The armed insurgents in Syria are desperate to provoke an attack on the Syrian regime from an outside force. Several recent events suggest they are raising the stakes significantly in their attempts to foment a wider conflict. The US government and its allies may well be willing accomplices in this dangerous escalation game. Although it may well be an attempt by some factions to shift back some balance of power between the rebel groups, as word comes out that the CIA has been vetting and training groups of “moderate” insurgents in the dark arts of insurgency, urban combat, and counterintelligence.
Consider recent and seemingly related events:
1) According to the UK Telegraph, evidence is mounting that the chemical weapon in Aleppo was a rudimentary homemade device launched by the armed opposition. Therefore it seems clear this was a provocation to give the appearance that Obama’s “red line” has been crossed, thereby providing the justification for a US invasion. House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Mike Rogers, who has never seen a potential war he did not want to turn into a real one, is on record today claiming that the “red line” has been crossed and that “once we establish the facts I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer.”
This despite a suspiciously quick US government determination that chemical weapons had not been used. The US government’s hasty announcement preempts an investigation by a UN team arriving at the request of the Assad government to investigate the supposed chemical blast, which it blamed on the armed opposition. Why so hasty?
2) Israel fired into Syria today to take out a machine gun battery that had been repeatedly firing into the Israel-occupied Golan Heights. Reporting suggests that it is not immediately clear whether the firing from the Syrian side had come from government or insurgent forces. However, the Golan area has come increasingly under the control of the insurgents, who recently staged another provocation by kidnapping UN peacekeepers in attempt to spark further internationalization of the conflict.
After creating the chaos in Syria through his policy of arming and training the insurgents, President Obama said last week in the Middle East that he is “very concerned about Syria becoming an enclave for extremism because extremists thrive in chaos, they thrive in failed states, they thrive in power vacuums.” The US created the very instability by empowering radicals that it now seeks to mitigate, first by the CIA fool’s errand of supporting “moderates,” when it is clear that only the radicals are capable of actually fighting. It would be interesting to see the criteria for determining who is eligible for CIA assistance. Beards are, after all, quite easy to shave…
3) The armed insurgents in Syria have stepped up their cross-border attacks near the Lebanon border, drawing Syrian army fire into Lebanon as they retreat back across the border. This adds to the perception that the Syrian government is attacking its neighbors thereby bolstering the Western line that the Syrian leader is another crazed madman a la Gaddafi, Saddam, etc. Pro-intervention voices in the US have used these cross-border events to bolster their argument for a US military action to stop the internationalization of the conflict, when in fact it is US allied insurgents who are perpetrating the attacks and who benefit most from the mispercetions.
Additionally: Iraq, understandably concerned by the US-aided radical anti-Shiites threatening to take over Syria, was taken to the woodshed by Secretary of State Kerry in a surprise visit today. Kerry wagged his finger at Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warning against Iraq’s increasingly close relationship with Iran. Said Kerry in Iraq: “I made it very clear to the prime minister that the overflights from Iran are in fact helping to sustain President Assad and his regime.” The US has little influence over the government it has just spent nearly two trillion dollars and nearly two hundred lives installing into power in Iraq.
It all adds up to some sort of endgame on the part of the insurgents. The question is whether this is out of desperation, or are they doing the bidding of their supporters in the US, EU, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and Israel. We might expect another dramatic event in the very short term.
On Twitter @DanielLMcAdams2:22 pm on March 24, 2013 Email Daniel McAdams