High Stakes in Syria

Stephen Lendman

The region's fate hangs in the balance. Perhaps much more. The potential ugly reality is chilling. Make no mistake. Washington orchestrated months of bloodbath. Obama officials bear full responsibility. They were last year against Libya. They are currently as violence wracks the country. The battle for Aleppo now rages. Syrian forces are going all out to free the city from Western sponsored death squads. They're battling thousands of hired killers. They're in neighborhoods. They use human shields. They target pro-Assad loyalists. They murder them. Washington's strategy dictates it. Wrongfully blaming Assad advances the ball closer to war.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has much to answer for. She's playing a pro-Western role. She issued several scathing reports. They pointed fingers the wrong way. On July 27, she expressed "deep alarm" for what's happening to civilians. She blamed Assad for ongoing violence, saying: "The Government has the prime responsibility to protect civilians from all forms of violence."

She addressed Damascus and Aleppo fighting, saying:

"I have been receiving as yet unconfirmed reports of atrocities, including extra-judicial killings and shooting of civilians by snipers, that took place during the recent fighting in various suburbs of Damascus, and it goes without saying that the increasing use of heavy weapons, tanks, attack helicopters and - reportedly - even jet fighters in urban areas has already caused many civilian casualties and is putting many more at grave risk." "All this, taken along with the reported build-up of forces in and around Aleppo, bodes ill for the people of that city." "Such attacks are also continuing in other major towns such as Homs and Deir-ez-Zur." "Already the consequences for civilians have been devastating, with many thousands killed and injured and between 1 and 1.5 million now reported to have fled their homes."

She took direct aim at Assad saying:

"Typically, during the initial stages, after a village or urban district has been surrounded, water, electricity and food supplies are cut." "This is followed by intense shelling and bombardment by a variety of weaponry, increasingly with air support from attack helicopters, and now reportedly even jet aircraft." "Then tanks move in, followed by ground forces who proceed door-to-door and reportedly often summarily execute people they suspect of being opposition fighters, although sometimes they detain them." "The bodies of those executed or otherwise killed are then sometimes burned or taken away."

She also accused Assad of killing unarmed prisoners and "use of excessive force" in two Aleppo and Homs prisons. She gave no corroborating evidence. She has none on Assad. She has plenty about insurgents she suppresses. She's on the wrong side of history and fundamental international law. She supports Western imperialism. She blames victims, not perpetrators. Doing so defiles her human rights mandate. Her boss, Ban Ki-moon, shares equal blame. So do media scoundrels.

On July 27, the Washington Post practically declared war. Its headlined "The time for patience in Syria is over."

It focused on Aleppo fighting. It ignored Western-backed death squads. It claimed Washington "tried to give diplomacy a chance...." Obama officials "hoped" to enlist Russia's support.

"It was never realistic to expect autocrat Vladimir Putin to assist in the overthrow of a fellow autocrat...."

The Post urges more direct US involvement. "Are we going to stand back and watch Aleppo turn into a shooting gallery," it asked?

On the one hand, it stopped short of calling for "Libyan-style intervention." At the same time, it supports a no-fly zone. Instituting one declares war. It's automatic.

In 2011, Pentagon officials said establishing one in Libya required bombing Gaddadi's air defenses and command and control facilities. Policy will be the same for Syria. Safe zones and so-called humanitarian corridors in its territory amount to the same thing. Any or all of these means war. The Post endorses it. It calls for direct US involvement. It's a longstanding imperial tool. It ignores fundamental international and constitutional law. It betrays its readers shamelessly. So do other major media scoundrels. They play lead imperial roles. Their support is vital to advance US ambitions. They plan unchallenged global dominance.

Foreign Policy is a Post publication. David Rothkopf serves as CEO and Editor-at-Large. Formerly, he and former Clinton National Security Advisor Anthony Lake co-founded intellibridge Corporation. Earlier he was Kissinger Associates managing director and US Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy.

Sourcewatch said in launching Intellibridge, Rothkopf had help from "several former government officials and spooks, including Anthony Lake and former CIA director John Deutch...." Former Clinton administration officials hold top posts. Intellibridge provides "open-source intelligence, customized content, and analysis to the military and corporations."

Foreign Policy (FP) supports Washington's imperial agenda. Tony Badran is a Foundation for Defense of Democracies research fellow. It supports America's imperium. Its board of directors includes Joe Lieberman, Newt Gingrich, Bill Kristol, former FBI director Louis Freeh, and other hardliners like them.

