Where next for Syria?

The recent  announcement  by  the Obama administration that it will  send 50  U.S.  military  advisers into  Syria  apparently adds another layer of complexity to  an already  viciously complex and violent  war in Syria, however in this analysis I will  argue that this U.S.  announcement simply attempts to  legitimise  what  already  exists on the ground.

Some media have portrayed this  “civil war’  as a sectarian one. However  the sectarianism is a one-side affair in this instance. Those who play  the  sectarian  card are invariably those of an extremist Sunni  Wahhabi   and takfiri persuasion – ie they  wish to  ensure that  Syria becomes  a completely  Sunni wahhabi dominated society where other  Syrian religions and Muslim sects  are either eliminated or marginally tolerated. Those who  fund and support these  extremist doctrines  are primarily those in the Gulf dictatorships- the Saudi and Qatar governments,  and the increasingly  sectarian  government of Turkish  president Erdogan (particularly after his  most suspiciously positive and unexpected electorate  win  a few days ago).

In part this takfiri  response can be explained as a fear of Shi-ite Iran, and to  a smaller degree, Shi-ite Iraq,  reasserting their  influence  and non Western-government alignment in  the Middle East. In part it  also symbolises the  hold that  the bigots of the Wahhabi sect have over the Gulf regimes.  In tandem  with this approach we have the United States ( and the U.K.  France and Italy)  actively supporting these extremist regimes in  the vain  hope that  destabilisation and balkanisation of the Middle East  will  serve their economic interests ( more weapons sales) and preserve the increasingly fragile Israeli  occupying power in Palestine.  The United States has been actively supporting destabilisation of the Syrian Assad government  since at  least  2004, with  supposedly non-lethal military  hardware and  ‘advisors’ to  what  are described by  the U.S.  as  “moderate’ anti-Assad groups, on  the ground in Syria.

The resultant avalanche  of Syrian  refugees into  Eastern  Europe and beyond, is  perhaps an unanticipated  impact  on already  vulnerable  European economies. However, in  all  of this, the U.S. remains largely immune to  the horrendous human impacts  and geopolitical  disaster its support for extremism has incurred across the Middle East and now, to a  vastly smaller degree, to Europe.

On the other “side” we have the SAA, the Syrian government army; which  despite the hype from  the opposition, is largely composed of non-Allawite  and non-Shi-ite  troops, but is increasingly supported by  Shi-ite Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon and  Iranian “advisers” from  their irregular army,  the IRGC, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.  The decision of Russia to  escalate its support for the Assad regime; (it has had a naval  base at  Tartus on the Syrian  coast for many years, and provided some military  resources and advisors to  the SAA  since the start  of the war) and begin  bombing  all  of the groups opposing the SAA, has shifted the military  balance on  the ground significantly in  favour of the Assad government. The fiction that  the Russians are in  fact only bombing the ‘nice guys’ opposing the Assad regime, belies the fact  that all  of  the opposition groups’ key aim is to  topple the secular Assad government and establish  a Sunni Wahhabi state  or caliphate . While the opposition groups  fight amongst  each  other  for dominance, and disagree on  the level  of intolerance and extremism   required to  achieve this goal, they also  increasingly collaborate on  the ground  in  the face of  threats of potential  extinction by  the resurgent Assad government forces and their allies.

As Wikipedia notes here, the number of factions fighting in Syria is  already  in the  forties  and the “civil war” environment  is growing increasingly complex day  by  day. What  the proportion of  foreign fighters  (whether mercenaries or jihadists) in the anti-Assad camp is  impossible to  verify  at  this point;  but  the reports of deaths caused by  the recent SAA resurgence,  indicate a substantial  proportion are non-Syrian.

As the U.S. knows well, a victory  for the anti-Assad (anti-Syrian  government) forces, will  result  in the total  breakdown of Syrian  infrastructure,  the destruction of Damascus,  the creation of a multitude of states within  states in Syria and Iraq, a bloodbath  for those remaining non-Sunni   sects  in Syria and a greater avalanche of refugees into  Europe. One can  only assume that this  is what  the United States and its Western  allies want.

Yet, when  we look  at  mainstream  Western media,  the Russian intervention is portrayed as  being caused by Putin’s megalomania,  Russian attempts to  reinstate themselves as  a global  power  or  an  attempt to  re-live the old glories of the Soviet empire , rather than  a fearful  response to  Western  destabilisation. Russia  Iran  and Hizbollah  are only too  familiar with   the ongoing destabilisation of their countries by  Western intelligence agencies and their proxies, to  not see  the export of Wahhabi extremism  to  Syria as a serious threat  to their own  long-term viability.

The announcement by  Obama of 50 U.S. “Special Forces” troops to  be deployed to  Syria, is therefore simply smoke and mirrors. In all  likelihood, those same 50  special  forces have been on the ground  (along with other Western  intelligence officers and  advisors from  the Gulf states, for at  least  the past 5 years in Syria; advising, training and channelling weapons to  their “moderate” jihadists. The announcement is an  attempt to  somehow legitimise the status quo, when in fact those men  are operating illegally inside a sovereign  state with  the sole  purpose of destabilising that state.

The other often mentioned U.S. response of a  ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria, is another rather transparent attempt to  ensure that  the Syrian air-force and helicopters cannot  engage the jihadists;  with the inevitable outcome being  a  full  collapse of the Damascus government and infrastructure and a massive increase in  human suffering and refugees..

The recent flurry  of diplomatic manoeuvering in Vienna between some, but not all of the key players, reflects in  part the concerns in Washington about the impacts of the recent active bombing of ISIS and other Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria by  the Russian airforce, and the consequent  apparently significant  military  successes on the ground by  the SAA and its  allies.


 

Links

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n21/patrick-cockburn/too-weak-too-strong

http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2015/11/08/the-sham-syrian-peace-conference/

Leave a Reply