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Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research
Saudi Regime Working to Lure the Arab League into Attacking Syria | Global Research.
“The Saudi regime is now making extensive contacts with a number of Arab governments to call for an Arab League ministerial meeting in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Syria,” sources told the Palestinian al-Manar weekly.
According to the sources, Riyadh is seeking to persuade the League to approve a resolution which would call on the UN Security Council to use Chapter 7 of the UN Charter to launch a military attack on Syria to be led by the US and France in partnership with certain regional states and Israel as well as Saudi Arabia’s financial support.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the western powers anad their regional allies – specially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.
According to the United Nations, more than 120,000 people have been killed and a total of 7.8 million of others displaced due to the violence in Syria.
Riyadh is considered as the main supporter of the terrorist Takfiri and Salafi groups fighting in Syria.
Late in December, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad said Damascus views Saudi Arabia as its number one enemy, accusing Riyadh of trying to destroy the country by arming extremists and militants fighting in Syria.
Miqdad told AFP that Saudi Arabia was providing unfettered support for “terrorist groups” in Syria, while other nations had reviewed their positions.
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : America and the Arab Awakening: Déjà Vu?
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity : America and the Arab Awakening: Déjà Vu?.
Three years ago, Washington experienced its own dose of “shock and awe” — the PR phrase used to sanitise its brutal invasion of Iraq — when hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ordinary Arabs took to the streets to demand the overthrow of leaders more interested in Washington’s approval than that of their own peoples. But American policy elites’ professed surprise was primarily a function of their own self-imposed amnesia and delusion.
No one in Washington seemed to realise or care that Egyptians forced their pro-American dictator from power on February 11, 2011 — 32 years to the day after the Shah of Iran’s military conceded to the will of the Iranian people, giving birth to the Islamic Republic of Iran and bringing down a pillar of American dominance in the region. On the eve of Iran’s revolution, as a deep and abiding thirst for independence was sweeping through Iran, President Jimmy Carter toasted the shah, in “great tribute…to your leadership and to the respect and the admiration and love which your people give to you.”
Thirty-two years later, US foreign policy elites seemed to have learned little. When similar revolutionary fervour threatened another pillar of US dominance in the Middle East — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak — the Obama administration appeared to be following the example of its 1970s predecessor. Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed that Mubarak wasn’t “a dictator” because he was an American ally and a friend of Israel — thereby highlighting that the only way an Arab leader can be those things is by being a dictator. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already declared “President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family.”
But with security forces marauding through Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square, killing nearly 1,000 people by the time Mubarak finally resigned — and drawing more people to protest, instead of repelling them — alarm set in among Washington’s foreign policy elite. Could the US really lose the Egyptian pillar it had so assiduously co-opted after its Iranian pillar was tossed out in 1979?
When Washington finally understood that Mubarak’s days were numbered, as Carter had finally understood with the shah, the Obama administration tried to orchestrate a “transition” to Mubarak’s reviled intelligence chief. Omar Suleiman was the man responsible for “rendering” Egyptians to be tortured for the CIA and for collaborating with Israel to keep the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza under siege. When that did not work, Washington set out to co-opt and then abort what it termed the Arab Spring — a Western phrase meant to depict movement toward secular liberalism rather than toward participatory Islamist governance.
Unchanging foreign policy
Mubarak’s departure brought into uncomfortably stark relief a reality that US policymakers had denied since the overthrow of the shah thirty-two years before. US efforts to use cooperative autocrats — autocrats willing to facilitate US military aggression, to torture alleged “terrorists” (their own citizens) for the CIA’s benefit, and to tolerate a militarily dominant Israel engaged in open-ended occupation of Arab populations — to promote American hegemony over the Middle East were unacceptable to the vast majority of people there.
As protests unfolded in Egypt, large numbers of demonstrators in Yemen demanded that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a major US counter-terror collaborator — resign. Three days after Mubarak’s removal, large-scale protests paralysed Bahrain — home of the US Fifth Fleet — underscoring the threat to America’s regional hegemony even more dramatically.
US foreign policy elites were not just concerned about a precipitous erosion of the US strategic position in the Middle East. They also worried about what the spread of popular demand for leaderships accountable to their peoples, not to Washington, would mean for the hegemonic house of cards the US had imposed on the region.
