Posts Tagged ‘Bashir Assad’
Tags: Attack on Syria, Bashir Assad, chemical weapons, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Israel, nuclear weapons, US Intervention
Tags: 26 dead soldiers, Assad Denies, Bashir Assad, chemical weapons, Sarin, Syrian Rebels, UN investigation, weaponized Chlorine
The Sidney Morning Herald
The developments come when at least 10 people have been killed in shelling on the town of Douma, north-east of the capital Damascus, and renewed fighting in other areas on Saturday.
”I want to confirm that statements by the US Secretary of State and British government are inconsistent with reality and a barefaced lie,” Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said in an interview with the Kremlin-funded Russia Today TV network.
”I want to stress one more time that Syria would never use chemical weapons – not only because of its adherence to the international law and rules of leading war, but because of humanitarian and moral issues.”
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has called on Syria to approve a UN mission of inspectors to probe the alleged use of deadly chemicals in the spiraling conflict that erupted in March 2011. <strong <span But Mr Zohbi told RT that Damascus could not trust UN inspectors from Britain and the United States. ”We … do not trust their qualifications,” he said. ”Their aim is to juggle with facts.” But he said Syria would accept Russian inspectors.
[After what happened in Baghdad, who can blame them. The United Nations is completely untrustworthy... Editorial comment by Susan Lindauer]
Along with China, Russia has blocked several UN Security Council draft resolutions threatening sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
US President Barack Obama warned Syria on Friday that using chemical weapons would be a ”game changer,” after the US, Israel and Britain cited signs that Dr Assad’s regime attacked with the deadly agent sarin.
[Facts on the ground reveal the target was a Syrian military outpost filled with President Assad's own soldiers. The bombs contained weaponized chlorine-- NOT SARIN. The dead were 26 Syrian Soldiers.-- Added by Susan Lindauer]
But President Obama said Washington must act prudently, and establish if, how and when such arms might have been used, promising a ”vigorous” US and international probe into the reports.
Russia warned against using the reports for a military intervention.
”We must check the information immediately and in conformity with international criteria, and not use it to achieve other objectives,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Saturday.
The Syrian opposition [responsible for the weaponized chlorine attack that killed 26 soldiers working for Assad] has stepped up pressure by urging the UN Security Council to take immediate steps, possibly even by imposing a no-fly zone on Syria . . . .
Evidence” of Syria chemical weapons not up to U.N. standard
(Reuters) – Assertions of chemical weapon use in Syria by Western and Israeli officials citing photos, sporadic shelling and traces of toxins do not meet the standard of proof needed for a U.N. team of experts waiting to gather their own field evidence.
Weapons inspectors will only determine whether banned chemical agents were used in the two-year-old conflict if they are able to access sites and take soil, blood, urine or tissue samples and examine them in certified.
That type of evidence has not been presented by governments and intelligence agencies accusing Syria of using chemical weapons against insurgents.
“This is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used,” said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for the Hague-based OPCW.
With Syria blocking the U.N. mission, it is unlikely they will gain that type of access any time soon.
The head of the U.N. inspection mission, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, will meet U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Monday.
The United Nations wrote to the Syrian government again on Thursday to push for unconditional and unfettered access for the U.N. investigators, Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters on Friday.
“The Secretary-General urges the Syrian government to respond swiftly and favorably so that this mission can carry out its work in Syria,” Nesirky said. “You need to be able to go into Syria to be able to do that investigation properly.”
“In the meantime the members of that team have been collating and analyzing the evidence and information that is available to date from outside,” he said, adding that there was a concern “about the degradation of evidence” within Syria.
The White House on Thursday said the U.S. intelligence community has assessed with varying degrees of confidence that the chemical agent sarin was used by forces allied with President Bashar al-Assad. But it noted that “the chain of custody is not clear.”
QUESTIONS AROUND ‘PHYSIOLOGICAL’ SAMPLES
The Israeli military this week suggested Syrian forces used sarin and showed reporters pictures of a body with symptoms indicating the nerve gas was the cause of death.
[See video on this blog of Syrian Rebels testing Chemical weapons on rabbits.]
Ralf Trapp, an independent consultant on chemical and biological weapons control, said, “There is a limit to what you can extract from photograph evidence alone. What you really need is to get information from on the ground, to gather physical evidence and to talk to witnesses as well as medical staff who treated victims.”
