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Divide et Impera

The Imperialist Violence in Syria, Part 3 of 7 - Part 1

By Kim Petersen and B. J. Sabri

From The WikiLeaks Files:

A December 13, 2006 cable, "Influencing the SARG [Syrian government] in the End of 2006," indicates that, as far back as 2006 - five years before "Arab Spring" protests in Syria - destabilizing the Syrian government was a central motivation of US policy. The author of the cable was William Roebuck, at the time chargé d'affaires at the US embassy in Damascus. The cable outlines strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government. In his summary of the cable, Roebuck wrote:

We believe Bashar's weaknesses are in how he chooses to react to looming issues, both perceived and real, such as the conflict between economic reform steps (however limited) and entrenched, corrupt forces, the Kurdish question, and the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists. This cable summarizes our assessment of these vulnerabilities and suggests that there may be actions, statements, and signals that the USG can send that will improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising.

This cable suggests that the US goal in December 2006 was to undermine the Syrian government by any available means, and that what mattered was whether US action would help destabilize the government, not what other impacts the action might have. In public the US was in favor of economic reform, but in private the US saw conflict between economic reform and "entrenched, corrupt forces" as an "opportunity." In public, the US was opposed to "Islamist extremists" everywhere; but in private it saw the "potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists" as an "opportunity" that the US should take action to try to increase.

Roebuck lists Syria's relationship with Iran as a "vulnerability" that the US should try to "exploit." His suggested means of doing so are instructive:

Possible action:

PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business....

Roebuck thus argued that the US should try to destabilize the Syrian government by coordinating more closely with Egypt and Saudi Arabia to fan sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia, including by the promotion of "exaggerated" fears of Shia proselytizing of Sunnis, and of concern about "the spread of Iranian influence" in Syria in the form of mosque construction and business activity.

By 2014, the sectarian Sunni-Shia character of the civil war in Syria was bemoaned in the United States as an unfortunate development. But in December 2006, the man heading the US embassy in Syria advocated in a cable to the secretary of state and the White House that the US government collaborate with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to promote sectarian conflict in Syria between Sunni and Shia as a means of destabilizing the Syrian government. At that time, no one in the US government could credibly have claimed innocence of the possible implications of such a policy...

It was easy to predict then that, while a strategy of promoting sectarian conflict in Syria might indeed help undermine the Syrian government, it could also help destroy Syrian society. But this consideration does not appear in Roebuck's memo at all, as he recommends that the US government cooperate with Saudi Arabia and Egypt to promote sectarian tensions.1

From the US Congress

The US path to destroy Syria is long. On 12 April 2003, twenty-four days after the US invasion of Iraq, a Zionist representative from New York, Eliot T. Engle, sponsored the Syria Accountability Act (SAA). The charge was Syria's involvement of terrorism, aiding Saddam Hussein (meaning Iraq) escaping sanctions, helping the insurgency against the US invasion of Iraq, supporting of Hezbollah, chemical weapons, and so on. (We have to go on record on an important issue. Saying "a Zionist representative" is not a vacuous namedropping—it is a political statement indicative of how Israel passes its policy aims in Syria and the Arab world through the American legislative system.) The Act was passed in December 2003. Invoking the omnipresent pretext of American national security and pretending "constitutional" presidential privileges on foreign policy, George Bush essentially turned the Israeli policy toward Syria into a policy of the United States. (For reading: Statement by the President on H.R. 1828)

In his article, “The Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003: Two Years On,” David Schenker, from the Zionist-imperialist think tank, the Washington Institute, recalled his experience in testifying before the House of Representatives (7 June 2006). He wrote, “Syria has proven a tough nut to crack. The SAA has helped, although the Legislation itself is not sufficient to compel a change in Syrian behavior. The Bush Administration has adopted some steps, but the challenge is how to leverage the SAA in conjunction with other tools at the Administration’s disposal—multilateral efforts in particular—to ratchet up the pressure on Syria to force behavioral change.” “Ratchet up pressure” is the key phrase as to what US neocons/Zionists believe they must do in Syria, not only in connection to Lebanon, but also, obviously, in relation what Syria represents for Israel—a rejectionist state of Israel that must be destroyed.