It was clear — and has become ever clearer over the past three years — that the majority of population in the Middle East want to vote for their leaders and to have a voice in decision-making on issues affecting their daily lives and social identities. But they also want that to happen in an explicitly Islamic framework — not in some secular, liberal “Spring” context, divorced from their identities and ability to assert real independence.
When given the chance to express preferences about their political futures, Middle Eastern Muslims do not embrace the sort of secular liberalism that America might be able to countenance as an alternative to pro-Western autocracy. Rather, they vote for Islamists espousing the integration of participatory politics and elections with Islamic principles — and with a commitment to foreign policy independence.
Thus, in early 2011, Washington was anxious that the Arab Awakening would ultimately benefit the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the Islamic Republic is the Middle East’s only political system that, since 1979, has actually tried to integrate participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance. It has also been an exemplar of foreign policy independence, embodied in its consistent refusal to submit to the imperatives of a pro-US regional order.
Three US goals in the Middle East
Faced with these risks to its hegemonic ambitions, the US could not simply declare its opposition to popular sovereignty in the Middle East. Instead, the Obama administration crafted a policy response to the Arab Awakening that had three major goals. In the course of pursuing these goals, the administration — with strong bipartisan backing in Congress — has imposed even more instability and violence on the region. It has also set the stage for further erosion of the credibility and effectiveness of US policy in a vital part of the world.
The Obama administration’s first goal was to prevent the Arab Awakening from taking down any more US allies. To that end, the administration tacitly (but happily) acquiesced to the Saudi-led military intervention in Bahrain on March 14, 2011 to sustain the Khalifa monarchy. As a result, the monarchy continues to hold on to power (for now) and US naval forces continue operating out of Bahrain.
At the same time, Washington’s support for suppressing popular demands for political change there through Saudi Arabia’s armed intervention has helped fuel a dangerous resurgence of sectarian tensions across the Middle East. This, in turn, has given new life to al-Qaeda and similar jihadi movements around the region.
The Obama administration’s second goal was to co-opt the Arab Awakening for US purposes, by showing that, somewhere in the Middle East, the US could put itself on the “right” side of history. So, when Saudi Arabia offered the Arab League “cover” to intervene in Libya and arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, President Barack Obama overrode objections by his defence secretary and military leaders to order US forces into action.
On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council narrowly adopted a resolution authorising use of force to protect civilian populations in Libya. In short order, Team Obama distorted it to turn civilian protection into coercive regime change. The results have been disastrous for US interests and for the region: Worsening violence in Libya, a growing jihadi threat in North Africa, a dead US ambassador, and more polarised US relations with Russia and China.
The Obama administration’s third goal was to show that, after the loss of pro-Western regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and near-misses in Bahrain and Yemen, it wasn’t just authoritarian regimes willing to subordinate their foreign policies to the US that were at risk from popular discontent. In particular, Washington wanted to demonstrate that it was also possible to bring down regimes with clear commitments to foreign policy independence — and, in the process, weaken not just Iran’s strategic position but that of Islamists across the region promoting participatory Islamist governance.
Soon after unrest started in Syria in March 2011, the Obama administration saw an opening, declaring that President Bashar al-Assad “must go” and goading an externally supported “opposition” to undermine him — if not bring him down. It was clear from the start that arming a deeply divided opposition would not bring down the Syrian government. Nevertheless, Washington joined with its so-called allies in Riyadh, Paris, and London in an almost desperate attempt to roll back Iran’s rising power.
Almost three years on, Iraq, as well as Iran, have been hurt by this misadventure — but the American and the Syrian people have paid a much higher price. Washington has paid in terms of its regional standing, intensification of the regional resurgence of violent extremists, and further polarisation of relations with Russia and China; Syria, of course, has paid with over 100,000 Syrians killed (so far) and millions more displaced.
More recently, the Obama administration’s tacit backing for the military coup that overthrew Egypt’s democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood president in July 2013 has removed any residual doubt that the US, intent on clinging to its hegemonic prerogatives in the Middle East, can endorse moves toward real democracy in the region. Putting US strategy in the Middle East on a more positive and productive trajectory will require Washington to accept the region on its own terms, to deal straightforwardly with all relevant (and authentic) actors, and to admit that trying to coercively micromanage political outcomes in Muslim-majority societies isn’t just incompatible with claims to respect popular sovereignty — it is unsustainable and counter-productive for long-term US interests.
