Know Your Limits: Syria 103

An important rule of good blogging is not to comment on matters which you do not understand. An important rule of my own life is not to try to understand everything, as no one man can. I have never tried to master the intricacies of Syrian internal politics, (or Lebanese for that matter). Assad senior perpetrated atrocities on a grand scale without ever getting much attention from the West. Hopes that Assad junior would make things much better seemed to come to nothing. If the revolutionary tide swept away the Assad crew, I should be pleased.

I do not know in depth why Homs is a hotbed of opposition, and what the tribal divisions are. I do know that Saudi Arabia – the apostle state of repression – is funding and arming the Free Syrian Army, which is anything but a good sign. I am very interested that the BBC reports bombings in Damascus as false flag bombings by the Assad regime, when I found that to note false flag bombings by UK/US ally Karimov in Tashkent was treated as crazed conspiracy theory.

But what I understand most is the diplomacy. On Libya, NATO took a UN Security Council Resolution authorising a no fly zone, and twisted it as cover to wage all out aerial warfare on one side in a civil war. Long after pro-Gadaffi sources lost any serious offensive capability, NATO were carpet-bombing Sirte, killing many times more people than Assad has killed in Homs to date.

If given an inch you take 500 miles, you should not be surprised when in future nobody will give you half an inch. That is the context of Russian and Chinese veto of any UNSCR authorising action against Syria. The total disregard for the spirit and precise wording of the resolutions on Libya to which Russia and China agreed, has stymied the chances of future united security council action, perhaps for many years. I actually predicted this, blogging on 5 October 2011

“Having absolutely abused UNSCR 1973, plainly NATO was seriously damaging the ability of the Security Council to work together in future, and making quite certain that China and Russia would not for many years agree to any SC Resolutions which might be open to similar abuse.”

All the sham indignation about a consequence the US, UK and France so directly brought upon themselves, and which was so obviously predictable, is pathetic.

It is fascinating the way this has been presented in the media, with graphics on all the major news channels showing the national flags of the thirteen countries who voted for the resolution, compared to the two against. There is some interest here – Azerbaijan is certainly a surprise and will be causing real heartache in the Kremlin. But the language from Clinton on the irresponsible use of the veto and on need for action outwith the United Nations, is completely out of order.

The United States has stymied UN action against Israeli aggression on numerous occasions, very often vetoing alone. I do not recall the BBC ever showing a graphic of all the national flags on one side versus just the stars and stripes on the other. Funny that. The threat of a veto is usually enough to stop a motion being tabled, but I am fairly confident in saying that the USA has exercised its veto to protect Israel on over thirty occasions. That US prevention of international action includes over Operation Cast Lead, not so long ago, where again the Israelis were killing far more civilians than are dying in the current – still deplorable – assault on Homs.

The drive for another war in the Middle East, from the same old suspects who profit from such wars, is relentless and pretty well any war of opportunity will do. What is happening in Syria is sad in its violence, and also hopeful insofar as some of it is motivated by a genuine spark of freedom. Those who purport to believe that internal conflict anywhere is best resolved by us bombing the hell out of a country and/or invading it, are a combination of cranks and cynical profiteers.

What worries me most is not the turmoil in Syria; it is the vultures circling over it.

103 thoughts on “Know Your Limits: Syria

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  • Les

    It is all about dominating the middle East. The West is losing its ecomonic power to China and India. Aas a result the West (actually the USA)wants to have control of oil and to do that the USA needs a destabalised middle East. OIL OIL that is all that matters

  • Jay

    Please find following link on Gaddafi.

    I heard Gaddafi had Billions ready to spend on infrastructure in Africa and he also was building a large aquaduct system for irrigation in the region for agriculture and self suffiency.

    Statesment make policies for future generations
    Politicians make policies for their next term.

    Apparently Assad lives in a modest neighborhood and drives his kids to school, Or at least he probably used to..
    Check out the official Syrian website it looks quite normal to me.

  • Frank Fitzwalter

    A media pundit was pronouncing on how terrible that Syria was killing its own people. I presume he would prefer that we did the killing as in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As for the boy, William Hague, we should equip him with a combat suit, rifle, and a parachute and send him into Syria. He appears to have forgotten totally the mess we created in Iraq where women are now giving birth to monsters thanks to the use of depleted uranium munitions. How do you spell hypocrite?

