It has been clear for some months that the US election would mark a turning point and that its almost certain outcome, whoever won, would be an escalation of western intervention in the country.
By Lindsey German
Stop the War Coalition
12 November 2012
Hillary Clinton: puppet master in re-shaping the Syrian opposition?
IF AT FIRST you don’t succeed… keep trying until you get the opposition you want.
That is the message underlined by the meeting in Doha last week where the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey -- to name but a few in the ‘international community’ -- brokered a deal to replace the discredited Syrian National Council, once the anointed leadership favoured by the US but now discredited as composed mainly of exiles and unrepresentative.
Hillary Clinton recently said it could ‘no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition’.
It can hardly be coincidence that the meeting took place in Doha -- one of the centres of reaction in the Middle East -- or that it was at the same time as the US elections.
It has been clear for some months that the election would mark a turning point and that its almost certain outcome, whoever won, would be an escalation of western intervention in the country.
This is what we are now seeing. Sheikh Moaz al-Khatib, described by the BBC as a ‘moderate’ is heading up the new opposition. This result has followed forceful pressure from Clinton to reshape it in ways that make it more acceptable to western interests. Its reasons are complex: it wants a viable opposition to Bashir Assad, but fears ‘extreme jihadists’ and Al Qaeda – ostensibly the main enemy in the ‘war on terror’. In addition it wants a reliable partner to deal with and fears too much dissent within the opposition.
Most importantly it has been reluctant to provide arms which would fall into the ‘wrong hands’. This agreement on the other hand gives the green light to further arm the opposition (already under way from various Middle East states). There is talk of providing anti aircraft missiles, which would alter the balance in what has now become a civil war.
This new government in waiting will also have a military council which will include the Free Syrian Army.
The Turkish government has asked Nato to provide Patriot missiles for the Syrian border in a move which must surely presage a no-fly zone of the sort which has previously been imposed over Iraq and Libya and which in both cases led to full scale war.
The further militarisation of the conflict probably means it will go on longer, and even if the west achieves its aim of regime change, that may not end the fighting. The conflict has already spread to Lebanon, there has been fighting between the opposition and the Kurds (who oppose Assad but fear Turkish intervention against them), and the chance of war spreading is ever present.
On Sunday Israel fired ‘warning shots’ into Syria after a vehicle was hit by Syrian mortars in the Golan Heights -- which has of course been occupied by Israel since the 1967 war.
The hypocrisy of the western rulers as ever is breathtaking. David Cameron went fresh from selling arms in the UAE to the Jordanian border where he visited Syrian refugees. No British prime minister bothered to visit Jordanian camps to visit the Iraqi refugees who numbered in their millions after the invasion and war in Iraq.
They are drumming up war by talking once more of humanitarian disaster in Syria. Chief of Defence Staff Sir David Richards said on Sunday that this might be a reason to deploy British troops there in the future, and on the same day Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted ‘at the moment we don’t have a legal basis for delivering assistance to the [Syrian] rebels but this is something that the Prime Minister keeps asking us to test’.
And those planes Cameron was selling in the Gulf states? To provide more air power in the event of an attack on Iran. There is much more of this to come.