By Adrian Blomfield, Nick Squires, Henry Samuel and Ruth Sherlock
8:00PM BST 30 Sep 2012
In what would amount to an extraordinary betrayal of one Middle East strongman by another, President Bashar al-Assad sold out his fellow tyrant in an act of self-preservation, a former senior intelligence official in Tripoli told the Daily Telegraph.
With international attention switching from Libya to the mounting horrors in Syria, Mr Assad offered Paris the telephone number in exchange for an easing of French pressure on Damascus, according to Rami El Obeidi.
“In exchange for this information, Assad had obtained a promise of a grace period from the French and less political pressure on the regime – which is what happened,” Mr El Obeidi said.
A National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter holds a picture of the Libyan fallen leader Muammar Al Gaddafi
While it was not possible independently to verify his allegation, Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, played a leading role in both the Nato mission to bomb Libya and in bringing international pressure to bear on the Assad regime.
The claims by Mr El Obeidi, the former head of foreign intelligence for the movement that overthrew Gaddafi, followed comments by Mahmoud Jibril, who served as prime minister in the transitional government and now leads one of Libya’s largest political parties. He confirmed over the weekend that a foreign “agent” was involved in the operation that killed Gaddafi.
He did not identify his nationality. However the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted Western diplomats in Tripoli as saying that if a foreign agent was involved “he was almost certainly French”.
The news of the Syria deal could potentially embarrass Nato, which initially claimed that it did “not target individuals”.
According to the alliance’s official version, an RAF reconnaissance plane spotted a large convoy of vehicles trying to flee Sirte on Oct 20th last year, two months after Gaddafi fled Tripoli.
Nato warplanes then bombed the convoy, apparently unaware of who was travelling in it, before militia fighters later found Gaddafi hiding in a drainpipe. He is believed to have been killed by his captors en route to the city of Misurata, west of Sirte.
But Mr El Obeidi said that France had essentially masterminded the operation by directing Libyan militiamen to an ambush spot where they could intercept Gaddafi’s convoy.
He also suggested that France had little interest in how Gaddafi was treated once captured, although the fighters were encouraged to try to take him alive.
“French intelligence played a direct tole in the death of Gaddafi, including his killing,” Mr El Obeidi said.
“They gave directions that he was to be apprehended, but they didn’t care if he was bloodied or beaten up as long as he was delivered alive.”
Bashar al-Assad, right, and his brother Maher
According to Mr El Obeidi, French intelligence began to monitor Gaddafi’s Iridium satellite telephone and made a vital breakthrough when he rang a senior loyalist, Yusuf Shakir and Ahmed Jibril, a Palestinian militant leader, in Syria.
As a result, they were able to pinpoint his location and monitor his movements. Although Turkish and British military intelligence officers – including the SAS – who were in Sirte at the time were informed of the ambush plans in advance they played no role in what was “an exclusive French operation”, Mr El Obeidi said.
At the time of Gaddafi’s death, Mr El Obeidi had fallen out of favour with the most powerful faction in Libya’s transitional government because of his links with Gen Abdul Fatah Younes, a senior rebel commander killed by his own side in July last year.
Even so, he continued in his intelligence role in a semi-official but senior capacity.
Sources quoted by Corriere della Sera said one reason for the French lead in the operation was that then President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted Gaddafi dead after the Libyan leader openly threatened to reveal details of the large amounts of money he had donated to Sarkozy for his 2007 election campaign.
“Sarkozy had every reason to want to get rid of the colonel as quickly as possible,” Western diplomats said, according to the newspaper.
A spokesman at the French foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny the claims.
Syria’s Assad betrayed Qaddafi to French intelligence – London Daily Telegraph
DEBKAfileOctober 1, 2012, 11:04 AM (GMT+02:00)
In what is described as “an extraordinary betrayal” – even for the Middle East – the Daily Telegraph Monday quotes a former Libyan intelligence official Rami El Obeidi as revealing that French spies operating in Sirte, Gaddafi’s last refuge, were able to trap him by tracking his Iridium satellite telephone whose number they received from the Syrian ruler. In return, Assad obtained a promise of a grace period from the French and less political pressure on his regime.
This version refutes the official account that after NATO warplanes bombed his convoy, Qaddafi hid in a drainpipe where Libyan militias found him and let him be beaten to death on Oct. 20, 2011.
