As Syria advances towards liberation, the repercussions continue to unfold within the middle east and beyond, demoralising the forces of reaction, strengthening the forces of liberation and exposing the dirty role played by imperialism in the ill-fated war of subversion.
Raqqa: occupation, not liberation
October’s relief of Deir Ezzor by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) made it very clear that Syria and her allies were able and willing to complete the task of liberation without any ‘help’ from the US or its hirelings in the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF). This message was most unwelcome to imperialism, which responded by accelerating its own plans to ‘liberate’ the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa.
This ‘liberation’ mostly consisted of carpet bombing the city by US coalition aircraft, thereby destroying 90 percent of it and inflicting what the UN termed “staggering loss of civilian life”, with eyewitness reports of 25 families having been slaughtered in just one episode. According to the journalist-led Airwars project, which tries to keep a tally, there were at least 1,800 casualties and tens of thousands of displaced persons.
When the siege began in June there were about 200,000 inhabitants; now journalists report a ghost town, like hell on earth, prompting Russia to draw the comparison with the German city of Dresden in 1945. The Syrian government justly asserted that this was not a liberation but an occupation, adding that liberation would only begin when the Syrian army entered the city. (US-led coalition celebrates Raqqa ‘liberation’ over the bodies of their victims, RT, 29 October 2017)
To add insult to injury this blitzkrieg, supposedly conducted against Daesh, was accompanied by a deal agreed by the SDF to save hundreds of those same Daesh butchers and send them off to the Iraqi border – there no doubt to take up cudgels once more against the Syrian army.
According to one account, after an agreement reached on 12 October with SDF: “close to a thousand islamists were evacuated from Raqqa. On 17 October buses transferred them to the Syrian-Iraqi border zone, where Assad’s army fights the caliphatists. Foreign militants were also evacuated, mainly from the CIS [the Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States] countries, who previously refused to leave the city.” (Particularities of national infantry: caliphate carries out forced demobilisation by Evgeny Satanovsky, South Front, 1 November 2017)
Needless to say, although the signatures on such agreements may be Kurdish, it is US imperialism that really calls the shots, and even supplies the US special forces muscle direct. Another report noted: “US special forces were caught up in the evacuation of the Isis field commanders from Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, and al-Mayadin, who were under the pressure of the government forces. Moreover, it is even known that the US and its forces directly offer terrorists the opportunity to leave the besieged cities in exchange for opposition to the Syrian army.” (The fifth assault corps to defend Deir Ezzor by Anna Jaunger, Inside Syria Media Centre, 30 October 2017)
As regards the numbers of US army minders on the ground in Syria, Major General James Jarrard, leader of US special forces in Syria, had a curious tale to tell to reporters on 30 October.
Asked about numbers, he said: “We have approximately … I think it’s a little over 4,000 US troops in Syria right now.” But how come the Pentagon’s official figure is only 503, he was asked? Suitably prompted, Jarrard jumped back on message: “I’m sorry, I misspoke there, there are approximately 500 troops in Syria.” Quite so. (US top general accidentally disclosed that there are 4,000 American troops in Syria, South Front, 1 November 2017)
Qatar spills the beans
Meanwhile, as the resistance axis gains new confidence from Syria’s rising fortunes (as witness also the moves towards unity in the camp of Palestinian resistance), Syria’s enemies spiral ever deeper into mutual recrimination and back-stabbing, eager to blame each other for the failure of the whole subversion project.
All the corrupt feudal sheikhdoms of the Gulf helped advance the imperialist regime-change agenda by arming, paying and protecting hundreds of jihadi outfits, all with the common goal of violently ousting the legitimate government of Syria. Now that Daesh, al-Nusra and the rest are on the run from Syria and Iraq (and in many cases on the run to those same imperialist heartlands that were happy enough to cheer on jihadi ‘revolution’ from a safe distance), everyone is blaming everyone else.
The US imperialist ringmaster shrugged off responsibility and pointed the finger of blame at the sheikhs, who in turn ganged up on Qatar. Rather than meekly accept the role of whipping boy, Qatar is now rounding on its accusers, throwing the accusation back in their teeth.
Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, who as former Qatari prime minister and foreign minister was responsible for his country’s policy towards Syria until 2013, was interviewed on Qatari TV recently. Here is some of what he said:
“When the events first started in Syria, I went to Saudi Arabia and met with King Abdullah. I did that on the instructions of his highness the prince, my father. He [Abdullah] said we are behind you. You go ahead with this plan and we will coordinate but you should be in charge.
“I won’t get into details, but we have full documents and anything that was sent would go to Turkey and was in coordination with the US forces, and everything was distributed via the Turks and the US forces. And us and everyone else was involved, the military people.
