Friday, July 27, 2012

Syria's Stalemate

Below, Vali Nasr discusses the probable implications of the ongoing turmoil in Syria:

Syria's Stalemate - Vali Nasr - July 27, 2012 - ABC News Australia

Take this clip with a pinch of salt though. Consider, for instance, these issues:

1. The problematic characterization of the conflict as primarily a "sectarian war". Given the involvement of many regional and global powers in Syria, the equation is much more complicated than just a communal-political conflict among different sects;

2. There is no probe into who this "international community" is and its interests and hypocrisies. For instance, why all of a sudden the monarchical states of the Persian Gulf have become the champions of human rights and democracy?;

3. No probe into the role of this "international community" in supporting and sending al Qaeda and other militant elements to Syria;

4. No probe into the role of this "international community" (and its propaganda machinery of media, political pundits, and gullible, involuntary, or fake lesbian bloggers) for not seeing the distinctions between Saddam's Iraq and Qaddafi's Libya on the one hand and Assad's Syria on the other**. For one, Assad still retains significant popularity among the masses, as Vali Nasr points out in the above clip, and even greater numbers of Syrian people are against a regime change, as verified by the Qatar Foundation. This "international community", however, actively supported the more uncompromising and militant elements in the opposition*** to hijack the whole opposition movement (to sabotage the possibility of the pro-democracy opposition pushing the Assad's government to engage in democratic reforms, which the Assad's government was willing to concede to stop the early protests and violence);

5. No probe into the impact of a debilitating Syria on the anti-colonial/hegemonic resistance in the region;

6. And, whether, perhaps, this debilitation of Assad's government was the goal of (at least some elements of) this "international community" from the first day? As discerning analysts knew from the beginning that the hegemonic forces could not have toppled Assad's government that easily, and even if they did, the alternative would not have been very desirable to them. Instead, perhaps, the "international community" wanted to make Syria engulfed into internal conflicts and bloodshed, so that it could not play its regional role in support of the anti-hegemonic resistance?

Another scenario is that perhaps the global and regional powers have already extracted enough from the Syrian turmoil -- in terms of weakening the regime and in terms of dividing the public/activist opinion (in the Middle East and beyond) and dividing the public/activist support for the anti-hegemonic resistance efforts -- that these powers now do not feel that a regime change would be necessary (they probably took into consideration the alternatives of either al Qaeda type extremists taking over power or the eruption of a full-fledged civil war if Assad's government were toppled. Either of these options would have destablized the border regions, and that would not have been desirable to the bordering countries, including Israel, Turkey, and Lebanon).

In both of these scenarios it is also possible that the foreign powers were hoping to remove Assad but retain the government (to keep Syria from a plunging into a full-fledged chaos), but haven't been successful at that, yet (despite their attempts to demoralize Assad's aides -- through rumors, bribes, bombings, defections, and so on).

** The emphasis on this distinction is not meant to support Washington's wars on the former two states.

***This was a repeat of the "strategic victimhood" and prolonging of conflict that was seen in the case of Darfur. As Kuperman argues in the following op-ed, the rebels became uncompromising because they believed that the Western powers and its support (including the Save Darfur movement) were behind them:

In conclusion, no morality tale is being told here with the above questions -- just exhortation of doing a realistic assessment of the situation.

Some references:

""al-Qaeda" All Over Syria"

"Al Qaeda Taking Deadly New Role in Syria’s Conflict"

On Arab League's human rights concern for Syria, see
And, simultaneously, see this: "Saudi Arabia condemns Russian comments on human rights"

On Qatar Foundation's poll, see:
"Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media"

On the fake lesbian blogger, see

Here is an honest blogger who is rethinking his earlier assessment of Syrian violence

Another blogger: Check out the map given at Michigan Professor Juan Cole's site. The regions on the Lebanese and Turkish borders are the most volatile one. But, Cole does not analyze this observation the way Ron Paul does (see below). Is it because this is a democrat's war, not republican's? (Cole opposed Washington's wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, but supported the wars on Libya and now Syria.)
(A clearer map of Syria's neighbors: )

US Congressman Ron Paul on Washington's involvement in Syria (June 19, 2012)

"There’s no benefit for us to be picking sides, secretly providing assistance and encouraging civil strife in an effort to effect regime change in Syria. Falsely charging the Russians with supplying military helicopters to Assad is an unnecessary provocation. Falsely blaming the Assad government for a so-called massacre perpetrated by a violent warring rebel faction is nothing more than war propaganda. Most knowledgeable people now recognize that the planned war against Syria is merely the next step to take on the Iranian government, something the neo-cons openly admit. Controlling Iranian oil, just as we have done in Saudi Arabia and are attempting to do in Iraq, is the real goal of the neo-conservatives who have been in charge of our foreign policy for the past couple of decades."

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