Sarin is a fast-acting nerve agent that was originally developed in 1938 in <a title=”Full coverage of Germany” <href=”http://www.reuters.com/places/germany” target=”_blank” Germany as a pesticide. It is a clear, colorless, tasteless and odorless liquid that can evaporate quickly into a gas and spread into the environment, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Because it evaporates so quickly, sarin presents an immediate but short-lived threat.
Sean Kaufman of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research at Emory University, a former biodefense expert for the CDC, said people who have been exposed to sarin most typically die or recover fully. Testing for sarin, he said, requires access to the environment where the nerve agent was used or the clothing of someone who was exposed.
The White House, which has called the use of chemicals weapons in Syria a “red line” for possible military intervention, said its assessment was partly based on “physiological” samples. But a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity declined to detail the evidence. It is unclear who supplied it.
Even if samples were made available to the OPCW by those making the assertions, the organisation could not use them.
“The OPCW would never get involved in testing samples that our own inspectors don’t gather in the field because we need to maintain chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab to ensure their integrity,” said Luhan.
Established to enforce the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the use of toxic agents in warfare, the OPCW has exhaustive rules on how inspectors collect and handle evidence, starting with the sealing of a site like a crime scene.
Multiple samples must be taken and there need to be “blank” samples from unexposed matter and tissue, to set a baseline against which levels of contamination could be determined.
The samples would be split, sealed and flown in dark, cooled air transports to up to three certified laboratories, including one at the OPCW’s headquarters in The Hague.
A team of 15 experts, put together in response to a request from the U.N. Secretary General to investigate the claims, has been on standby in Cyprus for nearly three weeks.
Headed by Sellstrom, it includes analytical chemists and World Health Organisation experts on the medical effects of exposure to toxins.
(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Giles Elgood, Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)
Obama shows no rush to act on Syria chemical arms evidence
Reuters) – President Barack Obama warned Syria on Friday that its use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” for the United States, but made clear he was in no rush to intervene in the civil war there on the basis of evidence he said was still preliminary.
Speaking a day after the disclosure of U.S. intelligence that <span <a Syria had likely used chemical weapons against its own people, Obama talked tough while calling for patience as he sought to fend off pressure for a swift response against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Tags: Bashir Assad, chemical weapons, Free Syrian Army, video
Syria’s military controlled by President Assad are not the ones who have used chemical weapons— FACTS ON THE GROUND demonstrate Syrian Rebels are collecting and testing chemical weapons. [See video below]
What’s more, Syrian Rebels were responsible for the one, single use of chemically weaponized chlorine in this War. Rebels hurled chlorinized cannister bombs at a Syrian Guard Sentry post killing 26 Syrian Government soldiers.
Get it? President Assad’s forces were the VICTIMS of the attack. Seizing on the West’s hypocrisy, Assad’s government promptly demanded a UN investigation into the REBELS’ use of chemical weapons—Washington and France immediately declared that chlorinized bombs are not prohibited by International Conventions prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.
Other than that ONE TIME– when Syrian Rebels struck government soldiers– there has been NO OTHER USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS>
Use your brains: This is pure propaganda to push the US into another catastrophic War in the Middle East.
Tags: Atrocities by Syrian Rebels, Bashir Assad, Carmelite nun, Christians under attack, ethnic cleansing, Free Syrian Army, Islamic extremists
By Nick Fagge
PUBLISHED: 19:41 EST, 30 December 2012 | UPDATED: 04:50 EST, 31 December 2012
Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.
The nun said taxi driver Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped after his brother was heard complaining that fighters against the ruling regime behaved like bandits.
She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.
Volatile fighting: The news of the kidnapping and beheading of Mr Arbashe came as pro-government forces celebrated their victory against rebels at the Air Defence Base in Tal Hassil near Aleppo Airport last night
Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix said: ‘His only crime was his brother criticised the rebels, accused them of acting like bandits, which is what they are.’
There have been a growing number of accounts of atrocities carried out by rogue elements of the Syrian Free Army, which opposes dictator Bashar al-Assad and is recognised by Britain and the West as the legitimate leadership.
Sister Agnes-Miriam, mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, has condemned Britain and the west for supporting the rebels despite growing evidence of human rights abuses. Murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery are becoming commonplace, she says.
