Monday, July 2, 2012

The US subversion model: Bosnia v.4, Kosovo v.3, Libya v.2 and now Syria v.1?

Does anybody remember how the USA prevented the Bosnian-Serbs from participating in any negotiations about their own future?  The USA came up with trick to say that the only Serbs invited to any negotiations would be the Serbs from Yugoslavia, representatives of the Milosevic regime.  With the brilliant move, the USA made it look like the Bosnian-Serbs were nothing but a proxy for an expansionist Serbian Yugoslavia hell-bent on creating a "Greater Serbia".  That option also made it possible for the USA to use a very compliant, if not subservient Milosevic, against the Bosnian-Serbs (does anybody remember that Yugoslavia participated in the NATO blockade of the Bosnian-Serbs or is that fact totally lost in the memory hole?).

Anyway, the USA has now pulled off a similar trick.  Check out who is participating in the negotiations over the future of Syria:
  • The Secretaries-General of the United Nations and the League of Arab States
  • The Foreign Ministers of China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Turkey, Iraq (Chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States), Kuwait (Chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States) and Qatar (Chair of the Arab Follow-up Committee on Syria of the League of Arab States)
  • The European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy
Now if we set aside the official nonsense about all these folks being independent actors we have the following parties in presence: the US/Israeli Empire represented by the US and its vassal states (UK, Turkey, EU, Kuwait, Qatar) while all the others are I would call "independent third parties" including Russia, China and Iraq (present only as the chair of the Summit of the League of Arab States and not as a sovereign country).  The only real ally of Syria, Iran, has been prevented from participating by the categorical refusal of the USA.  Russia expressed "regrets" about this state of affairs, but accepted it.

This is very reminiscent of the tactics used by the USA against the Bosnian-Serbs or, for that matter, against the Palestinian people and Hamas.  How does the current situation of the Syrians compare to situation of the Bosnian-Serbs?

I would argue that it is marginally better a simple reason: Russia and China are large and powerful nations which cannot be blackmailed, pressured or co-opted like Milosevic was.  Regardless of the US/NATO propaganda, Milosevic was used by the US and NATO against the Bosnian-Serbs, and that is most likely not going to happen with Russia and China.

And yet, I don't think that these countries can be trusted to represent the interests and views of the Syrian regime so, just as was the case in Bosnia, these negotiations are hopelessly lopsided and heavily skewed against Syria.  So it is rather unsurprising that all what these folks came up with is yet another vague and rather insipid statement about yet another a "road-map" for Syria beefed-up by some equally vapid, if well-meaning, remarks by the UNSG.

From the US point of view the key sentence in this text is the following one:
The establishment of a transitional governing body which can establish a neutral environment in which the transition can take place. That means that the transitional governing body would exercise full executive powers. It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.
Hillary Clinton immediately "explained" that this meant that "Assad will have to go because "he will never pass the mutual consent test".  Well, both parties can play this game.  For example, Assad could follow the Israeli "negotiating model" and declare that he will never negotiate with "anybody with Arab blood on their hands" thereby excluding the entire insurgency.  Or Assad could do the exact opposite: declare that he will negotiate with anybody, even the worst of the worst, and set no preconditions.  Such a move could make it very easy for him to blame the insurgents for refusing to talk to him.

Regardless, the insurgents immediately rejected this plan (just as they had after every single offer to negotiate or cease-fire made by Gaddafi).

All this immediately brought back memories of the Bosnian war to me, especially when I read the following sentence of the "Agreement":
All parties must cooperate with the transitional governing body in ensuring the permanent cessation of violence. This includes completion of withdrawals and addressing the issue of the disarming, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups. Effective steps to ensure that vulnerable groups are protected and immediate action is taken to address humanitarian issues in areas of need.
This is exactly what happened in Bosnia: the USA declared that all parties must be disarmed and civilians protected (in safe areas), only to initiate a massive arms transfer to the Bosnian-Muslims who used the "safe areas" as rear bases and assembly points for their armed groups.  Today, as is now well-known, the USA is already arming the Syrian insurgents while various Gulf States (lead by Qatar) are financing it all.  Finally,  just as in Bosnia, Wahabi Jihadists (aka  "foreign fighters") are being brought into the country from all over the region.

