Syria 101: The Real Facts You Should Know
The drums of war are beating at full force again and the spin masters are spewing their dirty lies every chance they get. Given that I’m insane and my past time is to read about this for hours on ends, I thought it’d be time to put my rather limited knowledge to use to inform people who simply don’t have the time to look (or care) about this stuff in great detail.
If one were to listen to the hearings happening in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (09/03/2013 – 09/04/2013), Kerry, Hagel, and Dempsey are simply obfuscating the entire situation by providing wrong facts every time their mouths open — you can even see their noses getting longer and longer. They’re not here to turn you into an informed individual in regards to Syria but only to get you psychologically and emotionally paralyzed by scaring you. Typical Bush-Cheney 101 tactic that they’re failing miserably at conveying. They have one narrative (to start war in Syria) and they’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish it.
1. Many people say that Syria is now a proxy war. What happened originally in 2011? And which side is fighting who and what exactly is going on in Syria?
The Syrian uprising started in 2011 during the peak of the Arab Spring. Emboldened and empowered by the fall of various despots and dictators in the ME and North Africa, a few Syrian youths decided to tag a wall with the writings “Down with Bashar al-Assad!” Something totally normal for kids aged 14 to 16 years old. Unexpectedly, the response from the Syrian gov’t was unnecessarily savage and brutal. The kids were taken from their houses in the dead of night; the fear of every parent actually happening was further exacerbated when the bodies of these poor kids were returned beaten so hard that their entire bodies were blue, black, and comatose from days of torture and physical abuse. Protests intensified and kidnappings by the Syrian authorities intensified. Now instead of returning beat up bodies, dead bodies started being found in ditches and in front of the houses of people who dared raise their voices. This was the start of the Syrian uprising. What ensued next were massive and peaceful protests orchestrated by the rural majority of folks who are disenfranchised and persecuted, especially in the northern part of Syria. As is often the case, demands of representation within the gov’t often blossom from the ultimate act of self-determination. Unfortunately, this demand was met with an escalation of the crackdown by the Syrian Security Forces. This type of violent repression in response to popular democratic uprisings usually produces two dichotomous outcomes: either the population becomes terrified and subdues to the language of violence employed by the state; or the exact opposite happens with the opposition becoming militarized and effectively entrenching themselves into a long and bloody civil war.
For the first 6 months of the Syrian Civil War, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was comprised of moderate army defectors, regular citizens (mostly young people under 30), and other more secularist groups who wanted to topple Assad to introduce the resemblance of democracy in their country. What started as a somewhat justifiable endeavor given the circumstances under which people were being treated was quickly hijacked by regional and international actors — hence the term “proxy war.”
Those who are now waging a bloody civil proxy war which has created more refugees than the Rwandan Genocide of 1996 fall into two camps:
- The involvement of the Sunni States. A movement spearheaded by the Qataris with Turkey and Saudi Arabia as their main financial backers. Their support is noticeable via the funneling of money and weapons to international jihadists into Syria. These “rebels” when analyzed comprise a nebulous group of highly fractured factions of which the biggest and most powerful group is the Al-Nusrah Front — an off-shoot of Al-Qaeda from the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) who is also present in the Syrian conflict. An important factor to note is the United States’s role of effectively creating the on-going sectarian-based violence between Sunni and Shiites as the USG historically has often sided with vicious Sunni dictators. Thus any money coming from the countries that are effectively helping part of the “opposition” (including the ultra-extremist elements) is US-backed monies.
- On the other side, we find Russia, China, and Iran as the main backers of the Syrian regime. Russia has a very long standing history with Syria and has close to $19.2B of foreign direct investment (FDI); China is also invested economically and geo-politically in Syria while Iran believes that a destabilized Syria overtaken by Sunni extremists will be another check to its regional hegemony. This is why Hezbollah entered the fighting about 6 months ago and helped turn the tide of the battle into Assad’s fighter.
Note that both sides are culpable of atrocities against civilians on a massive scale. There is no “good” guy here in this situation. It’s a very ugly conflict.
2. Why is the United States getting involved in Syria now?
Due to political, geo-political, and economic implications. Obama stuck his neck out with his calls of crossing the imaginary, moral “red line” in regards to the use of CWs. On the domestic front, he might be perceived as politically “weak” if he doesn’t stand by what he said. However, this is only the political aspect for domestic consumption. The more pragmatic and realistic implications to go to war with Syria stems from Assad’s current military ascend where the Syrian gov’t is capturing more and more territory back from the opposition with the help of Hezbollah. Since the United States has been unwilling to attack Iran even with all the begging and moaning the Israeli lobby has done over the years, the liberal and conservative warhawks of the military-industrial want to punish Hezbollah and deter their capacity as an effective and armed militia group that is becoming more and more of a thorn to Israel balance of power in the region. The ultimate goal of getting involved in the Syrian conflict by tipping the so-called “balance” is to effectively inflict massive casualties on Hezbollah and Syrian elements to send a message to Iran and Lebanon that their incursion in Syria hasn’t gone unnoticed and will be dealt with accordingly.
Needless to say, the military-industrial complex and the agents that keep this industry of death and destruction alive understand that their bread and butter is constant and never-ending war. There’s a lot of money on the table — mobilizing navy ships, fighter jets, possible deployment of troops, and other military functions generate a lot of money in the short-run for a small group of people. A foray into Syria would justify our insanely high military budget as well.