Reprinted with permission from author’s Going to Tehran blog.
US/UN Fears Assad Win in Free Syrian Election? – LewRockwell.com
US/UN Fears Assad Win in Free Syrian Election? – LewRockwell.com.
Every now and then we have a chance to peek through a tiny window to see how “diplomacy” is done behind closed doors. Last week the leaked conversation between US diplomatsplotting the overthrow of Ukraine’s government was one such dramatic moment.
Another came Tuesday, in an interview with Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, which appeared in the respected Lebanese Daily Star newspaper. In a sweeping interview, the Ambassador discussed the recent bombing of the Iranian embassy in Beirut and the regional threat of the growing number of jihadist groups in Syria.
Then he let loose with this bombshell. Roknabadi told the Daily Star that the Iranian government had been under pressure to convince Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not to run again for president. As Syria’s only regional ally, Iran presumably has a good deal of influence with the Assad government.
[U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey] Feltman, during a visit to Iran last summer, asked officials to convince Assad not to run in the elections. The Iranian officials asked him: ‘What’s the problem if he runs,’ to which Feltman responded: ‘If he runs, he will win the elections.’
Feltman is not just any UN bureaucrat. In the revolving door between the UN and US government, he previously served as US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs from August 2009 to June 2012 and as United States Ambassador to Lebanon from July 2004 to January 2008. Before that he served in post-”liberation” Iraq.
More recently, Feltman was an important cast member in the above-mentioned “Ukraine-gate” phone call between US undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt. In the Ukraine drama, his former State Department colleagues agreed that Feltman could be trusted to appoint a UN official to “glue” together the deal they were cooking up.
If Ambassador Roknabadi is accurate in his account, this confirms much about the US government’s cynical regime-change ploy in Syria. Not that it is any surprise to those paying attention. It is in keeping with US ambivalence toward actual electoral democracy in those places which it purports to democratize. From Gaza to Egypt to Afghanistan to Libya to Iraq, it seems what US democratization efforts fear most is actual democracy.
No wonder Secretary Kerry keeps desperately clinging to the US misread of the “Geneva I” communiqué, claiming without evidence that it is a regime-change agreement among signatories. Assad must be kept out of the picture, because the US is terrified of his popularityin Syria.
I am on RPI, Facebook, and Twitter.
11:09 pm on February 12, 2014Email Daniel McAdams
The Corporate Media’s Dubious Syria Coverage | Global Research
The Corporate Media’s Dubious Syria Coverage | Global Research.
Western news media reportage on the rampant criminal activities of foreign-backed paramilitary groups operating within Syria still relies heavily on unreliable sources frequently referred to as “activists.” Such spokespersons routinely claim the Syrian military are committing atrocities against the Syrian population. The reports are often disputed by the Bashar al-Assad government and proven suspect or false when additional information is unearthed by independent researchers and alternative news media.
In July 2012 UK journalist Charlie Skelton reported that Western news outlets remain willing accomplices in a propaganda campaign being carried out by public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, “the spokespeople, the ‘experts on Syria’, the ‘democracy activists’ … The people who ‘urge’ and ‘warn’ and ‘call for action’” against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well-heeled propaganda campaign to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. “They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change,” Skelton reports,
and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.
One needn’t look far for current examples of such uncertain reportage and sourcing from eminent news organizations. For example, a prominent February 8, 2014 story from Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, titled, “Aleppo Bombings Kill 23, Activists Say,” carries the lead, “At least 23 people have been killed as a regime helicopter dropped barrel bombs on an opposition-controlled district in Syria’s largest city Aleppo on Saturday, activists said.”
The New York Times reports, “Rebel and government groups have each been accused of massacring civilians, and the government has stepped up air attacks on Aleppo with barrages of improvised ”barrel bombs” packed with high explosives that activists say have killed more than 200 people.
Similarly influential papers such as the Washington Post also remain unabashedly forthright in their reliance on such sourcing. A recent Associated Press piece carried in the paper, titled, “Activists: Syrian Forces Launch New Aleppo Strikes,” quotes the Aleppo Media Center, a self-described “anti-Bashar Assad activist group.” Post readers are assured the entity “has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting.”
