Notes from the Margins | Once More Into the Abyss, Chaps
New in Ceasefire, Notes from the Margins - Posted on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 16:07 - 2 Comments
By Matt Carr
Whenever the Quartet’s ‘Peace Envoy’ Tony Blair makes any pronouncement on the great issues in the Middle East, you can always guarantee that the missile silos are being readied for action. Last week Blair took time out from his unctuous tribute to Shimon Peres to call for the establishment of no-fly zones over Syria in order to avoid ‘catastrophic consequences.’
This urgency was based on the ‘confirmation’ by British and US intelligence services of the use of chemical weapons by Bashar al-Assad, which according to Blair, means that ‘we’ must now act immediately to prevent such weapons becoming the norm.
At a speech to the 2013 Presidential Conference hosted by Peres, he condemned ‘the predominant emotion in the West today …to stay out of Syria; indeed to stay out of the region’s politics’ and insisted, just as he once did back in 2002 and 2003 in a different context, that ‘as every day that passes shows, the cost of staying out may be paid in a higher price later.’
This call for urgent action on Syria was linked to Iran, because according to Blair:
“We have to be prepared to be strong in defence of our values. It is why Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and export of terrorism round the region are a threat. We must be determined to confront and overcome that threat. Those that truly hold the power in Tehran must know of our determination and feel its vigour. Of course any choice involving military action is fraught. No one wants it. But a nuclear armed Iran is the worst choice and we shouldn’t make it.”
These are not thoughts or analysis, because Blair does not think or analyse; he only ever utters militarist slogans. His pious insistence that ‘ no one wants’ military action is a lie, because the mindless and unrelenting promotion of war and violence is precisely what has earned this vacuous shill the wealth and prestige that he possesses.
But his observations nevertheless sum up the dominant trend among the US and its allies. Blair’s sentiments were echoed by his fellow faux-humanitarian “elder statesman” Bill Clinton, who told John McCain (at the McCain Institute for International Leadership) that the US should get involved in Syria:
“Some people say, ‘OK, see what a big mess it is? Stay out!’ I think that’s a big mistake. I agree with you about this. Sometimes it’s just best to get caught trying, as long as you don’t over-commit — like, as long as you don’t make an improvident commitment.”
Clinton, like Blair, also made it clear that these efforts should not only be aimed at Syria itself, since
“The only question is, now that the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah are in there head over heels, 90 miles to nothing, should we try to do something to try to slow their gains and rebalance the power?”
The US government has also come round to a more proactive position in order to bring about this ‘rebalancing’. After months of prevarication and hesitation, the Nobel Peace Laureate has announced that the US is to start sending lethal weapons to the rebels. This follows the EU’s decision to abrogate the arms embargo on weapons to Syria, which was largely due to browbeating from the old colonial powers, Britain and France.
The US has justified its decision on the basis of ‘conclusive evidence’ that Assad’s forces used Sarin on at least four occasions, killing between 100 and 150 people. Naturally, Cameron has weighed in, declaring that Assad has used it twice, before upping the figure to ten. The specifics don’t really matter – it could just as easily have been three or fifteen, since what we are dealing with – as was the case in Iraq – is another gross fabrication/manipulation designed to deceive the public and provide a trigger for escalation.
Both Cameron and the US have dismissed allegations from the UN Independent Commission on Syria last month that the Syrian rebels themselves may have used chemical weapons. But both governments now claim to ‘know’ that Assad has used them.
No credible evidence for these allegations has been provided, nor has either government offered any plausible explanation why Assad would use Sarin gas against the rebels, when he knows that any such use would only give the ‘international community’ a pretext to attack him.
The chemical weapons scam takes place at a time when the Syrian rebels have been suffering military reverses on the ground, and Iran and Hezbollah have been providing direct support to Assad’s regime – support that is clearly intended to protect themselves against the coming offensive that is being prepared against them by the Western states and their Gulf allies that are seeking to bring down Assad.
These efforts have brought new actors into the fray. In Egypt, Mohammed Morsi is authorising jihadist fighters to go to Syria as an act of pan-Sunni solidarity. This is the same Morsi who earlier this year ordered his army to pour sewage into the tunnels at Gaza to show his solidarity with the Palestinians, yet who apparently has no qualms whatsoever about fueling an emerging Shia/Sunni sectarian war with Syria at its epicentre.
Sectarian conflict is a consequence of the geopolitical struggle between the West and its allies on one hand, and the Iranian/Shia bloc on the other, with money, power, energy resources and pipeline routes rather than religion at its core, all of which has transformed Syria into a proxy battleground. Iran and Hezbollah are fighting in Syria because they know that if Assad falls, they will be next.
And the recent actions by the US and its allies now make it clear that they are determined to escalate this confrontation, even if it destroys the country they claim to want to save. None of this has anything to do with peace, security or saving lives, let alone the ‘positive, democratic and pluralistic Syria’ that Cameron claims to want. The West and its allies want to drop Assad so that they can get at Iran and redress the strategic reverses that took place as a consequence of their bloody incompetence in Iraq.
Blair may talk about preventing ‘catastrophic consequences’, but the dirty and disgusting game that is being played out in Syria now threatens to bring about the most catastrophic military confrontation in the history of the modern Middle East. It will not bring peace, but death, chaos and destruction on a scale that will dwarf previous ‘interventions’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as it sucks in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Iran, Turkey, and Israel.
To avert this outcome, we need to revitalise the international peace movement that preceded the Iraq war, and find ways to make our leaders behave like statesmen rather than gangsters and jackals. Above all, we need to halt the reckless militarisation that is leading the Middle East – and the world – to disaster.
Our governments must be made to use their power and influence to bring about a ceasefire in Syria, and pressure Assad and his opponents to lay the framework for some kind of political settlement to be decided by Syrians, without interference from any foreign power.
And we need to do this now, because otherwise the ‘Peace Envoy’ and the states whose views he echoes, will get their opportunity to turn the Syrian war into the big war they have been dreaming of, and unleash forces that nobody will be able to stop.