by Ghassan Kadi
Before we move on describing and analyzing the events on the battleground in Syria and what has led to the current situation, we should insert in here a quick look at the events that culminated in the decision making of waging the “War On Syria”.
After the infamous New World Order (NWO) came into existence following the demise of the Soviet Union, a global “order” that virtually gave the USA a boundless mandate to exercise its dream of being the world police and hegemon, the USA was quick to bypass international law and invade Iraq and later on Afghanistan, Iraq again, bombed and pillaged Libya and then stopped a bit short of literally invading Syria.
But even before the NWO sprang into existence, and even during the height of the Soviet might, America engaged in direct military action in tens of countries and bombed most of them. The list is well-known and does not need to be elaborated herein.
In each and every situation, with or without UNSC mandate, America had no hesitation at all to classify nations as being friendly or ones that are part of the “Axis of evil”. George W Bush (GWB) made it clear when he said: “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”. In that, he really meant: “either you do exactly what we tell you, or we shall bomb you”, as in practical terms, America gave itself the mandate to bomb and pillage as it deemed fit.
It is therefore true to say that if America is truthful to one promise, its history reveals that it always fulfills the promise of bombing a country it says it wants to bomb.
So what stopped America from bombing Syria more than four years after it made its first overt expression of interest in bombing it? One might ask.
In hindsight, American foreign policy makers must be feeling very annoyed, to say the least, about missing out on the one-off chance to invade Syria, but that was back in 2003. There was in fact another opportunity earlier on in 1991, but that particular one was thwarted by Assad Senior.
America had it in for Syria ever since President Hafez Assad calmly and diligently worked with Hezbollah to turn Israel’s invasion of Lebanon of 1982 into a humiliating defeat.
On the ominous date of the 5th of June, Israel attacked Lebanon in 1982 with a firm decision to destroy the PLO and drive it out of Lebanon. Even the capital Beirut itself fell, and nearly half of Lebanon came under the control of Israel. At that stage, Israel could have occupied all of Lebanon, but it felt there was no need to advance further, especially after it brokered a deal that saw the exodus of the PLO from Beirut to Tunis.
The memory of a previous war that also started on the 5th of June (1967) was still fresh in the minds of all Arabs. The lessons learnt from previous wars with Israel meant to Arabs that it (Israel) was invincible and that every inch of land occupied by Israeli forces stays under Israeli control. The partial Arab victory in the October 1974 war did not do much to change this image, especially that Kissinger’s diplomacy later on gave Israel more power and upper hand than it ever achieved militarily.
That was a long, hot and depressing summer in Lebanon, marred with hopelessness and despair. The horror of the Sabra and Chatila massacres chilled the entire globe, and there seemed absolutely no hope at all on the horizon for any possible way to see Israel packing up and leaving.
Out of the utter state of helplessness, the resistance took off and grew and grew. Hafez Assad was a genius tactician with limitless tenacity. He was determined to turn developments in the favour of Syria after many years of Kissinger’s policy of deception that clearly focused on securing the state of Israel by any means possible. The way America isolated Syria by taking Egypt out of the equation left Syria in a very vulnerable position that needed a huge shift in the balance of power in order to enable it to protect its borders and integrity. In his book Asad, Patrick Seale dedicated a significant section to the period of Kissinger diplomacy and its impact on Syria.
Hafez Assad knew well that he would not win a conventional war against Israel and with Hezbollah’s leadership, they both decided that only an asymmetrical war waged against Israel might just do the trick.
Ever since Hezbollah took off, and as its guerilla-style attacks on Israeli forces in South Lebanon started to take their toll, the American-Israeli axis vowed revenge on Assad.
Following Saddam’s uncalculated invasion of Kuwait, Bush senior wanted to attack both Iraq and Syria, but President Assad Senior spoiled it for him by pledging a token military unit in the coalition against Iraq and thus turning himself into an ally.
We must remember that was in 1991 at a time when Syria had lost the support of the USSR and Russia was deep into its own domestic issues. President Assad made a wise and pragmatic decision.
As the Hezbollah attacks on Israel became increasingly sophisticated and effective, Israel had two options; either to make another huge escalation or simply to retreat. Finally, and on the 25th of May 2000, they decided to leave Lebanon. They called it a withdrawal when in fact it was a retreat following a decisive defeat. President Hafez Assad fortunately lived long enough to see the fruit of his work and died only a few weeks later.
Apart from being a statesman of high substance, Hafez Assad was a nation-builder at many levels. For example, in banning certain imports, he did not only aim for austerity measures, but also as a means for the local industries to develop. When he assumed power in 1970, Syria was reeling from many years of political instability, and it suffered from a huge exodus of both finance and expertise to Lebanon. Its industrial and agricultural sectors were severely affected, its roads were dated and it had no direction. Assad was able to reverse all of this, all the while keeping a close eye on raising enough finance for the Army and the security apparatus.
On the social level, Assad was staunchly secular. Whilst Lebanon had a sectarian system and all government positions all the way from the president to gatemen were allocated on a sectarian split that was meant to be “fair”, in Syria any form of sectarianism was banned and for a citizen to make an inquiry about another citizen’s religion and sect was made illegal.