According to El Obeidi, French intelligence monitoring the Libyan ruler’s phone had a breakthrough when he rang a senior loyalist Yusuf Shaki and the Palestinian leader Ahmed Jibril in Damascus. After that, the French directed Libyan militiamen to the ambush site.
While no other sources confirm this account, the Italian Corriere della Sera quotes its informants as maintaining that one reason for the French lead in the operation was that then President Nicolas Sarkozy wanted Gaddafi dead after the Libyan leader openly threatened to reveal details of the large amounts of money he had donated to Sarkozy for his 2007 election campaign. The French foreign ministry has refused to comment on either report.
Canada will provide $2 million in humanitarian medical aid through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The announcement was made Saturday by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of International Cooperation Julian Fantino.
“The Assad regime’s continued assault on the Syrian people is producing a human tragedy that is getting worse by the day,” said Baird, attending the United Nations General Assembly and a side meeting of the Friends of Syria Group. “Canada remains committed to exhausting its diplomatic and humanitarian options.”
So far, the Canadian International Development Agency has committed $12 million in support for Syrian civilians.
“We call for immediate full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies to help those suffering as a result of this conflict,” Fantino said in a statement. “Canada will continue to review the needs of Syrians, including those in neighbouring countries, and respond accordingly. We urge other donors to also support the most in need during this crisis.”
The Syrian crisis has so far claimed thousands of lives, most of those civilian. More than 280,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and an estimated 1.5 million more are displaced within Syria itself.
Times of Israel staff
September 30, 2012
Contrary to previous reports, the two pilots of a Turkish F-4 Phantom which was shot down by Syria in June were not killed in the crash, but were murdered by the Assad regime on Russian orders, according to a devastating series of alleged Syrian intelligence documents leaked to and published by Al-Arabiya on Saturday.
A file “sent from [President Bashar] Assad’s palace,” said the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya, conveys and thus apparently approves a Russian suggestion to “eliminate” the pilots in the “natural way.”
Syria had claimed that the plane was downed by accident, and at one point asserted that it had believed the plane was Israeli — hence the need to down it.
By Tony Cartalucci
Sept 29, 2012
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US would be providing an additional $45 million in “non-lethal aid” to the “opposition” in Syria, reported the Associated Press.
The Western press chose their words carefully, ensuring that the term “civilian opposition” was repeatedly used to describe the armed terrorist forces attempting to violently overthrow the Syrian government.
Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.” US aid is going to foreign terrorists, not a “civilian opposition.”
In reality, the “opposition” in Syria constitutes foreign terrorist legions flowing across Syria’s borders, and in particular, staging and crossing over from NATO-member Turkey. In fact, it was recently admitted by the terrorist legions themselves that their headquarters has been located within Turkish territory for the duration of the conflict. In a recent France 24 article titled, “Free Syrian Army move HQ from Turkey to Syria,” armed militants claimed they had only just recently “moved from Turkey to within Syria.”
Clinton’s Aid is Going to Al Qaeda, Not a “Civilian Opposition.”
While the Western media attempts to portray heavily armed foreign terrorists as “Syria’s civilian opposition,” it has been revealed that entire brigades are led by Libyan terrorists drawn from the ranks of the US State Department (#29), UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf), and UN-listed terror organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).
The presence of LIFG in Syria was first announced by the Western press in November of 2011 when the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:
Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”
Photo: The face of Libya’s “revolution” was literally Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda’s LIFG commander, Abdul Hakim Belhadj, was NATO’s point man in Libya and has now redirected his terrorist forces against Syria. LIFG commanders are now literally running entire brigades in Syria with Western diplomatic, logistic, and military support.
Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit
Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”
Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and more recently, CNN, whose Ivan Watson accompanied terrorists over the Turkish-Syrian border and into Aleppo, revealed that indeed foreign fighters were amongst the militants, particularly Libyans. It was admitted that:
Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade’s ranks.
A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a “platoon” of Libyan fighters to armed movement.
On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way.
The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.
CNN’s reports provide bookends to 2011′s admissions that large numbers of Libyan terrorists flush with NATO cash and weapons had headed to Syria, with notorious terrorist LIFG commandersmaking the arrangements.
LIFG officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007, but has fought along Al Qaeda since its inception by the US and Saudis in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s. This includes fighting alongside Al Qaeda most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq against US troops while sowing sectarian violence, as covered by the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center in a 2007 report.
The report titled, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” stated specifically:
The apparent surge in Libyan recruits traveling to Iraq may be linked the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group’s (LIFG) increasingly cooperative relationship with al‐Qa’ida, which culminated in the LIFG officially joining al‐Qa’ida on November 3, 2007.
