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100 000 Syrians dead and US could end up killing more

Azhar Vadi – Cii Analysis – 28 August 2013

“Bullshit” I blabbered on Twitter before some kind soul reminded me that I represented an institution and due to an appearance default, a religion, and should be more circumspect when publicly expressing emotions.

A difficult thing to do considering the thoughts that go through the mind when examining the US hypocrisy and its beating of war drums along the Syrian Mediterranean coast. Two and a half years later, more than 100 000 people dead, close to two million refugees, a shattered country and now the US has spewed its anguish at the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime that has left 355 people killed according to human rights groups.

Activists have put the number at closer to 1300 and the images that have emerged from the scene were nothing short of grotesque. It made many around the world cry.

Who carried out the attack will most probably remain a historical mystery. Why would the regime of Bashar Al Assad, that has successfully massacred civilians for the last 30 months with every other type of ordinance, suddenly make use of chemical weapons at a time when UN weapons inspectors were in the country looking for precisely that? Did such an attack serve the regime interest? Judging from the US and world reaction, probably not.

But then why did he simply not allow the inspectors to enter as soon as possible without continuously bombing the area thereby destroying large amounts of evidence that could have been used to vindicate his government and military?

The US, with the French and British on a close leash, has however been quick to latch on to the opportunity and has suddenly woken up to the tragedy unfolding in Syria. A despicable crime has taken place, they cry, oblivious to the role they have played over the last two and half years.

During several talks following my journalistic visit to Syria in 2012, I noted that the biggest player in this entire mess has been the US and its allies. Despite having full knowledge of the plight of the Syrian people, their lack of resources to fight a fair battle, the US has held back in supplying anything of real worth in the midst of a debilitating war. The question is, why?

In the meanwhile the world’s policeman has slowly went about recruiting members of the opposition, crafting a government in exile called the Syrian National Coalition and made sure that those whom they back fully supported the ideals and aspirations of US foreign policy. The arming of opposition forces could not happen because identifying and finding out who amongst the Syrian opposition would toe the American line has been a complicated affair.

Soon they appeared, the Ahmed Jarbas and Salim Edrises of this world.

A misconception created by mass media throughout this Syrian tragedy, has been that the opposition to Assad has been a united one, a coalition of various groups both externally and internally, who have accepted the notion of being bought out by the Americans.

The reality however is that various groups fighting on the ground, having significant followings and influence, have distanced themselves from the SNC and its alliance with the Americans. The brigades of people like Abdul Qader Saleh, Abdul Jabaar Ogaidi, the Ahraar as Shaam and others have said they nothing to do with American interference and seek to establish a form of Islamic state.

They may have differed on the nature of what Islamic state they want, but what they certainly have not been looking forward was an extension of US hegemony.

The growing strength of these groups and the possible power vacuum that would be created if Bashar al Assad were to fall, has most certainly raised the concern of the America’s regional ally, Israel.

The last thing the Israelis want to see is the birth of a hostile Sunni Muslim state on its northern border. The idea of another Morsi-like Egypt is something the Israelis have not been keen on. Twenty years of peaceful border relations with a rhetoric filled Assad Syria, has been something they preferred.

So with the ascendency of an armed Sunni population already signaling threats to Israel, what could be the possible options at hand for the US and its ally?

The existing stalemate between the opposition forces and the regime could not continue perpetually. Either side has to give and history has proven that it has been extremely difficult for a state to go against the will of the majority of the populace.

Bashar al Assad’s removal, either through negotiation or force, was therefore a foregone conclusion and his fall would create the power vacuum.

The US has thus groomed the SNC leadership, who just last week announced moves to create a new Syrian army of between 6000 and 10 000 men. Without necessarily putting boots on the ground, the US would aim to use this force to stabilise the country and eliminate those armed groups with any anti-US sentiment.

In order to create the circumstances necessary for the fall of Assad, he needed to be significantly weakened. A reason for attack, grotesque enough, needed to be created in order to facilitate some kind of western intervention. After all nothing has been done for the last two and half years despite the murderous numbers.

And so we had the Ghouta attack and the drums of war suddenly became a lot louder and Syrian people needed to be saved and Bashar al Assad needed to be told that there was red line that he had just crossed. Whether Bashar ordered it, whether some lowly soldier accidentally loaded the incorrect shell, whether a pro-US militia launched it or whether an opposition group infiltrated by the intelligence agencies of other states with interests in the affair did it, no one will know, at least in the near future.

It’s difficult to see the US launching a full out ground assault on Syria though. A more likely scenario will see missile attacks on strategic sites. Undoubtedly more Syrians will be killed, by armaments meant to punish their president for killing them in the first place.

If Bashar falls and the SNC is not there to fill the gap, Israel will be under considerable threat. The new American supplied army will have to fill the gaping hole and the world moves on to stage two. If this is opposed by the opposition groups on the ground we could see the ‘Islamists’ versus the ‘secularists’ battle begin. The Americans will do all they can to make their guys win.

If not, a weakened Bashar will continue to fight the opposition until he is slowly pressured into making an exit at talks scheduled to take place soon in Geneva and the second stage plays out again. “The Americans are tying any military action to the chemical weapons issue. But the message is clear; they expect the strike to be strong enough to force Assad to go to Geneva and accept a transitional government with full authority,” a Syrian opposition figure said to Reuters.

Either way, Syrians will continue to die and be forced into despicable refugee camps. Education will continue to be non-existent and life will be hell. It’s difficult to see how a nation will recover after such trauma.

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