Russia’s participation in the Syrian conflict has intensified the violence. It also may bring the war—currently in its fifth year—to an end.
Much depends on how the US government responds in coming days. The imperial plan to break Syria into pieces was hatched in 2006. Will US leaders now abandon that plan, modify it somehow, or press on despite the risk of widening the war?
Here are summaries of a few recent related events.
1. In a New York Times op-ed, former US President Jimmy Carter says Russia’s entry into the war “has helped to clarify the choice between a political process in which the Assad regime assumes a role and more war in which the Islamic State becomes an even greater threat to world peace.”
Carter recalls how the 2012 peace plan proposed by United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan fell apart because of US insistence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down. Yet, Carter notes, Assad enjoyed broad support from “his military forces, most Christians, Jews, Shiite Muslims, Alawites and others who feared a takeover by radical Sunni Muslims.” This broad support reflected Syria’s history of “harmonious relations among its many different ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians who were Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites.”
Carter encourages US officials to join Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia in advancing a consensus peace plan. In a clear message to the Obama Administration, Carter said: “The needed concessions are not from the combatants in Syria, but from the proud nations that claim to want peace but refuse to cooperate with one another. “
2. “One of Moscow's main motivations behind its military entry into the Syrian conflict was the desire to get other powers, particularly the United States, involved in discussions for a negotiated end to the conflict,” says Stratfor, a private US intelligence firm. Toward that end, Russia’s diplomats have been busy on many fronts. One initiative has been pressuring Saudi Arabia and Turkey to drop their demands that President Assad step down before a cease-fire is put in place. Turkey has reportedly agreed to a transitional arrangement. Talks continue this week in Vienna with Iran joining for the first time.
3. Many have described the US House hearings on the performance of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the events surrounding the 2012 death of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens as “political theater.” That’s true, yet the episode has revealed two important insights about the empire.
Clinton was asked about her boast upon the murder of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi : “We came, we saw, he died.” She replied, “That was an expression of relief that the military mission undertaken by NATO and our other partners had achieved its end.” This bit of truth-telling contradicts what President Obama told the American people in 2011: "Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake."
The second insight is how the mainstream media refuses to let the public in on the fact that slain US ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi running a covert CIA operation to ship heavy weapons from Libya into Syria to arm the mercenary terrorists recruited and paid by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Everything about that gun-running operation is classified; it cannot be spoken of in a public hearing.
But that doesn’t mean the media can’t talk about the fact that the Benghazi operation was all about making war against Syria. Early on, this was reported in a few mainstream outlets, and alternative news outlets regularly do just that (see here and here).
4. Iraqi government leaders are under intense popular pressure to invite Russia to join Iraq’s war against ISIS. The call to invite Russia into the fight is a consequence of Russia’s performance in Syria, where it has attacked ISIS with much greater frequency and intensity than the US ever has.
Meanwhile, Iranian media continue publishing disturbing reports about the character of US involvement in the Iraqi war against ISIS, including US intelligence support for ISIS and US arms drops to ISIS forces. Recently, an Israeli IDF officer was reportedly captured while fighting with ISIS.
5. The US political elite and their captive media continue to talk about creating a “buffer zone” along the northern edge of Syria and its border with Turkey. This “buffer” is justified by the need to provide a “safe zone” for refugees, a “free zone” for those trying to escape the violence of the war. This allegedly humanitarian purpose would be accomplished by an Air Force-enforced no-fly zone.
Let’s not be fooled. This is a replay of the humanitarian deception President Obama carried out in 2011 as the US implemented its plan to effect regime change in Libya. In the case of Syria, the “safe zone” would protect supply routes from Turkey to forces fighting for ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria. That’s why Hillary Rodham Clinton and other imperialists want a no-fly zone: protect the terrorist mercenaries the US and its allies have spent so much developing.
6. Oil is one of the many reasons the empire wants to replace Syrian President Assad with someone more cooperative. Assad refused to sign an agreement to extend an existing pipeline from Qatar into Turkey, preferring instead a new pipeline from Iran across Syria into Europe. And he stoutly resisted Israel’s plans to use its current occupation of the Golan Heights as an opportunity to steal Syrian oil. The disintegration of Syria’s government would make such theft virtually unstoppable.
Israel’s plans reportedly are supported by a thoroughly bipartisan selection of the imperial elite such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, former CIA director James Woolsey and Wall Street Journal publisher Rupert Murdoch.
7. Last but not least, the empire does not want us to connect the deceit that led to the invasion of Iraq with the deceit that led to the destruction of Libya and the deceit that led to the destruction of Syria. When we make those connections, when we discuss them with our friends and neighbors, then we do our part to end the empire's reign of destruction, violence and death.