The vast majority (84.2%) of Libyans that recorded their route to Iraq arrived via the same pathway running through Egypt and then by air to Syria. This recruiting and logistics network is likely tied to LIFG, which has long ties (not all positive) with Egyptian and Algerian Islamist groups.
The announcement that LIFG had officially sworn allegiance to al‐Qa’ida was long‐expected by observers of the group. Both the ideologue Abu Yahya al‐Libi and the military leader Abu Layth al‐Libi have long histories with the LIFG, and are increasingly prominent figures along the Afghanistan‐Pakistan border and in al‐Qa’ida’s propaganda. Abu Layth is now an operational commander in Afghanistan; and in 2007, Abu Yahya is second only to Ayman al‐Zawahiri as the most visible figure in al‐Qa’ida’s propaganda. The increasing prominence of LIFG figures in al‐Qa’ida’s high command may be a function of the group’s logistics capacity, including its now demonstrated ability to move people effectively around the Middle East, including to Iraq. (begins on page 9, .pdf)
It would now appear that LIFG’s logistics capacity aimed at Iraq which was previously routed through Syria and Egypt in cooperation with sectarian extremists, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood based in both nations, is now being directed exclusively at Syria. LIFG is doing this with Qatari, Saudi, US, French, British, and NATO support (predominantly Turkey) after receiving similar support in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011.
US Support of Al Qaeda Announced on Heels of US Ambassador’s Death.
Ironically, the recent infusion of cash and support for Al Qaeda terrorists by the US comes on the heels of assaults staged by the group against US diplomatic missions across the region. One in particular, emanating within LIFG’s own terror emirate in Benghazi, Libya, would claim the life of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens. While Stevens’ death was most likely accidental, (he succumbed to smoke inhalation, and was not killed directly by militants), it was most certainly the LIFG militias who dominate Benghazi that staged the attacks.
The purpose of the attacks was to reestablish an adversarial narrative between the US and regional sectarian extremists after a surge in public awareness that the two have been working in tandem against the enemies of the West for years. The US itself would implicate “Al Qaeda” as being behind the regional attacks for this very purpose, before continuing their support of the terror organization in its efforts to overrun Syria.
Image: Bi-partisan treason. Senator John McCain pictured alongside the now deceased Ambassador Stevens (right, wearing a blue tie) had been in Benghazi, Libya supporting Al Qaeda militants since 2011 and highlight that the US’ current support of global terrorism is bi-partisan in nature. It does not stem from a “secret plot” hatched by current US President Barack Obama, but is merely the latest leg of a singular agenda dictated by corporate-financier interests that transcend presidencies. The violent destabilization of Syria in fact began in 2007 under US President George Bush.
West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center 2007 report specifically mentions the city of Benghazi and nearby Darnah as the LIFG terror epicenter, stating specifically:
Both Darnah and Benghazi have long been associated with Islamic militancy in Libya, in particular for an uprising by Islamist organizations in the mid‐1990s. The Libyan government blamed the uprising on “infiltrators from the Sudan and Egypt” and one group—the Libyan Fighting Group (jamaʹah al‐libiyah al‐ muqatilah)—claimed to have Afghan veterans in its ranks. The Libyan uprisings became extraordinarily violent. Qadhafi used helicopter gunships in Benghazi, cut telephone, electricity, and water supplies to Darnah and famously claimed that the militants “deserve to die without trial, like dogs.”
Abu Layth al‐Libi, LIFG’s Emir, reinforced Benghazi and Darnah’s importance to Libyan jihadis in his announcement that LIFG had joined al‐Qa’ida, saying:
“It is with the grace of God that we were hoisting the banner of jihad against this apostate regime under the leadership of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which sacrificed the elite of its sons and commanders in combating this regime whose blood was spilled on the mountains of Darnah, the streets of Benghazi, the outskirts of Tripoli, the desert of Sabha, and the sands of the beach.” (begins on page 12, .pdf)
It is quite clear then, that the NATO-backed 2011 “revolution” in Libya was merely the continuation of Al Qaeda’s campaign against Qaddafi, this time assisted by US, French, and British jets and special forces, with an infusion of Western, Qatari and Saudi cash, “non-lethal” aid, and weapons. The West, with a sound understanding of LIFG long predating their support for Al Qaeda in Libya in 2011, knowingly aided and abetted terrorists with Western blood on their hands who were long-listed on various Western foreign terrorist organization lists.
