08.06.2013 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

The Mainsprings of the Syrian Conflict

5285The government forces’ reliance on a militia to liberate more and more of the country from foreign mercenaries is a sure sign that the people of Syria support the legitimate government in Damascus and not the so-called “rebels” that have been bought and paid for by the Persian Gulf monarchies.

The situation is making the Western sponsors of the Syrian conflict increasingly nervous. Indeed, their carefully choreographed operation to remove previously authoritative regimes like Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Syria from leading positions in the Arab world and in the region and beyond it through “color revolutions” is falling apart before their eyes. Thanks to the West’s efforts, these countries — some more than others — are weighed down by their internal problems, making it difficult for them to function as regional leaders.

Which among them can now aspire to leadership among the 24 states of the Arab region and dictate the “rules of the game”? The answer is obvious but rather strange: Israel, Turkey and Iran. It is strange mainly because none of the three is an Arab country!

Against the backdrop of this Arab vacuum, the dwarfish but nevertheless Arab state of Qatar is actively striving for leadership of the region. It is greatly assisted by the large quantity of petrodollars it has accumulated in recent years, dollars that it is willing to spend on orders from the West to further destabilize countries like Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Syria that were regional leaders in the past. It needs to repay the favor of the West, primarily the United States, which even removed this monarchy from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. But has Qatar actually stopped supporting terrorists? Aren’t its mercenaries in Syria al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra fighters?

However, Turkey and Israel obviously do not want to cede leadership in the region to Qatar. And again, the West supports that. Those in the West who oppose a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis are betting on these countries as they plan and prepare for a possible limited military operation against Syria. Here are their reasons for taking this approach:

- There is no hope of resolving the conflict through negotiation because Assad will not willingly leave office;

- The government forces are winning the fight with the rebels;

- Syrian military-technical cooperation with Russia and Iran is increasing;

- The split within the Syrian opposition is widening because it cannot decide on a single political leader and platform;

- The presence of radical terrorist elements among the opposition is making Assad a hard-nosed opponent of international terrorism and the only guarantor of stability in the country

The West’s tactic of possibly using Turkey and Israel to start a war against Syria involves coming at the problem from two directions; if one fails, the other will be used. For Turkey, chemical weapons are the idea. It is through Turkey that Britain and France are strongly hyping the unconvincing testimony of the victims of chemical poisoning supposedly caused by Syrian government forces. Everything would have gone well for the perpetrators of this smear campaign but for the independent experts on the use of chemical weapons in Syria led by Carla Del Ponte, who rejected the unsubstantiated attacks by Paris and London on Damascus and identified the rebels as those responsible for the chemical attack. Also, there was the incident involving the arrest by Turkish security forces of rebel fighters trying to smuggle sarin gas cylinders into Syria. So after that, is there any doubt about who actually is transporting the poison gas to Syria and preparing to use it? Could it be that they do not read foreign newspapers in London and Paris and are unaware of all this?

Despite the obvious problems, however, Britain and France have no intention of changing their tactics, and their plans still feature Turkey as an important player in the potential military operation against Syria.

The other focus of the West’s military aggression against Syria is Israel, which believes that the collapse of the Assad regime would greatly simplify its task of subduing its sole remaining enemy in the region after the “Arab revolutions” — Iran. Israel’s preparations for the operation began several months ago with the opening of several hospitals for wounded Syrian rebels that feature Israeli military trainers rather than medical aid.

Israel talks about fighting international terrorism in order to win public approval for its military preparations — in this instance, the Lebanese Hezbollah. Hezbollah was Tel Aviv’s justification for three earlier military attacks on the Syrian Army: January 30-31, May 2-3 and May 4-5.

National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said another reason for a possible military operation against Syria is the deployment of Russian S-300 missiles in Syria. The Israeli military has made the following a red line: orientation of the missiles towards Israeli airspace; their acquisition by Hezbollah or other fighters.

The West believes that the failure of Geneva 2 would exhaust the diplomatic options for resolving the Syrian conflict, which would allow Washington to give its NATO allies the go-ahead for a military operation in Syria even without a UN resolution.

Oh, the irrepressible West! It would be better off solving the social problems in its own countries. It would waste less money that way!

Vladimir Odintsov is a political columnist. Exclusively for New Eastern Outlook.

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