10 September 2013
Why is Syria under attack? - 3
Syria and Iran are like pieces on a geopolitical chessboard
Read the article in full on Truthout.
By Daan de Wit
Translated by Ben Kearney
Anyone who chooses to distinguish between the form and the content will see that the battle for Syria is above all not what it seems to be on the surface. The form is disguising the content. Syria and Iran are like pieces on a geopolitical chessboard.
The form in this case, which is portrayed as the actual content in media coverage and construed as such in bars and living rooms, is the brutal dictator and the hordes of refugees. But when you zoom in on these victims, you find that they are the consequence of a conflict that has been supported by the West from the very beginning. Indeed, according to ex-Foreign Minister of France Roland Dumas: preparations for the fight against Assad have been underway by the British since 2009. He puts the conversations he held with the UK in context by citing a different conversation that he had, this one with an Israeli Prime Minister, who said to him: “We will try to get along with the neighboring states. And those who don't get along, we will take down.” It also appears from other sources that the Syrian conflict did not simply materialise from thin air.
Syria has been under attack for some time
The open bombardment of Syria, that is now being discussed, is part of a battle that began many years ago. Neoconservative forces in the U.S. have had their sights set on Syria as far back as 2003. One of those neoconservatives, Paul Wolfowitz, summed it up this way: “There's got to be a change in Syria.” In 2007, journalist Seymour Hersh noted: “The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. [...] The Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria.” In August 2013, The Independent wrote: “The CIA is believed to have been working with Prince Bandar directly since last year in training rebels at base in Jordan close to the Syrian border.” Former CIA agent Phil Giraldi in January 2012: “NATO and CIA secretly arming Syrian rebels with Libyan weapons.” On 7 September 2013, U.S. correspondent Guus Valk of the Dutch NRC Handelsblad wrote that President Obama’s coalition consists of “Bush-era neoconservatives, pro-Israeli groups and the Syrian opposition in exile.”
These preparations, along with the specific composition of Obama’s coalition, conjure up memories of what General Wesley Clark explained about an American plan to overturn the governments of seven different countries, among them Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran. The interests which are behind this plan are much bigger than the humanitarian cause that is currently playing out in the media.
Warring parties, conflicting interests
For the forces which currently occupy the forefront of this crisis, such as the U.S. and Europe, ‘Syria’ entails the preservation and expansion of their dominance in one of the most important regions in the world: the Middle East, rich as it is in natural resources. In this sense, Syria and Iran are chess pieces on a grand geopolitical chessboard. Were Syria and Iran to be brought within the sphere of influence of the U.S., Europe, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it would represent a major step forward for these parties. The two dissident countries Syria and Iran have long been a thorn in the side of the leaders of these regions. But an end to their sovereignty would at the same time mean a major step backwards for the West’s main competitor, China, which would then be cut off from the Middle East’s vast energy reserves. And it would also be a setback for the country that is viewing this whole situation from its backyard: Russia. Recently, Saudi Arabia made a diplomatic overture to Russia.
Chief among the interests of Saudi Arabia is the fall of the Shiite regime in Iran. Saudi interests are so great that, even in this phase of the conflict, it offered Russia a major deal in exchange for abandoning Syria. This involved an offer of cooperation between OPEC and Russia that Price Bandar made to Putin in the latter’s dacha, underscored by a clear threat: “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [Olympic] games are controlled by us,” Bandar is alleged to have told Putin. “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year.” Something which would make this deal even more attractive to Russia is that “Saudi Arabia could help boost oil prices by restricting its own supply. This would be a shot in the arm for Russia, which is near recession and relies on an oil price near $100 to fund the budget,” writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of The Independent, based on his conversation with Chris Skrebowski of Petroleum Review. Bandar’s meeting with Putin also focused on Russia’s interests as they relate to the supply of gas to Europe. No harm would come to those interests, swore Bandar. In fact, cooperation was possible. Up until then, Russia has always been an energy competitor of the West and an ally of Syria. Gas is playing a key role in the Syrian conflict. More on this in part 4 of this DeepJournal series on Syria.
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