What Is Really Going On in Syria
by Eric Margolis: All
Colonial Wars Are Alike
multi-level conflict continues to grow worse. So does public confusion
here in the west as the US, British and some European media keep
depicting Syria's civil war as a simple passion play pitting the
evil Asad regime in Damascus against mostly unarmed democratic protestors.
We saw this
same one-dimensional, deceptive reporting recently in Libya that
was designed to support foreign intervention. It's as incomplete
today about Syria as it was in Libya which, by the way, is turning
into a dangerous mess.
based on reliable primary sources in Washington, Turkey, Jordan
the Asad family's Ba'ath regime, now in power for 41 years, is clearly
slipping. But important sections of the armed forces, the 17 intelligence
and security agencies, the powerful Alawai minority, most Syrian
Christians, tribal elements and much of the commercial middle and
upper class still back the Asad's. In spite of intense western efforts
to overthrow him, Bashar Asad, a mild-mannered former eye specialist,
is still hanging on.
The US, Britain,
France, and some conservative Arab allies have funded and armed
the Syrian rebellion from its start a year ago. In fact, the US
has been funding anti-Asad groups since the mid 1990's. Arms and
munitions are said to be flowing to Syria's rebels through Jordan
and Lebanon. Extreme rightwing groups in Lebanon, funded by western
and Arab powers and Israel, are playing a key role in infiltrating
gunmen and arms into northern Syria.
The Sunni Muslim
Brotherhood has once again risen against the Alawi-dominated regime
in Damascus. In 1982, this writer was outside the Syrian city of
Hama when government forces crushed a Brotherhood uprising, killing
an estimated 10,000 people and razing part of the city with heavy
Enter the jihadis.
Recently, small numbers of al-Qaida veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
have entered Syria and are using car bombs to try to destabilize
the government. Current al-Qaida leader, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, has
called for all-out war against the Asad regime.
the US, France and Britain now find themselves in bed with the very
jihadist forces they profess to abhor – but, of course, whom they
used in Afghanistan inn the 1980's and, lately, in Libya.
Add to this
dangerous mix growing numbers of local militias in Syria who are
battling one another and committing many of the atrocities against
civilians, recalling Iraq and Lebanon's bloody civil wars.
key objective in Syria is to overthrow the Asad regime in order
to injure its closest ally, Iran. There is so much anti-Iranian
hysteria now in the US, that any blow against the Islamic republic
is seen as good. Former US fears of a chaotic, post-Asad Syria are
now forgotten in the rush to undermine Iran, by destabilizing Syria.
Republicans, led by Sen. John McCain, are baying for war against
Syria as President Barak Obama tries to hold back the war hawks.
influence in Washington in this election year is unprecedented,
is stoking war fever against Syria and Iran. Israel is delighted
that the crises with both nations have eclipsed the issue of Palestine
and of Syria's Golan Heights, which were illegally annexed by Israel
in 1981. Golan supplies on third of Israel's total water. Israel's
objective is to see Syria splintered into feuding cantons like today's
wing, led by President Nicholas Sarkozy's UMP party, has long desired
to re-establish France's former colonial influence in Lebanon and
Syria. The Asad regime in Syria has been a thorn in France's side
for four decades, particularly so in Lebanon, which Syria still
insists is a historical part of Syria. France hopes to duplicate
in Syria its success in stirring up and profiting from the uprising
has been defending the Asad regime and is determined not to be outfoxed
in Syria by a false "humanitarian" intervention as it
was in Libya. China is similarly cautious. But both are slowly lessening
their former staunch support of Damascus as seen by last week's
UN Security Council call for a new peace plan in Syria.
A cease fire
is urgently needed. Syria must stop using heavy weapons in urban
areas. But outside powers must also stop supporting violent armed
groups that Damascus calls "terrorists." There are no
clean hands in Syria.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
Best of Eric Margolis