“There may have been mistakes and support was given to the wrong faction … Maybe there was a relationship with Nusra. It’s possible, but I myself don’t know about this … We were fighting over the prey and now the prey is gone and we are still fighting … and now Bashar is still there.
“You [the US and Saudi Arabia] were with us in the same trench … I have no objection to one changing if he finds that he was wrong, but at least inform your partner … For example, ‘Leave Bashar’, or ‘Do this or that’, but the situation that has been created now will never allow any progress in the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], or any progress on anything if we continue to openly fight.” Good news indeed. (In shocking interview Qatar confesses secrets behind Syrian war by Tyler Durden, Information Clearing House, 30 October 2017)
Turkey, aggrieved when the wind changed and it no longer suited Washington to turn a blind eye to Ankara’s support for jihad, distanced itself from the US and quietly tucked in behind Russian diplomatic efforts to conclude the war.
Now Doha, similarly spurned for only doing what the US and Riyadh wanted in the first place, is likewise reorienting its foreign policy, mending fences with Iran (with which it shares a massive natural gas field) and developing its existing trade links with China.
On 16 November the third ‘Made in China’ exhibition opened in Doha, supported by one hundred Chinese companies. A stated aim of the event was to provide a venue to discuss the establishment of Qatari and Chinese alliances to transfer to Qatar the modern technology used by these companies. A Qatari spokesman suggested that the Chinese participation reflected “the confidence of China in the Qatari economy, despite the ongoing unjust siege”. (‘Made in China’ expo to kick off on Thursday, The Peninsula, 14 November 2017)
Any who might be disposed to write off al-Thani’s exposure of the Washington-Riyadh-Doha-Ankara terrorist supply chain as simply the result of Qatari sour grapes should take a look at a document that came to light in October from amongst intelligence files leaked by Edward Snowden.
This document, which concerns the bombing of Damascus airport by the thugs of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) on 18 March 2013, shows that the anti-Assad jihadis were under the direct command of US imperialism and its lackey Saudi Arabia.
The document reveals how Prince Salman bin Sultan, who was in charge of operations in Syria in his role as a high ranking intelligence officer, ordered the FSA to “light up Damascus” and “flatten” the airport. Riyadh sent 120 tons of explosives and weapons to this end.
The subsequent bombing of Damascus International airport, which at the time still served daily as a commercial airport, was welcomed by Riyadh, which was reported to be “very pleased” with this act of terror.
And above Riyadh in the food chain squats US imperialism. According to the document: “Reports gave the US three days warning about 18 March 2013 attacks (two-year anniversary of revolution),” indicating that Washington was at the least in the loop if not in operational command. (It will be remembered that the White House incumbent at that time was the celebrated Nobel Peace Prize winner, Barack Obama.) (Bombshell NSA memo, South Front, 25 October 2017)
The farcical spectacle of Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, flying to Saudi Arabia to announce his resignation, and mumbling through his resignation speech in such a stilted fashion as to prompt speculation that his Saudi minders/kidnappers had written it for him, marks the low point of Saudi prestige in Lebanon.
The whole point about being Riyadh’s ‘Our Man in Beirut’ is that you stay in Beirut, posing as a Lebanese patriot whilst acting as a Saudi fifth column. Shouting “Long live Lebanon” from a podium in Riyadh fools nobody.
If this clumsy Saudi meddling in the affairs of sovereign Lebanon marks a new low in Saudi influence, it comes at a time when Hezbollah’s sway has been growing stronger than ever, winning praise for its fraternal efforts in defence of Syria’s independence and its patriotic defence of Lebanon’s own borders.
In practice, these often amount to the same thing, so it is quite normal for Hezbollah and the Lebanese army to cooperate together in the national interest. And yet, even as such cooperative efforts were helping to root out the real terrorists, Hariri stood mutely by US president Donald Trump’s side as the latter slated Hezbollah as ‘terrorists’!
It is hard to see how Hariri’s resignation and self-exile can do other than further weaken Saudi (and by extension US) influence and raise still further the prestige of Hezbollah, in the country and in the region.
Priti Patel scandal
Syria’s advance to liberation is making it harder for British imperialism in particular to conceal its reliance upon Israel in pursuing the regime-change agenda in Syria.
Not so long ago the suggestion that the British government might be helping the zionists patch up wounded terrorists and send them back to continue the dirty war against Syria would have been met with a collective yawn from the mainstream media.
But now, with everyone involved in imperialism’s failed proxy war busily distancing himself and trying to cover his tracks, the sight of the international development secretary swanning around a military field hospital in the Golan (illegally annexed from Syria) is enough to fuel high-toned moral outrage from the media and to get Priti Patel expelled from the cabinet.
The more imperialism goes onto the back foot, the harder it gets to hide its dirty dealings, so that even the Independent has started to smell a rat.
