- Washington's Greater Middle East project involves waring
against the region one country at a time to replace independent regimes
with client ones.
- Softer targets were attacked first. Tougher ones remain,
notably Iran and Syria. Subduing them may involve turning the entire region
into an uncontrollable cauldron, not least because China and Russia have
interests to defend.
- Russia maintains a strategic naval base at Tartus, Syria,
its only Mediterranean location. It considers it vital protection for its
Black Sea Fleet. It's being modernized to accommodate heavy warships after
2012. Russia came to stay.
- Three Russian warships now patrol Syrian waters. Unofficial
sources confirm it, saying Russia's there to protect strategic and national
security interests, as well as prevent war.
- About 120,000 Russian citizens are in Syria. Moscow's
obligated to protect them the way they aided South Ossetian Russians after
Georgia attacked the province in August 2008.
- Provocatively, America's nuclear carrier USS George HW
Bush anchored off Syria. Its Strike Group and additional vessels are conducting
maritime security and support operations nearby. The US 6th Fleet patrols
- Meanwhile, Washington and Turkey urged their citizens
to leave Syria. A November 23 US statement said "depart immediately
while commercial transportation is available." Whether something's
brewing isn't known. Tough talk alone doesn't suggest it. Nonetheless,
- Syria's being assaulted like Libya. Heavily armed insurgents
are involved. Washington orchestrated everything. Neighboring countries
are involved, including Israel. Syria's blamed for defending itself. Libya
redux looks possible. Continued violence and escalating tensions suggest
- An anonymous Russian intelligence official said America
"is playing a very dangerous game here. One that may result in Russia
taking defensive actions to protect itself, its military installation and
- A Russian military expert called US carriers "expensive
floating targets that are vulnerable to attacks by aircraft, missiles and
torpedos. They were designed for Cold War scenarios, and are less useful
in establishing control of areas close to shore."
- According to Pravda.ru, Center for Military Forecasts
analyst Anatoly Tsyganok said Washington no longer will inform Russia about
planned troop deployments.
- "Apparently, it is connected with the situation
in the Mediterranean Sea," he said. "One may assume that NATO
will create a military group near Russia's southern borders to strike Syria."
- "They will most likely raise this issue at the NATO
summit in December. They will try to analyze Syria's actions in case NATO
conducts a military operation against the country, like (earlier) in Libya."
- Itar-Tass contributor Anatoly Lazarev accused Washington
of "initia(ting) the campaign for strangling Damascus." Russia
stresses dialogue for conflict resolution. "Washington obviously does
not like the stand assumed by Moscow. By all appearances, it wishes to
play first the Libyan and now the Syrian card" to ensure its regional
interests "at all costs." Then on to new targets to control the
- International Crisis Group (ICG) Comments on Syria
- Founded in 1995 by World Bank vice president Mark Malloch
Brown and former US diplomat Morton Abramowitz, ICG supports power, not
popular interests. Comments on its Middle East Project Director Peter Harling's
analysis follows below.
- Titled, "Uncharted Waters: Thinking Through Syria's
Dynamics," he assessed where things now stand, saying:
- "The Syrian crisis may or may not have entered its
final phase, but it undoubtedly has entered its most dangerous one to date.
The current stage is defined by an explosive mix of heightened strategic
stakes tying into a regional and wider international competition on the
one hand and emotionally charged attitudes, communal polarisation and political
wishful thinking on the other."
- Based in Damascus, Harling's observing events firsthand.
Entirely missing from current considerations, he believes, "is a sober
assessment of the challenges provoked by (balance of power) shifts and
the very real risk that they could derail or even foreclose the possibility
of a successful transition."
- Of course, it's for Syrians, not outside powers, to decide.
Intervening in other nations' internal affairs is illegal. For Washington,
its NATO partners, and Israel it's standard practice. Harding's analysis
omitted international law issues, focusing on imperial ones instead.
- Five key issues are excluded from Syria's debate, he
- the dominant Alawite community's fate;
- Syrian and Lebanese ties;
- implications of international intervention;
- impact of the protest movement's militarization; and
- "creeping social, economic and institutional decay."
