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Syria, the United States and The El Salvador Option

By Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

July 12, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- Every day the news from Syria is more and more somber as the country and the region continue their journey to unknown and more dangerous realms.  Syria appears headed for “beyond explosion”, for implosion and NATO foreign military intervention that could result in unpredictable dangerous consequences.

The most recent news reports are alarming. A curious person asking about the situation would get the following predictable reply: Syria is on the verge of civil war; it is run by a ruthless leader that violates human rights on a biblical scale and needs to be removed so that the `peace loving’ Syrian people can live in harmony and tranquility and it appears the only way to achieve this goal is through yet another NATO-led military `humanitarian’ intervention under the auspices of the United States.

Stepping back from the official (and Fox’s) version of the Syrian analysis, and remembering a few historical facts, changes the picture considerably.

  • Through repeated presidential doctrines, U.S. administrations – starting at least with Truman – have made it clear that the Middle East holds a strategic position in U.S. regional and global policy

  • It’s an historical fact that to protect those strategically declared interests, the United States will partner with anyone from Netanyahu in Israel to Erdogan in Turkey, to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, to Hosni Mubarek in Egypt, to Osama Bin Laden (when it serves U.S. purposes) and do anything – kosher or not – .

  • Over the years since World War Two, the United States has repeatedly engaged in the destabilization of unwanted regimes, through various means (economic boycotts, bribes, CIA clandestine operations, infiltrating foreign militaries).

All this is done to change regimes that oppose U.S. interests in one way or the other! Why think that the basic paradigm has changed in the case of Syria? The goal remains the same; only the methodology– we would argue – is slightly different. Old wine, new bottle.

Let’s look at just a few pertinent facts:

  1. The destabilization of Syria and Lebanon as sovereign countries has been on the drawing board of the US-NATO-Israel military alliance for at least ten years. Action against Syria is part of a “military roadmap”, a sequencing of military operations that is being put into operation. According to former NATO Commander General Wesley Clark–the Pentagon had clearly identified a total of seven countries, namely Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan” (Pentagon official quoted by General Wesley Clark in Winning Modern Wars[page 130]).

  2. The overthrow of Syria’s government is a premeditated US plot which was instituted long before the outset of the Arab Spring. A concerted campaign to isolate, destabilize and overthrow the government of Syria began as early as 2002, a year after Clark was informed of the Pentagon’s plan to blitzkrieg through the Middle East. It was then that Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria to the growing “Axis of Evil.” It would later be revealed that Bolton’s threats against Syria included covert funding and support for opposition groups inside of Syria spanning both the Bush and Obama administrations. In 2011, State Department spokesperson Mark Toner  remarked that the US has been funding Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005 and the funding continues until today.  In an April 2011 AFP report (14), Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, stated that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.”

  3. A Washington Post report went on to explain that the US “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East then gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there,” The same Michael Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” That ripple effect of course is the “Arab Spring,” and in Syria’s case, the impetus for the current unrest threatening to unhinge the nation and invite in foreign intervention.”(emphasis added). What we have here is not a humanitarian gesture to democratize Syria, but to the contrary, a pro-active policy of regime change similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan that was planned many years ago, the only thing missing was the proper context to implement the plan.

As every effort by the U.S. administration so far has not brought down the Syrian regime, this leads us to posit that the next step in the sequence of events – as it happened in Iraq and Afghanistan – is the implementation of the Salvador Option. This operation under U.S. supervision and support was perfected in El Salvador at the cost of 75,000 lives and in Guatemala with several hundred thousand deaths in the 1980s

Syria, The United States and the El Salvador Option (Part Two)

By Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince

So what is the Salvador option?

“The Salvador Option” is a “terrorist  mode”” of mass killings that was perfected by the US to destabilize regimes that the US saw as threats to its interests. Taught at places like the `School of the Americas’it is employed when other forms of political manipulation fail to produce the desired results. The option works through created and sponsored death squads, with the primary goal of committing slaughter of innocent lives. This triggers world outrage, necessitating intervention by the US under the humanitarian intervention framework. As we state in Part One, this was first applied in El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths. In Guatemala during the 1980s and 1990s, the number of t hose killed by basically the same option was more than 200,000. 

