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Who is Fighting in Syria?

By Thierry Meyssan

July 25, 2012 "Information Clearing House" --  For the last 18 months, Syria has been prey to troubles that have steadily increased to become a widespread armed conflict having already killed about 20,000 people. If there is consensus on this observation, narratives and interpretations vary beyond.

For Western states and their press, the Syrians aspire to live in the Western market democracies. Following the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan "Arab Spring" models, they rose up to overthrow their dictator Bashar al-Assad. The latter suppressed the demonstrations with bloodshed. While Westerners would have liked to intervene to stop the massacre, the Russians and Chinese, out of self-interest or contempt for human life, opposed intervention.

On the contrary for all other states that are not vassals of the U.S. and for their media, the U.S. launched an operation planned a long time ago against Syria. First, through its regional allies, and then directly, they have introduced armed bands, modeled on the Contras in Nicaragua, that have destabilized the country. But they found only very weak domestic support and were routed while Russia and China prevented NATO’s destroying the Syrian army and reversing the regional equation.

Who is telling the truth? Who is wrong?

Armed groups in Syria do not defend democracy, they fight against it

First, the interpretation of Syrian events as an episode of the "Arab Spring" is an illusion because this "spring" has no basis in reality. This is an advertising slogan to positively present unrelated facts. Although there has been a popular revolt in Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain, there was none in neither Egypt nor Libya. In Egypt, the street demonstrations have been limited to the capital and parts of the middle class; never, absolutely never, have the Egyptian people identified with the telegenic spectacle of Tahrir Square [1]. In Libya, there was no political revolt, but a separatist movement in Cyrenaica against the power of Tripoli, and the military intervention of NATO, which cost the lives of about 160,000 people.

The Lebanese station NourTV has been very successful airing a series of broadcasts by Hassan Hamade entitled "The Arab Spring, from Lawrence of Arabia to Bernard-Henri Levy." The authors develop therein the idea that the "Arab Spring" is a remake of the "Arab Revolt" of 1916-1918 orchestrated by the British against the Ottomans. This time, Westerners have manipulated situations to upset a generation of leaders and impose the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, the "Arab Spring" is false advertising. Now, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Gaza are governed by a brotherhood; on the one hand imposing a moral order and on the other supporting Zionism and pseudo-liberal capitalism, that is to say the interests of Israel and the Anglo-Americans. The illusion was dispelled. Some authors, like Syria’s Said Hilal Alcharifi, now deride the "NATO spring".

Secondly, the leaders of the Syrian National Council (SNC) as well as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) commanders are not democratic at all, in the sense that they would be favourable to "a government of the people, by the people, for the people", according to Abraham Lincoln’s formula taken from the French Constitution.

Thus, the first president of the SNC was the Paris academic, Burhan Ghalioun. He was in no way "a Syrian opponent persecuted by the regime" since he circulated freely in and out of his country. Nor was he a "secular intellectual" as he claims, since he was the political advisor to the Algerian Abbassi Madani, President of the Islamic Salvation Front (ISF), now a refugee in Qatar.
His successor, Abdel Basset Syda [2] entered politics only in the last months, and immediately established himself as a mere executor of US wishes. Upon his election as head of the SNC, he pledged not to defend the will of his people, but to implement the "road map" that Washington drew up for Syria: The Day After.

Nor are the Free Syrian Army fighters champions of democracy. They recognize the spiritual authority of sheikh Adnan Alrour, a takfirist preacher, who calls for the overthrow and killing of Assad, not for political reasons but simply because Assad is of the Alawite faith, that is to say a heretic in the preacher’s eyes. All of the identified officers in the FSA are Sunnis and all of the FSA brigades are named after historical Sunni figures. The "revolutionary tribunals" of the FSA sentence their political opponents to death (and not only supporters of Bashar al-Assad) and they slaughter the unbelievers in public. The FSA program is to end the secular regime installed by the Baath, the SSNP and the Communist Party in favor of a pure religious Sunni regime.

The Syrian conflict was premeditated by the West

The western will to end Syria is known and it is quite sufficient to explain current events. Let us recall some facts that leave no doubt as to the premeditation of these events [3].

The decision to go to war with Syria was made by President George W. Bush at a Camp David meeting on September 15, 2001, just after the spectacular attacks in New York and Washington. Simultaneously attacks were planned in Libya to demonstrate the ability to act in two theaters at once. This decision was corroborated by the testimony of General Wesley Clark, former NATO supreme commander, who was opposed to it.

In the wake of the fall of Baghdad, in 2003, Congress passed two laws instructing the President of the United States to prepare wars against Libya and Syria (the Syria Accountability Act).

In 2004, Washington accused Syria of harbouring the weapons of mass destruction that could not be found in Iraq. This accusation fizzled when it was admitted that the weapons never existed and were but a pretext for invading Iraq.