Deceitfully, European foreign ministries and the US State Department had portrayed these terrorists as “Libya’s civilian opposition,” in order to justify military intervention and regime change just as they are portraying these very same terrorists as “Syria’s civilian opposition.”
Hillary Clinton is handing millions in cash to known Al Qaeda terrorists, on the heels of these terrorists claiming one of her own ambassadors in the middle of LIFG’s terror emirate – this while the West berates Iran for supporting the government of Syria as it attempts to defend itself against what is clearly a foreign invasion, not a popular uprising.
While it may seem an act of unhinged insanity – it is not. It only seems “insane” if one believes the narratives spun by Western politicians who are attempting to sell their agenda from various, not always mutually conducive angles. If one however understands that the corporate-financier interests of Wall Street and London are pursuing global hegemony at any cost, the use of Al Qaeda terrorists who have just led mobs attacking Western consulates across the region that claimed the life of one of America’s own ambassadors makes perfect sense.
DEBKAfile September 28, 2012, 7:50 PM (GMT+02:00)
There has been “limited movement” at Syria’s major chemical storage sites, Leon Panetta told reporters Friday, adding: “Where exactly that’s taken place, we don’t know,’’ Answer questions, he said, ‘‘I don’t have any specific information about the opposition and whether or not they’ve obtained some of this or how much they’ve obtained and just exactly what’s taken place.” He neither confirmed nor denied that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards of the Syrian opposite had got hold of any of Syria’s chemical weapons.
Killing of Journalist Maya Naser in Damascus possibly tied to his investigation into Turkey War Crimes
September 27, 2012
Wednesday morning the renown journalist Maya Naser was shot dead by a sniper while he was reporting from the scene of two bomb blasts in central Damascus. Maya Naser was working for PRESS TV and Al–Alam in Damascus. The PRESS TV station chief Hussein Mortada was wounded in the event but is recovering from his injuries. Journalists are frequently targeted by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the variety of radical Islamist terrorist organizations which have been attracted to Syria since the onset of the attempted subversion in March 2011. The timing of the assassination indicates that Maya Naser may have been targeted because he came dangerously close to revealing serious war crimes of the Turkish government.
Since early 2011 more than 20 journalists have been killed in Syria. In some incidents journalists have been captured, tortured and executed. In at least one incident a journalist has been shot dead by FSA troops in an attempt to scapegoat the Syrian military. Bombs exploded in buildings of Syrian Radio and TV.
The targeting of journalists coincides with concerted efforts to deprive Syrian media from reporting on the crisis from a Syrian perspective. On the initiative of the Arab League, and in violation of international law, both Nilesat and Arabsat stopped carrying Syrian Radio and TV signals over their satellite services in June. Meanwhile, western and and western allied Arab news services continue misrepresenting facts about the crisis in Syria.
In several well documented cases, Al Jazeera employees were directly involved in provoking or organizing the violence which was than broadcasted to defame the Syrian military and government. BBC re-used a photo with victims of the war on Iraq, claiming them to be victims of Syrian military forces. CNN´s Awra Damon filed numerous false reports. Her work is documented in an exposé by Scot Creighton. (1)
Western and western allied media coverage seems to underline the NATO doctrine that absolute image control is part of every modern warfare operation. Combine this with the fact that a US Special Forces training circular from 2010 admits that the USA for the foreseeable future will predominantly be involved in irregular war (2), and NATO´s perception of the subversion in Libya in 2011 as teachable moment and model for future interventions (3) it would not be exactly alarmist to state that Syrian journalists are being systematically targeted to secure absolute image control.
Knowing what Maya Naser has been investigating during the last days of his life gives a clear indication of which images the FSA and the Turkish government want to control.
By Stephen Lendman, Contributor
September 26, 2012
The Times isn’t alone, but its view matters. It has global reach. It’s true in articles, editorials, and op-eds.
The Times is out in front supporting US wars and others planned. Concerns aren’t raised about constitutional or international law violations. Crimes of war, against humanity, mass slaughter and destruction are non-issues.
Imperial dominance, wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Throughout its history, its record reflects shame and contempt for humanity. Corporate interests are endorsed. So are imperial wars.
Popular concerns get short shrift. Unmet human needs, growing poverty, employment, hunger, homelessness, and despair aren’t addressed properly if at all.
