Assad: Winning Hearts, Minds and Battles in Syria
by Stephen Lendman
Most Syrians support Assad. They do so for good reason. Mass crowds turn out in liberated areas. Syria’s military is cheered.
Polls show over two-thirds of Syrians back their government. The longer conflict continues, the greater Assad backing grows.
It’s not surprising. Syrians want no part of living under a Washington-imposed dictatorship. They’re willing to sacrifice, fight and die to prevent it. They’ve come this far and won’t quit.
Obama and imperial allies are worried. John Kerry planned a fifth Middle East visit this week. On Tuesday, he was expected in Israel. He’s not coming. He’ll stay in Washington.
High-level meetings on Syria are ongoing. Assad’s been routing US proxy foot soldiers. Qusair and other impressive victories were won. Syrian forces control most parts of the country.
At issue is what Washington plans next. Supposed consideration about providing weapons doesn’t wash. It’s been ongoing covertly since conflict began. CIA and US special forces are involved.
Perhaps what’s well known will be admitted publicly. Desperation pervades Washington. Regime change plans aren’t going as intended.
Israeli Minister of Intelligence, International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz admits Assad has the upper hand. He’s beating America at its own game. He’s far from declaring victory.
Washington has powerful tools to use. At issue is what’s planned. Headlines suggest US concerns. On June 10, The New York Times said “Rebel Losses in Syria Complicate Options for US Aid.”
Assad’s gains “prompt(ed) the Obama administration to again consider military options, including arming the rebels and conducting airstrikes to protect civilians and the Syrian opposition, administration officials said on Monday.”
Jeffrey White’s a pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) fellow. “I think the rebels are in trouble,” he said. “Speed is of the essence. The regime’s momentum needs to be brought to a halt.”
Insurgent general Salim Idris expressed alarm. Assad’s victories give him no leverage to negotiate. He won’t attend Geneva II without a position of strength.
“What can we ask for when we go very weak,” he said. The Russians and the Iranians and the representatives of the regime will say: ‘You don’t have any power. We are controlling everything. What you are coming to ask for?”
Idris is a turncoat traitor. He was bribed to defect. He sold out for personal gain. He’s in no position to make demands. He should be arrested and tried for treason.
He betrayed his own people. He allied with Washington’s imperial agenda. It’s responsible for mass slaughter and destruction.
Obama’s plans haven’t gone as expected. Assad’s in a position of strength. America lost considerable leverage.
Regaining it, said The Times, depends on greater US intervention. According to the Wall Street Journal, “key US officials have begun to argue that (Assad) now looks likely to survive the war and cling to power.”
Thomas Donnelly‘s an American Enterprise Institute research fellow. AEI is consistently hawkish. It’s notoriously far right of center. On June 7, Donnelly headlined “Losing the Middle East,” saying:
Significant Syrian victories suggest “there is nothing inevitable about the fall of the House of Assad.” They may prove more important than “tactical gain(s).”
Pivotal Aleppo and Homs battles loom. Insurgents are heavily outmanned and outgunned. Routing them from these cities and surrounding areas may entirely turn the tide of war.
It may do so short of direct US-led NATO intervention. It will impede arms flows from Turkey. It will further do so from Lebanon.
According to Donnelly, prevailing in Aleppo would be “crushing” on insurgent forces. Former Obama State Department adviser Vali Nasr said Assad gains benefit Iran.
It “strengthened its relationship with Russia, which may prove to be the most important strategic consequence of the Syrian conflict, should the US continue to sit it out.”
Moscow appears increasingly determined not to let Washington prevail. Supplying Syria sophisticated air defense systems, other military aid, and maintaining a Mediterranean fleet presence suggests it perhaps drew its own red line. It’s badly needed.
According to Donnelly, Obama “let(ting) the Middle East burn is play(ing) with a very dangerous fire.” It keeps burning “if you refuse to fight (it). Sometimes (things) spread and rage out of control.”
Donnelly wants direct US intervention. So does AEI resident fellow/ Fox News contributor Michael Barone. On June 8, he headlined “America will pay a price for President Obama’s inaction in Syria.”
He expected to prevail easily. So did key administration officials advising him. Best laid plans don’t always succeed. No easy choices remain. “(N)on-intervention has a price,” said Barone.
“Obama seems likely to continue his policy of inaction in Syria, for which America will probably pay a price – if not immediately, then some time in the future.”
Like Donnelly and other uberhawks, Barone supports direct intervention. He may get what he wishes for. Other AEI ideologues urge a no-fly zone and targeted air strikes. So have other Beltway warmongers.
Assad’s sophisticated air defense systems won’t make it easy. They’ll challenge overflights and incoming cruise missiles. Syrian forces haven’t come this far to quit.
It remans to be seen if discussions in Washington plan Libya 2.0. Increasing arms and munitions to insurgents alone won’t work. Other options are being considered.
According to National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan:
“At the president’s direction, his national security team continues to consider all possible options that would accomplish our objectives of helping the Syrian opposition serve the essential needs of the Syrian people and hastening a political transition to a post-Assad Syria.”
“We have prepared a wide range of options for the president’s consideration, and internal meetings to discuss the situation in Syria are routine.”
“The United States will continue to look for ways to strengthen the capabilities of the Syrian opposition, though we have no new announcements at this time.”
Peace is off the table. Geneva II if held is pretext for regime change. Without leverage to force it, it’ll fail like last year. Perhaps it’ll be called off or postponed.
In June 2012, talks were called a “last-ditch effort” to halt violence. More deaths occurred since then than before. Washington’s agenda remains unchanged. Assad must go is policy. Obama wants him replaced with a US-controlled puppet.
Syrian blood is on his hands. How much more he’ll spill remains to be seen. His death squads do it daily. They murder noncombatant civilians and commit unspeakable atrocities. They’ve done it throughout the conflict.
They’ve used chemical weapons blamed on Assad. They murder people in their homes. They kill children and women. It’s no surprise why Syrians deplore them. They’re invaders. They’re recruited from regional and other countries.
They’re Western-sponsored death squads. Assad’s routing them decisively. Short of US-led NATO intervention, he won the battle for Syria.
Doing so doesn’t mean conflict will end. It certainly won’t soon. Guerrilla tactics can continue interminably. Washington policymakers may have that in mind. It remains to be seen what follows.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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