In 2005, after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Washington attempted to go to war against Syria, but could not manage it as Syria withdrew its army from Lebanon. The United States then elicited fake testimonials to accuse President al-Assad of ordering the attack and they created a special international court to try him. But they were ultimately forced to withdraw their false accusations when their manipulations were brought to the light of day.

In 2006, the U.S. began to prepare the "Syrian revolution" by creating the Syria Democracy Program. The idea was to create and fund pro-Western opposition groups (such as the Movement for Justice and Development). Official funding from the State Department was supplemented by secret CIA funding via an association from California, the Democracy Council.

Also in 2006, the U.S. outsourced to Israel a war against Lebanon in the hope of involving Syria in order to justify intervention. But Hezbollah’s quick victory foiled that plan.

In 2007, Israel attacked Syria, bombing a military installation (Operation Orchard). But again, Damascus kept its cool and did not let itself get embroiled in war. Subsequent audits by the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that the target was not a nuclear site, contrary to what had been claimed by the Israelis.

In 2008, during NATO’s annual Bilderberg Group meeting, the Director of the Arab Reform Initiative, Bassma Kodmani, and the director of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Volker Perthes, demonstrated briefly to the Euro-American Gotha the economic, political and military benefits of possible intervention by the Alliance in Syria.

In 2009, the CIA set up tools of propaganda destined for Syria such as the BaradaTV channel, based in London, and Dubai-based OrientTV.

To these historical elements, let’s add that a meeting was held in Cairo, the second week of February 2011, around John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Bernard-Henry Levy, figures like Mahmoud Jibril Libya (then number two in the Libyan Jamahiriya government) and Syrian personalities like Malik al-Abdeh and Ammar Qurabi. It was this meeting that gave the signal for covert operations that began in both Libya and Syria (February 15th in Benghazi and 17th in Damascus).

In January 2012, the U.S. Departments of State and Defense formed the Task Force named The Day After: Supporting a democratic transition in Syria, which drafted both a new constitution for Syria and a governance program [4].

In May of 2012, NATO and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) set up the Working Group on Economic Recovery and Development of the Friends of the Syrian People, under German and Emirati co-chairmanship. Therein, the Syrian-British economist Ossam el-Kadi worked out a plan to divide Syrian wealth among coalition member states, to apply the "day after" (that is to say, after the overthrow of the regime by NATO and the GCC) [5].

Revolutionaries or counter-revolutionaries?

The armed groups did not spring from peaceful protests in February 2011. These events in fact denounced corruption and demanded more freedoms, whereas the armed groups- as we have seen above- emerge from Islamism.

In recent years, a terrible economic crisis has hit the countryside. It was due to poor harvests, which were wrongly assessed as passing misfortunes while they were in reality the consequences of chronic climate change. To this are added errors in the implementation of economic reforms that have disrupted the primary sector. This was followed by a massive rural exodus which the government has managed, and a sectarian drifting away of some farmers neglected by the powers. In many areas, rural housing was not concentrated in villages, but dispersed as isolated farms, no one had measured the extent of this phenomenon until its adherents congregated.

Ultimately, while the Syrian society embodies the paradigm of religious tolerance, a takfirist current developed within. It provided the basis for the armed groups. These have been richly funded by Wahhabi monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sharjjah).
This windfall has led to the rallying of new fighters which include relatives of the victims of the massive crackdown against the failed bloody Muslim Brotherhood coup in 1982. Their motive is often less ideological than personal. It springs from vendetta.
Many thugs and habitual criminals lured by easy money joined: a "revolutionary" is paid seven times the average wage.
Finally, professionals who fought in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya or Iraq started pouring in. At the head of these are the men of Al Qaeda in Libya, led by Abdelhakim Belhaj in person [6] The media present them as jihadists, which is inappropriate, Islam not conceiving of holy war against fellow Muslims. These are primarily mercenaries.

Western media and the Gulf press both insist on the presence of deserters in the FSA. That is certain, but it is false to claim that they defected after refusing to suppress political demonstrations. The deserters in question almost always come from cases similar to those we described above. Moreover, any army of 300,000 men would perforce have in its ranks its share of religious fanatics and thugs.

Armed groups use a Syrian flag with a green band (instead of the red band) and three stars (instead of two). The Western press calls it the "flag of independence", as it was in effect at the time of independence in 1946. In reality, this is the flag of the French mandate which remained in force during the country’s formal independence (1932-1958). The three stars represent the three districts of religious colonialism (Alawite, Druze and Christian). Using this flag is certainly not the equivalent of brandishing a revolutionary symbol. On the contrary, it is to affirm the will to prolong the colonial project, that of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and the remodeling of the "Greater Middle East".

Over the 18 months of armed action, these armed groups structured and more or less coordinated themselves. As it stands, the vast majority have come under Turkish command, under the label of Free Syrian Army. In fact, they have become auxiliaries of NATO; their headquarters is even located on the NATO air base at Incirlik. Hard core Islamists have formed their own organizations or have joined al-Qaida. They are under the control of Qatar or of the Sudeiri branch of the Saudi royal family [7]. They are de facto attached to the CIA.