US lawlessness gets swept under the rug and ignored. Corruption at the highest government and corporate levels don’t matter. Nor do de facto one-party rule, fake elections, homeland repression, and democracy for the select few alone.
The business of America is war. Policy calls for permanent ones. Wall Street and war profiteers demand them. Policy makers oblige. The Times and other media scoundrels show support.
Wars and post-war violence rage in multiple theaters. Harm caused civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Palestine, and elsewhere don’t matter.
All Times readers know about Libya is falsified information about Christopher Stevens. Who killed him, why, and what he represented wasn’t explained. What’s most important virtually never gets coverage or analysis.
Iran and Syria dominate Middle East headlines. Neither country threatens others. Times articles, editorials and op-eds suggest otherwise. Readers are carpet-bombed with managed news concealing vital truths.
Instead of forthrightly opposing war, The Times wants governments of both countries toppled. It’s out in front endorsing it.
It barely stops short of calling aggression a good thing. America right or wrong. Support the home team. Dominance alone matters. Right or wrong issues aren’t discussed. The pattern repeats from one war to the next.
Times editors are cooperatively complicit. It’s always been their editorial policy. Pre-Watergate and Pentagon Papers revelations, war on Southeast Asia was supported.
So was Reagan ravaging Central America; his other proxy wars; GWH Bush in Panama, Haiti and Iraq; and Clinton on Rwanda, Iraq sanctions, the Balkan wars, and the 1999 Serbia/Kosovo slaughter and mass destruction.
Post-9/11 wars were wholeheartedly endorsed. Body counts number in the millions. Many more die daily. Human suffering is incalculable.
GW Bush against Afghanistan and Iraq was cheered. Obama’s rage for direct and proxy wars without end gets full support.
Every US president since Truman supported Israel right or wrong. Occupation hell is suppressed. Post-911, America’s domestic and imperial war on Islam gets favorable coverage.
Editorial policy endorses might over right. Mass slaughter is practically glorified. How many more millions of corpses will Times editors tolerate? Don’t expect that consideration debated in policy discussions.
On September 26, The Times gave two notorious neocons op-ed space. Michael Doran is senior fellow for the Brookings Institution Saban Center for Middle East Policy. He endorses any war furthering US interests. They alone matter.
Formerly, he was deputy assistant secretary of defense and National Security Council senior director for George Bush.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, one analyst called Max Boot John McCain’s “mad dog advisor” for good reason. He specializes in warmongering imperial commentaries.
He’s currently the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Before Bush invaded Iraq, he endorsed it preemptively.
He’s gotten previous Times op-ed space. Its editors show no shame on what they publish. Earlier, they let Boot promote Operation Phoenix-like death squads for effective counterinsurgency missions. They turned Judith Miller loose as a virtual Pentagon press agent.
They gave her daily front page feature space. Apologies didn’t follow. Media giants never say they’re sorry. They remain in full battle mode against new targets. They itch for more wars. They boost circulation.
They ignore a Chicago tradition. Until it closed at year end 2005, Chicago’s famed City News Bureau gave young reporter rigorous training. Its committed principle was:
“If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out with two independent sources.”
In other words, get it right or not at all. Feature truth and full disclosure. Do it or find another line of work. Try it for The Times or other media giants, and it’ll happen as fast as higher-ups saying “you’re fired.”
On September 26, Doran and Boot teamed up. The Times featured their op-ed headlined “5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now,” saying:
“Syria is a mess, and it is tempting to stay out, especially in an election year. Yet inaction carries its own risks. There are five reasons to bring down President Bashar al-Assad sooner rather than later.”
(1) US intervention would weaken Iran. Its government will lose its most important ally.
International and constitutional law prohibit intervention. Doing so assures war crimes. Syria threatens no one. It’s been invaded. Washington already intervened plenty.
With Israel, it’s waging political, economic, and covert war on Iran. Doing so against both countries is blatantly illegal.
(2) “Muscular” Washington policy “could keep the conflict from spreading.”
It already affects Lebanon. Spillover into Israel is possible. Perhaps other countries will also be harmed. Wars often have disastrous unintended consequences.
Doran and Boot call Syria’s conflict a “civil war.” There’s nothing civil about it. It’s foreign generated. It was planned years ago to replace an independent government with a pro-Western puppet one.
The same scheme targeted Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. It’s planned for Iran and other countries. That’s how imperialism works. It’s not about humanitarian intervention for democratic rule. Imperialists don’t tolerate it.