  • Fedup

    US and co conspirators have been having an easy time of it in the UNSC for the duration of the last decade. These having set the agenda, then bribed, coerced, and lied their way into resolutions, that in turn have been interpreted in their most widest possible, to form a protective umbrella/ permit for wars to be waged on weaker nations. The last decade started with the Iraq resolutions getting passed in UNSC, which the famous John Negroponte, and Jeremy Greenstock both intorcuding a new word into dictionary refuted any “automacity” for war built into the said resolution. However as we recall the attacks on Iraq went ahead because French were likely to Veto the attacks, as Mr. Blair put it.
    Hence the indignations of the current batch of warmongers, is akin to the reactions of bully suddenly finding the tables turned and gets smacked in the mouth; furious, disbelief. Therefore the full gamut of emotional vocabulary we witness along with the promises of fire and brimstone to be poured on those frustrating the mournful bully engaged on his routine errand.
    So far as Syria is concerned just take a note of the “Free Syrians” interviewed on the telly. These seem to have only one primary wish; imposition of a no fly zone across the Syrian airspace! Fact that so far there has been no reports of use of air power by the legitimate Syrian government against the said “Free Syrians”, it beggars belief how could so called Syrian Nationals wish for a group of foreign jet jockeys to streak at will across the Syrian skies, bombing the place back into stone age? Alas the make believe civil war that ought to be quelled urgently by the selfless US, UK, NATO, and token Arab forces, arriving as the cavalry did in the old cowboy movies, is just that, an illusion, as in “wag the dog”. (recommend watching this film)
    The facts before us are; yet another war, that is to be fought on the cheap, using local rabble as the cannon fodder, in conjunction with the application of aerial bombardment, on the way to the Planet US. Fact is by now it is patently clear to any observer, US will not stop, unless it is stopped, as the first phase of operations begin with Russia and China, the questions remain, will there be a cold or a hot war?
    PS those thinking it is only Iran that is in the cross hairs ought to be taking note of the Russian demonstrations against Putin’s re-election.
    PPS for those progressive souls here is the The Revolution Business – World

  • Chris2

    The “west” is playing a very dangerous game here by employing its clients in the Gulf and Jordan to attack Syria and facilitate the infiltration of fifth columnists. Sooner or later it is going to become clear again to Arabs that either all of them wrest independence from the Empire or none will.

    The Gulf princelings and Saudis in particular are ill advised to sponsor uprisings of any sort anywhere, even when they are smokescreens for coups. And Syria is ill advised to maintain its pretense of normal relations with its enemies: traffic over the border with Jordan, for example, goes both ways and for every Syrian opposed to Assad there are Jordanians equally unhappy with the Hashemite King. How long can it be before snipers and bombers start appearing in Amman protests against tyranny and servility to the foreigner?

    As to the Gulf, it is often pointed out how well bribed the locals are, but part of that regime of bribery consists of employing a badly treated cheap labour force of immigrant workers. The “west’s” best friends are sitting on a powder keg of dispossessed workers in an Aladdin’s Cave of wealth, and their confidence in their ability to survive is largely based on the guarantees the US and its satraps have given them to preserve them all, as the Kuwaiti rulers were preserved.

    No doubt Genghis Khan’s descendant in Tashkent felt the same confidence that the victorious powers of the Great War would easily preserve his patrimony. Attacking revolutions of any kind is just as likely to spread them and strengthen them as suppress them.
    Whether Assad survives or not is not of much importance; it is very possible that he will be swept aside by a revolution aimed at driving out the invaders and their sinister foreign allies. ‘

    The entire Arab world is in ferment, and increasingly angry with the “west.” Nobody believes for a moment that the motives of the imperialists are not at least as bad as those of the local tyrants. Washington knows this but does not care, having bought the racist Israeli nonsense that Arabs are cowards who can be made to submit to force. Hence these almost wholly military responses to an upsurge of Arab nationalism. They are pouring petrol on the flames.

  • Mary

    Syria is referred to 18 times in Oded Yinon’s Strategy for Israel translated by Israel Shahak. As relevant today as it was in the 80s.
    The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:
    1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.
    2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.
    3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.
    The notes by the author follow the text. To avoid confusion, I did not add any notes of my own, but have put the substance of them into this foreward and the conclusion at the end. I have, however, emphasized some portions of the text.

    Israel Shahak
    June 13, 1982


  • karlof1

    Today’s Pepe Escobar ATOL article features a long email excerpt from an eyewitness resident of Homs of which this is just a tiny excerpt: “The thing that we know fully well is that there are no army presence in Homs.” Then in the same publication, we have MK Bhadrakumar’s item and likens what we’re witnessing as a return of the Cold War’s “Proxy Wars” and provides a tidbit from former CIA agent Philip Giraldi:

    “Giraldi adds that the CIA analysts themselves are “skeptical regarding the approach to war”, as they know that the frequently cited United Nations account of civilians killed is based largely on rebel sources and uncorroborated. The CIA has “refused to sign off on the claims” of mass defections from the Syrian Army. Likewise, accounts of pitched battles between deserters and loyal soldiers “appear to be a fabrication, with few defections being confirmed independently”.

