Selasa, 29 Disember 2015

Syria: It's Not a Civil War and it Never Was

The weapons are foreign, the fighters are foreign, the agenda is foreign.

December 28, 2015 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - As Syrian forces fight to wrest control of their country back and restore order within their borders, the myth of the "Syrian civil war" continues on. Undoubtedly there are Syrians who oppose the Syrian government and even Syrians who have taken up arms against the government and in turn, against the Syrian people, but from the beginning (in fact before the beginning) this war has been driven from abroad. Calling it a "civil war" is a misnomer as much as calling those taking up arms "opposition." It is not a "civil war," and those fighting the Syrian government are not "opposition."

Image: The Syrian conflict was driven by foreign interests since the conflict began and in many ways, long before it even started.

Those calling this a civil war and the terrorists fighting the Syrian state "opposition" hope that their audience never wanders too far from their lies to understand the full context of this conflict, the moves made before it even started and where those moves were made from.

When did this all start? 

It is a valid question to ask just when it all really started. The Cold War saw a see-sawing struggle between East and West between the United States and Europe (NATO) and not only the Soviet Union but also a growing China. But the Cold War itself was simply a continuation of geopolitical struggle that has carried on for centuries between various centers of power upon the planet. The primary centers include Europe's Paris, London and Berlin, of course Moscow, and in the last two centuries, Washington.

In this context, however, we can see that what may be portrayed as a local conflict, may fit into a much larger geopolitical struggle between these prominent centers of special interests. Syria's conflict is no different.

Syria had maintained close ties to the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. That meant that even with the fall of the Soviet Union, Syria still had ties to Russia. It uses Russian weapons and tactics. It has economic, strategic and political ties to Russia and it shares mutual interests including the prevailing of a multipolar world order that emphasizes the primacy of national sovereignty. 

Because of this, Western centers of power have sought for decades to draw Syria out of this orbit (along with many other nations). With the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the fractured Middle East was first dominated by colonial Europe before being swept by nationalist uprising seeking independence. Those seeking to keep the colonial ties cut that they had severed sought Soviet backing, while those seeking simply to rise to power at any cost often sought Western backing. 

The 2011 conflict was not Syria's first. The Muslim Brotherhood, a creation and cultivar of the British Empire since the fall of the Ottomans was backed in the late 70s andearly 80s in an abortive attempt to overthrow then Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, father of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The armed militants that took part in that conflict would be scattered in security crackdowns following in its wake, with many members of the Muslim Brotherhood forming a new US-Saudi initiative called Al Qaeda. Both the Brotherhood and now Al Qaeda would stalk and attempt to stunt the destiny of an independent Middle East from then on, up to and including present day. 

There is nothing "civil" about Syria's war. 

In this context, we see clearly Syria's most recent conflict is part of this wider struggle and is in no way a "civil war" unfolding in a vacuum, with outside interests being drawn in only after it began.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Al Qaeda spin-off were present and accounted for since the word go in 2011. By the end of 2011, Al Qaeda's Syrian franchise (Al Nusra) would be carrying out nationwide operations on a scale dwarfing other so-called rebel groups. And they weren't this successful because of the resources and support they found within Syria's borders, but instead because of the immense resources and support flowing to them from beyond them. 

Saudi Arabia openly arms, funds and provides political support for many of the militant groups operating in Syria since the beginning. In fact, recently, many of these groups, including allies of Al Qaeda itself, were present in Riyadh discussing with their Saudi sponsors the future of their joint endeavor.

Image: Until militants disrupted it, the US was running an operation sending Libyans and weapons from Benghazi, through Turkey and onward to Syria in what was clearly a foreign invasion, not a "civil war." 

Together with Al Nusra, there is the self-anointed Islamic State (IS). IS, like the Syrian conflict itself, was portrayed by the Western media for as long as possible as a creation within a vacuum. The source of its military and political strength was left a mystery by the otherwise omniscient Western intelligence community. Hints began to show as Russian increased its involvement in the conflict. When Russian warplanes began pounding convoys moving to and from Turkish territory, bound for IS, the mystery was finally solved. IS, like all other militant groups operating in Syria, were the recipients of generous, unending stockpiles of weapons, equipment, cash and fighters piped in from around the globe. 