All of the above displeased Syria’s neighbours and opponents. Israel cannot justify its Zionist Jewish-based existence and be able to defend the argument that the only form of security and stability that is feasible in the Levant must be based on theocracy in the presence of a successful secular state by its side. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia had similar Sunni-founded concerns about the advent of secularism. Last but not least, the advances Syria made in the areas of industry, technology, agriculture, and other fields have all spelled danger for the long-term security of Israel. The anti-Syrian alliance, headed by America and Israel grew more adamant and determined to stop the progress of Syria and to send it back to the dark ages.
By 2003, following September 11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, America was determined to use the opportunity as a pretext to finally execute its long standing dream of invading Syria, but it needed a very good justification that was internationally palatable.
In 2003, America had no valid reason or need to invade Iraq. After more than a decade of sanctions, Iraq was drained, virtually bankrupt, ill-resourced, its people mal-nourished, its economy in ruins and its once mighty military reduced to a spent force. The fabrication of the WMD story was intended to ramp up more global hatred for the already hated Saddam, but Saddam was not the big fish America wanted to fry.
America’s whole obsession with the Middle East has always been two faceted; Israel’s security and oil, and in this order.
With Saudi oil at its beck and call, America did not “need” to invade Iraq to get oil. This leaves out Israel’s security, and that was what was at heart; not the oil. Oil was only the lubricant to lure in the insatiable huge corporations and the political clout they bring in.
But why would America attack Saddam if he no longer was able to threaten Israel? The simple answer to this is in saying again that Saddam was not the target.
America wanted to occupy Iraq only to use it as a springboard to attack and invade Syria and Iran, thereby vanquishing the states that stand against the American-Israeli plans of achieving total Middle East hegemony, cutting off the support lifeline of Hezbollah, putting an end to the “Axis of Resistance”, and forever guaranteeing Israel’s security.
As a matter of fact, soon after the fall of Bagdad, America started to make accusations against Syria of supporting and arming Iraqi insurgents. They did not waste any time to start ramping up anti-Syrian sentiment.
In their arrogance, the Americans thought that they were going to be able to fully control and subdue Iraq and that invading both Syria and Iran would be a walk in the park. Not only did they overestimate their own power, but as usual, they underestimated the might of their opponents.
Arrogant and short-sighted they might be, but American foreign policy makers couldn’t have planned to deliberately turn Iraq into total chaos. That became their contingency plan B. The initial intention was to turn Iraq into a vassal state, a stable one, but one that would jump when told to jump. They wanted an Iraq that has a good relationship with Israel, and one that is strong enough to curb any westward Iranian expansion. They wanted the new Iraq to be a model for the West, a state for the West to nurture and protect, a thorn in the side of both Syria and Iran, and use its loyalty to America to either falsely accuse the Syrians and Iranians of meddling with its security, or to actually provoke them enough to generate such actions. Most importantly, they wanted the whole world to rise up in arms in support of Iraq when its “totalitarian non-democratic” neighbours threatened its new-found democracy and freedom. Such was their pretext for inflaming serious international anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian passions to an extent that was enough to justify waging war against them both.
As it turned out, America was unable to control Iraq let alone think of expanding beyond its borders. Soon after Bush Junior’s “mission accomplished” statement, the US military came to the realization that invading Iran and Syria had to be declared as “mission aborted”, or should we say delayed, until it was more opportune to do so. The next best option the Americans had for Iraq was to turn Iraq into a failed state.
For America to invade Syria, it had first to demonize Assad and rally up as many enemies against him as possible, including creating new ones, domestically, regionally and internationally.
The assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005 was an important piece of the puzzle. Syria was quickly accused of the assassination, at a time when its forces were still in Lebanon and controlling its security.
To stage an assassination in Lebanon is not that difficult at all, but people do not normally plan and execute such actions unless they can benefit from the outcome. If anything, Syria had a lot to lose from this murder, and nothing to gain. The winners of the assassination were the ones who were able to capitalize on the event in order to raise huge anger and hostility towards Syria. Whilst it cannot be proven, this assassination had the hallmarks and fingerprints that point to a joint Israeli-American plot aimed at demonizing Assad and getting the international political ground ready for an invasion of his country.
Arab leaders, especially Sunni Arab leaders as well as local Sunni Lebanese leaders decided, without a speck of evidence, that Syria was responsible for the murder, and as a result, Syrian forces were made to leave Lebanon, leaving Lebanon not only in the hands of the powerful Hezbollah, but also in the hands of the “Future Movement” gangs of thugs (ie Hariri’s party) and the so-called 14th of March Coalition that was formed and bundled together almost immediately after the infamous assassination.
Anti-Syrian sentiments became the fashion on Lebanese TV stations and other media supportive of the 14th of March Coalition, and there were clear indications that this would eventually come to a head.
The preparation for the Arab Spring became more plausible, but it had to wait for six more years.
What was to happen next was a joint international effort that was prepared to employ any force possible, regardless of its nature and outcome, just in order to topple the Syrian Government and to destroy its culture, history, secularism, and religious plurality. Yet, with all its ferocity, that “Anti-Syrian Cocktail” has thus far remained unable to wage its dream NATO-led attack on Syria as shall be subsequently discussed and explained.