In June 2011, Badran's FP article headlined "Obama Can Stop the Killing in Syria." He urged regime change. He ignored Washington's responsibility for violence and international law.

On July 27, 2012, he headlined "Alawistan." He wrongfully blamed Assad for Houla and other massacres. He ignored responsible Washington-sponsored death squads. He said

Assad is "fighting a losing battle." He's "losing control." He has "one card left to play." He's "setting the stage for a retreat to Syria's coastal mountains...." Sooner or later, he'll "abandon Damascus." He claimed he's "gearing up to create an Alawite statelet...." His facts are wrong. His premise and conclusion are preposterous. He also called Assad's chemical weapons an "insurance policy." They let him "hang on as a warlord presiding over an Iranian and Russian protectorate on the Mediterranean."

Government forces routed insurgents from Damascus. Scattered fighting continues. Aleppo confrontations rage. Death squads infest the city. They're outgunned and outmatched.

As head of state, Assad is obligated to protect his people. Western proxy death squads murder and threaten them. Routing them from all parts of Syria is vital. Syria's military acts responsibly. They're waging defensive, not aggressive, actions. International law legitimizes them.

On July 28, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined "Syrian Army wipes out militants in Aleppo," saying:

Insurgents "were encircled in the city two days ago and have since tried to break the blockade but failed to overpower the government army resistance and were compelled to retreat to the city."

On July 24, VOR interviewed Aleppo resident Fatima Banauwi. At the time, she said battles in the city were exaggerated. Nonetheless, it's not safe.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters held street rallies. They're very young, "around 15 - 16. They look very strange, walk with weapons, curse and shoot in the air. Seems like they're not themselves, either drunk or drugged." They attacked civilian cars. They're terrorizing people. They threatened bakery owners:

"They put huge gas tanks in front of the shops and said 'If you open the shop today, we'll blow it up!' Then they blame the authorities for us sitting here without bread." "We believe that everything will get settled and the army will take care of the bandits. They can't frighten us."

Asked how government forces operate in the city, she said they

"try to make it so that the local residents don't get hurt. But the militants shoot wherever. They don't care who they kill. They even kill children!" "And they put horrible pictures of those killed children on the internet and write that they are victims of the regime." "We're not leaving our homes! The militants would ransack them. Those people (are) savages!"

On July 28, Russia Today headlined "All Eyes on Aleppo: Major battle looming?" saying A potential showdown looms:

"Heavy fighting between (Assad's) forces and the rebels (is) reportedly taking place in the center of the city."

SANA confirmed a major anti-terror operation. Syria's "Al-Watan newspaper (said)

militants are mostly mercenaries from Arab countries, with connections to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network."

On July 28, Syrian state media SANA headlined "Authorities Eliminate Terrorists in Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa, Deir Ezzor and Homs, Liberate Two Italian Experts Abducted by Terrorists."

Clashes continue. SANA said insurgents incurred heavy losses. Damascus residents said

government forces "saved them (from) constant (terrorist) attacks...." They were "stealing, vandalizing, burning and abducting civilians and using them as human shields." Two liberated Italians said terrorists "kidnapped and mistreated" them.

Months of Western-generated violence won't end soon. Holding the line against it is vital. Key is for Russia, China, and other anti-imperial nations to draw a line in the sand and say NO MORE.

If Syria falls, Iran is next, then all Eurasia to Russia and China's borders. Permitting it can't be tolerated. Stopping it in Syria is key. Humanity depends on it.

Stephen Lendman: I was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. Raised in a modest middle class family, attended public schools, received a BA from Harvard University in 1956 and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of PA in 1960 following 2 years of obligatory military service in the US Army. Spent the next 6 years as a marketing research analyst for several large US corporations before becoming part of a new small family business in 1967, remaining there until retiring at the end of 1999. Have since devoted my time and efforts to the progressive causes and organizations I support, all involved in working for a more humane and just world for all people everywhere, but especially for the most needy, disadvantaged and oppressed. My efforts since summer 2005 have included writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians. Also co-hosting The Global Research News Hour, occasional public talks, and frequent appearances on radio and at times television. I also am a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. I live in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit my blog site sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening. My new book "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" can be ordered HERE.

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