The international criminal conspiracy known euphemistically as the “Friends of Syria” gathers once again in Qatar this weekend to discuss how to expedite their covert war for regime change in Syria.
Some analysts have reckoned that the Obama administration is losing interest in the covert Syria operation, while mainstream media still peddle the ridiculous line that the US and its allies are trying to forge a peace settlement in the Levantine country devastated by 27 months of relentless conflict and more than 90,000 deaths.
On both counts, nothing could be further from the truth. The Western powers, including the US, are stepping up their criminal attack on Syria. This is because, following a spate of recent military victories by Syrian government forces, the Western powers are in danger of outright defeat in their long-term agenda of regime change in Syria and, more importantly, the wider region.
A central part of that Western agenda is to isolate and undermine Iran, an important ally of Syria and a key opponent to Western hegemonic ambitions in the vital oil- and gas-rich Middle East region.
From the Western imperialist viewpoint, if they lose in their covert war in Syria, then Iran’s alliance with Syria and its influence across the Middle East will be even greater. That outcome is anathema to the US and its European allies, Britain and France. A recent Saudi slip in the Western media let the cat out of the bag.
On the eve of the Qatar meeting this weekend, the London-based Financial Times reported:
“Saudi Arabia, which competes with Iran for regional influence, considers the Syrian conflict a direct threat to its national security, with its potential to strengthen an alliance between powerful Shia elements in a string of countries stretching from Iran to Lebanon, via Iraq and Syria.”
The first thing to note from this disclosure is that the conflict in Syria is not about “supporting pro-democracy Syrian rebels” as the Western governments and media and their regional allies have been making out for the past two years. It is clearly about regime change in Syria and a competition for regional influence, in particular between Western-backed Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Because of the deep strategic ties between the House of Saud and Washington and London, it can be safely deduced that Saudi concerns over Syria and Iran are intimately shared by the US and Britain, as well as France.
The Financial Times quotes Jamal Khashoggi, “a Saudi analyst close to decision-making circles” in Riyadh. ”Saudi Arabia will not allow an Iranian victory in Syria,” according to Khashoggi. “Saudi Arabia has to do something now, even if it will do it alone. The goal now must be toppling [Syrian President] Bashar [al-Assad], even if the US is not involved. If Saudi Arabia leads the way, Sunni tribes and other countries, including France, will eventually join.”
The tone is unmistakably one of grave anxiety among the Saudi rulers that they are facing a crucial defeat in Syria - a defeat that is amplified by the perceived strategic gain to Iran from such an outcome.
Underscoring this Saudi and Western anxiety over Syria are reports that their proxy FSA - read Foreign Supplied Army - has in recent days received batches of “game-changing weapons”. These weapons are reported to include anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles supplied by Saudi Arabia via NATO member Turkey. This delivery of new firepower to the NATO-backed mercenaries in Syria coincides with a report in the Los Angeles Times that American Special Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency have been training FSA militia in the use of the very same weapons from bases in Jordan and Turkey over the past several months.
That clearly means coordinated effort between the US and its allies to ramp up the violence in Syria. In addition, the German newspaper Der Spiegel reported last week that France and Saudi Arabia are supplying French-made Mistral anti-aircraft missiles into Syria.
The reason for why the Obama administration is so far maintaining a covert role in this arms supply and training is not to do with ambivalence in the US government towards deepening involvement in the Syria regime-change operation, but more probably because the White House is acutely aware of a political backlash from the American people. Recent polls show that 70 per cent of Americans are opposed to their government arming the Syrian militants and Al-Qaeda affiliates.
That is why the official American position is proffering ostensible support for a political solution in the form of the forthcoming Geneva conference, a conference that is looking increasingly doomed to fail because of Washington’s covert military moves in concert with its NATO allies, as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Voice of America quoted US Secretary of State John Kerry ahead of the meeting this weekend in the Qatari capital, Doha. Kerry said: “There is a unanimity about the importance of trying to find a way to peace, and not a way to war.”
VoA also reported: “EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there is no military solution to the conflict.” Ashton was quoted as saying:
“We are supporting what has become known as Geneva 2, the process of helping to find a political solution, which is in the end the solution.”
The notion that the US and its allies are backing off from Syria or looking for a political way out is flatly negated by the facts on the ground. At the beginning of this month, the EU bloc lifted its embargo on weapons supply to Syrian insurgents; and on 14 June, the Obama White House gave its approval for openly supplying lethal aid.
The real agenda for the “Enemies of Syria” meeting in Doha this weekend - including the foreign ministers of the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar - is not to discuss the politics of peace, but the practicalities of how to better arm the mercenaries fighting in Syria to topple the government of President Assad.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted with eminent reason that US and European pledges to increase weapons supplies to the mercenaries in Syria - who have minimal support among the Syrian people - is jeopardizing any efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Officially at least, Washington, London and Paris are saying that they back the proposed peace conference in Geneva, but on the ground in Syria their all-important actions speak far more loudly of the opposite intention.
The real, unswerving agenda for Washington, London and Paris is regime change through the use of unremitting state-sponsored terrorism. That agenda is not only confined to Syria; as the Saudi disclosure indicates, the bigger picture has to do with the obsession among the Western imperialist powers and their Persian Gulf Arab dictator stooges towards Iran.