by Dan Glazebrook
May 3, 2012
The writer is a political
Western attempts to destroy Syria have not been
going to plan, revealing that what the West fears most is a peaceful
resolution to the crisis
The strategy was simple, clear, tried and tested. It had been used
successfully not only against Libya, but also Kosovo (in 1999), and was
rapidly underway in Syria.
It was to run as follows:
train proxies to launch armed
label the state's response to these
provocations as genocide
intimidate the UN Security Council into
agreeing that "something must be done"
incinerate the army and any other
resistance with fragmentation bombs and Hellfire missiles
finally install a weak, compliant
government to sign off new contracts and alliances drawn up in
London, Paris and Washington, whilst the country tore itself apart
the heart torn out of the "axis of
resistance" between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah, leaving Iran isolated and
the West with a free hand
to attack Iran without fear of regional
This was to be Syria's fate, drawn up years ago
in the high-level planning committees of US, British and French defence
departments and intelligence services. But this time, unlike in Libya, it
has not all gone according to plan.
First, there was Russia and China's veto of the "regime change" resolution
at the UN Security Council in October 2011, followed by a second veto in
February of this year.
This meant that any NATO attack on Syria would
be denied the figleaf of UN approval, and seen instead as a unilateral act
of aggression not just against Syria, but potentially also against China and
Russia as well.
Vicious and reckless as they are, even Cameron, Sarkozy and
Obama do not necessarily have the stomach for that kind of a fight.
That left the burden of destroying the Syrian
state to NATO's proxy forces on the ground, the "Free Syrian Army" - a
collection of domestic and (increasingly) foreign militias, mostly
Salafi extremists, along with a smattering of defectors and
Western special forces.
However, this army was not created actually to defeat the Syrian state; that
was always supposed to be NATO's job. As in Libya, the role of the militias
was simply to provoke reprisals from the state in order to justify a NATO
Left to their own devices, they have no chance
of gaining power militarily, as many in the opposition realize.
"We don't believe the Free Syrian Army is a
project that can help the Syrian revolution," said leader of the
internal Syrian resistance movement Haitham Al-Manna, recently.
"We don't have an example of where an armed
struggle against a dictatorial regime has won."
Of course, one could cite Cuba, South Vietnam,
and many others, but what is certainly true is that internal armed struggle
alone has never succeeded when the government is the only party in the
struggle with any significant mass support, as is the case in Syria.
This reality was brutally driven home in early March in the decisive battle
for the Baba Amr district of Homs. This was supposedly one of the Free
Syrian Army's strongholds, yet they were roundly defeated, leaving them
facing the prospect of similar defeats in their last few remaining
territories as well.
The opposition groups are becoming increasingly
aware that their best chance of meaningful change is not through a military
fight that they will almost certainly lose, and which will get them killed
in the process, along with their losing their support and credibility, but
through negotiations and participation in the reform process and the
dialogue that the government has offered.
This prospect - of an end to the civil war and a negotiated peace that
brings about a reform process without destabilizing the country - has led to
desperation amongst the imperialist powers.
Despite their claims to the contrary, a stable
Syrian-led process is the last thing they want, as it leaves open the
possibility of Syria remaining a strong, independent, anti-imperialist state
- exactly the possibility they had sought to eliminate.
Hence, within days of
Kofi Anan's peace plan gaining a positive response
from both sides in late March, the imperialist powers openly pledged, for
the first time, millions of dollars for the Free Syrian Army:
for military equipment, to provide salaries
to its soldiers, and to bribe government forces to defect.
In other words, terrified that the civil war in
Syria is starting to die down, they are setting about institutionalizing it.
If violent regime change is starting to look
unlikely, the hope instead is to keep the country weak and on its knees by
sucking its energy into an ongoing civil war.
At the risk of making the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC)
appear even more out of touch with ordinary Syrians than it does already,
its Western backers have increased the pressure on it to fall into line with
this strategy, leading to open calls from the SNC leadership for both the
full-scale arming of the rebellion and for aerial bombardment from the West.
This has caused huge rifts in the organization, with three leading members
defecting last month, because they did not want to be,
"accomplices in the massacre of the Syrian
people through delaying, cheating, lies, one-upmanship and
monopolization of decision-making."
The SNC, according to one of the three, Kamal
"linked to foreign agendas that aim to
prolong the battle while waiting... for the country to be dragged into a
This month, one of the few SNC leaders actually
based in Syria, Riad Turk, called on the opposition to accept the Anan peace
plan, "stop the bloodshed" and enter into dialogue with the government - a
call not echoed by his fellow SNC colleagues abroad.
Likewise, the main peaceful opposition grouping
within Syria - the National Coordinating Committee - has fallen out with the SNC over the latter's increasingly belligerent role as a mouthpiece of
NCC leader Al-Manna spoke out against the Free Syrian Army recently, saying,
"the militarization of the Syrian revolution
signifies the death of the internal revolution... We know that the
Turkish government is playing an important role in the political
decisions of the Free Syrian Army. We don't believe that an armed group
can be on Turkish territory and remain independent of Turkish
So, there is a growing perception, even amongst
the Syrian opposition movement itself, that both the Free Syrian Army and
the Syrian National Council are working in the interests of foreign powers
to prolong a pointless civil war.
Western policy-makers are playing a dangerous game. Short of a NATO attack,
their best option for the destabilization and emasculation of Syria is to
ensure that the ceasefire fails and the fighting continues.
To this end, they are encouraging their proxy
militias to step up their provocations:
the purpose of US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton's and French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé's statements about
"other measures" still being on the table is to keep the idea of a NATO
attack alive in the heads of the rebels so that they continue to fight.
Indeed, many more foreign fighters have been
shipped into the country in recent weeks, according to The Washington Post,
and these have been launching devastating bomb attacks in Damascus and
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford is a
protégé of John Negroponte, who organized Contra death squads to
destabilize Nicaragua in the 1980s; he will almost certainly have been
organizing similar groups in Syria during his time there last year and for
Nevertheless, the destabilization agenda is not going according to plan.
The internal opposition in Syria is becoming
increasingly frustrated with the way things are progressing, and a clear
split is emerging between those based outside the country, happy to see
Syria consigned to oblivion in order to please their paymasters and further
their careers, and those who actually have to live with the consequences.
The reckless attacks carried out by the armed militias are increasingly
alienating even those who once had some sympathy for them, especially as
their foreign membership and direction is being exposed ever more clearly.
Having been proven unable to win and hold territory, these militias are
turning to hit- and-run guerrilla tactics.
But the guerrilla, as Mao put it, is like a fish
that can only survive in a sea of popular support.
And that sea is rapidly drying up.