Eyeless in Syria

What is intriguing is why England, the US, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are so keen to oust the Syrian president
Sanjay Kapoor Delhi

Debkafile is an Israeli website that claims specialisation in analysis of intelligence and global terror issues. It is particularly good at providing an Israeli perspective on happenings in Iran and the Arab world. Ever since the Arab Spring swept the discontented region of northern Africa and the Arab peninsula, Debkafile has provided interesting insight into the ambivalence in Jerusalem over the occurrences in Libya — and more so in Syria.

The drift of the articles on the website suggests that the Arab Spring was not really spontaneous, it was decisively prompted by external agencies. A report on June 26, 2012, titled ‘British Special Forces in Syria…’ based on Turkish and French sources, claims that the Special Forces had crossed over and were fighting alongside the ‘rebels’. This is not the first time Debkafile has reported this tangential tale. Its content has received a lot of traction in other media outlets and has seldom been denied.

Expectedly, the presence of foreign troops to catalyse the ushering in of another Arab Spring in Syria never found any mention in the Western or Arab media. Nor did the UN observer mission mention it. Channels like Qatar’s Al Jazeera and Al Arabia have taken it upon themselves to throw out dictators — except their own. They have relentlessly conflated the extent of violence in the country and tried to mask the outsiders, the mercenaries, as indigenous rebels. Nothing can be further from the truth.

During the last trip to Syria in March, 2012, this correspondent learnt about the arrest of many foreign covert operatives and mercenaries. A dozen odd French special forces commandos were also arrested. Other arrested belonged to Iraq, Somalia, Tunisia, Pakistan, and so on.

There were also reports that the celebrated stand-off at Baba Amr in Homs was largely managed by Special Forces from different countries. Syrian sources claim that the occupants of the shanty town of Baba Amr had weapons far superior to those of the Syrians. To the credit of the US, the UK, Turkey and Saudi Arabia — all desperate to throw out Syria’s Basher Al Assad — they have never concealed the fact that they are supporting the rebels.

The US has given them sophisticated communication technology that is capable of jamming Syrian communication equipment. The Saudis are bankrolling all those who take to arms. Turkey, one of whose F-4 fighter jet was brought down by Syria recently, is most keen to stabilise Syria as painlessly as possible. Home to 30,000 Syrian refugees, Turkey is working closely with Nato to see the end of Assad rule.

What is really intriguing is why England, the US, France, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are so keen to oust the Syrian president.

 

Turkey may have a reason to create a continent sized new Ottoman confederation with a friendly Syria while Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to prevent the formation of a ‘Shia crescent’ comprising Shiite Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Lebanese Hezbollah. The agenda of the US is little less clear other than helping out its ally, Israel, as the latter squares off with a potentially ‘nuclearised’ Iran.

The British and French have ruled the Levant at different stages in the past and found the presence of various sects a reason to reconfigure the boundaries of Syria. British interests at times compete with those of the French, but they are deeply entrenched and drive US foreign policy in its old domains.

Whatever may be the final objective of this shake-up taking place in the Arab world, Syria would have gone the Libya way had it not been for Russia and China’s refusal to endorse any UN resolution allowing external military intervention. It is possible the Western powers would have taken recourse to the UN’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) clause and smoked out President Assad. President Vladimir Putin of Russia made it clear that his country would not repeat the folly of supporting the West as it did in Libya.

Using media reports of death and destruction in Syria, the Western nations have used the UN mission led by Kofi Annan to lower the legitimacy of and support for Assad’s regime. Ironically, ever since the UN
observers landed in Syria, violence has escalated. The reasons are obvious.

The UN is demanding that Syrian forces abide by the ceasefire and return to their barracks, whereas the mercenaries, foreign forces and rebels are not reined in by such compulsions. In the process, Assad’s regime, without its instruments of coercion, is coming apart, layer by layer.

With Russia supporting an interim government, we may well be seeing the last days of Assad. The interesting thing to watch will be how various agendas play out. Will we see the rise of a pro-Turkey ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ that does an Egypt on Syria; or will the everyday spiral of vicious, sectarian violence, and relentless human tragedy, inflame the landscape, like a nightmare without end?

 

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: JULY 2012