‘The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. ‘They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.’
Fatal opinion: The man’s brother had criticised the behaviour of members of the Free Syrian Army, seen here during heavy clashes with government forces north of Aleppo earlier this month
The 60-year-old Carmelite nun claims the west has turned a blind eye to growing evidence of a ‘fifth column’ of fanatics within the rag-tag ranks that make up the Free Syrian Army that they back to oust Assad.
One of the most effective fighting forces is the Jabat Al-Nusra, which has an ideology similar to Al Qaeda.
‘The uprising has been hijacked by Islamist mercenaries who are more interested in fighting a holy war than in changing the government,’ she said.
‘It has turned into a sectarian conflict. One in which Christians are paying a high price.’
The rebel attacked the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn, on the Turkish border, last month. The fighters entered the Christian quarter, ordering civilians to leave and leaving their homes.
‘More than 200 families were driven out in the night,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam says. ‘People are afraid. Everywhere the deaths squads stop civilians, abduct them and ask for ransom, sometimes they kill them.’
Threat: Sister Agnes-Mariam said that rebel fighters, pictured, are targeting Christians in Syria in a bid to make it a Muslim state
Militants wearing black bandanas of Al Qaeda recently laid siege to the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, located between Damascus and Homs, for two days in an attempt to prevent Christmas celebrations, the nun claims.
An estimated 300,000 Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs region alone, she claims.
Many have fled abroad raising fears that Syria’s Christian community may vanish – like others across Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity.
Al Assad, a member of the Alawite Muslim sect, claims only his regime can protect Syria’s minorities from domination from the Sunni Muslims majority.
Meanwhile the fighting continues to rage with government forces retaking control of a key district in the city of Homs yesterday.
The latest violence comes after United Nations peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi warned of ‘hell’ for Syria if no political solution could be found.
Russia has stated the conflict is becoming increasingly militarised and sectarian and risks bringing chaos to the whole region.
Some 44,000 people have been killed since the uprising against the Al Assad regime began in March 2011.
Tags: $200 million U.S. ASsistance, Al Qaeda in Syria, Bashir Assad, Child beheads prisoner, Obama Foreign Policy, Paul Watson, Syrian Rebels
By Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com December 10, 2012
A disturbing YouTube video shows Syrian rebels making a child behead an unarmed prisoner – another shocking example of how many of the militants the Obama administration is backing in Syria are Islamic extremists and terrorists.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO.
The clip shows a child hacking away at the head of a bound prisoner with a machete. The video then cuts to militants displaying the man’s severed head while chanting “Allahu Akbar”. Other beheaded prisoners can also be seen in the footage.
The video once again illustrates how the “Syrian rebels” who have been backed by the Obama administration to the tune of over $200 million dollars are committing atrocities on a routine basis on a par with anything the Assad regime has been accused of, and again emphasizes that they are not democratic freedom fighters but jihadist extremists who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, even to the point of making children do their dirty work for them.
After first denying the presence of Al-Qaeda militants in Syria, the mainstream media now admits that they are the primary front line fighters in all the major battles. In a report yesterday, the New York Times concedes that the Nusra Front, “a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq,” “has become one of the uprising’s most effective fighting forces” and whose ally, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has “killed numerous American troops in Iraq.”
A recent McClatchy Newspapers report also documented how the same group “has become essential to the frontline operations of the rebels fighting to topple Assad,” that the group is “critical to the rebels’ military advance” and how it conducts the “heaviest frontline fighting” in “battle after battle across the country.”
A recent Lebanon Daily Star report also highlighted the fact that “Many of the fighters are non-Syrian,” and that the FSA rebels are not even being allowed to take part in some battles by the Al-Qaeda commanders.
Western-backed rebels in Syria have openly espoused their plan to impose draconian Sharia law across the region and have gone about the task by ransacking Christian churches while slaughtering prisoners in cold blood.
They have also made brazen threats to carry out ethnic cleansing against other Syrians who refuse to accept their rule by means of chemical weapons.
There are also innumerable You Tube videos that show opposition forces flying the Al-Qaeda flag – the same distinctive black flag with white Arabic lettering that was flown by rioters during anti-U.S. demonstrations in numerous countries earlier this year.