“The DfID secretary chose to go to an Israeli army field hospital on the Golan Heights … She was taken to the facility, barred to the general public, by Israeli officials. Afterwards she asked civil servants at her department to examine whether British aid money for Syrian humanitarian operations can be diverted to the Israeli military.
“The UK does not recognise Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights from Syria. Patel had broken the protocol that British ministers and officials do not go to the Golan, and certainly not Israeli military facilities there, with Israeli officials …
“No 10 said in a statement: ‘The secretary of state did discuss potential ways to provide medical support for Syrian refugees who are wounded and who cross into the Golan for aid. The Israeli army runs field hospitals there for Syrians wounded in the civil war. But there is no change in policy in the area. The UK does not provide any financial support for the Israeli army.’”
Yes, that army, the one that British arms manufacturers supply with all the latest in lethal weaponry for use against the Palestinians and others …
The report goes on to stress that the Israelis “are siding with the sunni groups against the common enemy – the Assad regime, Hezbollah and the Iranians. The former Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon has publicly confirmed that Israel was treating these fighters under a deal to help protect the border.”
Further: “More than 2,000 injured Syrians are being treated in Israeli hospitals. Although they include civilians, families, the majority of them are now men of fighting age: and their numbers are growing.
“Many are rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria, including members of extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra. I have met patients at the Israeli hospitals who make little secret of belonging to hardline jihadi groups. There have been scuffles in some wards between extremist and moderate fighters.”
And behind all the genteel tut-tutting over Patel’s indiscretions and regrettable breaches of protocol lies a deeper and more visceral foreboding about the destabilising consequences unfolding in the aftermath of the failed proxy war.
“It is the sunni extremists of Syria’s civil war, not the shias, who have carried out terrorist attacks on the streets of London and Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. It is an ongoing threat which will not diminish anytime soon with Isis and al-Nusra taking jihad to the west as they lose territory in Syria and Iraq.” (Priti Patel visited a hospital that treats jihadis by Ken Gupta, Independent, 9 November 2017)
Syrian army advances
Despite the ‘help’ of imperialism, the Syrian army and its allies are pressing on relentlessly in the liberation war.
November saw the liberation of the strategic city of Abu Kamal, lying on the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border and occupied by Daesh since 2014. This was hailed by commanders as signalling the general fall of the terrorist Daesh organisation’s project in the region. Abu Kamal is seen to be the last major Daesh stronghold in Syria.
The SAA is also busy in the southwestern Aleppo countryside concluding unfinished business with the Hayat Tahir al-Sham scum, lately rebranded from Jabhat al-Nusra, itself a spin-off from al-Qaeda. The masks change but the face stays as unprepossessing as ever.
In addition to benefiting from assistance from Russia and Hezbollah, the Syrian army is coordinating its efforts with patriotic volunteers. Anna Jaunger of the Inside Syria Media Centre reports: “the general command of the Syrian army intends to actively cooperate with fighters of the fifth assault corps, the elite volunteer-based military force that was created by the Syrian government together with Iran and Russia in 2016”, adding: “warriors from Isis Hunters, Tribal Forces, Assad Shield, and the Ba’ath Brigades military groups, which are in service of the fifth assault corps” all contribute to the common struggle.
The fifth assault corps benefited from “a full course of combat training organised by military instructors from Iran and Russia.” (Syria’s fifth assault corps offensive against Isis terrorists in Deir Ezzor, Global Research, 26 October 2017)
Increasingly beneficial to the common struggle against Daesh has been the cross-border coordination that has evolved between the Syrian army and the Iraqi volunteer Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). The PMU has been instrumental in opening up a corridor through Iraq, helping the SAA and Hezbollah to wrest Abu-Kamal from Daesh. It is reported that the SAA has also deployed some of its units alongside PMU forces inside Iraq. (Iraqi forces captured Syrian settlement near al Bukamal?, South Front, 5 November 2017)
Where the fluidity of borders hitherto most of all served to help the jihadis prosecute the war of subversion unhindered, now that the tide is running so strongly in Syria’s favour the melting of borders can make it simpler for the axis of resistance to coordinate its operations.
As the former British diplomat Alastair Crooke sees it: “the Syria outcome has created a physical connectivity and contiguity that has not existed for some years: the border between Iraq and Iran is open; the border between Syria and Iraq is opening; and the border between Lebanon and Syria, too, is open. This constitutes a critical mass both of land, resources and population of real weight.” (Syrian victory will reshape the middle east and recalibrate global hegemony, Off-Guardian, 24 October 2017)
To which we might add: this is a ‘critical mass’ that does not sit well with US hegemonic pretensions in the middle east.
Victory to the Syrian president, government, army and people!