Likewise, in November 2013 the BBC, whose Syria coverage tilts strongly toward “activist” observations, cites the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights to break the story of Syrian government air strikes “kill[ing] dozens in Aleppo.“ As Skelton noted in his 2012 exposé, “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is commonly used as a standalone source for news and statistics” which are taken at face value and parroted by corporate media. While SOHR sounds like a credible and non-partisan human rights outfit, “’They’ are Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdel Rahman), who lives in Coventry,” Skelton observes. In 2011 Reuters reported that when Abdulrahman “isn’t fielding calls from international media, [he] is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.”
The analysis suggests how despite the fact that those regularly quoted as authorities on Syria are often far-removed from what is transpiring on the ground and thus involved in a more far-reaching disinformation program to confuse the public on the calculated murder and chaos being carried out throughout Syria by Western-financed mercenary forces.
With the foreign-backed destabilization of Syria now well over two years old, major corporate-owned and government-backed news media, perhaps amazingly, continue to rely on such questionable entities as sources. Indeed, a Google search of “activists say” and “Syria” yields 919,000 results.
A more careful LexisNexis database search for “Syria,” “Assad,” “government” and the phrases “activists say” or “activists report” in the subject headings or text of news items for conventional print outlets indexed for June 1, 2012 to February 7, 2014 yields a data set consisting of close to 2,000 pieces—1,638 newspaper articles, 205 BBC broadcast transcripts, and 148 web-based articles. A total 134 articles appeared in the New Zealand Herald, 52 in the Washington Post, 38 in the New York Times, 30 in the Financial Times, and 28 in the International New York Times.
The following table breaks down the news outlets that, based on the above search parameters, appear to have used so-called “activists” as sources 20 or more times since June 1, 2012.
|News Outlet||News Articles / Transcripts||Referencing “Associated Press”|
|British Broadcasting Corporation||205|
|New Zealand Herald||134||43|
|Belfast Telegraph Online||97||–|
|Daily Star (Lebanon)||38||–|
|New York Times||38||5|
|Today’s Zaman (Turkey)||36||–|
|The National (UAE)||34||21|
|International New York Times||28||8|
|The Capitol (Annapolis MD)||26||13|
|Times of Oman||26||–|
|Salt Lake City Tribune||25||23|
|Times & Transcript||24||5|
About 13.5% of the sample (270) either reference the Associated Press as a source or are AP wire stories. A search for “Associated Press” within the search results yields 270 articles, including a significant number appearing in the New Zealand Herald (43), the Washington Post (26), The National (21), the Bismarck Tribune (15), and the International New York Times (8). A far smaller number of the overall sample (33) reference “Reuters.”
Combined with an acquiescent news media that are arguably complicit in such deception, the end result amounts to sheer propaganda selling the “Syrian revolution” and further conditioning world public opinion for the inevitability of gradual regime change or even more direct military intervention.
After over two decades of phony atrocity stories and tall tales involving Middle Eastern bogeymen and their legion hordes—from babies being thrown out of incubators in Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait to bin Laden’s alleged 9/11 attacks, Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, and Muammar Gaddafi’s fabricated “crackdown” on his people—the public should well understand that much of corporate news media merely function as a well-oiled propaganda machine where “special interests” pull the strings. This is particularly the case when the true powers that be seek to undermine sovereign governments and carry out programs of wholesale terrorism and destruction against their populations.
 Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, July 12, 2012.
 “Aleppo Bombings Kill 23, Activists Say,” Anadolu Agency, February 8, 2014.
 Anne Barnard and Mohammad Ghannam, “Dozens Are Killed in Syrian Violence, Even Amid Preparations for Peace Talks,” New York Times, December 23, 2013, 12.
 “Activists: Syrian Forces Launch New Aleppo Strikes,” Associated Press / Washington Post, February 1, 2014.
 Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition”; “Coventry: An Unlikely Home to Prominent Syria Activist,” Reuters, December 8, 2011.
 A search including the past tense phrases “activists said” or “activists reported” would have likely retrieved an even larger sample.
Syria: “There are Terrorists from 83 Countries, Armed and Funded by Saudi Arabia” | Global Research
Syria: “There are Terrorists from 83 Countries, Armed and Funded by Saudi Arabia” | Global Research.
