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by Philip Greaves
Having followed the Guardians Middle East Live blog for a while there has been a distinct narrative forming in the support of the opposition in the Syrian civil war, one could say the support in western media has from the outset been on the side of the uprising which started with peaceful protest, brutally cracked down by the Assad regime and it’s forces it has fomented into civil war, but it is far more complicated than that. What was once perceived as the street and the people rising up against a dictator and demanding self-determination and human rights has turned into civil war with outside states and internal factions now vying for the inevitable power vacuum once Assad has gone.
But for how long have outside states been facilitating opposition groups within Syria? And for what reasons? A Washington Post article from April 2011 revealed that the US State department has secretly funded opposition groups and related projects including a TV Channel which shows anti-government programmes inside Syria. The channel, Barada TV is based in London and has close affiliations with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. It has increased its programming and coverage since the start of the protests. Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal the company has received up to $6 million dollars since 2006 to operate the TV channel and to fund other projects. One can only assume this funding was set up to instill popular opposition opinion and effect regime change inside Syria, as with many US political warfare programs in the past, the media and funding opposition movements plays a major part. In an April 2009 cable signed by a US diplomat working in Damascus it appears the US was becoming wary of its sponsorship and the possible ramifications if Syrian authorities were to become aware of it “A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,” the cable said. In 2006 the US State Department set up the Syria Democracy Program. with grants worth “$5m in Federal Fiscal Year 2006″. Since then the amount of money and funds being paid to opposition groups has radically increased, In June of this year the Syrian Business Forum was launched in Doha by opposition leaders including Wael Merza (SNC secretary-general). “This fund has been established to support all components of the revolution in Syria,” to date it has received $300 million dollars in funding although the donors identity has remained a secret popular opinion has been it was provided by Gulf states, the majority of the funding has gone to the Free Syrian Army.
In recent western media it is becoming clear that the Syrian National Council (SNC) can no longer provide a coherent platform for opposition, or it is not meeting the requirements of the International community, now a new and improved opposition council will be formed in Qatar. The US has withdrawn its support for the SNC and is now seeking to dictate to the Syrian population who should form the new opposition, calling on the International community to recognise the Syrian National Initiative, a group of 50 members chaired by Riad Seif, a Sunni businessman who left Syria in June after being imprisoned by the regime. The Doha initiative has reportedly been set up by the Qatari government and has been backed by the US, UK, and France, Russia opposes the plan, arguing it reneges on an earlier international agreement to pursue the formation of a new government by “mutual consent” of the parties to the conflict.
So far during the Syrian conflict the US and its western allies have repeatedly stated they are not arming opposition groups, whilst admitting the CIA are providing logistical and intelligence support, several reports have arisen during the past few months suggesting US support is going beyond this, including the possible smuggling of Stinger missiles and other MANPAD’s Although the US is currently denying the allegations. The military support of the opposition from Gulf states is undoubtable and has been the key aspect in keeping munitions supplied to the rebels throughout the conflict.
Turkeys involvement must not go unnoticed and has been a major player in the support of the rebels, providing a “nerve centre” for operations close to the Syrian border and providing arms, logistical support and an entrance over its border into Syria for opposition rebels. Reports of foreign fighters streaming into Syria through Turkeys borders have also been on the increase. This has undoubtedly exacerbated the conflict with Turkey-Syria relations deteriorating after a cross border shelling incident earlier this year and retaliation strikes from Turkey on SAA targets. The centre in Adana, around 60 miles from the Syrian border is run by the Turkish military with the aid of Saudi and Qatari militaries and CIA “middlemen”.
Qatar, which played a major role in arming Libyan rebels during the overthrow of Gaddafi has a key role in directing operations at the base.The evidence mounting is undoubtedly proving that US and western intervention is aimed at regime change, the Assad regime is a long-standing vocal supporter of Iran, and this is why the US seeks to undermine and remove the Syrian regime, once again under the pretence of human rights and self-determination.
From the recent Martin Chulov article in Guardian “Syria’s rebels fear foreign jihadis’ in their midst”, in an almost heartwarming piece of opposition propaganda Chulov tells us of the journey of a modern “freedom Fighter”…
interviewing Abu Ismail a six year Iraqi Al Qaeda veteran on his journey into what he believes is the start of the apocolypse, in the article Chulov states Ismail received funding from a “benefactor” in the northern city of Irbil, Iraq…
“It was easy,” he said, in the sitting room of a house in the Syrian city of Aleppo. “The money was no problem, neither was the weapon, or the motivation. This will be a fight against the great enemy.”
Ask yourself, is this man fighting for Syrian democracy? And what will this man and others who are being armed by western/gulf powers to fight inside Syria going to offer the Syrian population if Assad is removed and a new government formed? As we have seen recently in Libya, heavily armed surviving militias will not stand to one side when new western friendly “democratic” governments are being formed, a year since Gaddafi’s death the Libyan transitional council appear to hold no power over militias, the violence in Bani Walid has been evidence to this effect. In Chulov’s interview the Al Qaeda man goes on to say…
“When the regime falls, all those who fought against the Muslims will be my enemy, especially the Shias,”
A telling statement, and a damning indictment of what the future holds for Syria and its minorities. Then Chulov falls into the propaganda spin once again…
What is this “opposition movement” Chulov is speaking of? Im yet to see any coherent “movement”. Yet Chulov leaves enough room for manoeuvre to backtrack when he needs to…
Indeed, the narrative we have been continuously fed, including in this newspaper has finally started to unravel and is becoming harder and harder to prove. Trying its best to stick to the narrative with descriptive words like “fringes”. Still, Chulov attempts to place the blame at the regimes door…
“It’s so mixed up,” said a third young rebel, a defector from Damascus. “And this is just how Bashar wants it.”
Finally, lo and behold, an admittal that the Jihaddi element exists appears at the end of Chulov’s article, it seems Ian Black has something of a backbone and has edited in a short piece entitled “Rise of the Jihadis”. This could have been written this months ago…
Some interesting figures plucked out of the air…
With no links or citations or evidence or polling or anything to back these figures up? It is becoming rather obvious what is happening here, the western narrative must now change, the Jihaddis have become too prominent in Syria and it’s getting out of control, a Syrian opposition cannot be built out of Al Qaeda so we must find a new opposition, Who is going to build this opposition? The Secretary of the State for the US no less, stating (my emphasis)…
“This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes but who, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30, 40 years. There has to be a representation of those who are in the front lines fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom. We have recommended names and organisations that we believe should be included in any leadership structure. We’ve made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.”
The article along with the overwhelming majority of western media seems to be informing us that the Jihaddis have only just turned up uninvited, not to mention the fact they have been armed and fed through Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the CIA, and anyone else that will send them on their way to remove the Assad regime, in the process starting a region wide conflagration between Sunni and Shiite factions creating never-ending conflict. Can anyone seriously deny that the US ultimate goal is a self serving regime change in Syria?
Syria will soon be added to the list of ruined middle eastern countries with no coherent leadership that will inevitably have to bow to western demands, and leaving Iran a considerable ally down and looking a lot more isolated. It seems like it was almost a plan or something? Egypt has just formally requested a $4.8 billion dollar loan from the IMF. How long before Syria is begging for money and paying western corporations like Halliburton to rebuild its infrastructure? If destabilisation and power/resource control are the ultimate gains for the US hegemon then this all seems far easier than the invasion of Iraq and a lot less expensive.
by Philip Greaves
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