Another opposition fighter recently spoke of his desire to see the Al-Qaeda flag fly over the White House once the rebels are victorious across the region.
Videos have also emerged of opposition rebels burning U.S. flags while chanting anti-American slogans.
Given recent events in both Libya and Egypt, where chaos and bloodshed has ensued as a consequence of extremist factions backed by the Obama administration seizing power, the White House’s support for Jihadist rebels in Syria is leading down the same path, only with a far graver potential outcome given the fact that rebel militants have openly espoused their desire to ethnically cleanse Syria’s minority Alawite population.
Tags: Bashir Assad, democracy reforms, diplomatic solution, NATO intervention, peace option, Syria, Thierry Meyssan, Vladimir PUtin
By Thierry Meyssan
The nature of the Syrian crisis has changed. The process of destabilization that was to open the path for legal military intervention by the Atlantic Alliance has failed. Removing its mask, the United States has publicly announced the possibility of attacking Syria without the approval of the Security Council, as it also did in Kosovo. Washington must be pretending not to have noticed that the Russia of Vladimir Putin is not that of Boris Yeltsin. After being assured of Chinese support, Moscow literally fired two warning shots in the direction of Washington. The continuing violations of international law by NATO and the GCC threaten to unleash a global conflict.
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During the celebration of the victory over Nazism on 9 June 2012, President Putin emphasized the need for Russia to be ready for new sacrifice.
President Vladimir Putin began his third mandate under the sign of sovereignty in the face of direct threats launched against the Russian Federation by the United States and NATO. Moscow has repeatedly denounced the expansion of NATO, the installation of military bases, the deployment of a missile shield on its borders, and the destruction of Libya and the destabilization of Syria.
In the days following his inauguration, Mr. Putin reviewed the Russian military industrial sector, his armed forces and his treaty alliance system.  He pursued this course of action while choosing to draw in Syria a line in the sand that must not be crossed. For Putin, NATO’s invasion of Libya was equivalent to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Third Reich and that of Syria, should it occur, would be comparable to the invasion of Poland that started WWII.
Any interpretation that what is currently happening in the Levant is the result of an internal dynamic of revolution/repression within Syria is not only false but a distortion of the real stakes involved, and simply amounts to more political maneuvering. The Syrian crisis is first and foremost a further stage in the project of “remodeling of the greater Middle East”; a further attempt to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” and the first “war for gas” being played out .
What is actually at stake in Syria is not whether Bashar al-Assad will be able to democratize the institutions he has inherited or whether the Wahhabist monarchies of the Gulf will succeed in destroying the last secular regime in the region and impose their sectarianism, but to determine the lines of separation between the emerging power blocs of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) .
Some of our readers will be startled to read the preceding phrase. Indeed, the Western and Gulf media have been hammering the point day after day that President El-Assad is a sectarian dictator working to the advantage of the Alawite minority, while the armed opposition to his authority is portrayed as the incarnation of democratic pluralism. Just a glance at recent events is enough to belie this version.
Bashar al-Assad has successively convened municipal elections, a referendum, as well as legislative elections. All observers unanimously agreed that the elections unfolded in a transparent manner. The degree of popular participation was more than 60% even while the West was denouncing the electoral process as “a farce” and while the Western-backed armed opposition was preventing citizens from getting to the polls in the four districts under its control. At the same time, the armed opposition stepped up its attacks not only against security forces but also against civilians and all the symbols of national culture and of Syria’s multi-confessional character.
They assassinated progressive Sunnis, then randomly killed Alawites and Christians in order to force their families to flee. They burned more than fifteen hundred schools and churches. They proclaimed an ephemeral Independent Islamic Emirate in Baba Amr where they instituted a Revolutionary Tribunal which condemned more than 150 felons, who were then beheaded in public one by one by an executioner.
It is certainly not the woeful spectacle of some vagrant politicians, meeting up at the exiled Syrian National Council and erecting a facade of democracy having no relation to the reality of the crimes being committed by the Free “Syrian” Army, that will prevent the truth from coming out much longer. In the circumstances, who can believe that the secular Syrian regime, whose exemplary character was celebrated not so long ago, would have turned into a confessional dictatorship, while the Free “Syrian” Army, supported by the Wahhabist dictatorships of the Gulf and obeying the injunctions of Takfirist preachers would conversely be advanced as a paragon of democratic pluralism?