The Syrian conflict was borne of organizations created by centers of foreign interests decades ago who have since fought on and off not for the future of the Syrian people, but for a Syria that meshed more conveniently into the foreign global order that created them. The conflict has been fueled by a torrent of weapons, cash, support and even fighters drawn not from among the Syrian people, but from the very centers of these foreign special interests; in Riyadh, Ankara, London, Paris, Brussels and Washington.

How to settle a civil war that doesn't exist? 

If the Syrian conflict was created by foreign interests fueling militant groups it has used for decades as an instrument of executing foreign policy (in and out of Syria), amounting to what is essentially a proxy invasion, not a civil war, how exactly can a "settlement" be reached?

Who should the Syrian government be talking to in order to reach this settlement? Should it be talking to the heads of Al Nusra and IS who clearly dominate the militants fighting Damascus? Or should it be talking to those who have been the paramount factor in perpetuating the conflict, Riyadh, Ankara, London, Paris, Brussels and Washington, all of whom appear involved in supporting even the most extreme among these militant groups? 

If Damascus finds itself talking with political leaders in these foreign capitals, is it settling a "civil war" or a war it is fighting with these foreign powers? Upon the world stage, it is clear that these foreign capitals speak entirely for the militants, and to no one's surprise, these militants seem to want exactly what these foreign capitals want.

Being honest about what sort of conflict Syria is really fighting is the first step in finding a real solution to end it. The West continues to insist this is a "civil war." This allows them to continue trying to influence the outcome of the conflict and the political state Syria will exist in upon its conclusion. By claiming that the Syrian government has lost all legitimacy, the West further strengthens its hand in this context.

Attempts to strip the government of legitimacy predicated on the fact that it stood and fought groups of armed militants arrayed against it by an axis of foreign interests would set a very dangerous and unacceptable precedent. It is no surprise that Syria finds itself with an increasing number of allies in this fight as other nations realize they will be next if the "Syria model" is a success. 

Acknowledging that Syria's ongoing conflict is the result of foreign aggression against Damascus would make the solution very simple. The solution would be to allow Damascus to restore order within its borders while taking action either at the UN or on the battlefield against those nations fueling violence aimed at Syria. Perhaps the clarity of this solution is why those behind this conflict have tried so hard to portray it as a civil war.

For those who have been trying to make sense of the Syrian "civil war" since 2011 with little luck, the explanation is simple, it isn't a civil war and it never was. Understanding it as a proxy conflict from the very beginning (or even before it began) will give one a clarity in perception that will aid one immeasurably in understanding what the obvious solutions are, but only when they come to this understanding.

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


Isnin, 28 Disember 2015

Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction

From 2011 to around early 2014, the so-called “Arab Spring” encompassing the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region came to the forefront of international political affairs. In the words of Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, it was “frequently referred to as the most remarkable episode in the international life of the new 21st century.” The authoritarian regimes of the Arab world have been fragile systems. This is especially true more recently in their relationship with burgeoning youthful populations. Arab historian Said K. Aburish argues that these various regimes all lack modern political legitimacy—from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to Egypt, from military cliques to monarchies. [1]

This lack of modern political legitimacy—coupled with decades of political repression, world economic crises, and unresolved grievances such as the unmitigated oppression of the Palestinian people—creates potential for massive political awakening. This dynamic was particularly pronounced because of the region’s marked demographic ‘youth bulge.’ Historically, youth cohorts are receptive to new ideas, eager to challenge the status quo, and active in times of political crisis. Indeed, it was the age 25 and under demographic that spearheaded the MENA mass protests. Using what is referred to as ‘civilian-based power,’ Western powers exploited and guided this massive potential for political awakening to advance Western and Israeli geopolitical imperatives. These eruptions were followed closely by covert and overt military intervention.

Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction examines modern imperialism vis-à-vis the so-called ‘Arab Spring.’ This widespread Arab upheaval takes place in the context of a period when the restructuring of the world order—from unipolarity (uncontested world hegemony) toward multipolarity (multiple centers of power)—converges with aggravated economic breakdown. This provides the lens from which this study is viewed. The focus of this analysis is the underlying themes, methods, and most prevalent aspects of the MENA uprisings. Particular focus is given to Egypt and Libya as highly instructive case studies. Egypt demonstrates an effective utilization of ‘civilian-based power,’ while Libya provides one of the most palpable displays of the empire’s ruthless stewardship of the “Arab Spring” to smash a recalcitrant Arab state.

In his study The Sorrows of Empire, author Chalmers Johnson, professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, categorizes modern imperialists into two groups: “those who advocate unconstrained, unilateral American domination of the world (couched sometimes in terms of following in the footsteps of the British Empire) and those who call for imperialism devoted to ‘humanitarian’ objectives…. The complex issue at the heart of liberal imperialism is ‘humanitarian intervention’ … ‘the responsibility to protect’”[2] as a pretext for military intervention.

‘Liberal imperialism’ has continued to evolve. A more novel method for modern imperialism includes the use of the ‘color revolution.’ Adherents of this method, such as Peter Ackerman of the Albert Einstein Institute (AEI) and Carl Gershman of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) (See Chapter II), argue unfriendly regimes can be toppled by mobilizing swarms of discontented adolescents, via mass communication media such as SMS, Facebook and Twitter. Illustrating its appeal to the Obama team, this later tactic of ‘civilian-based power’ was utilized as the initial driving force of the so-called ‘Arab Spring,’ and was later superseded by direct military intervention and America’s newest unconventional model of warfare.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the mainstream narrative is that the wave of uprisings against the status quo autocratic Arab regimes were entirely organic. Additionally, a narrative sometimes found in alternative media is that these uprisings were initially organic, but were subsequently hijacked or diverted by the West and Gulf state monarchies. The latter narrative is given credence through the West’s direct military intervention to topple Muammar Qaddafi’s government in Libya. Both of these notions are specious. The idea that romantic Arab youth activists alone initiated the attempt to topple their autocratic regimes is a myth. The objective of Fall of the Arab Spring is to shatter this prevailing mythology.

In truth, the so-called “Arab Spring”which swept through the MENA region was a wave of destabilizations sponsored by Washington and launched through ‘civilian-based power’ techniques. It was American imperialism of the most modern form. With the onset of multipolarity—with many of Washington’s vassals looking to resurgent power centers such as Moscow and Beijing—the US moved pre-emptively for ‘regime change’ against the independence of ‘enemy’ states and erstwhile clients. Additionally, the ‘Arab Spring’ offensive was given impetus by the imperative to accelerate the regional process of what Bernard Lewis, perhaps the most influential British Arabist, termed “Lebanonization” as a self- fulfilling prophecy. [3] This refers to the far-reaching balkanization, societal breakdown, and explosion of sectarian conflicts following the attenuation or collapse of the state—the model of Somalia.

For the casual outside observer, especially those imbibing the corporate controlled media’s narrative, the complex and covert nature of the destabilization meant its intrinsic imperialism was not immediately discernable. The initial lack of overt military offensives gave the empire’s use of ‘civilian-based power’ the verisimilitude of meritorious organic grassroots movements for change.

While it is important to acknowledge and support the aspirations of peoples toward accountable and democratic forms of governance, it is unacceptable to interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign states during this process. This principle is enshrined in the charter of the United Nations and that of natural law. In a non-Hobbesian world it would be recognized that is not for any state to dictate another’s government for their own selfish aggrandizement or hegemonic interests. It would be recognized that every nation has the right to determine its future independently, without outside interference. Alas, rather than this notion as a guiding principle, the Post-Cold War era unleashed a state of uncontested world hegemony by a single power: the United States. In this single world power framework its own interests and ideology are regarded as paramount.