This progressive constitution, which starts with poor farmers and ends with an influx of mercenaries, is identical to what we saw in Nicaragua when the CIA organized the Contras to overthrow the Sandinistas, or to what we had known in Cuba when the CIA organized the landing of the Bay of Pigs to overthrow Castro. It is precisely this model that the Syrian armed groups now claim as their own: in May of 2012, Miami Cuban Contras organized counter-revolutionary guerrilla war training seminars for their Syrian counterparts [8].

CIA methods are the same everywhere. Thus, the Syrian Contras focused their military action in part on the creation of permanent bases (but none held, not even the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr), then economic sabotage (destruction of infrastructure and burning down large factories), and finally terrorist tactics (derailment of passenger trains, car bomb attacks at popular sites, killing religious, political and military leaders).

In consequence, that part of the Syrian population which could have had sympathy for armed groups at the onset of events, believing that they represented an alternative to the current regime, have become progressively disaffected.

Not surprisingly, the battle of Damascus has consisted in the convergence on the capital of 7,000 fighters scattered around the country and mercenary armies based in neighboring countries. Tens of thousands of Contras have tried to enter the country. They moved simultaneously in numerous columns of pick-up trucks, preferring to cross deserts than travel the highways. Some of them were stopped by aerial bombardment and had to turn back. Others, after seizing the border crossings, reached the capital. They have not found the hoped for popular support. Rather, it is the people that have guided the National Army soldiers to identify them and weed them out. Eventually they were forced to retreat and have announced that, failing to take Damascus, they would take Aleppo. Moreover, it shows they are neither Damascenes in revolt, nor Aleppians, but transient fighters.


Contra infiltration through the desert near Dera

The unpopularity of the armed groups should be compared with the popularity of the regular army and self-defense militia. The Syrian National Army is a conscript army, so it’s a people’s army, and it is unthinkable that it can be used for political repression. Recently, the government authorized the creation of neighborhood militias. It distributed weapons to citizens who are committed to devote 2 hours of their time every day to defend their neighborhood, under military supervision.

The moon is made of green cheese

In his time, President Reagan met some difficulties trying to present Contras as "revolutionary." He created a structure for this propaganda, the Bureau of Public Diplomacy, the management of which he entrusted to Otto Reich [9]. The latter corrupted journalists in most major U.S. and Western European media to poison the well of public opinion. Among others, he launched a rumor that the Sandinistas had chemical weapons and might use them against their own people. Today propaganda is directed from the White House by the deputy national security adviser in charge of strategic communications, Ben Rhodes. He employs the old methods and has spread rumors of chemical weapons against President al-Assad.

In collaboration with the British MI6, Rhodes managed to impose a phantom structure as the main source of information for Western news agencies: the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH). The media have never questioned the credibility of this outfit, even though its allegations were denied by the observers of the Arab League and by those of the United Nations. Better yet, this phantom structure, which has neither offices nor staff nor expertise, has also become the source of information for European chancelleries since the White House convinced them to withdraw their diplomatic staff from Syria.


While waiting to be on live, the Al-Jazeera correspondent, Khaled Abou Saleh, phones his editor. He claims that Baba Amr is being bombed and organizes the sound effects. M. Abou Saleh was François Hollande’s guest of honour at the 3rd Conference of the Friends of Syria.

Ben Rhodes also organised shows for journalists thirsting for sensationalism. Two tour operations have been established, one in the office of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the second at the offices of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Willing journalists were invited to enter illegally into Syria through smugglers. For months, a trip was offered from the Turkish border to a remote witness village located in the mountains. You could have a photo shoot with "revolutionaries" and "share the daily lives of combatants." Then the more sporting crowd could visit the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr from the Lebanese border.

Oddly enough, many journalists observed huge falsifications for themselves, but they did not draw any conclusions. Thus, a famous photojournalist filmed the Baba Amr "revolutionaries" burning tires to release black smoke and make believe in a bombing in the neighborhood. He broadcast these images on Channel4 [10], but continued to claim that he had witnessed the bombardment of Baba Amr as narrated by the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. Or again, the New York Times noted that pictures and videos sent by the press service of the Free Syrian Army showing valiant fighters were staged [11]. Weapons of war were actually replicas, toys for children. The newspaper has nevertheless continued to believe in the existence of an army of deserters numbering nearly 100,000 men.


Reading a statement from the Free Syrian Army. The proud "deserters" are extras who carry fake weapons.

According to a classical irony, journalists prefer to lie than admit that they have been manipulated. Once duped, they consciously participate in the development of the lie they have discovered. The question is whether you, readers of this article, also prefer to close your eyes or if you decide to support the Syrian people against the Contras’ aggression.

French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. Professor of International Relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies in Damascus. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

Translation  - Roger Lagassé

This article was originally published at Voltaire Network

 

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