The announcement by U.S. leaders of a possible international intervention outside a U.N. mandate in the same fashion as NATO dismembered Yugoslavia elicted both apprehension and anger in Moscow. The Russian Federation, which until now held itself in a defensive position, has moved to take the initiative. This strategic shift flows from the urgency of the situation from Russia’s point of view and favorable shifts on the ground in Syria .
Moscow proposes to create a Contact Group on Syria that would bring together the ensemble of concerned states, meaning Syria’s neighbors as well as both regional and international powers. Its purpose is to put in place a forum for dialogue to substitute for the current bellicose approach imposed by the West under the Orwellian rubric, the “Friends of Syria Conference.”
Russia continues to support the Annan Plan—which is in fact the scarcely modified plan submitted earlier by Sergei Lavrov to the Arab League. Russia deplores that the plan was not implemented, assigning responsibility for that failure to the opposition faction which took up arms. According to A.K. Lukashevich, spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry, the Free “Syrian” Army is an illegal organization according to international law. It is assassinating twenty to thirty Syrian soldiers each day yet is publicly supported by NATO states and the GCC in violation of the Annan Plan .
Positioning himself as a peacemaker confronting NATO warmongering, Vladimir Putin has demanded that the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) ready itself to deploy its “blue chapkas” in Syria, to both separate the belligerents and combat foreign forces. Nicolai Bordyuzha, secretary-general of the CSTO, has confirmed that he is ready to deploy 20,000 men trained for this type of mission and immediately available .
This would be the first time that the CSTO deploys a peace force outside of former Soviet territory. Cut to the quick, Ban Ki-Moon attempted to sabotage the initiative, countering with his own sudden effort to organize a Contact Group. Convening in Washington the Sanctions Working Group of the Friends Of Syria Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defied the Russian proposal and raised the ante in favor of regime change .
In Turkey, opposition legislators have visited the Syrian refugee camps. They have confirmed the absence of more than one thousand refugees registered by the United Nations in the main camp and noted, by contrast, the presence of an arsenal in the camp. They have also demanded in Parliament that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reveal the rising amount of humanitarian aid being given to phantom refugees. The deputies maintain that the refugee camp is a cover for a secret military operation, sheltering in reality combatants, principally Libyans who are using it as a rear base. The deputies are asserting that the combatants are those who were introduced in the district of Houla when the massacre was being perpetrated.
These revelations confirm the accusations of the Russian ambassador to the Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, according to which the Special Representative of Ban Ki-Moon in Libya, Ian Martin, had used U.N. funds destined for refugees to bring al Qaeda combatants into Turkey .
In Saudi Arabia, the fracture between King Abdullah and the Sudairi clan has reappeared. At the invitation of the monarch, the Supreme Council of the Oulema issued a fatwa stipulating that Syria is not a land of jihad. At the same time, however, Prince Faisal, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been calling to arm the opposition against the “Alawite usurper.”
Thursday, June 7 was a day of many significant events. While Ban Ki-Moon and Navi Pillay, respectively Secretary General and High Commissioner of Human Rights, were pleading their case against Syria before the U.N. General Assembly, Moscow proceeded with two test-launches of its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
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The Bulava missile draws its name from an ancient Slavic mace used as a baton by the Marshall of the Cossack Armies.
Colonel Vadim Koval, spokesman of the Strategic Missile Troops of the Russian Federation (RSVN) confirmed the test of a Topol—launched from a silo near the Caspian Sea, but has not confirmed that of the Bulava from a submarine in the Mediterranean. But the firing was observed from all over the Near East, Israel and Armenia and there is no other known armament that leaves similar tracings in the sky .
The message is clear : Moscow is ready for world war if NATO and the GCC do not comply with the international obligations as defined in the Annan Plan and persist in aiding terrorism.
According to our sources, this this shot across the bow was coordinated with the Syrian authorities. Moscow equally had encouraged Damascus to liquidate the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr once the authority of President al-Assad was confirmed by constitutional referendum, as it also encouraged the president to wipe out mercenary groups present in the country as soon as the new Parliament and new Prime Minister were installed. The order was given to move from a defensive strategy to offensive action to protect the population from terrorism. The national army moved to attack the strongholds of the Free “Syrian” Army. The combat in the coming days is going to be difficult, all the more so in that the mercenaries possess mortars, anti-tank missiles and, as from now, surface to air missiles.