Although it is commonly thought to have gradually faded following World War II, imperialism continues via neo-colonialism.The actions of the West, with its leading state the US at the forefront, have followed an imperialist tendency throughout the Arab uprisings. As we shall see, the West’s ongoing involvement in the “Arab Spring” is part of a larger offensive to maintain the status quo of Western and Israeli hegemony. This was done—not through the crude and direct means of the Bush II regime—but more indirectly and via a sustained synergy of hard and soft power: so-called ‘smart power.’ This was supplemented and spearheaded through the techniques of the ‘color revolution.’ Thus, although a new cadre emerged with the onset of the Obama regime, the status quo imperative to secure Israel remained, and Obama administration introduced new techniques of projecting power. Whereas the second Bush administration was blunt and bellicose, the Obama regime acted more indirectly and surreptitiously, often relying on local proxies and ambitious regional powers such as Qatar and Turkey. This approach can be aptly labeled ‘imperialism on the cheap.’ It has been the defining foreign policy strategy of the Obama presidency.

The excessive reliance on ‘hard power,’ overt military and economic means to project power, during the George W. Bush presidency, generated widespread discourse on its imperial nature.[4] In contrast, the presidency of Obama was rarely, if ever, characterized in similar terms in its early stage. On the contrary, it was often branded as a radical departure from the aggressive tendencies of the Bush II regime. ‘Soft power’ is defined as “the ability to obtain the outcomes one wants through attraction rather than using the carrots and sticks of payment or coercion.”[5] After President Bush put US standing in a compromised position—with allies antagonized and a military and populace demoralized—the American establishment opted to shift to a more emphatically ‘soft power’ approach, as advanced by theoreticians such as Joseph Nye, Jr. and Zbigniew Brzezinski of the elite Trilateral Commission. The new strategy rejected an outright bellicose use of ‘hard power,’ the proclivity of the Bush II regime. Instead, ‘hard power’ was used more selectively and from the standpoint of ‘leading from behind.’ This means encouraging allies (or vassals) to engage in geopolitical initiatives for the US, which provides necessary military aid covertly.

During the MENA uprisings, as the Trilateral Commission’s Joseph Nye had suggested even before Obama was elected, the US used “a smart strategy that combines hard- and soft-power resources—and that emphasizes alliances and networks that are responsive to the new context of a global information age.” Or, as articulated by Obama State Department apparatchik Susanne Nossel, a strategy of “enlisting others on behalf of U.S. goals, through alliances, international institutions, careful diplomacy, and the power of ideals.”This encapsulates US strategy to topple and destabilize non-compliant states during the ‘Arab Spring.’

Reacting to a waning American empire and a need to ensure the security of Israel, this synergy of ‘soft power,’ alliances, and ‘hard power’ came to characterize US strategy. In Libya—where direct military intervention took place—humanitarian imperialism was carried out with these as guiding principles. Fall of the Arab Spring outlines the synergy between this array of methods including the use of information and irregular warfare. In the final outcome, for the Arab world, the romantic illusions of ‘democracy’ and ‘dignity’—platitudes sold by the West—were shattered, and much of the region degenerated into the breakdown of the state and society.

Christopher L. Brennan is an independent political analyst and author of Fall of the Arab Spring: From Revolution to Destruction. He has previously written articles under his pseudonym “Chris Macavel.” 


[1] Said K. Aburish. A Brutal Friendship: The West and the Arab Elite, (New York: St. Martin’s Press), 13.

[2] Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, (New York: Metropolitan Books), 67.

[3] “Another possibility, which could even be precipitated by fundamentalism, is what has of late become fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East—Egypt is an obvious exception—are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the [nation-state]. The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.” Bernard Lewis, “Rethinking the Middle East,” Foreign Affairs, Fall 1992, the-middle-east

[4] See, for example, Michael Cox. “Empire, Imperialism and the Bush Doctrine.” Review of International Studies 30, no. 4 (2004): 585-608. http://search.; Lewis H. Lapham, Pretensions to Empire: Notes on the Criminal Folly of the Bush Administration (New York: New York Press), 2007; Madeline Bunting “Beginning of the end: The US is ignoring an important lesson from history – that an empire cannot survive on brute force alone.” The Guardian, comment ;Johnson, Empire, 322-323.

[5] Harvard’s Joseph Nye, Huffington Post, “Barack Obama and Soft Power,” June 2008,
The original source of this article is Global Research

Copyright © Christopher L. Brennan, Global Research, 2015