(3) Partnering with Syrian opposition forces “could create a bulwark against extremists groups like Al Qaeda….”
Washington recruits, trains, funds, arms and directs opposition fighters. CIA and Special Forces are involved. It’s been ongoing since early last year.
Al Qaeda is a valued asset. Their fighters have been used since against Soviets forces in Afghanistan. They’re used in all US regional wars. They’re also enemies when convenient to do so.
(4) US “leadership on Syria could improve relations with key allies like Syria and Qatar.” Both favor no-fly and safe zones.
So do Doran and Boot. Either or both assure full-scale war.
(5) “American action could end a terrible human-rights disaster within Syria and stop the exodus of refugees….”
Washington bears full responsibility for carnage, destruction, and displacement in Syria. Greater intervention assures much more. US-led NATO murdered tens of thousands of Libyans. More die daily.
Protracted conflict persists. No end in sight looks near. Full-scale war on Syria could be much worse. Hundreds of thousands might die. Destruction would be horrific. Developed areas would be turned to rubble. Human suffering would be extreme.
Doran and Boot say grab the opportunity and do it anyway. Go around the UN and act. Free Syrian Army fighters can’t do it on their own. They need air power like against Libya.
They want focus placed on Aleppo and Damascus. They’re Syria’s two most important cities. Assad will go to the wall defending them. Imagine the potential bloodbath if NATO gets involved.
Doran and Boot urge it. They endorse “creat(ing) a countrywide no-fly zone, which would first require taking apart Syrian air defenses.”
It “could then be extended to provide the kind of close air support (with) NATO warplanes….”
Washington must “take the lead….”(O)nly our Air Force and Navy have the weaponry needed to dismantle Syria’s….air defenses with little risk.”
Little risk? Neither writer cares how many hundreds of thousands may die or perhaps that Syria may be ravaged to ruins.
Warmongers omit these considerations from their calculus. Dominance, plunder and exploitation alone matter. That’s what imperialism is all about.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
WHETHER you agree or disagree with President Obama, there is no doubt that he has formulated a coherent approach to the use of American power. The Obama Doctrine involves getting into a conflict zone and getting out fast without ground wars or extended military occupations. This approach proved its effectiveness in Libya last year.
But the president is not applying his own doctrine where it would benefit the United States the most — in Syria. One can certainly sympathize with his predicament. Syria is a mess, and it is tempting to stay out, especially in an election year. Yet inaction carries its own risks. There are five reasons to bring down President Bashar al-Assad sooner rather than later.
First, American intervention would diminish Iran’s influence in the Arab world. Iran has showered aid on Syria and even sent advisers from its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to assist Mr. Assad. Iran knows that if his regime fell, it would lose its most important base in the Arab world and a supply line to pro-Iranian Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
Second, a more muscular American policy could keep the conflict from spreading. Syria’s civil war has already exacerbated sectarian strife in Lebanon and Iraq — and the Turkish government has accused Mr. Assad of supporting Kurdish militants in order to inflame tensions between the Kurds and Turkey.
Third, by training and equipping reliable partners within Syria’s internal opposition, America could create a bulwark against extremist groups like Al Qaeda, which are present and are seeking safe havens in ungoverned corners of Syria.
Fourth, American leadership on Syria could improve relations with key allies like Turkey and Qatar. Both the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Qatari counterpart have criticized the United States for offering only nonlethal support to the rebellion. Both favor establishing a no-fly zone and “safe zones” for civilians in Syrian territory.
Finally, American action could end a terrible human-rights disaster within Syria and stop the exodus of refugees, which is creating a burden on neighboring states. Mr. Obama pledged earlier this year to strengthen the government’s ability “to foresee, prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.” Now he has an opportunity to do so. And by putting allies in the lead, Mr. Obama could act without sliding down the slippery slope toward a ground war.
Our closest friends in the region — including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Israel — would like to see Mr. Assad toppled as soon as possible. France and Britain could also be counted on to help, as they did in Libya. Yet none of them will move until America does.
We cannot wait for the United Nations to act; that is highly unlikely. Nor can we expect the Free Syrian Army to oust Mr. Assad on its own; it is not a cohesive organization. Instead, America must identify those elements on the ground that are the most effective, easily supplied and amenable to help.
The focus should be on Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and commercial hub. The F.S.A. already controls much of the territory between the city and the Turkish border, only 40 miles away. With American support, Turkish troops could easily establish a corridor for humanitarian aid and military supplies. Defeating the government’s forces in Aleppo would deal a serious blow to Mr. Assad and send a powerful signal to fence-sitters that the regime was dying.