Of course, all of the above applies to the wars in Kosovo and Libya.  We can really speak of a "Bosnia v.4, Kosovo v.3, Libya v.2, Syria v.1" model.  Let's summarize it here:
1. Identify some minority and/or opposition group and "help" it (in the name of democracy and human right, of course) by providing it with money and visibility
2. Try to foment some civil unrest and/or violent incidents
3. Encourage and assist the minority and/or opposition group to denounce any governmental reaction to the unrests/incidents
4. Spread rumors about all sorts of atrocities already committed or soon to be committed
5. Back up these rumors by making sure that atrocities are actually committed against the minority/opposition, against the regime and against civilians, bystanders and random people
6. Initiate phase one of a strategic psyop campaign in the corporate media which will present a simple narrative explaining that the minority/opposition are "innocent victims who only want freedom, democracy and human rights" while the "hated regime" in power is "bloody" and "dictatorial"
7. Begin sending special agents tasked with unifying the various minority/opposition groups and take control, via typically via exiles, of the top echelons of the opposition
8. Initiate phase two of the strategic pysop campaign in the corporate media which will present the unified opposition as the "sole legitimate representative" of "the people"
9. Demand negotiations between the "sole legitimate representative" of "the people" and the regime and create some "troika", "quartet" or "action group" composed of vassal states to participate in the "negotiations"
10. Declare that the regime has lost all "credibility or "confidence" and therefore reject any and all offers of negotiations or cease-fires proposed by the regime as "not credible"
11. Create one or more false flag atrocities against the minority/opposition
12. Initiate phase three of the strategic psyop campaign in the corporate media and flood the public with outraged statements about "crimes against humanity" and even "genocide"
13. Demand an arms embargo on all the parties to the conflict and immediately initiate a large scale deliveries of weapons and "foreign fighters"
14.  Seize the assets of the regime and its officials and use it to covertly finance the insurgency
15. Respond to any military success by the regime by demanding the "protection" of civilians, preferably under Chapter VII of the UN Charter
16a.If a Chapter VII UNSC Resolution is adopted, make sure that NATO countries provide the bulk of the military forces engaged
16b.If a Chapter VII UNSC Resolution is not adopted, vehemently denounce the UNSC members which vetoed it, and create a "coalition of the willing" justified under the "Duty to Intervene" (“le devoir d'ingérence" in French) theory
17. Send special operation forces, including forward air controllers, to coordinate the insurgency and the upcoming air campaign
18. Apply the Combined Joint Task Force doctrine to send enough troops (and mercenaries) to secure key facilities and objectives in the country
19. Hunt down ex-regime officials and send them to the Hague
20. Declare victory, built a few military bases and let the corporations take over the resources of the country 
With a few variations, this is the model the USA has used in Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya and, is now applying to Syria.   The case of Iraq under Saddam, and Iran for that matter, are somewhat different since they did not have a minority/opposition strong enough to be used as a lever by the USA, hence all the propaganda about these countries developing (or even having) weapons of mass destruction.

So will this model work in Syria?

It's hard for me to tell as there is practically zero useful information coming out of Syria right now.  And while during the Bosnian war I could get UNPROFOR intelligence delivered to me every morning,  now I only have access to public, and mostly unreliable and uninteresting, sources. Still, as far as I know, the insurgency currently controls no territory at all, at least not permanently.  Or, if it does, it is not a significant amount.  This tells me that the insurgency is currently rather weak.  Hence the endless stream of bomb blasts in Damascus and other major cities.

Turkey is clearly acting as a rear base for the insurgency and a forward command post for US/NATO forces, just like Croatia did during the war in Bosnia, but the incident with the Phantom shot down in Syrian air space seems to indicate that the regime is serious about keeping control of the Syrian-Turkish border.  Finally, Russia and China have made it quite clear that no Chapter VII UNSC Resolution will be adopted against Syria.  All in all, it appears that the situation is currently frozen somewhere around phases 14-16 of the model above.  In other words, Syria is at the brink of a complete collapse, but its not quiet over yet and as long as the regime can hold on to most of Syria's territory the US will not be able to implement the latter stages of its subversion model.

