by Aisling Byrne
5 February 2012
As the attacks against Iraq
and Libya have proven, the purpose of Western
interventions is not to safeguard civilian populations,
but to establish regimes that are friendly to the
economic interests of the United States, and compatible
with Israel’s geopolitical ambitions.
By opposing the very
principle of foreign intervention in Syria, the BRICS
nations are defying the world vision defended by the
Western powers and their media, but not the Law, nor
As argued here by Aisling
Byrne, not only are Russia and China the only countries
that respect International Law at the Security Council,
they are also the only ones that respect the aspirations
of the Syrian people.
"Viscous nasty business"... "aggressive pressure... by US diplomats",
"ferocious pressure on weaker non-permanent members", the "type of
pressure (that) is very, very difficult for weaker countries... to
That’s how a former British diplomat at
United Nations, Carne Ross, described last September’s UN showdown over the
Palestinian Authority’s bid for
recognition for statehood.
"This is how power works." he said.
He might have added "money", for route to the UN
Security Council in the case of Syria this week has been one of bullying,
bribery, unprecedented procedural violations at the Arab League, along with
media manipulation and significant distortions of reality.
At stake in this diplomatic battle of "historic importance" is the campaign
the United States
the United Kingdom
...to secure a UN mandate for external interference in Syria with the aim of
deposing President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.
The UN face-off comprises two draft resolutions - a "battle royal" with "all
the trappings of a cold war",
writes the seasoned diplomat, M.K. Bhadrakumar. Despite claims to the contrary, the US/UK/France/Gulf Cooperation
draft resolution would essentially allow for a phased process of
Far from presenting the findings from the Arab League’s monitors report,
that report has been effectively shelved in presentations by Arab League
secretary general Nabil al-Arabi and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the
Qatari foreign minister.
Why? Because the report effectively supported many
of Syria’s positions, and acknowledged that Syria had met nearly all the
requirements as set out by the Arab League.
According to the draft, Assad is required to leave office in favor of his
deputy, who would oversee a national unity government leading to
presidential and parliamentary elections.
The UN secretary general,
consultation with the League of Arab States", would report on developments
every 15 days. Significantly, "further measures" would be taken in the event
of Syria non-compliance.
A British official speaking anonymously
told the Associated Press that while,
"the text would stress there are no plans for any military intervention in
Syria - though the option would not be explicitly, or permanently, ruled
The January 30 statement from the US ambassador to the UN,
Susan Rice, makes
much of the absence of sanctions, and although it is true that the
resolution does not explicitly call for sanctions, in an implicit way it
calls for them:
Point 13 of the draft resolution "takes note of
the measures imposed by the League of Arab States on the Syrian authorities
on 27 November 2011, and encourages all [UN] States to adopt similar steps"
(on November 27 last year, the Arab League halted transactions with Syria’s
central bank, froze Syrian assets in other Arab states and Arab investment
in Syria and imposed a travel ban on senior Syrian officials).
As foreign ministers arrive for the showdown, attempts are being made to
circumscribe discussion through limiting it solely to the proposals from the
Arab League Secretary General al-Arabi and al-Thani whose explicit agenda is
German ambassador Peter Wittig
clarified last week:
to be reflecting what the Arab League wants... we don’t want to put
ourselves in the driver’s seat, that is the role of the Arab League".
January’s out-going chair of the Security Council,
Baso Sangqu of South
Africa, laconically noted the need to meticulously follow the Arab League’s
position on Syria, while in the case of Libya, the SC pointedly ignored the
African Union’s position and proposals.
"Each case is different," replied
Despite attempts to circumscribe debate, Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov insists that the full Arab League monitors’ report be tabled.
According to Ria Novosti, apparently,
"some of the report’s information was
missing in the document that Arab League foreign ministers submitted to the
UN Security Council. Of course, we’ll hear their proposals but we would like
to see the report itself," Lavrov
Lavrov is wise to ask for the full contents to be discussed, because the
Saudi claim that,
"the Syrian government did not execute any of the elements"
is plainly untrue.