3. What is this so-called evidence that the United States (and the French, recently) claim is “undeniable?”
Many serious geo-political analysts (including Robert Fisk) claim that the intelligence was fabricated by the Israelis. When U.S. politicians say “we [emphasis on the we] have evidence that Bashar al-Assad has used CWs,” the ‘we’ insinuates Israeli intelligence. The so-called smoking gun is an intercept between a Syrian Defense Minister and a Syrian army general about a confirmation that CWs were detonated in the Rabbah area. However, a report came out today which demonstrates that the intelligence is misleading since the intercept actually demonstrates surprise between the Syrian Defense Minister and the general in question that CWs were actually used. This document is actually classified and the intelligence community refuses to release it — even to members of Congress who have security clearance to view secret/top-secret documents.
The 9-page document released by French intelligence on Monday does not include any new information that isn’t searchable on the internet. 5 of the 19 references in the paper link to Twitter/YouTube videos of the attack. It’s not a serious document with serious facts because such a document simply does not exist.
Another very important fact that the mainstream media (MSM) is not focusing is are the previous uses of CWs in Syria. U.N. investigators have concluded that the previous use of sarin gas bombs were used by rebel factions, and not the Syrian gov’t. Their evidence was based on the fact that shells that encompassed the chemicals were crudely built and the detonators used to release the gas was homemade.
Last but not least, it’s been reported about a month ago in the New York Times that a commander of the Al-Nusrah Brigade said that they had plans to detonate a chemical weapon and then blame the Syrian gov’t to get the United States to intervene.
4. What is the proof that this is fabricated evidence?
- Communication intercepts are often difficult to be captured due to their heavy encrypted nature. The idea that Israelis would be able to capture a clean, long, and definitive statement by Syrian officials over the use of chemical weapons is dubious — it challenges common sense and makes you wonder how stupid Syrian officials would be to talk about CWs use when they know the NSA is tapping into the communications of every person on the planet. And again: why would the Syrian gov’t use CWs when they are clearly winning the battle? This defies common sense at a very basic level.
- A reputed Syrian scholar who has studied the military structure of the Syrian regime for decades claims that it’s impossible for this kind of communication to be intercepted given the highly compartmentalized structure of the Syrian military and gov’t during war time. Using the Iranian model (and the model employed by Hezbollah to a certain extent), different factions of the Syrian military are completely cut-off from each other in terms of communication and intelligence sharing via the uses of “fire walls.” These fire walls are secretive in nature and are designed in such a way that communication between Syrian military factions is only possible through very narrow and limited channels. That Israeli intelligence could be able to capture an intercept between a Syrian Defense Minister and a general in a completely different cell defies logic — the Syrian military doesn’t use AT&T, Verizon, or a commercial ISP for their communication. They use highly encrypted personal radio channels and may have even gone back to using couriers to convey information given the breadth of the NSA’s spying measures.
4. Why do these geo-political analysts say the evidence was fabricated?
Because the real “meat” of the intercept does not incriminate the Syrian gov’t but rather absolves it. Indeed, the real smoking gun is actually a conversation between a Syrian Defense Minister and a commander (not a general) about his surprise that CWs went off; it’s not about a confirmation that CWs were used.
5. What moral authority does the United States have when it comes to setting an example against CWs?
None. The United States is the biggest user and purveyor of CWs in modern warfare history:
- Hiroshima and Nagasaki: atomic bombs are essentially chemical weapons due to the heavy radiation they leave on the ground decades after they’ve been set off.
- Vietnam: the United States used over 9,000 tons of the chemical known as Agent Orange (better known as napalm) during a 5 year bombing campaign. The effects of napalm are so profound that the rate at which disfigured births, miscarriages, and other horrors are still being felt by the population almost 50 years later.
- Afghanistan/Iraq: the U.S. military uses depleted uranium casings when the manufacture the bullets they give to their soldiers. Not only does it get their own soldiers sick for the rest of their lives, Fallujah (a city that witnessed the most intensive battles of the Iraq War) has more radiation in its soil than in Chernobyl due to the depleted shells that were left on the ground. Also the use of white phosphorous bombs which burn through human flesh (actually burns through cement) in the most horrible way imaginable. Note that Israel uses white phosphorous cluster bombs on Palestinians every time the Arabs get uppity and need to be taught a lesson.
- Food: the USG wages a daily chemical war against its own citizens via agricultural means. A run-of-the-mill “tomato” found at your local Safeway contains over 37 chemicals and by the time it arrives in your plate, it’s lost 97% of the nutrients that a real organically grown tomato provides. These chemicals have been imposed on citizens for the last 40 years and the consequences are unknown. Our gov’t and with the help of corporations have turned us into a massive laboratory of profit.
Our gov’t's hypocrisy and wrongdoing is almost endless. The way our so-called representatives are treating and regarding this matter is shameful and should anger the population — and it has. Reports are coming that representatives in each state are receiving e-mails in a ratio of 100:1 (against : favor) against the war. For once, our voices are strong and united and the collective will of the American public should resoundly say ‘NO’ to more wars of imperialism and profit.
If you want to do something, e-mail or call your representatives:
- Senator Dianne Feinstein
- Phone: (202) 224-3841
- Senator Barbara Boxer
- Phone: (202) 224-3553
- Representative Anna Eshoo
- Phone: (202) 225-8104