A.To see how it works, we would like to borrow an analogy from cooking. What are the needed ingredients for this process?

1-      Identify a progressive regime that resists US imperialism and hegemony and declare it ‘rogue state’ or ‘access of evil’ etc. Use any expression with a catchy title to engineer the consent of the unsuspected people; it helps if this regime is somewhat authoritarian.

2-      Develop a plan and begin the preparations, putting a destabilization expert in charge, normally as ambassador or someone with diplomatic immunity.

3-      This person usually begins by contacting the army searching for elements that are prepared to sell their soul and their country for few pieces of silver.

4-      If such elements cannot be found from within the ranks of the U.S. diplomatic corps, create such an entity; call it a ‘resistance’ or ‘liberation movement’ made up of preferably those trained at a U.S. army base or training camp somewhere in the world. If that is not possible, the U.S. can usually depend upon a readymade supply of Salafist and Wahhabi ‘freedom fighters’ willingly provided by allies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar; or better yet, use the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) terrorist organization that Washington and Tel Aviv have been long training.

5-      Once the appropriate arrangement is agreed upon, the process of supplying `the freedom fighters with weapons, financial support, technical advisers, and clandestine operators begins. …You know what we mean.

6-      To make it easier for this fabricated liberation movement to gain legitimacy, implement a tried and tested program that generates international revolution: the more abominable the crimes committed, the more likely the call to humanitarian intervention will arise.

7-      To feign compassion(to make the whole thing kosher) , it helps to go to that circus known as the UN to organize a Security Council resolution. Once the appropriate U.N. vote is favorably extracted, bought through either bribery, threats or some combination thereof, it is possible to reap the harvest of all this intrigue and subterfuge by dividing the country or putting a puppet in charge; the sky is the limit! The ultimate goal – a la Libya – is to produce weak or fractured states, the smaller the better – and the easier to manipulate their weak and easily corruptible governments to accept radical global corporate intervention on easy terms. Are you following the point, catching the drift?

B.

Now let us see how this hypothesis works in the case of Syria.

In Part One, we stated that the destabilization and regime change in Syria has been part of US plan for the past ten years. Taking advantage of the authoritarian nature of the Assad regime, and emboldened by its ability to overthrow Khadafy in Libya, the Obama Administration turned its attention to Syria. Bringing down – or seriously weakening – Assad weakens Iran’s position in the region, undermines Hezbollah in Lebanon, puts a smile on Binjamin Netanyahu’s face and places Russia and China in a more difficult strategic position.

In Syria’s case, the only missing ingredient was an opportunity to implement the plan. The eruption of the Arab Spring and the eruption of the ensuing social crisis in Syria provided Washington with the opportunity to turn the regional democratic upsurge to its advantage.

There are many indications that the “Free Syrian Army”, currently engaged in armed struggle against the Assad government, is led not by Syrians, but by NATO-backed Libyan militants from the US State Department-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group. Recently, revelations that Syrian militants are in fact being armed, trained, funded, and joined on the battlefield by Libya’s Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization (listed as #27) . The Telegraph would report in November 2011 that LIFG leader, Abdul Belhaj met with senior leaders of the “Free Syrian Army” on the Turkish-Syrian border. ) Belhaj and his LIFG’s role is not just assisting Syrian militants but in fact leading them in NATO’s armed destabilization of Syria. Belhaj pledged weapons and money (both of which he receives from NATO) as well as sending LIFG fighters to train and fight alongside Syrian militants. VoltaireNet.org would confirm.

Saudi Arabia, which has closely coordinated with U.S. Middle East policy aims for decades, is also very much involved. It has also been confirmed that Saudi Arabia is shipping arms to foreign fighters and Syrian rebels operating out of Jordan. The Australian reports, quoting an Arab diplomat, that “Saudi military equipment is on its way to Jordan to arm the Free Syrian Army.” It must be noted that Saudi Arabia in turn, receives its weapons and a significant amount of military funding from the United States.

