Not only have the US and its allies been trying to militarily buttress the retreating anti-government militias, but now they aim to create a new phase in the conflict where states start asserting leverage against Syria in place of the weakening anti-government forces. In other words, external pressure is being applied to replace the declining internal pressure.
The entry of Israeli troops and the Mossad security service into Syria with repeated Israeli air strikes via illegal use of Lebanese airspace on the Syrian military research facility in the town of Jamraya clarifies Israel’s role in destabilizing Syria. Israel has also admitted that “intense intelligence activity” is being maintained in Syria by Israeli forces and that it is even thinking of occupying more Syrian territory as a new “buffer zone.” Fox News, which is openly biased in favour of Israel, has released a video of Israeli troops illegally crossing the Syrian border. Reports have also come out of Syria that an Israeli military vehicle was seized during fighting with anti-government forces in the town of Qusair, inside Syrian territory.
Epicentre of a Regional War?
The events involving Israel are part of the trend to expand and internationalize the Syrian conflict by creating violent spillovers. In the words of one British newspaper: “If anyone had doubts that Syria’s gruesome [conflict] is already spinning into a wider Middle East conflict, [Israeli attacks in] the past few days should have laid them to rest.” Turkey and Israel, like the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, are themselves undeniably involved in the fighting as aggressors against Syria. Turkey has conducted reconnaissance work for NATO in Syria, it hosts NATO Patriot missiles aimed at Syria (with the possibility of deployment against Iran and Russia), and openly aids the anti-government forces. Israel has been the more discreet of the two, but it has sent the Mossad into Syria and built facilities in the Golan Heights to aid the insurgency. Both countries have continuously threatened Syria and pushed for NATO intervention and no-fly zones. All the while, the US has been prodding Ankara and Tel Aviv to continue with the war footing and has even examined selling Turkey natural gas from the US to economically de-link the Turks from Syria’s allies Russia and Iran and the leverage they have over Turkey.
In reality, Syria is merely one front in a broader hegemonic struggle that spans from NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan and Iraq to Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The Lebanese Republic looks like the next target for destabilization in the broader struggle that Syria is a front in. There are fears that there may be a parliamentary and governmental vacuum in Beirut as a result of the spillover from Syria that could be capitalized to ignite another Lebanese internal conflict. Tensions between the pro-Syrian Hezbollah-led March 8 Alliance and the anti-Syrian Hariri-led March 14 Alliance have been building as a result of the conflict in Syria. Both sides in Lebanon are involved in the Syrian conflict.
Lebanon has been dragged into the conflict, because Syria is being used as an arena for striking and crippling Hezbollah and the March 8 Alliance with the aim of turning Lebanon into a colony controlled by Washington and its allies that will be run by the corrupt Hariri-led March 14 Alliance. Hezbollah has begun fighting on the Syrian side of the Lebanese-Syrian border whereas the March 14 Alliance began sending weapons and funding to the insurgents from the very start of the upheaval in 2011. After months of lying, the Hariri camp in Lebanon was exposed in November 2012 when evidence was provided that proved Hariri’s Future Party member Okab Sakr was behind weapons shipments destined for the Syrian insurgents in coordination with Turkish and Qatari intelligence officers.
In regards to Hezbollah, its members began fighting on the Syrian side of the border under their own initiative. Then the insurgents in Syria began launching attacks on Shiite Muslim villages on both sides of the Lebanese-Syrian border. The anti-government forces in Syria began doing everything they could to provoke Hezbollah into retaliating, including kidnapping Lebanese travellers and, in 2012, deliberately attacking Shiite Muslim shrines in Syria. After the mosque where Hujr ibn Adi Al-Kindi and his son were buried in Syria was desecrated by the insurgents, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shia Muslims were drawn further into the Syrian conflict to protect the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque.
Not only have sacrosanct buildings revered by Shiite Muslims been targeted, Sunni Muslim leaders have been murdered andChristian churches have also been desecrated in Syria. Christian spiritual leaders have also been targeted. Iranian officials have pointed the finger at the US, Israel, and the Saudis for the desecration of these Syrian holy sites and the targeting of minorities.
While the majority of Syria’s Arab population and Sunni Muslim population support the Syrian government against the insurgents and their foreign backers, there is a real push to draw the Syria conflict along the sectarian lines of Arabs versus non-Arabs and Sunni Muslims versus Alawites and the Shiite Muslim community. Various minority groups have been systematically targeted. The Druze, Maronite Catholic Christians, Melkite Greek Catholic Christians, Greek Orthodox Christians, Armenian Orthodox Christians, Syriac Orthodox Christians, Alawites, and Twelver (Jaffari) Shiite Muslims all have all been targeted as religious minorities. Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, and Turkoman have been targeted as ethnic minorities.
Iraq knows all too well about the nightmare that Syria is facing. Many of the insurgents in Syria are from Iraq and linked to sectors of Al-Anbar’s Awakening Movement (or the Sons of Iraq Movement), which was tied to Al-Qaeda and began tocollaborate and receive funding from the United States during the Anglo-American occupation. If these militants succeed in Syria, they will eventually return to Iraq and ignite an insurgency against the federal government in Baghdad too.
On the other hand, the conflict in Syria has been the catalyst for a strengthening Russian position in the Middle East and the forging of new ties between Hezbollah and Moscow. In October 2011, Hezbollah sent a delegation to Russia to discuss the fighting in Syria. It is clear now that Moscow is coordinating with the Iranian-led “Axis of Resistance” or Resistance Bloc that includes Syria, Hezbollah, Michel Aoun, and the Palestinians. After holding discussions about Syria in Tehran, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov’s April 26 visit to Beirut, during the absence of a formal Lebanese government, embodies this strategic cooperation. Bogdanov’s trip to Lebanon is important, because it was a clear indicator that Russia has forged direct strategic ties with Hezbollah and recognizes the Resistance Bloc as an extension of its own security sphere.