I might be mistaken here, but I don't see a "coalition of the willing" (aka "NATO") simply attack Syria, not only because the Syrian military might offer some non-trivial resistance, but because the public opinion is currently not in the type of hysterical interventionist frenzy which is needed to justify an illegal intervention.

Furthermore, NATO will not send in special forces and forward air controllers if there is a real risk of them being captured by the regime.  Libya is a big country and the Libyan insurgents controlled large parts of the country, whereas Syria is rather small and most of it is controlled by the regime.  This being said, there is a very real risk of Turkey triggering some kind of military incident with Syria and then demand a NATO response under the Article 5 of the NATO Charter.  That is definitely a possibility, but the blowback from such a decision could be formidable as the reality of Turkey essentially aggressing an Arab country will not sit well with the so-called "Arab street".

My feeling is that Turkey will grandstand and shake its fists, and that it will gladly provide a rear base for US/NATO covert operations, but I am not quite convinced that it would be willing to trigger a real, full-scale, war against Syria.  Turkey might be a far superior military power then Syria, but the Syrian military is not completely toothless either and the example of Iraq has shown that an easy initial victory can rapidly turn into a nightmare for the "victorious" occupying force.

My other hope is that Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are all using their formidable intelligence capabilities (some of the best on the planet) to disrupt US/NATO covert operations and to assist Syrian security forces.  Contrast that situation with the one of the Bosnian-Serbs were completely alone and whose intelligence capabilities were minimal.

If all these speculations are not too far off the mark, then it appears that the US/NATO and the Syrian regime have arrived at some kind draw in which neither side can really "win" or "loose".  There appear to be little or no prospects for phases 17-20 to be implemented by the US, but neither can the regime achieve a convincing victory against the insurgency, in particular if it decides to follow the Chechen model and transform itself into a purely terrorist underground, capable of blowing up bombs here and there, but with no hope of actually achieving anything meaningful.

So in the long term it is likely that the Syrian people themselves will have to decide whom they dislike least - the regime or the insurgency - and herein lies a very real danger for Syria: the majority of Syrians are Sunni Arabs (74%) with the rest of the population consisting of various Shia sects (for a combined total or 12%), Christians (10%) and Druze (3%).  Officially, Syria is a secular republic founded by the Baath party, but just as in Iraq most of the people in power are from a religious minority and this fact could potentially be used to turn a majority of Syrians against the regime.  I honestly don't know.

The Syrian people are really facing a terrible choice: on one hand, a corrupt, despotic, secular, Baathist regime with roots in a minority of the population and on the other, a federation of various Jihadi groups, federated and overseen by the US/NATO puppeteers.  At least Assad is NOT (please see note below) a clueless megalomaniac Baathist clown like Saddam or Gaddafi, but so far his performance in dealing with the conflict as been mediocre at best.  My hope is that the Russians, Iranians and Chinese have some kind of plan to slowly ease him out of power and replace him with an anti-Wahabi Sunni leader (like Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnia).

The Bosnian, Kosovan and Libyan model can still be avoided in Syria, but very strong and concerted action needs to be taken by the countries who do not want Syria to turn into yet another US/NATO colony in the Middle-East.  So far I see no signs of that, but I will keep hoping.

The Saker

NOTE: the word "NOT" was missing from my original text, and I only added it after Christella B. Krebs and Brian posted comments challenging my apparent characterization of Assad as a clown.  Please not that my sentence begins with "AT LEAST" which could have indicated that the missing "not" was a typo.  So, to make clear, I do NOT believe that Assad is a clueless clown like Saddam and Gaddafi were (in my opinion).  But I do believe that "so far his performance in dealing with the conflict as been mediocre at best".

I apologize for this typo and I thank Christella and Brian for bringing my attention to it.