    But the email from Homs is quite telling about the lockstep lies emanating from Western electronic media and related governments, which is very similar to the lies they put forth when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and kept repeating depsite the truth being readily available. I think it best to look at electronic western media for the lies it’s spewing while looking for valid info elsewhere.

  • Anon the one and only

    What Assad is doing in Syria to his own people is wrong and evil (and has been so for many years). Turning a blind eye and doing nothing about it is also wrong – one can argue about what the right thing to do is, but many here are either in denial or worse, as Lloyd has already pointed out.

    As for Russia, it is worth bearing in mind the comment in Luke Harding’s book that one of the best places to get an understanding of how that state now works is from the novels of Mario Puzo. I don’t know as much about China but what little I hear suggests that their nomemklatura has pretty much gone the same way as that in the Soviet Union (including Uzbekistan please note Mr Murray).

  • Fedup

    “Niall Ferguson makes a sociopathic case for attack on Iran, while 4 journalists sit there passively’”
    The levels of literacy/optimism among that bunch is highly questionable, just because Niall Ferguson is hot foot back from Jerusalem delivering the talking points memo point by point, somehow does not make it true.
    Any attacks on Iran will kick start WWIII.

  • Fedup

    “What Assad is doing in Syria to his own people is wrong and evil”
    Are you a Syrian?
    What business of yours is it, how Assad treats his people?
    How were/are Iraqis/Afghanis treated by the US et al?
    What is the tally of deaths occurred in Libya before NATO, and after NATO intervention?
    Why Syria and not Isreal, Yemen, Bahrain, or Saudi?
    How much of Bozos, do you think we are; to buy your crap?

  • lysias

    I never read Mario Puzo’s novel, but isn’t it clear from the script of the movies that the parallel that was primarily at work was with American politicians?

  • Fedup

    The tape record of transactions between the Qatari Hamed bin Jasem and Russian envoy to UN Vitaly Churkin has been aried on French Channel two. The transaction is as follows;
    HbJ- Russia ought to agree with the anti Syrian resolution we are warning you against any probable veto.
    VC- You dare to speak to me again in this manner, and I promise there will not be any Qatar left for you to go back to.

  • oddie

    5 Feb: Novinite, Bulgaria: FM: US Army Bases in Bulgaria Won’t Be Used for Strike on Iran
    Mladenov was speaking ahead of Sunday’s visit to Sofia by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is set to discuss a number of security issues with Bulgarian leaders, including the situation in Iran and Syria.
    Over the week, Bulgarian media quoted anonymous Bulgarian government sources, who said that Secretary of State Clinton is expected to request that one of the 4 contracted US military bases in Bulgaria be open for use for an operation against Iran…
    The military base Bulgarian media mentioned was Bezmer in south-eastern Bulgaria, a transportation air force military facility…
    Mladenov has added that US-Bulgarian relations should not be reduced to defense and security matters, as ties and cooperation between the two countries are broader and deeper.

  • oddie

    6 Feb: National Geographic: Marianne Lavelle: Iran’s Undisputed Weapon: Power to Block the Strait of Hormuz
    The UAE’s oil minister said last month that the nation has nearly completed building the conduit from Habshan near Abu Dhabi’s onshore crude production complex to an offshore oil terminal in the emirate of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman. But the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline’s capacity would be 1.5 million barrels per day, or less than one-tenth of the current flow through the Strait of Hormuz. And the project, which has faced repeated delays, will not be operational until May or June.
    In fact, some analysts see May or June as a likely timeline for an Israeli attack on Iran, based in part on Barak’s signal that his nation would not be able to devote resources to an annual U.S.-Israel military exercise this spring…

  • oddie

    31 Jan: Financial Times: Iran keeps oil market guessing on Greece factor
    When the European Union announced an oil embargo on the country from July 1 – designed to give Greece, Spain and Italy time to find alternative suppliers – Iran responded with a threat to pre-empt the ban halting exports immediately…
    The most likely scenario is that Iran announces it would not sell oil to France, the UK and Germany – the trio behind the EU’s agreement to tighten sanctions on Iran. Tehran only sells token amounts of crude to the three countries after Total of France stopped earlier this month buying the 80,000 barrels a day it used to import from Iran…
    If Iran targets Greece, the economic consequences would spread far beyond the crude oil market, potentially hitting the European sovereign bond market and the euro…