Like Hezbollah, Iran is also a target of the conflict in Syria. This is one of the reasons that Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, made a rare visit to Tehran on April 29 (after meeting with Mikhail Bogdanov) to discuss a common front with the Iranians. The same group of countries targeting Syria and Hezbollah are also targeting Iran. It has been reported that “Israel is preparing to agree a defence co-operation deal with Turkey and three Arab states aimed at setting up an early warning system to detect Iranian ballistic missiles.” Uzi Mahnaimi has explained that this “proposal, referred to by the diplomats involved as ‘4+1’, may eventually lead to technicians from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan working alongside Israelis in joint command-and-control centres.”
Just as Hezbollah has confirmed that it is involved in the fighting in Syria and promised that Syria’s “real friends”—meaning Iran, Russia, China, and the March 8 Alliance in Lebanon—will not let Syria fall into the hands of the US and its allies, Tehran has told Washington and its allies several times that Syria is the Iranian “redline.” Iranian military commanders have said thatSyria is an extension of Iran’s own security parameters. What’s more, the Iranians have openly admitted that they are aiding their Syrian allies and willing to provide further training and assistance to Damascus, as well as intervene militarily to help Syria if the US and its allies attack.
Syria and the Project for the “New Middle East”
What happens in Syria will have major regional and global repercussions. Attempts to create a sectarian war are part of the logic of divide and conquer. This is part of the US and Israel “constructive chaos” strategy to fragment and re-sculpt the entire Middle East along the lines of the Yinon Plan and rehashed versions of it. Iran’s Foreign Minister Salehi has warned that if the conflict in Syria is not ended that it will result in the partition of Syria and the spreading of the conflict throughout the Middle East. The same warnings have been echoing from Russia, Syria, and other places. While the Chinese have kept mostly silent, they realize that the siege of Syria is part of the Pentagon’s roadmap against China. Days before Benjamin Netanyahu was scheduled to arrive in Beijing, CNN even reported that “China’s foreign ministry spokesman suggested Netanyahu may get a tough, unwelcome message from his Chinese hosts” due to the Israeli strikes on Jamraya.
The situation in Syria is akin to the situation that was created in Iraq during the Anglo-American occupation. It is a continuation of the same process of destabilization that wants to tear the pluralistic fabric of the ancient societies of the Middle East. It is this project that has driven the Christians out of Iraq and destroyed the mixed neighbourhoods of Shiites and Sunnis and Arabs and Kurds.
Contemporary Iraq suffers from the virtual realization of both the Yinon Plan and the Biden Plan, which say Iraq should be divided into three sectors. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which is openly working against the sovereignty of Iraq and aligned with Turkey and Israel, is at loggerheads with the federal government in Baghdad and has de facto independence. The corrupt leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government have prevented the Iraqi military from manning certain Iraqi-Syrian border crossings in the north used by the insurgents in Syria and they have allowed the Israelis to use Iraqi Kurdistan as a base of operations against Syria and Iran.
Like they did in Iraq during the chaos, the US and its allies are using money and sectarianism. The insurgency in Syria is being financed by the US and members of its anti-Syrian coalition, such as the Saudis and Qataris. In addition, groups opposed to the Syrian government are being financially co-opted by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood with the foreign funding it has been receiving to topple the Syrian government. One Damascene opposition figure has admitted that the Muslim Brotherhood “just asked us how much we needed, we told them, and they immediately sent that amount.” Moreover, foreign funds were not only used to pay what he needed, but the Muslim Brotherhood told activists and government opponents that “they should take one per cent of the funding for their personal salaries.”
There should be no doubt that the insurgents in Syria and Israel are on the same side. The anti-government forces in Syria have even thanked Israel on several occasions and were jubilant about the Israeli attacks on Jamraya. As a result of the embarrassing attention they received for being aligned with Israel, the insurgents in Syria have changed gears and tried to save face by ridiculously claiming that Israel is secretly aligned with Bashar Al-Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah.
It says something of significance when Israeli officials say that they do not see an Al-Qaeda takeover of Syria as a threat to Tel Aviv. Amos Gilad, an Israeli military official, has stated very frankly Al-Qaeda is no concern for Israel and “although [its] elements are gaining a foothold in Syria amidst the chaos of the country’s civil war, the Syria-Iran-Hezbollah axis which preceded it [is] far more threatening” for Israel.
In reality, the governments of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States are in league with the supposed terrorists that some of them say they oppose or are fighting. They have been using the groups that have been designated as branches of Al-Qaeda as foot soldiers on the ground in Syria and Libya. If successful, they will eventually try to use the same militants to ignite insurgencies in places like Russia’s North Caucasian Federal District.
While Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, and the Palestinians are being targeted through the destabilization of Syria, the countries targeting Syria are also preparing the flames that they themselves will also burn in if America’s “New Middle East” comes into fruition through a baptism of fire and blood. Syrian instability and a possible partition of Syria could ignite a civil war in Turkey and even result in the partition of Turkey itself. Jordan too will be consumed by the flames that are burning Syria. If Syria collapses, the Iranians have delivered an unequivocal warning to King Abdullah II of Jordan about his future. Tehran’s message to Abdullah II, a despot who has foreigners arrested merely for talking negatively about him, but is invited to the White House to talk about democracy in Syria, is simple: “You must be aware that if the US decides to go to war with Syria, your kingdom will go in the process.” Nor will Saudi Arabia and Qatar be spared from the flames that the House of Saud and the rival House of Al-Thani are stoking for the Obama Administration and Israel in their Syrian gambit that could eventually ignite a major all-out war in the Middle East and beyond.