The initial one-month mission of the Arab League
observers had four clear aims:
This should then lead to dialogue between the government and the opposition,
and the launching of a parallel political process.
In terms of stopping acts of violence, the report states its presence
"considerable calming of the situation and restraint on the part
of those forces".
The Mission did,
"determine an unarmed entity that is not
mentioned in the protocol" and called for "all sides to cease all acts of
The presence of armed opposition groups involved in the conflict and armed
smuggling is now acknowledged in the new US/UK/France/GCC draft resolution
In relation to detainees, the report notes 5,152 detainees
released, and confirmed that,
"all military vehicles, tanks and heavy weapons
had been withdrawn from all cities and residential neighborhoods".
concluded that essentially the mission had enjoyed the co-operation of the
The report noted its short 23-day mandate found that,
"many parties falsely
reported explosions or violence" which were unfounded; also referring to
"media exaggeration" in the "nature of incidents and the number of persons
killed in incidents".
The mission noted it had also been the "target of a
vicious media campaign" including publication of statements falsely
attributed to the mission’s director; and concluded that there needed to be
"commitment of all sides to cease acts of violence, thereby allowing the
Mission to complete its tasks and, ultimately, to lay the ground for the
political process... a process [that] must be accelerated and a national
dialogue launched... in order to create an environment of confidence that
would contribute to the mission’s success".
This last recommendation is
precisely what is by-passed in the Western-sponsored resolution.
Senior political sources have confirmed that last September, Qatar "bought"
the president’s position of the Arab League from the Palestinians in return
for a donation of US$400 million in "aid" to PA President Mahmoud Abbas who
at the time was "prioritizing" payment of salaries to employees - it was
turn to hold the rotating Arab League President’s position.
The presidency - along with its position as chair of the League’s
Syria committee - gave Qatar the opportunity to pursue Assad’s fall.
However, all this may change in March with Iraq’s assumption of the
With Qatar at the helm, the Western plan was to set criteria for Arab League
monitoring designed to provoke a Syrian refusal.
A senior Arab League
official speaking off-the-record in December said that the league’s Syria
initiative was steered away from its original form by,
"some of the ministers
who didn’t like the direction and started dictating certain ideas that they
knew Syria would not accept".
"The 'Protocol' to create a League observer delegation was forwarded with an
'ultimatum' in a short time, which we have never experienced in the history
of diplomacy at the Arab League... This is needed not only for Syria - why
not a plan for everywhere in the region?"
"The whole process was meant to
gain a refusal, to move to the second stage of this game," said the
So it is not surprising that despite the ministerial committee of the Arab
League voting four to one (Qatar) for an extension of the mission by one
month, this was overruled: Saudi Arabia withdrew its monitors, followed
swiftly by the remaining Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
League secretary general al-Arabi reportedly decided unilaterally to suspend
the mission, ostensibly because the observers faced increasing security
risks, particularly in wake of a fatwa issued by the spiritual leader of the
Syrian Salafists, Sheikh Adnan al-Arouri, who announced on al-Arabiya that
it was lawful to kill the observers.
Paradoxically, the very success of the observer mission has been used by the
West as further propaganda in favor of Security Council action.
withdrawal of Syrian security forces from cities and towns, as required by
the observers, has been used to present a false picture of the opposition
‘seizing’ control of parts of Syria from the army - the presence of a few
armed insurgents or insurgent-manned roadblocks does not constitute control.
Take the case of al-Zabadani, for example. Reports claim that a ceasefire
was agreed with the Syrian army on January 17 and that armed opposition
elements took control the following day.
