US Must Call Off Dogs of War in Syria
By Finian Cunningham
October 12, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Sputnik"
- Ambiguity can be a useful skill in diplomatic engagement. It can
wrong-foot adversaries, or otherwise tamp down tensions to avoid
confrontation. But there is a danger that ambiguity can rebound
badly by blurring reality, thereby impairing decisive action when
decisive action is actually the best tactic.
Take Russia’s preferred lexicon of “partners” when
referring to Washington and its various allies. The use of the term
no doubt has served well to frustrate belligerent Western attitudes.
But is there a danger that such polite engagement creates a false
sense of negotiation? Or, worse, an unhelpful distraction
from Russia’s priorities?
Moscow has magnanimously
offered partnership to Washington and its allies over the immediate
challenge of defeating terrorism in Syria.
Moscow has called on the United States
to coordinate military operations, although, it has to be said,
to not much avail so far.
Just this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin
hosted Washington’s main client in the Arab region – Saudi Arabia –
in a related bid to try to advance military cooperation in Syria
against terror groups.
Both sides reportedly expressed willingness
to prevent the “formation of a terrorist caliphate” in Syria
under the control of the Islamic State group and other associated
But, unambiguously, Russia knows full well that
the American and Saudi “partners” are the principal sponsors of the
jihadist mercenary armies that have been destroying Syria for the
past nearly five years.
Washington and its Saudi and other regional allies
may talk out of the side of their mouths about “degrading and
defeating” the Islamic State and other terror groups. But the
reality is that Syria would not be in the dire condition of 250,000
dead, $100 billion worth of infrastructure decimated and millions
of refugees if it were not for the US-led covert criminal war
for regime change in that country.
Leaked US official cables
testify that Washington was plotting to overthrow Syrian President
Bashar al-Assad from as early as 2006 – five years before the
Western-orchestrated uprising began in March 2011.
US President Barack Obama and his top diplomat John
Kerry have repeatedly insisted that Assad must stand down in any
eventual political outcome. In other words, the Americans want
regime change by hook or by crook against what is, as Putin has
clearly stated, the “legitimate government of Syria” – and a
long-time strategic ally of Russia to boot.
Again this week, the Saudi rulers reiterated the
same objective during their visit to Moscow. Saudi Foreign Minister
Abel al-Jubeir may have talked about military cooperation
with Russia in Syria, but the bottom-line for the House of Saud is
that Assad “must go”.
This imperative demanded by Washington and its
Saudi ally is an outrageous ultimatum – especially coming from an
unelected dictatorship that imprisons tens of thousands of its own
people for daring to call for democratic rights in the oil-rich
Moreover, in recent days it
has been reported that the Obama administration and the Saudis are
to step up their supply of anti-tank weapons to the jihadi
mercenaries in Syria.
The BBC reports: “The well-placed [Saudi] official,
who asked not to be named, said supplies of modern, high-powered
weaponry including guided anti-tank weapons would be increased
to the Arab- and western-backed rebel groups fighting the forces
of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian and
Lebanese allies. He said those groups being supplied did not include
either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are
proscribed terrorist organisations. Instead, he said the weapons
would go to three rebel alliances – Jaish al-Fatah (Army
of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern Front.”
Who is the BBC trying to kid? One of the
recipients of Saudi-supplied weapons – the Army of Conquest – is
known to be affiliated with the Al-Qaeda network. As for the other
supposed “moderate rebels” it is abundantly clear by now that that
depiction is a ridiculous fiction and that these groups operate
like a revolving door, exchanging fighters and weapons.
The New York Times also reported that the Obama
administration, while cancelling its failed program to train
“moderate rebels”, is now planning to send arms, including anti-tank
missiles, directly to “vetted” rebel groups. “The new program would
be the first time the Pentagon has provided lethal aid directly
to Syrian rebels, though the CIA has for some time been covertly
training and arming groups fighting Mr Assad,” notes the Times.
These “vetted” rebels are
part of the same chimeric Free Syrian Army that Russia’s Foreign
Minister Sergei Lavrov last week dismissed as a “phantom”.
The Washington Post also reported this week that the
BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles previously supplied to Syria by the
CIA are now going to be increased. “Now that Russia has entered the
war in support of Assad, they are taking on a greater significance
than was originally intended… [it] amounts to proxy war of sorts
What seems clear then is that the interests
of Russia and the US in Syria are fundamentally irreconcilable.
Washington and its Saudi client are motivated by regime change
against Moscow’s ally, and they are moving to escalate arms supplies
to their mercenary terror networks fighting to topple the Syrian
government and its allies – Russia and Iran.
The notion that Washington and Saudi Arabia could
be called upon to form an “anti-terror” front is not just misplaced
wishful thinking. It a dangerous ambiguity. Washington and its
cronies are not “partners”.
They are implacably working
to undermine Russia, and worse, to draw Moscow into an
This deeper enmity towards Russia should be of no
surprise. Earlier this year, Russia’s top national security official
Nikolai Patrushev warned that Washington was trying to topple the
Russian government of Vladimir Putin through “colour revolutions”
in former Soviet republics, including Ukraine. By extension, Syria
is following the same US script aimed at undermining Russia.
Rather than betting that the United States and its
clients might somehow be counted on to fight terrorism in Syria,
Moscow would be better defining more clearly who is the root cause
of conflict. The logical thing to do then is to not engage
with poisonous “partners” – but instead to unambiguously state terms
for ending the conflict. One such term would be for the US and its
clients to call off their dogs of war in Syria.