Damascus, the capital, should be the second target. But unlike Aleppo, it can’t be easily reached from a Turkish base. It could, however, be supplied from Dara’a, which is 70 miles from Damascus and less than five from the Jordanian border. It has been at the forefront of opposition to Mr. Assad. Working with Jordan, the United States could create a second corridor to Dara’a, which could serve as the southern base for the insurgency. On Wednesday, by bombing a military complex, the rebels demonstrated their ability to strike in the heart of Damascus — though they have not yet been able to do so on a sustained basis.
To prevent Mr. Assad from staging a devastating response, the American-backed alliance would have to create a countrywide no-fly zone, which would first require taking apart Syrian air defenses. Mr. Assad has been using jets and helicopters to fight the rebels; a no-fly zone would quickly ground his entire air force. The zone could then be extended to provide the kind of close air support that NATO warplanes provided to rebel fighters in Kosovo and Libya.
While our allies could take the lead in maintaining the no-fly zone, it is necessary in Syria, as in Libya, for America to take the lead in establishing it; only our Air Force and Navy have the weaponry needed to dismantle Syria’s Russian-designed air defenses with little risk.
A “lead from behind” approach can work in Syria. President Obama need only apply it.
October 1, 2012
Last Friday (9/28), neocon military historian and columnist Max Boot teamed up with one-time academic and Bush administration defense official Michael Doran to publish an op-ed in the New York Times “Five Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now.” Boot has made a career of being grievously wrong about important matters, most notably the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Doran, now a senior fellow at Brookings’ Saban Center (funded by the man responsible for loosing the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” on a generation of American children), is a bit trickier. Once Elliott Abrams’ replacement on George W. Bush’s National Security Council, he’s the rare right-wing Middle East expert who believes Israeli colonization of Palestine a bad thing.
Doran and Boot open with an endorsement of what they call the “Obama Doctrine” (it’s likely news to the President that he has one)–“a coherent approach to the use of US power”: “getting into a conflict zone and getting out fast without ground wars or extended military occupations.” They point to Libya as Exhibit A (without mentioning Obama’s failure to invoke the War Powers Act, the uninvestigated civilian casualties of NATO bombing, or any of the, ahem, messy aftermath).
They then take the President to task for failing to apply his own Doctrine in Syria, “where it would benefit the United States the most.” They admit “Syria is a mess” but believe regime change the cure nonetheless. Their five reasons are telling.
First, knocking off al-Assad would shrink Iranian “influence in the Arab world.” What influence? The Gulf Arabs loath the mullahs. North Africans could care less what Ahmadinejad does. Hamas leader Khaled Meshal left the relative safety of exile in Damascus and denounced the regime. Apart from some elements of the al-Maliki government in Baghdad, and the Hezbollah movement in southern Lebanon, Arabs have little time for Tehran.
It’s the Hezbollah connection, of course, that’s Doran and Boot’s real target here. It’s always about “Israel” for the neocons. By “Israel,” neocons mean wing nuts like Netanyahu, rather than Peace Now activists or the 20% of Israelis who double as Arabs. Without the use of Syria as a conduit for Iranian arms transfers to Lebanon, Hezbollah will find resupply difficult during its next defense against Israeli aggression.
Second, throwing gasoline on Syria’s fires will “keep the conflict from spreading.” They point to spinoff sectarian dustups in Lebanon and Iraq, and Turkish accusations that Assad is supporting Kurdish guerillas in Turkey “in order to inflame tensions between Kurds and Turkey.”
As if Kurdish Turks needed Syrian assistance to feel tense about Ankara. Bashar’s father provided radical Kurds refuge and support during the early eighties, and Bashar himself turned over control of some Kurdish-Syrian villages to Kurdish militants last summer–leading to renewed conflict–in retaliation for Turkish support of his opponents, but Kurds rebelled against the Ottoman Empire over two hundred years ago. The establishment of the modern Turkish state (virulently anti-Kurdish) led to Kurdish rebellions in 1920, 1925, 1930, and 1938. The current insurgency began in 1984 following the 1980 military coup and crackdown on all of Turkish civil society. A long and bitter struggle ensued, with the Turkish government waging a cruel counter-insurgency campaign during the nineties leading to tens of thousands of deaths, over 3000 villages forcibly evacuated or destroyed, and two million refugees. Ironically, the safest havens contemporary Kurdish militants have found have been in Iraq following the Gulf War and the neocon-endorsed and engineered regime change of 2003.