- Assad linked the Alawite community's fate to his own
to assure loyalty among people who've gained little from the regime. Crisis
conditions bonded them to Assad's government. The same holds for Syrian
- Critically, the regime controls Damascus and Aleppo,
Syria's largest city. It secured them because protests there remain peaceful.
Its "divide-and-rule tactics have kept most Alawites, many Christians,
as well as some Druze and Sunnis on its side."
- Nonetheless, civil society segments support insurgents.
The longer conflict persists, the greater the incentive for affected business,
middle class, and other elements to seek ways to end it. At issue is protecting
their own self-interest. They want calm to get back to business as soon
- At the same time, Assad won't step down or be deposed
internally. Regime officials need him. He's been instrumental in keeping
support among BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and other countries.
He's also popular so why remove a regime prop.
- As for sanctions, civilians are mostly harmed much like
everywhere they're imposed. Assad said parliamentary elections will be
held next February or March. Constitutional review will follow. So will
presidential elections if new provisions in it say so.
- If Syrians agree to test him, violence might subside
but won't end as long as criminal insurgents are encouraged by Washington,
Turkey and other regional states to maintain pressure.
- Nonetheless, without a political solution, violence will
continue. Civilians will suffer horrifically. Military intervention may
follow. For now, Assad's holding firm. Violence hasn't reached critical
mass to topple him. Regime change isn't imminent. Syria's military supports
him. Turkey's pressure is limited, he believes.
- Arab League states have no credibility whatever. They
condoned Libya's ravaging, say nothing about NATO's plans to colonize another
Arab state, ignore Bahraini and other regional atrocities, and brutalize
their own people protesting against political, economic and social injustice.
- On November 27, DEBKAfile said Syria's neighbors are
preparing for potential retaliation after League members imposed sanctions.
Israel moved armored brigades to its Lebanese and Syrian borders. Turkey's
military is on alert. Lebanon and Jordan also responded defensively.
- "Military sources in the Gulf report that 150 Iranian
Revolutionary Guards specialists had landed at a military airport south
of Damascus on their way to Lebanon to join Hizbollah which began bringing
its rockets out of their hideouts."
- Russia's supplying Syria super-advanced S-300 anti-missile
systems, as well as advanced Pantsir-1 (SA-22 Greyhound) anti-air missiles
and supersonic Yakhont (SS-26) missiles for targeting vessels blockading
- Resolution's nowhere in sight. Conditions remain fluid.
War winds are blowing. Redrawing the region is planned. Arab Spring talk
belies strategies to do it. Perhaps destroying it comes first.
- A Final Comment
- On November 27, Arab League states approved stiff anti-Syrian
economic sanctions. Their 14-point plan includes travel bans on regime
officials, asset freezes, blocking sale of "nonessential" commodities,
halting transactions with Syria's central bank, and ending financing for
Arab-funded projects in the country.
- Sanctions are effective immediately. Ordinary people
will be hurt most. At issue is weakening popular support for Assad to facilitate
regime change more easily. In fact, people under duress usually rally behind
sitting governments for support. It remains to be seen if Syrians follow
- On November 28, Mathaba.net reported that Kuwait's al
Rai daily learned from unnamed senior European sources that Arab states,
with US logistical support, will impose a no-fly zone over Syria once an
authorizing Arab League charter decree is issued, calling for the protection
of Syrian civilians.
- With or without one, attacking a nonbelligerent state
is illegal. Nations may only respond against others defensively. Intervening
militarily in their internal affairs is prohibited. Nonetheless, doing
it for humanitarian reasons will be invoked. It doesn't wash but may work,
with or without a Security Council resolution.
- America and NATO partners aren't deterred by international
or statute laws. As a result, Syria is increasingly vulnerable.
- According to al Rai, a no-fly ban will target Syrian
artillery and military vehicles, including tanks and armored personnel
carriers. They'll be prohibited from moving freely. European sources say
they'd be crippled "in less than 24 hours."
- War winds are blowing stronger.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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