  • conjunction

    Some bloggers above, notably Kevin Boyle and Martin, citing links to the Arab Council report, are coming to conclusions which do not reflect my reading of that report at all.
    Certainly the report, in its earlier sections, makes clear mention of armed groups now fighting the government. However the later part of the report, the ‘Evaluation’ makes it clear that this defiance of the government only arose because of excessive government repression of mass anti-government protests.
    My impression from reading the report is that the Council made a noble effort to act as intermediaries.
    Thanks to Writerman for an attempt to provide a nuanced overview.
    I have some sympathy for Syria, despite the long evidenced virulance of their repressive regime, because they are the only Arab state that has always showed unambiguous intolerance for US bullshit, going back many decades.
    Equally, as far as I know they only ever accepted Soviet aid strictly on their own terms. They are the only country in the Middle East which have always stood up to Israel where appropriate without talking about ‘wiping them out’ or anything like that, but adopting a measured position.
    But at the same time I believe that to claim all the opposition to the Assad regime comes from some fiendish unnamed foreign source is patently untrue, and opponents of US talk of involvement do themselves no favours by not considering the evidence carefully.

  • Mary

    The odd couple.
    Tuesday 07 February 2012
    Cable and Hague to be questioned over Middle East arms deals

    Two Cabinet ministers will be challenged today over fears that British-made weapons have been used to suppress dissidents in Bahrain and Egypt.
    Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, are to be tackled by MPs over arms sales worth more than £12m to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt in just three months.
    Ahead of their session with the Commons Committee on Arms Export Controls , Mr Cable will announce moves to make defence contracts more transparent – and to impose temporary embargos to countries hit by internal strife.

  • Arthur Askey

    Hauge was proudly listing those companies, oops – countries, that stood against Russia and China, oops – Syria, at the UN.
    He even had the nerve to refer to Libya as a supporter of Western mendacity. Just mere months after NATO’s ‘shock and awe’ and while the country is fully reeling under the jackbooted lawlessness of Western trained, financed and supplied TERRORISTS.
    In Homs, there are videos available online which show the Free Syria Army hanging Assad supporters from trees. This is very similar to the atrocities that were committed in Benghazi by anti-Gaddaffi foces. It also begs the question that if public hangings can get on the Internet why not the Syrian army’s recent alleged mass rocket attack?
    I heard one Syrian claim, via Skype from Homs, that he had seen over 70 rockets hit Homs. Obviously he was so shocked he didn’t bother to take any pictures, so we had to rely on shaky images of one explosion, complete with war-movie sound effect, to ‘suggest’ the massive onslaught of rockets.

  • Arthur Askey

    Now that the Axis of Evil has been defeated at the UN they will use alternative routes to secure their objectives.
    The only way the Free Syrian Army can serve Western interests is if it is supported externally. With the UN vote many think that’s the end of the story. But, like with Iraq, the Axis of Evil has many paths to glory and Turkey is one of them.
    It back story will be along the lines that the Syrian army are chasing people across the border in order to kill them, the Turks will have to set up a ‘buffer zone’ (military invasion) followed by a ‘humanitarian corridor’ (no fly zone) to Homs. As a member of NATO Turkey should receive much support from the Axis powers.

  • DownWithThisSortOfThing

    Turkey and Qatar (population less than 2 million) both came out condemning further Iran sanctions yesterday. It should be noted that Qatar (population less than 2 million) financed the Benghazi rebels and provided air craft for the subsequent bombing of Libya.
    Qatar (population less than 2 million) along with Saudi Arabia is one of the main sponsors of the Arab League actions against Syria. Turkey is a member of NATO providing material support to the Free Syria Army. Cynics may suggest that they are trying to ferment a rift between Iran and Syria, two countries that have a mutual defense treaty. Divide and conquer etc.
    The observant may realize that a conflict between Iran and NATO can be ignited through Turkish intervention in Syria. Western governments should wake up to the slippery slope they are about to step onto.

  • Wikispooks

    Here’s another list of US UNSC vetoes for Israel, with brief commentraies on each, plus links to the original UN papers – no fewer than 41 of then since 1972!!
    UN vetoes for Israel

    The Machiavellian hypoctricy of the US/UK and the fawning servility of the Western MSM in matters of so called ‘foreign policy’ can be truly breathtaking. And the likes of Hague and Clinton actually manage to keeps straight, serious faces whilst hurling their anathamas.

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