To lessen the rapidly-increasing tension, France immediately accepted the Russian proposal to participate in an ad hoc Contact Group. Washington hurried Frederic C. Hof to Moscow. Contradicting the statements made the day before by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Mr. Hof also accepted the Russian invitation.
The time is past to lament the expansion of combat into Lebanon, or to conjecture about the possible regionalization of conflict. Over the past sixteen months of the destabilization of Syria, NATO and the GCC have created a situation without exit that might well degenerate into global war.
Tags: Alliance with Iran, Bashir Assad, Free Syria Army, Gadhaffi, Homs, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Massacre, Syria
Look east and what does Bashar see? Iran standing with him and Iraq refusing to impose sanctions
Tuesday 07 February 2012
President Bashar al-Assad is not about to go. Not yet. Not, maybe, for quite a long time. Newspapers in the Middle East are filled with stories about whether or not this is Assad’s “Benghazi moment” – these reports are almost invariably written from Washington or London or Paris – but few in the region understand how we Westerners can get it so wrong.
The old saw has to be repeated and repeated: Egypt was not Tunisia; Bahrain was not Egypt; Yemen was not Bahrain; Libya was not Yemen. And Syria is very definitely not Libya.
It’s not difficult to see how the opposite plays in the West. The barrage of horrifying Facebook images from Homs, and statements from the “Free Syrian Army”, and the huffing of La Clinton and the amazement that Russia can be so blind to the suffering of Syrians – as if America was anything but blind to the suffering of Palestinians when, say, more than 1,300 were killed in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza – doesn’t gel with reality on the ground. Why should the Russians care about Homs? Did they care about the dead of Chechnya?
Look at it the other way round. Yes, we all know that Syria’s intelligence service has committed human rights abuses. They did that in Lebanon. Yes, we all know this is a regime in Damascus, not an elected government. Yes, we all know about corruption. Yes, we watched the UN’s humiliation at the weekend – although why La Clinton should expect the Russians to click their heels after the “no-fly zone” in Libya turned into “regime change” is a bit of a mystery.
The destruction of the Alawite-led government in Syria – which means in effect, a Shia regime – will be a sword in the soul of Shia Iran. And look at the Middle East now from the windows of the massive presidential palace that overlooks the old city of Damascus. True, the Gulf has turned against Syria. True, Turkey has turned against Syria (while generously offering Bashar exile in the old Ottoman empire).
But look east, and what does Bashar see? Loyal Iran standing with him. Loyal Iraq – Iran’s new best friend in the Arab world – refusing to impose sanctions. And to the west, loyal little Lebanon refusing to impose sanctions. Thus from the border of Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, Assad has a straight line of alliances which should prevent, at least, his economic collapse.
The trouble is that the West has been so deluged with stories and lectures and think-tank nonsense about the ghastly Iran and the unfaithful Iraq and the vicious Syria and the frightened Lebanon that it is almost impossible to snap off these delusional pictures and realise that Assad is not alone. That is not to praise Assad or to support his continuation. But it’s real.
The Turks, after much Clinton-style huffing and puffing, did not follow through on their “cordon sanitaire” in northern Syria. Nor did King Abdullah II follow through on the Syrian opposition’s call for a Jordanian “cordon sanitaire” in the south. Oddly, I repeat yet again, only Israel has remained silent.
As long as Syria can trade with Iraq, it can trade with Iran and, of course, it can trade with Lebanon. The Shia of Iran and the Shia majority in Iraq and the Shia leadership (though not majority) in Syria and the Shia (the largest community, but not a majority) in Lebanon will be on Assad’s side, however reluctantly. That, I’m afraid, is the way the cookie crumbles. Crazed Gaddafi had real enemies with firepower and Nato. Assad’s enemies have Kalashnikovs and no Nato.
Assad has Damascus and Aleppo, and those cities matter. His principal military units have not defected to the opposition.
The “good guys” also contain “bad guys” – a fact we forgot in Libya, even when the “good guys” murdered their defected army commander and tortured prisoners to death. Oh yes, and the Royal Navy was able to put into Benghazi. It cannot put into Tartous because the Russian Navy is still there.