In reply to journalists’ questions on a Saudi decision which says that Saudis who join fighting outside the kingdom would incur punishment, al-Zoubi described it as “unrealistic and not possible to implement,” since terrorists coming from Saudi Arabia are sneaking into Syria from Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey via illegal crossings.
”There are terrorists from 83 countries who are armed and funded by Saudi Arabia…The Saudi decision says nothing about stopping funding, arming and training terrorists, be them Saudis or of other nationalities,” the minister said.
He added that the decision does not imply punishment for media incitement and psychological support to terrorists happening inside Saudi Arabia.
”Certain Gulf states are acting like Saudi Arabia…the religious and sectarian channels are receiving sustained support and funding from figures and institutions that are supposedly meant for charity, not bloodshed.”
”If the Saudi decision is intended to embellish the image of the Kingdom, then it is not useful and is not an expression of an international commitment to fight terrorism,” the minister pointed out.
Do more to prevent war | www.timesrecord.com | The Times Record
Do more to prevent war | www.timesrecord.com | The Times Record.
Polls showed a large percentage of us in this country supporting the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and even — though somewhat reduced — the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But not long after, and ever since, a majority of us have said those were mistakes.
We’ve opposed attacking Iran whenever that idea has entered the news. We opposed bombing Libya in 2011 and were ignored, as was Congress. And, by the way, advocates of that happy little war are rather quiet about the chaos it created.
But last September, the word on our televisions was that missiles must be sent to strike Syria. President Barack Obama and the leaders of both big political parties said they favored it. Wall Street believed it would happen, judging by Raytheon’s stock. When U.S. intelligence agencies declined to make the president’s case, he released a “government” assessment without them.
Remarkably, we didn’t accept that choice. A majority of us favored humanitarian aid, but no missiles, and no arming of one side in the war. We had the benefit of many people within the government and the military agreeing with us. And when Congress was pressured to demand approval power, Obama granted it.
It helped more that members of Congress were in their districts with people getting in their faces. It was with Congress indicating its refusal to support a war that Obama and Kerry accepted the pre-existing Russian offer to negotiate. In fact, the day before they made that decision, the State Department had stressed that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would never ever give up his chemical weapons, and Kerry’s remarks on that solution had been “rhetorical.”
The war in Syria goes on. Washington sent guns, but refrained from air strikes. Major humanitarian aid would cost far less than missiles and guns, but hasn’t materialized. The children we were supposed to care about enough to bomb their country are still suffering, and most of us still care.
But a U.S. war was prevented.
We’re seeing the same thing play out in Washington right now on the question of whether to impose yet more sanctions on Iran, shred a negotiated agreement with Iran, and commit the United States to joining in any war between Israel and Iran.
In January, a bill to do all of that looked likely to pass through the Senate. Public pressure has been one factor in, thus far, slowing it down.
Are we moving away from war?
The ongoing war in Afghanistan, and White House efforts to extend it beyond this year, might suggest otherwise. The military budget that still eats up, across various departments, roughly half of federal discretionary spending, and which is roughly the size of all other countries’ military spending combined, might suggest otherwise. The failure to repeal the authorizations for war from 2001 and 2003, and the establishment of permanent practices of surveillance and detention and secrecy justified by a permanent state of war, might suggest otherwise. As might the ongoing missile strikes from drones over a number of nations.
But you’ll notice that they don’t ask us before launching drone strikes, and that their assurances that no innocent people are harmed have proven highly misleading.
War may be becoming acceptable only as what its advocates have long claimed it was: a last resort. Of course if we can really make that true, we’ll never have a war again.
DAVID SWANSON will be speaking at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick.
Russia backs Syria on chemical weapons plan – Middle East – Al Jazeera English
Russia backs Syria on chemical weapons plan – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel also urged the Syrian government to intensify removal efforts [AP]
|Russia has backed Syria as acting in good faith to eliminate its chemical weapons, after the US accused the government of Bashar al-Assad of stalling the plan due to end in June.
Mikhail Ulyanov, a Russian diplomat, was quoted by the Interfax news agency on Friday as saying that there was no need for additional pressure on Damascus over the destruction of its stockpiles.
“We see that the Syrians are approaching the fulfilment of their obligations seriously and in good faith,” he said.
The comment came after the US said just four percent of Syria’s declared chemical stock has been eliminated.
