Humanitarian catastrophes are surprisingly easy to predict. Take Syria for instance. Like Iraq, Syria has a complex mix of ethnicity and religion with a long history of conflict. Enter the United States, who comes with guns and cash that it doles out to certain ethnic/religious groups, and not to others. The ensuing bloodbath is not a surprise, but a strategic plan to dismember the Syrian government.
The Obama administration has moved from behind the shadows in helping orchestrate this calamity to coming out in the open. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now publicly “organizing” the so-called Syrian rebels, first having visited the U.S. ally Turkey — which acts as an important base for attacks on Syria — and then to U.S. Ally Qatar, which has — along with Saudi Arabia — financed the counter-revolution across the Middle East with its oil money.
Clinton is meeting with all the regional ruling elites who opportunistically funnel guns, cash, and training into the morass of bones and guts from afar, with the hope of cashing in by installing a compliant regime taking over the helm of government, industry, and especially oil.
Any self-respecting Syrian opposition member would never meet with a U.S. representative, since the United States is universally hated across the Middle East for the invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen. How odd, then, that Hillary Clinton is deciding who “the legitimate opposition in Syria is.” Ironically, when Clinton declares a group “legitimate,” it automatically loses legitimacy in the Middle East.
Clinton was forced to be more pro-active in Syria because word was getting out that the Syrian “rebels” were no better than the Syrian government. The New York Times has reported that the Syrian rebels have committed large scale ethnic cleansing against Syrian Christians, while also reporting that the rebels have shot video of various war crimes. News has also spread about the increasing trend of rebels having ties with jihad groups, which are connected to the ethnic-religious character of the so-called Syrian revolution.
By minimizing the above atrocities of the rebels, the Obama administration ensures that they will continue. Indeed, there is no other way the rebels can win this war, because the Syrian government still has a strong base among ethnic minorities in the country, as well as those connected to employment in the large public sector, not to mention the millions of others who now realize that a rebel victory will come at the expense — like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — of the destruction of the country.
There have been several giant demonstrations in Syria in support of the government during this crisis, as well as polls conducted that prove that many Syrians want the current government to stay in power.
Now, unsurprisingly, the Syrian crisis is spilling over its borders into Lebanon, which remains attached to Syria by a thousand threads. Lebanon has long been a country on the edge of ethnic-religious crisis. Also, pro-western groups — U.S. allies — in northern Lebanon have funneled money and arms to the Syrian “rebels,” while Hezbollah in the south is accused of doing the exact same for the Syrian government.
After a pro-western Lebanese general was recently assassinated, Syria was blamed and pro-western groups have boycotted the Lebanese parliament, while demanding the government resign.
Israel, too, is entering the maelstrom, having recently attacked Syrian forces in response to allegations of Syrian shells landing in the Golan Heights region of Syria, which Israel stole and has occupied since the 1967 war.
Turkey is not only giving open support and an organizational base for the rebels, but has also threatened to invade Syria several times. Turkey’s parliament has given the government permission to do so. Turkey has been loudly advocating an innocuous-sounding “no fly zone” to “protect refugees,” which, in practice would equal a military invasion, as happened in Libya.
Syria’s Kurdish population is also a potential source of regional explosion. The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a country of their own, and their new-found autonomy in Syria is used as an additional excuse by Turkey to beat the war drum, since Turkey is already bombing the Kurds in Iraq while repressing them within Turkey. Several countries around Syria have large Kurdish populations.
A real revolution does not include nor need ethnic-religious warfare. Egypt’s powerful military was forced to succumb to the power of a real revolution, while Syria’s social movement has long been replaced by regional powers, who are dividing the country along sectarian lines in order to rule it.
A year of foreign funding and foreign fighters has not toppled the Syrian government because the regime still has a large degree of public support, which creates the conditions for an incredibly bloody civil war, a five alarm blaze that Obama continues to pour gasoline on.
Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org) He can be reached at [email protected]