The Assassination of Rafiq Hariri

The assassination of Rafiq Hariri (a billionaire, dual citizen of Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, and a former prime minister of Lebanon) on 14 February 2005 is the paramount example of how the United States, Western Europe, and Israel plan their subversion against the Arab states that do not obey US diktat, or resist US-backed Israeli colonialist-imperialism. The assassination offers a very interesting angle with regard how pretexts are developed and used. Let us see why Hariri was killed. On 2 September 2004, the UNSC issued resolution 1559 calling on Syria to withdraw its remaining forces from Lebanon. Syria complied but only partially and slowly.

The ruse to get Syria out of Lebanon—which was a part of Greater Syria in history until France, using its Sykes-Picot mandate over Syria, severed it and made it an independent state in 1943—had, therefore, to be achieved by other means. The assassination of Hariri was that specific means. With the accusation that Syria was behind the assassination, the stage was set to force Syria's complete withdrawal from Lebanon under the threat of enforcing resolution 1559 by military means. Forty-five days after the assassination (5 April 2005), Syria began its withdrawal from Lebanon and completed it by the end of that month.

Who ordered the assassination of Hariri?

Since neither Syria nor Hezbollah had stakes in the assassination of Hariri, who benefited from it? Our logical answer is Israel and the United States. [2] Considering the long list of objectives of these two states in the situation of all Arab states, proving this assertion is a matter of deductive reasoning.

Having briefly described the path the United States took in the quest to destabilize Syria, it is important to see its current methods of war. If the US plans in Syria were insufficient to raise alarm, we have to deal with other features applied on the Syrian theater of death (and before that in Afghanistan and Iraq). We are talking about an imperialist instrument of war: vocabulary as a weapon of mass confusion. Many terms and phrases had been coined to make people conform to Washington's indoctrination. But do terms such as "moderate," "extremist," "moderate Arab states—who are they?", "Islamic," Islamist," "dictator," "democracy," "no role for Assad in the future of Syria," "Sunni," "Alawite," "Shiite," "ISIS," "stop the Iranian occupation of Syria," "IS," "DAESH," "U.S. hitting ISIS," etc., have any tangible meaning outside the world of imperialist propaganda?

Let us examine some of these terms. Does the diction "a future for Syria without Assad" have any meaning? Would that be a re-made Syria with a bankrupt sectarian system similar to the one a criminal named George W. Bush and his Zionist neocons installed in Iraq? Would the US bring Noah Feldman or others to write a "constitution" for Syria? (Feldman is a Zionist lawyer from New York and a theoretician on "Islamic terrorism," "Jihad," and on so-called Islamic democracy. He authored the sectarian constitution for Iraq while this was under active US military occupation led by Paul Bremer. Bremer's constitution, as the Iraqis call it, has become the cornerstone and foundation for the partition of Iraq on approximate confessional and ethnic lines.3

Or, would it be a so-called Islamic state swearing allegiance to US imperialism, to Al Saud, and to the British-installed al-Thani ruling family of Qatar? What is the implication of saying that Assad is the problem, yet names behind state policies such as Obama, Erdogan, Hollande, Merkel, Turki al-Faisal, or Bandar Bin Sultan go unmentioned in this context? What does the Syrian "moderate opposition" mean in the US imperialist lexicon, if not groups financed and supported by Washington? And for clarity's sake, we ask, moderate in what?

Again, what is the US game in Syria?

Let us cite Condoleezza Rice. Rice is the quintessential dual-face American hypocrite when the issue is US interventions. Although the first quotation we cite below is about Iraq, its philosophy and intent applies to US policy in Syria.

Rice, describing in petty melodramatic terms (similar to those one can find in a cheap romance novel) how she confronted her master criminal boss on the sectarian violence that the United States designed and implemented in Iraq, wrote the following [Italics are ours]:

"So what's your plan, Condi?" The president was suddenly edgy and annoyed. "We'll just let them kill each other, and we'll standby and try to pick the pieces?"

