Syria will be a long time mending after its near death ordeal at the hands of Western backed terror depicted, with breathtaking but largely successful deceit, as humanitarian intervention to remove a bloodthirsty tyrant. Nevertheless, good news is beginning to emerge; though not, of course, in ‘our’ corporate media.
From a longer piece written for Asia Times by Pepe Escobar, this extract was replicated today in Off-Guardian. Here, annotations, hastily steel city scribbled, have been added in situ.
Mesopotamia and the Levant, in the post-Daesh era, are indeed unrecognizable compared to the state of play in the early 2010s. The facts on the ground in the Syrian war theater are stark.
While the Beltway was blinded by regime change, Moscow swooped in and with a small expeditionary force turned the Middle East game upside down. While Russian jets fully coordinated with an array of forces on the ground, Russian diplomacy ended up closing down all manner of war fronts and imposing ceasefires or de-escalation zones.
A New Syrian Army (NSA?) instead of the walking dead FSA is now fully battle-tested, in both conventional and guerrilla warfare, and with morale extremely high to the point that Hezbollah now needs to deploy only a few of its officers to coordinate each Syrian unit.
[Poor performance by a Syrian Army loyal to Damascus gave cause for concern – to that majority of Syrians who elected and continued to back Assad, and to the small but growing band outside the country who refused to buy Washington’s propaganda orchestrated by mainstream media – in the period up to and for a while after Russia’s game-changing entry.
NB an earlier version of this post confused an FSA composed of Syrian Army defectors opposed to – not, as I’d originally put it, loyal to! – Damascus with a regular Syrian Army which has indeed raised its game. Apologies to any readers left bemused. The error arose out of haste, and because Escobar’s contrast works almost as well with that initial (mis) reading as it does with the so called Free Syrian Army]
Popular national units, Hezbollah-style, or even PMU-style [PMU = elite Iraqi units which survived US ‘Shock and Awe’ in 2003 and now operate within Syria on the government side] are being built by Damascus as the backbone of future resistance forces against any invaders, direct or by proxy.
While the CIA and House of Saud, Qatar (which later repented) and Turkey (which later aligned with Russia) were obsessed by their regime change crusade, “investing” in chaos spread by “moderate rebels” and demented jihadis alike, Iran invested billions of cold hard cash in Syria – including paying salaries to troops, buying oil, logistical support and building medicine factories.
[Teheran had every reason to do so when, should Damascus go the way of Tripoli and Baghdad, it stood next in line on Washington’s ‘regime change’ agenda for controlling the middle east and, no less important, curbing Russo-Sino-Iranian influence.]
So apart from the NSA, the ones fighting jihadis on the ground are an array of Shiite militias. They include resistance groups sometimes referred to as Iraqi Hezbollah as well as the Local Defense Forces in Aleppo and National Defense Forces uniting Alawites and Sunnis, all backed by Iranian military advisers.
Hezbollah, for its part, is even stronger today than in 2006. In a nutshell, it was essentially Hezbollah that defeated al-Qaeda in Syria.
Most of all, the divide-and-rule Takfiristan project is dead. Daesh and al-Qaeda are being smashed – and will be reduced to squalid hit and run ops. The Trump administration ditched “Assad must go” as well as CIA financing of “moderate rebels.”
[‘Takfiristan’ is a play on an Islamic word for one who testifies against an apostate. The term alludes contemptuously to attempts, after Russia’s entry dished Washington’s regime change plans, to balkanise Syria using jihadi forces – in this case to establish an ’emirate’ on currently Syrian soil – the West has never, in a century of post Ottoman meddling in the region, shrunk from weaponising.]
Both Syria and Iraq won’t be partitioned. And on the Pipelineistan front – a key reason for the war – we may even find in the foreseeable future Iran and Qatar teaming up to sell natural gas to Europe.
[The pipeline aspect of the dirty war on Syria barely features in western media reports. In brief, the West and Gulf States wanted a pipeline into Europe – world’s largest energy market – running from Qatar (one reason the unexpected Saudi/Qatar spat in June was such an upsetter). Damascus opted instead for one running from Iran. Also worth noting is that US efforts to weaken Russia’s economy by punishing nations buying its gas not only hurt Europe. They also look to Berlin and Brussels like attempts to sell more expensive fracked energy from US corporations. Last but not least, US manipulation of world oil prices – a tactic Reagan used to weaken the USSR – has had the side-effect of pushing Venezuela’s economy to its current crisis.]
So there will be no neo-con New Middle East. Instead, the “4+1” – Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, plus Hezbollah – has gained the upper hand. Live with it.
The joys of leading from behind
Right into the fray steps in the Damascus International Fair, starting this Thursday. It is indeed the foundational stone for the revival of the Syrian economy. Which nations are at the fair tells everything one needs to know about the future. All the BRICS are there, as are Iran, Iraq and Cuba.
Who’s not there? France, the UK, Turkey, the House of Saud and the US – all previous supporters of regime change – “moderate rebels” and, by proxy, Salafi-jihadis.
No wonder Russia, China and Iran – crucially, the three major poles of Eurasia integration – will receive “high priority”, according to Damascus, on Syria reconstruction. So it’s not only the “4+1” who are gaining the upper hand; enter the Chinese juggernaut.
As it happens Escobar’s piece followed a day after this one, also reproduced in Off-Guardian, by blogger Caitlin Johnson. Here I’m with her one hundred percent:
Al Jazeera, not often known to rock the establishment boat when it comes to the official narrative about Syria, has published an interesting new report on some recent findings of the International Organization for Migration. According to IOM, nearly 603,000 Syrian refugees returned to their homes in Syria between January and July of 2017.
And, naturally, those hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrians who are returning home are all returning to areas that are securely protected from the bloodthirsty tyrant Bashar al-Assad by the Freedom Fighters and Moderate Rebels who oppose him, right? They’d never willfully return to an area ruled by a sadistic dictator who routinely drops barrel bombs on his own people for no reason and kills children with poison gas, would they?
Well yes, if you believe the things that the western mass media have been saying about Assad, they would. IOM reports that of those displaced Syrians returning home this year, about 400,000 of them were coming home to their city of Aleppo, which was fully recaptured by pro-Assad forces in December.
You remember Aleppo, don’t you? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t; corporate media outlets hardly ever talk about it anymore. It’s almost like they want us to forget the horror stories they told us about how the city that had been occupied by good, noble freedom fighters was about to be taken by an army of depraved psychopaths who wanted to rape women, burn children alive, and shoot civilians in their homes. Back at the tail end of 2016, though, it was all you ever heard. If the west didn’t intervene to stop Damascus and Moscow from retaking East Aleppo from the good-hearted rebels, everyone there would be raped, tortured, and butchered by the army of the Syrian government.
But oh my my, it sure is odd and peculiar and funny and interesting that hundreds of thousands of Syrians can’t wait to get back there. This same bloodthirsty government which wanted nothing more than to slaughter, rape and destroy them still controls the region, but people have been running back to rebuild their city anyway.
What’s up with that? Could we really have been misinformed about what’s been happening in Syria on such a massive scale? Could the near-unanimous perspective of pundits and politicians everywhere, the perspective that Bashar al-Assad is a sadistic tyrant who enjoys slaughtering civilians, be so dead wrong that the behavior of Syria’s own people seem to contradict it so directly?