The Syria headline today is Kofi Annan resigns as Special Envoy to Syria. But I think yesterday’s headline was much more enlightening: Obama authorized secret support for Syrian rebels. If you have even minimal understanding of real world power politics, you can learn exactly what imperialism looks like from that mainstream media source. The key information begins in paragraphs six and seven:
Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear.
I’d guess “a long time ago” and “anything goes,” based on the U.S. imperial track record. But the key paragraphs are nine to eleven:
A U.S. government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the United States was collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.
Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.
This “nerve center” is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
“Turkey and its allies” means Turkey and the two Gulf dictatorships, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Knowing the real relationship between the U.S. and those powers, translate “the United States was collaborating with” into “the United States was commanding.” And confirm that by noting the ‘secret’ base is essentially at a longstanding U.S. military and intelligence base.
Which leads to the following headline from Lebanon, NOT something allowed into the U.S. mainstream: Damascus says U.S., Turkey, Israel, Gulf states directing ‘terrorists’ in Syria. Obviously true, but misleading if it directs us away from the fact that the boss of bosses is the U.S. and its puppets and underlings better not forget that.
Which takes us to the next true headline, also, of course, not allowed into the U.S. mainstream: No happy outcome in Syria as conflict turns into proxy war, which begins:
Regional powers are pouring in money and guns, jihadists are joining rebels battling to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, while his own well-armed but hard-pressed forces are fighting back ruthlessly with combat aircraft and artillery.
Gruesome scenes of slaughtered civilians or executed rebel fighters provide daily snapshots of the worsening conflict in Syria. Video [Syrian rebels execute pro-Assad militiamen in Aleppo] apparently showing rebels gunning down Assad militiamen in cold blood suggests the insurgents are capable of brutality to match their enemies.
Brought to you by the Nobel Peace Prize winner himself.
Finally, to really get at what is going on inside Syria, I strongly recommend the short article Syria & blanket thinkers. I agree with all four of his main points, but will blockquote just one of them:
It is correct to deny the broad label of ‘sectarian gangs’ to describe armed opposition groups operating in Syria. Nevertheless, evidence exists that these groups are not uniform and there is no united leadership or central command. A sectarian dynamic exists in the current conflict and some of these groups have been galvanised by anti-Shi’a hatred preached by Saudi aligned Salafi preachers (Sheikh ‘Adnan al-’Arour being one prominent example). Human Rights Watch and United Nations reports agree on violence committed by some opposition armed groups (Human Rights Watch makes salient the sectarian dimension of some of these abuses).
The kidnapping of Iranian engineers and Lebanese pilgrims, for example, are examples of this sectarian dimension. Leading Syrian opposition figures (e.g. Burhan Ghalioun and Haitham al-Maleh) justified the kidnapping of Lebanese civilians, perpetuating the narrative of leading Hezbollah officers being captured. Further, documents and news are frequently fabricated from an array of opposition factions (armed and civilian) to establish, on sectarian terms, the armed presence of thousands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Sadr Brigades and Hezbollah fighters (a propaganda industry in coordination with the different Saudi monarchy owned media stations). It is not coincidental that this orchestrated scheme of fabrication is largely run on sectarian lines. In other words, it is not only the regime and its backers that may operate along communal lines but also opposition groups.
Also, specific wordings and ideas from anti-Shi’a Salafi polemics and tracts, initially mass distributed during the Iran/Iraq war (e.g. the book ‘The Magians (Zoroastrians) turn has come’), has now become common currency across some opposition factions (it is common to find, in this discourse of derision, talk of the dangers of the Shi’ite esoterics [in this context meaning a communal trait of treachery], the Zoroastrian Twelver Shi’ite rejectionists, the expansionist conspiracies of the Safavids etc.). Popular Facebook pages, such as Shaam News Network and the Syrian Revolution, regularly repeat terms initially concocted by Wahabi preachers (whether Saudi aligned or not), though it is not clear if they realise the theological background of the terms used (these terms are used within a Salafi discourse to excommunicate Twelver Shi’ism from Islam and treat their beliefs and practices as both pagan and idolatrous. This de-humanising language is also used to establish communal traits of treachery and expansionist visions as part of this supposed belief system).
So, do we accept that our country, the U.S., is the critical actor in this tragedy? Do we understand that if the U.S. told its forces to accept and respect a ceasefire – i.e., to do the opposite of what the rebels did when there was a ceasefire in May – that that would of course stop the killing and be the key contribution toward a negotiated settlement of this part civil war part foreign intervention?
To most Syrians, I think, this war has lost any point aside from sectarian score settling. Let’s pressure our government to stop the killing. It has the power, and therefore so do the citizens of the U.S. Or do we?