I was furious at the implication…."No, Mr. President," I said, trying to stay calm. "We just can't win by putting our forces in the middle of their blood feud. If they want to have a civil war we're going to have to let them."4

Comment: 1) Rice is shameful. She made her criminal boss look caring. 2) Rice, daughter of a Presbyterian minister who presumably taught her not to lie, lied big. First, calling sectarian infighting "civil war" is deception because these are two different entities. Sectarian strife within a nation pits a community against another with dissimilar beliefs or ethnic origins. Civil conflict is between political factions within a nation regardless of sectarian or confessional beliefs. The US uses both terms interchangeably to obfuscate the nature of its interference in the pursuit of specific policy objectives. Besides, there never was any sectarian infighting between Arab Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq until the US invasion and occupation fomented it to preempt resistance to its occupation. 3) Rice and her neocon masters thrive when sectors of a nation they occupy engage in violent infighting—it provides them easier means of control. This happened in the Philippines, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, and it is now happening in Libya and Syria through mercenaries and proxies. That is why we often hear US imperialists and Arab stooges talking about things like "Assad wants to make an Alawite state," "ISIS is a fact," "Kurds want their own state and so do the Assyrians and the Armenians," and so on. Regardless of terminology or concepts, the US strategy is unexceptional—it is an ancient Roman imperial and military strategy: Divide et Impera.

With regard to how US duality works in the Syrian example, let us consider the exchange she had with Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muollem:

"... I delivered my point about Syria's interference in Lebanon, and its failure to stop terrorists in their country from crossing their borders into Iraq."

"it's hard to stop them," he said, but I was having none of it.

"They're coming through Damascus airport," I countered.5

Comment: We know what US exceptionalism means: it is okay for the US to interfere in the affairs of every country in the world, but others are not permitted to do so except with US approval. It is not okay that volunteers cross Syria into Iraq to fight the US invasion force, but it is okay for America's stooges to allow weapons and mercenaries to Syria through Turkish and Jordanian airports.

In recalling the documented history of US interference in the affairs of myriad countries including its staunchest ally Britain (read, “Harold Wilson, Lyndon Johnson and the Vietnam War, 1964-68”), the present authors state the following:

The violence in Syria is not an accidental product of uncontrolled events, is not a result of a civil war, is not because the Syrian state is ruled by despotic elites—but it is a result of a combined American-Israeli geopolitical strategy to install a new Syrian regime at the order of Tel Aviv and Washington. Syria, therefore, is not but another link—after Iraq, Libya, and Yemen— in the US and Israeli quest to dismantle the Arab system of nation, and to end the Palestinian Question permanently.

Let us now examine what was cooking in the US pot against Syria 60 years ago. In his outstanding research on the CIA plotting and machinations against the Arab nations including Syria during the 1950s, California State University history professor, Hugh Wilford, wrote the following:

On August 21, 1956, Foster Dulles convened GAMMA, a top-secret task force with representatives from State, Defense, and the CIA ... GAMMA's main contribution was to agree to a proposal to send the eminent foreign service veteran Loy Henderson on a tour of the Middle East that seemed intended to incite military aggression against Syria by its Arab neighbors.... Henderson told a meeting in the White House that he had discovered a deep sense of anxiety about Syria in the region, yet little concerted will to act; only Turkey, a NATO ally, showed much appetite for intervention...."6

Let us fast forward to the US occupation of Iraq. On page 473 of his book, The Twilight War (Penguin Press, New York, 2012), David Crist (a historian from the US imperialist establishment) writes, “'Recock' became the word of the day at CENTCOM. The United States would get out of Iraq and prepare for the next war in the global fight against terrorism, with rumors circulating that Syria was next. The U.S. military concurred.”

