Armed Rebels and Middle-Eastern Power Plays: How the U.S. Is Helping to Kill Peace in Syria
As President Obama confirmed in an interview with the Atlantic on March 2, 2012, one of the strategic goals of U.S. policy in Syria has been to weaken and isolate Iran by removing or helping to remove its strongest Arab ally. Asked what the U.S. could do to accelerate the removal of President Assad, Obama replied, laughing, "Well, nothing that I can tell you, because your classified clearance isn't good enough."
One of the defining bifurcations of the future will be the conflict between information masters and information victims... [Information] seduces, betrays, yet remains invulnerable. How can you counterattack the information others have turned upon you?... Societies that fear or otherwise cannot manage the flow of information simply will not be competitive. They might master the technological wherewithal to watch the videos, but we will be writing the scripts, producing them, and collecting the royalties. Our creativity is devastating... The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing. We are building an information-based military to do that killing... We are already masters of information warfare.
The armed groups and the military solution adopted by the regime have eradicated civil resistance. So, whatever the strength and the number of peaceful demonstrations today, they are less than a tenth of what we saw a year ago. There's a retreat from peaceful action. And today, if there's a small demonstration in a village, nobody pays attention, as if it doesn't make any difference. Military action has taken the upper hand over a political discourse that could regroup and create a peaceful solution in the short term in Syria.
The idea that something had to be built from the outside weakened what was happening inside the country. They thought that a structure outside the Syrian people could represent it internationally. But it's a structure that's really not representative of Syrian society or political forces in the country and, what's more, it depends on the will of three states: France, Turkey and Qatar. The SNC, despite the financial, diplomatic and media support it has obtained, has not achieved its goal. Now there's a search for another formula to unify the opposition. Meanwhile, the armed groups have gained ground and become radicalized. Because the money came from Salafist groups all along. This "Salafization" of some of the military groups has plunged us into civil war. On one side, there is fear of extremism in a moderate society where 26 religious and ethnic groups coexist. Foreign intervention, whether it's official or not, has favored an Islamist ideological trend to the detriment of democratic and secular forces. It's also favored acts of vengeance and political assassination on a sectarian basis. These acts are manipulated and influenced by non-Syrian jihadist movements that are starting to find a place in the country and who coordinate with the Islamist armed groups. The power vacuum is a danger, because civil resistance is poorly organized or often absent because of the presence of the armed groups. The political solution for a transition period doesn't exist. There's no timetable agreed on among different opposition forces. This lack of coordination gives the advantage to the most extreme Islamist groups. Secular leaders were murdered by the regime in the first months, which opened the door to the Islamists. When you marginalize the political solution, you marginalize democratic forces.
Annan's proposals were a chance for a peaceful transition. Sadly, right from the start, Qatar buried the plan and opted to militarize the opposition. Western powers were also thinking of a "Plan B." So, without regional and international support, a plan like this can't succeed. They're leaving arms to settle the issue, whether it's the loyalist army or the dissident or Islamist armed groups. We will pay very dearly for this absence of a political solution. There are local conflicts breaking out. This is compost for a civil war that can lead to rule by militias, but certainly not to the creation of an army that can protect the population in a time of transition.