions, and financing of political dissidents. Both the Bush administration, and later the Obama administration were, and still are, guilty of providing arms and finance to rebel jihadist groups bent on overthrowing the Assad government.

The U.S. has fostered a policy in Syria similar to that carried out in Libya and Iraq – the overthrow of the leadership to achieve a further foothold in the Middle East as part of its determined domination and subjugation of the region. In both latter cases, Libya and Iraq, the result has been an influx of Islamic extremist militants and the rise of ISIS.

Blinkered vision, or perhaps simply the arrogant attitude that American military dominance must win out in the end, has caused the Obama regime to continue support of anti-Assad rebels. This, despite a secret (leaked) report in 2013 by a joint U.S. army and intelligence group, which stated that the overthrow of Assad would result in catastrophic consequences, due to the U.S. government supported rebel groups being composed of jihadists intent on imposing Sharia law, and amalgamating with ISIS, to claim the country as part of the new caliphate. This report has been totally ignored by the Obama administration:

Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’ [1]

In contrast, the Russian leadership has recognised the chaos that would ensue throughout Syria if Assad were deposed, and has chosen to support the Assad regime. U.S. interests have made much propaganda from this fact, painting the Russian attitude as anti-West and accusing Vladimir Putin of fomenting another cold war. Putin is demonized as public enemy number one, when in fact the true enemies of freedom and democracy reside much closer to home – within Washington, D.C. and the U.S. government.

So-called “hawks” both inside and outside government have been pushing for U.S. control of the Middle East for many years. 9/11 was a dream come true for them as it provided the excuse to invade both Iraq and Afghanistan. The resulting rise in Islamic extremism, as both countries collapsed into anarchy, provided further excuses for attacking Libya, and now, Syria.

All these military interventions were carried out under the guise of “spreading American values of freedom and democracy.” It’s a sad fact that many Americans believe this propaganda, but the evidence belies it. America is hellbent on empire building. There are two reasons: to further strengthen its position in the world and open up new markets to its corporate interests, and to severely weaken Russia’s standing, and that of China and the upcoming superpower, India.

Russia has been in America’s sights since the end of WW2 and the U.S. was instrumental in the collapse of the Soviet Union by providing weaponry, including ‘Stinger’ missiles, to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the ten year Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s – a deliberate policy by the Reagan administration to manufacture a “Vietnam-style” bog-down of the Russians that would severely limit their capabilities elsewhere.

The recent diplomatic effort by John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, to produce a ceasefire in Syria is to be applauded. Without cooperation between the two nations this war is no more than a lethal chess game with the Syrian people as the pawns. Unfortunately, there are those who have no wish for a ceasefire to succeed. America’s recent bombing of Syrian army forces, ostensibly by mistake, may well have been a deliberate attempt by the Pentagon to thwart the ceasefire agreement.

Equally, the destruction of the aid convoy last week was a deliberate act purposed to thwart peace moves. America and Russia accused each other of being the perpetrator. One must ask who had most to gain? America is arming Syrian rebels in an attempt to bring about the overthrow of president Assad. Its media, and that of its allies, constantly demand, “Assad must go!”

Russia, on the other hand, has much to gain from ending the war with Assad still in power. It has a naval base at Tartus on the Mediterranean, leased to it by the Assad regime and has been an ally of the Syrian government since 1944. There would appear to be no logical reason for Russia to wreck the ceasefire, but powerful factions in Washington would be happy to see it sabotaged:

The Obama administration has proposed a new agreement on Syria to the Russian government that would deepen military cooperation between the two countries against some terrorists, in exchange for Russia getting the Assad regime to stop bombing US-supported rebels…Under the proposal, which was personally approved by President Obama and supported by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the American and Russian militaries would cooperate at an unprecedented level, something the Russians have sought for a long time…

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was opposed to this plan, officials said, but was ultimately compelled to go along with the president’s decision.

For many inside and outside the administration who are frustrated with the White House’s decision-making on Syria, the new plan is fatally flawed for several reasons. One administration official complained that the plan contains no consequences for the Russians or the Assad regime if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. Fifty-one US diplomats signed a dissent letter this month calling on the White House to use targeted military force against the Assad regime as a means of increasing the pressure on Assad and giving the US real leverage. [2]

Certainly, in public Ashton Carter is ‘compelled to go along with the president’s decision’, but he’s a ‘hawk’ and an advocate of preventive war. There are known rifts between the Pentagon and Obama and in the chaos that is Syria ‘mistakes’ can be made, as evidenced by that convenient aerial attack on Assad’s forces – an act specifically called for by fifty-one (so-called) U.S. diplomats only two months ago.

The last thing America’s ‘hawks’ want is an alliance with Russia. They would utilise any measures they could get away with to prevent it happening.

While the U.S. media has already conveniently judged Russia to be the instigator of the attack on the aid convoy, thus persuading most Americans and much of the Western world it’s a foregone conclusion, the facts tend to point a finger in the opposite direction. Of course, the U.S. media has never dealt in facts. Opinion-givers (often erroneously referred to as ‘experts’) are the mainstay of its news organisations and an ideal format for the spread of propaganda.

The fate of Syria and its people hangs suspended between two powerful adversaries. In between is the jihadist nightmare of ISIS. If, as America’s hawks demand, Bashar-al-Assad is defeated, the result would be an escalation of civil war and the probable establishment of an ISIS-controlled government, with its accompaniment of torture, execution, and sexual enslavement. The only way to prevent it would be a huge U.S. force invading the country and taking control. That would initiate a serious conflict with Russia. Perhaps that’s what the ‘hawks’ have in mind, but it’s unlikely the American people would agree.

Whatever the eventual outcome in Syria, it’s the pawns that will lose out in the end.

[1] “Military to Military Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war” London Review of Books, pages 11-14, January 7th 2016

[2] “Barack Obama plans new military alliance with Russia in Syria” Independent, June 30th 2016