Why Syria "was next" on the US list of priorities? Has Syria ever harmed or threatened the national security of the United States? No. But because Israel strongly influences US foreign policy (read, John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”) toward the Arab states, and because Syria is the last Arab state resisting Israeli imperialism there are two concrete answers.7

First, Israel wants to weaken Syria and dismember it, as it wanted done to Iraq by American neocon Zionists. Dismembering Syria should expose the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah that depends on Syria for support. The second is more complex. First, controlling Syria enters in the logic of American quest of global hegemony. Second, to carve out a Kurdish autonomous region to be joined with the areas controlled by Iraqi Kurds creating a Kurdish State potentially at the service of US imperialism and Israel.8, 9 Third, Syria's eastern regions and Israeli-occupied Golan Heights have sizeable oil deposits. (Read, “World powers must recognize Israeli annexation of Golan Heights”; “Huge oil discovery in Golan Heights - Israeli media”). 4) From an imperialist perspective, the geopolitical re-design of the region would help expand plans for the strategic control of world resources and distribution.

Crist's revelation impels us to reflect on the motives and ideologies that underlie all anti-Arab actions taken by the United States. What we have today in Syria (and Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Palestine) is an accurate reproduction of age-old tested policies by the West at the expense of nations targeted for reasons rooted in the politics of imperialism, colonialism, Zionism, and piracy of resources. In Syria, however, the situation is a little bit more intricate due to the presence of a long list of operators never seen before in a single regional war, not even in Afghanistan.

Kim Petersen is a former editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at kimohp@inbox.com

B. J. Sabri is an observer of the politics of modern colonialism, imperialism, Zionism, and of contemporary Arab issues. He can be reached at b.j.sabri@aol.com

Next: Part 4 of 7


  1. Robert Naiman, “WikiLeaks Reveals How the US Aggressively Pursued Regime Change in Syria, Igniting a Bloodbath,” Truth-out, 9 October 2015

  2. See Kim Petersen, “Syria in the Imperialist Crosshairs,” Dissident Voice, 26 October 2005.

  3. Note: since the dawn of Islam in Iraq (early 7th century) until the US invasion (2003), and regardless what administrative geopolitical form distinguished it, there have never been confessional lines in all Arab regions of Iraq or ethnic lines separating the various communities. However, historically, and during the rule of the Ottoman Turks, Arab Shiite Muslims formed a relative majority in the South of Iraq and Sunnis in the rest. After WWII, the lines between Arab Shiite and Sunni Muslims became integrated due to internal migrations and economic development. The US deliberately created the lines when it imposed a No-Fly Zone on specific regions of Iraq in 1991 after the war for Kuwait. As for the Kurdish regions, with the exception of Sulaymaniya and Erbil with a Kurdish Majority, most of the north of Iraq was inhabited by a mixture of ethnic Groups including Arabs, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkoman, Kurds, and Yezidis. The US arbitrarily delineated Kurdish areas when it imposed the non-fly Zone on the north of Iraq in 1991.

  4. Condoleezza Rice, No Higher Honor, Crown Publishers, New York, 2011, p. 544, 561

  5. Rice, 561

  6. Hugh Wilford, America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, Basic Books, New York, 2013, p. 273

  7. Note: Lebanon cannot be described as a resister state. Resistance to Israel in Lebanon follows confessional lines. 1) The Saudi-controlled faction led by Saad Hariri is in line with the policy of accommodation adapted by Al Saud vs. Israel. 2) Christians are divided in two camps: the Faranjia and Aoun camp that opposes Israel; and the Geagea and Jmail (supported by Saudi Arabia) that seeks accommodation and had very close relations with Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon). The Jumblatt Druze faction (supported by Al Saud) has been known for continuous zigzagging on the issue of the resistance to Israel. This leaves only Hezbollah as the real opponent of Israeli settler-imperialism. Outside the Arab world, Iran is the only other remaining state that opposes Israel.

  8. The Kurdish Question in Iraq goes beyond the scope of this work. Succinctly, there is a US-Kurdish connection in the context of imperialism, dependency; Iraqi Kurdish politician Masoud Barzani has collaborated in turning a potential Kurdish state into a tool at the service of US imperialism and Israel.

  9. In his article, “To defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State,” John Bolton stated, "The Kurds still face enormous challenges, with dangerously uncertain borders, especially with Turkey. But an independent Kurdistan that has international recognition could work in America’s favor." [Italics added]


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