US or other intervention in the Syrian civil war is far more likely to lead to the spread rather than containment of the conflict, including in Iraq and Lebanon. Look at Doran and Boot’s example of Libya. Gaddafi’s fall led directly to the Tuareg rebellion in Mali, further complicated now by the role played by Islamists, some allied with al-Qaeda, and the military coup in Bamako. But when did a neocon ever care for a place without oil or resistance to Israel?
Third, Doran and Boot argue the US should “train and equip reliable partners within Syria’s internal opposition.” This will lead, they contend, to “a bulwark against extremist groups like al-Qaeda which are present and seeking safe havens in ungoverned corners of Syria.” Sound familiar? The neocons are desperately seeking a Syrian Ahmed Chalabi. Just as in Iraq, al-Qaeda was nowhere to be found prior to the onset of the conflict. The recent arrival of suicide bombings in Damascus has neocons double down. “Train and equip”? “Reliable partners”? As in Afghanistan? “Reliable” for what? Who might these people be? Will the neocons get to vet them?
Fourth, dumping Assad “could improve relations with key allies like Turkey and Qatar.” Turkish and Qatari officials complain that the US provides the Syrian opposition nary the bullet or gun to fire it but mere nonlethal assistance. If it were up to Turkish and Qatari leaders, so say Doran and Boot, the US would establish a no-fly-zone and “safe zones” for internal Syrian refugees. “Better relations with Qatar now!’ reads the neocon rallying cry. The Turks have a half million men under arms. Their Air Force includes F-16s, drones, mid-air refuelers and AWACs craft (parts of a fleet larger than that of Germany, France or Italy). Doran and Boot should send a version of their op-ed to an Ankara or Istanbul paper calling for Turkish leadership of the mission. Chances are the Erdogan government is not interested in attacking a neighbor with which it is not at war.
Fifth, Doran and Boot remember the horrors inflicted on Syrians by Assad’s agents. They remind President Obama of his recent promise “to foresee, prevent and respond to genocide and mass atrocities.” They propose “putting allies in the lead” while avoiding the “slippery slope toward a ground war.” You believed neocons had learned nothing from Afghanistan or Iraq. But they have: their enthusiasm for drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, and air attacks on Iran and Syria is evidence. Screw boots on the ground, we’ll whack “em from afar.
The neocon case for intervention in Syria concludes with some analysis and a plan. They list “our closest friends in the region”–Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and Israel–plus the EuroImperial Duo of Britain and France as champing at the bit to begin the bombing. Doran and Boot place no store by UN action nor believe the Free Syrian Army capable of toppling Assad–“it is not a cohesive organization.” Instead, “America must identify those forces on the ground that are the most effective, easily supplied and amenable to help.”
Their recommendation is for the US and its local friends to violate the UN Charter and other international law by attacking a United Nations member without Security Council permission. Doran and Boot’s enthusiasm for Operation Unified Protector in Libya does not extend to a Security Council Resolution to legally enable similar action in Syria. This is for the practical reason that neither Russia nor China share their enthusiasm. Much of the Chinese and Russian reticence may be explained by their reasonable assessment that NATO & Co. exceeded its UN mandate in Libya. The Security Council’s “responsibility to protect” in Libya did not include, argue Moscow and Beijing, acting as the Libyan rebels’ air force for offensive action against Gaddafi’s military. R2P does not include regime change.
Doran and Boot’s suggestion to avoid the Free Syrian Army but find someone on the ground to supply with guns and bombs is typical neocon loopiness. Courageous Syrians have demonstrated against and fought Assad for a year and a half. If the CIA and other “special operators” have yet to identify a “cohesive organization” that meets Doran and Boot’s loose criteria for lethal aid, what makes them think it’s any more likely now? Osama bin Laden was once “amenable to help” from the United States.
Doran and Boot are, like their fellow neoconservatives, unable to resist the temptation to play strategist and field commander. Their plan would have the US and Turkey combine to create a corridor for humanitarian aid and military materiel from Aleppo (which they mistakenly identify as Syria’s second largest city; it’s the most populous) to the nearby Turkish border. Following the liberation of Aleppo, the US should cooperate with Jordan to open a second corridor between Damascus and Dara’a to “serve as the southern base of the insurgency.”
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