Israeli intelligence website Debka on January 27 warned against giving regard to such inaccurate
This week, Arab and Western media called the Zabadani battle the first rebel
important victory, claiming they had liberated the town.
editor-in-chief of the influential Saudi A-Sharq al-Awsat, wrote Monday,
"Today the Syrian revolutionaries are pursuing a strategy that
seems smart and effective so far, namely the search for a Syrian Benghazi
or, as a source close to what is happening on the ground in Syria told me,
... ’multiple Benghazis, not just one.’ These could be Homs, Zabadani, and
others, which the rebels consider to be liberated cities." ...
There is only
one problem with these glad tidings: They never happened. Neither Zabadani
nor Homs have become "Syrian Benghazis" or liberated cities.
What really happened was that on January 18, local Zabadani town leaders,
fearing their town was in for a heavy military bombardment, struck a deal
with the Syrian army: They won a ceasefire conditional on their expelling
all armed rebels and their weapons from the town... the dismantling of all
barricades and military posts; and the disappearance of armed men who had
been roaming their streets.
For those concessions, the Syrian army agreed to
halt its attacks on Zabadani and pull back several hundred meters from its
Some of the rosy opposition propaganda making the rounds has begun trickling
into Western intelligence evaluations - in Washington too. It is infecting
accounts whose factual accuracy is relied upon as the bedrock for policy
decisions on Syria. In actual fact, the FSA [Free Syria Army] has no
hideouts around Damascus; nor did the rebels seize Douma. As we write this,
Assad and his forces are in full control of Damascus.
intelligence assessments claiming the Free Syrian Army, while not yet a
direct threat to the regime, is increasingly influencing the course of the
struggle as the engine of processes that will eventually topple the regime,
are premature at best and made of whole cloth at worst.
Pro-regime change commentators
"Syria looks more like Libya every
If it does, it is because
the mainstream narrative on Syria is
intentionally constructed to be so - in order to justify the call for
external intervention. But this doesn’t mean it is necessarily correct.
As British TV Channel Four’s diplomatic editor wrote last week in relation
to Youtube footage showing purported captured Iranian snipers, Revolutionary
Guards, no less, confessing, most probably after being tortured, to shooting
civilians in Syria:
"(this) goes to show how careful we have to
be before airing footage we didn’t shoot ourselves, and how cruel and
dirty this conflict has become."
The extraordinary act of war by Qatar and Saudi
Arabia in agreeing to supply weapons to armed insurgents in a fellow Arab
state in any other situation would be called state-sponsored terrorism,
particularly given that there is evidence that a majority of Syrians do
Commenting on a series of recent Facebook polls,
and having taken into account the limitations of such polls, even some with
between 180,000 to 1 million respondents, Syrian analyst, Camille Oktraji
In addition to the majority support Assad
enjoys, the even larger majority that voted against al-Jazeera, Turkish
military intervention in Syria, an Arab boycott of Syria, changing the
colors of the Syrian flag or against a UN vote targeting Syria, should
be construed by policy makers in Washington and "the international
community" that they are interfering on the side of a minority of
Syrians and against the wishes of a clear majority.
Clinton heads to the U.N. for confrontation on
Under cover of this pretense that the insurgents
are gaining control, rather than that Syria has effectively complied with
its monitoring obligations, the US, UK, France and their GCC colleagues are
trying to bulldoze the Security Council with a resolution intended to
ratchet the process towards regime change.
Whether they will succeed or not, remains to be
Russia continues to insist that it will not support any resolution
that facilitates regime change - it wants a Syrian-led political process,
not "an Arab League-imposed outcome" or Libyan-style "regime change".
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennagy
Gatilov said yesterday:
"The Western draft Security Council
resolution on Syria will not lead to a search for compromise... Pushing
it is a path to civil war."
Russia and its allies’ determination may win the
"There’s no longer any expectation inside
the (US) administration", reports Foreign Policy, "that Moscow will
support international action aimed at removing Assad from power, even by
But the UN confrontation is meant to isolate Russia
diplomatically and make it clear that the Arab League and its Western
friends have exhausted all diplomatic options before moving to directly
aid the internal opposition, if that decision is ultimately made."
And so the show (down) goes on...