C.

The Role of  U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Ford

In January, 2011, just as the Arab Spring was expanding region-wide from its Tunisian birthplace, one Robert Stephen Ford was appointed the new US Ambassador to Syria. Ford is no ordinary diplomat.  He was U.S. representative in January 2004 to the Shiite city of Najaf in Iraq. Najaf was the stronghold of the Mahdi army. A few months later he was appointed “Number Two Man” (Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs), at the US embassy in Baghdad at the outset of John Negroponte’s tenure as US Ambassador to Iraq (June 2004- April 2005). Ford subsequently served under Negroponte’s successor Zalmay Khalilzad prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Algeria in 2006, another highly sensitive political appointment.

Ambassador Robert S. Ford’s activities in Iraq laid the groundwork for the launching of the insurgency in Syria in March 2011, which commenced in the Southern border city of Daraa. Much of what we know about Ford’s activities has been well documented by the Canadian research center, Global Research, Ca

Ford arrived in Damascus at the height of the protest movement in Egypt. He was no stranger to some of the more covert and nefarious aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Ford had been part of John Negroponte’s team at the US Embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) where he helped engineer “the Salvador Option” for Iraq. The latter consisted in supporting Iraqi death squads and paramilitary forces modeled on the experience of Central America.

Robert S. Ford’s mandate as “Number Two” (Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs) under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte was to coordinate out of the US embassy, the covert support to death squads and paramilitary groups in Iraq with a view to fomenting sectarian violence and weakening the resistance movement.

Ford gave a touching statement of his goals in Syria in a communique from the U.S. embassy there:

“As the United States’ Ambassador to Syria—a position that the Secretary of State and President are keeping me in —I will work with colleagues in Washington to support a peaceful transition for the Syrian people. We and our international partners hope to see a transition that reaches out and includes all of Syria’s communities and that gives all Syrians hope for a better future. My year in Syria tells me such a transition is possible, but not when one side constantly initiates attacks against people taking shelter in their homes”.

“Peaceful transition for the Syrian people”? He was pursuing a much darker agenda.

Prof  Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, Ca describes Ford’s role more honestly:

“Since his arrival in Damascus in late January 2011 until he was recalled by Washington in October 2011, Ambassador Robert S. Ford played a central role in laying the groundwork within Syria as well as establishing contacts with opposition groups. The US embassy was subsequently closed down in February. Ford also played a role in the recruitment of Mujahideen mercenaries from neighboring Arab countries and their integration into Syrian “opposition forces”.  Since his departure from Damascus, Ford continues to oversee the Syria project out of the US State Department:

All indications are that Ford engaged in more cynical than simply engaging in muted congenial diplomatic relations. In Syria he was a key player, implementing two major building blocks of the Salvador option needed for the destabilization of Syria, as he did in Iraq:

  1. He used the cover of the diplomatic immunity to travel around Syria in order to connect together the groups trained by the US intelligence community. He has been pictured with US military advisers visiting hotspot sites all over Syria.

2. On a more sinister level, as in Iraq, he used his diplomatic status in Syria to distribute sophisticated communication equipment, equipment whose communications could not be decoded by the Syrian authorities (or those in other countries where the system was used). The US embassy in Damascus was the system’s communication system.

Using this new secretly coded technology, he began to openly incite the Syrian elements sympathetic to the US interest to topple the régime. Imagine what would have happened to the Syrian ambassador in Washington, had he engaged in similar activities with the `Occupy’ movements here.

Another key figure in Syria’s `Salvador Option’ is David Petraeus. We’ll deal with his role in Part Three of this series.

Ibrahim Kazerooni is finishing a joint phd at the Iliff School of Theology and the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies

Rob Prince is a lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies

This article was originally published at Colorado Progressive Jewish News

 

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