Efforts to remove these materials from Syria have “seriously languished and stalled”, said ambassador Robert Mikulak in a statement to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Thursday.
“Syria must immediately take the necessary actions to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Executive Council decisions, and UN Security Council Resolution 2118,” said Mikulak, the US permanent representative to the OPCW.
Timelines adopted last year required that 100 percent of “priority one” chemicals be eliminated by December 31, 2013, while the deadline for removing “priority two” chemicals is Feburary 5. That deadline will also not be met.
The Syrian government has attributed the delays to “security concerns”, saying it needs additional equipment to ensure their safe transportation – a claim Mikulak rejected.
“Syria’s requests for equipment and open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardise the carefully timed and coordinated multi-state removal and destruction effort,” he said.
During a visit to Poland on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel also criticised Syrian efforts, saying he has asked his Russian counterpart to put pressure on Damascus to comply with the deal.
“I do not know what the Syrian government’s motives are – if this is incompetence – or why they are behind in delivering these materials,” Hagel told reporters in Warsaw, the capital. “They need to fix this.”
Peace talks continue
Meanwhile, peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition continued on Thursday, with UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi reporting little progress.
In an afternoon update to the media in Geneva, Switzerland, Brahimi said he hoped the two sides would “draw some lessons” from the first round of talks, scheduled to end on Friday, in hopes of becoming better organised for the next round.
Terrorism was among the topics discussed on Thursday, Brahimi said, although there was no agreement on how to deal with it.
“We had tense moments and also rather promising moments,” he said.
Opposition delegation spokesman Louay Safi told reporters that the two sides had spoken about stopping the violence in Syria, noting the opposition presented evidence of government massacres within residential neighbourhoods.
Safi said the government wanted to speak first about issues such as ending the violence and bringing humanitarian aid, instead of dealing with the trickier issue of a political transition. “We believe this is the wrong sequence,” he added.
The opposition views a transitional government as the first step towards a political solution, and has insisted that President Bashar al-Assad step down.
The Geneva 1 communique, a never-implemented roadmap developed during 2012 talks, calls for a transitional government, but the regime denies the document requires Assad to resign.
Turkish jets ‘strike ISIL convoy in Syria’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English
Turkish jets ‘strike ISIL convoy in Syria’ – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda [AP]
|Turkish fighter jets have hit a convoy belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in northern Syria, according to a local media report quoting a statement from the Turkish military.A report on Turkey’s Todays Zaman website said that Turkish F-16s struck a number of ISIL vehicles “after militants opened fire on a military outpost” on the Turkey-Syria border on Wednesday.
Broadcaster NTV said Turkish troops opened fire on the ISIL positions after a mortar shell fired from Syria landed in Turkish territory during clashes between ISIL and the Free Syrian Army.
The broadcaster said a pickup truck, a lorry and a bus were destroyed in the Turkish retaliation, but there were no reports of casualties.
Contradicting Todays Zaman, NTV said the attack occured on Tuesday evening,
Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught, reporting from Istanbul, said the report, if true, would represent “a considerable and significant escalation” in tensions between Ankara and such groups fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkish media have cited a two-day escalation in hostilities between the sides, but until now the Turkish military had only retaliated with tanks and artillery fire, our correspondent noted.
“These are fighters who on many occasions Turkey has turned a blind eye to,” said McNaught. “…Turkey is now fighting against the people [who] they have allowed to pass into Syria.”
Syria: Enough Is Enough | James Zogby
Syria: Enough Is Enough | James Zogby.
I wish I could be optimistic about Geneva II, but I cannot. That it happened at all is good. But “good for what” remains unclear. Listening to the speeches at the opening session established quite convincingly that none of the participants were ready to deal with the reality of what has become the most horrific tragedy of this new century.
During the past three years, the Syrian people have been victimized by a cruel and unrelenting war. While the competing sides may argue over who is at fault and what should now be done, what remains indisputable are the cold hard numbers of those who have been killed or forced to flee from their homes. Less quantifiable, but still real, is the physical destruction of once beautiful neighborhoods and world heritage treasures, and the emotional destruction visited upon a generation of Syrian children who will bear the scars of this war for a generation.
Despite all of this, the fighting continues without letup with neither side willing or able to accept the responsibility of contributing to ending it. The people may be exhausted, but the regime and the opposition are not.
We are three years into this bloody mess and what should have been clear from the outset has now become certain. This conflict will not end with one side claiming a decisive victory. Neither the regime and its international sponsors, nor the opposition and the countries that support them will be able to win. That this simple fact is not, and maybe cannot be, accepted by either side is what keeps the conflict going.
While it is easy find fault with the combatants, equally at fault are those who have funded them, armed them, and provided them with political support without control or conditions. Continuing the fight and continuing to fuel the fight is worse than a fool’s errand, it is a crime.
Delusions abound. The fragmented and deeply divided opposition, represented at Geneva by a rump delegation, still claims to speak for the Syrian people. The reality on the ground speaks otherwise. They blame the U.S. for not supporting them and refuse to accept responsibility for their own disarray. Some of their elements continue to maintain that their revolution is democratic and pluralistic, but the main forces doing the fighting — even those who are now termed as “moderates” — are anything but. Among the main rebel forces are disciplined extremist groups that have committed deplorable acts against civilians. Even now the opposition coalition insists on the precondition that the regime must step aside, as if they would be in a position to govern in its stead.
For its part, the regime continues to speak of its “legitimacy”, but its behavior has, if anything, cost it the right to claim that mantle. It was a brutal dictatorship before the war began and its conduct during the conflict has rightly earned it the epitaph of “war criminal”.
In this context, it was especially galling to listen to the Syrian Foreign Minister in his opening address speak of the “will of the Syrian people,” lecturing the U.S. Secretary of State saying “No one, Mr. Kerry, has the right to withdraw legitimacy of the [Syrian] president other than the Syrians themselves.” He said this, I presume, with a straight face, ignoring the tens of thousands killed, the millions who have been forced to flee, and the cities that have been devastated — all supposedly in the vain effort to establish this claim of “legitimacy”.
Surely this regime has run its course. Just as surely, this opposition, such as it is, is not in a position to lead. Therein lies the core of the Syrian tragedy. It is not just that neither side can win, but that neither side deserves to win — nor can they, in any event, govern the country.
Syria and the Syrian people deserve better. Those who maintain that the culture of the Syrian people is open, tolerant, and progressive are right. But those qualities are fast fading. Three years of conflict have ushered in a new reality of fanaticism, violence, and the evil of sectarian hostility. Out of all this, it will hard to build the new Syria. But Syrians still deserve the chance.
I have never supported a war and find it difficult to do so now, but I find myself increasingly convinced that the U.S. and international community have a responsibility to act and may need to use force to help end this conflict. If Geneva II fails to make progress toward any meaningful compromise, then I believe action must be taken.
There are firm demands that should be presented to all sides. The regime must stop its aggressive assault on “rebel-held positions” in populated areas. The destruction created by attacks on neighborhoods and the suffering that has been inflicted on innocent civilians is unacceptable. The opposition must be pressed to consolidate its ranks by becoming more inclusive and adopting a non-sectarian agenda for change. And they must purge their ranks of sectarian extremists. Both sides must agree to begin serious negotiations, without preconditions, to implement the transitional authority envisioned in the Geneva I formula.
Establishing a power-sharing transitional government will not be easy. It will take time. But both sides must be disabused of the notion that they can govern alone. The opposition has its base, as does the regime. If they want to be part of Syria’s future and if their funders and supporters want to be seen as making a constructive contribution to a resolution to this conflict, then they must agree to such a power-sharing arrangement. There is no other way.
If this does not occur within a defined period of time, then the U.S. may find it necessary to mobilize international support to launch strikes in Syria against both the regime and positions held by extremist groups. The strikes would in all likelihood need to be significant and sustained enough to change the calculations of the combatants. The Russians may choose to be part of this solution or not. But we are long past the time when the fate of Syria should be decided by a Russian veto.
Simultaneously, the U.S. would also need to lead an effort to mobilize a post-agreement peace-keeping force and a reconstruction and resettlement fund for Syria and its millions of refugees and internally displaced persons. Even after a power-sharing arrangement is reached, international support will be important to give the Syrians the time they need to make it work.
This degree of U.S. involvement may not be welcomed by many Americans and it will likely be rejected in many parts of the Arab World. But enough is enough. Something must be done to help end this Syrian nightmare.