[News] In wake of Syria peace plan, US steps up bid for regime-change
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 29 16:07:44 EDT 2012
In wake of Syria peace plan, US steps up bid for regime-change
By Bill Van Auken
29 March 2012
In the wake of the acceptance of a United Nations
peace plan by the government of President Bashar
al-Assad, the US, Western Europe and Turkey are
preparing a meeting in Istanbul to escalate the
armed campaign for regime-change in Syria.
The so-called Friends of Syria, a group led by
the US and its NATO allies, particularly France
and Britain, as well as Turkey and the
reactionary Gulf states of Qatar and Saudi
Arabia, is set to bring foreign ministers and
representatives of some 70 countries to Istanbul on Sunday, April 1.
A French foreign ministry spokesman declared on
Wednesday that the Friends conference will pass
judgment on the Assad regimes enactment of the
six-point plan brokered by the United Nations
envoy and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
There is little doubt that the imperialist powers
and their allies among the Gulf monarchs will
find Damascus guilty of violating the accord so
as to justify stepped up support to armed groups
seeking Syrias destabilization and the downfall of Assad.
The six-point plan put forward by Annan won the
support of both Russia and China, which had
vetoed two previous UN Security Council
resolutions demanding Assads ouster. Both
countries pointed to last years Security Council
resolution sanctioning a no-fly zone in Libya,
which was exploited by Washington and NATO to
provide pseudo-legal justification for an
eight-month-long war to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi.
Annans plan, however, makes no call for Assad to
step down, the key element that made it
acceptable to Damascus as well as to Moscow and Beijing.
The plan calls for Syrians to commit to stop the
fighting and achieve urgently an effective United
Nations supervised cessation of armed violence in
all its forms by all parties to protect civilians
and stabilize the country. It also stipulates
freedom of association and the right to
demonstrate and calls for the government to
provide a list of all places where it is
detaining oppositionists and allow UN access to these places.
The plan proposes to initiate a legitimate
political process that leads to a democratic
transition, but demands of the Assad regime in
this regard only that it appoint an empowered
interlocutor when invited to do so by the envoy [Annan].
Speaking to reporters in Moscow on Monday, Annan
allowed that Assad may be forced to relinquish
the presidency, adding, but its not up to me, its up to the Syrians.
The plan calls for a United Nations supervised
cessation of violence in all its forms, and
states that the government should halt troop
movements into major population centers, end the
use of heavy weapons in these centers, and begin
pulling back military forces from them.
As a transitional step, it calls for a daily
two-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting to
allow for the provision of humanitarian aid to
cities ravaged by fighting, while working toward a full ceasefire.
Washington lost no time in declaring the Assad
regime in violation of the accord. Assad has not
taken the necessary steps to implement Annans
plan, State Department spokeswoman Victoria
Nuland told reporters in Washington Wednesday.
Much of the Western media cited reports of
continued clashes in Syria to make the same point.
For his part, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan told reporters on a flight from Seoul to
Tehran that he does not believe Assad will
implement the plan, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported Wednesday.
During a meeting with President Barack Obama in
the South Korean capital, the two reportedly
reached agreement on providing non-lethal aid
to elements calling themselves the Free Syrian
Army who have been waging an armed campaign,
including terrorist bombings, to topple the Syrian government.
What kind of non-lethal aid can be provided to
an organization that carries out car bombings and
assassinations was not made clear by either
Istanbul or Washington. The web site of the
Turkish daily Radikal, however, provided this
answer: Senior Turkish officials are saying
this: the unification of all the disparate and
independently acting groups in Syria, each of
which calls itself the Free Syria Army, under a
single command and control mechanism and to do
whatever is needed, including the provision of
the necessary tools and means, to achieve this.
Radikal goes on to note that the so-called Free
Syrian Army already has a center in Hatay in
southwestern Turkey near the Syrian border, where
it has been reported that foreign special
operations troops are training and arming Syrian
rebels. The aim of the non-lethal aid plan
adopted by Obama and Erdogan is to establish
communications and coordination between this
centre and all the groups bearing the same name.
The US and the other NATO powers are determined
not to allow a negotiated UN agreement to derail
their drive to effect regime-change in Syria
through armed intervention. The stakes are too
high and they have already invested too much.
A key preparation for the Friends of Syria
conference was carried out on Tuesday. A meeting
of some 300 Syrian opponents of the Assad regime
was organized by the Turkish government in
conjunction with the Qatari regime in an Istanbul suburb.
The aim was to corral the disparate forces
opposed to Assad into accepting the Syrian
National Council (SNC) as an umbrella
organization that can be declared by the major
imperialist powers to be the sole legitimate
representative of the Syrian people, much in the
same way that the Libyan Transitional National
Council was anointed in the run-up to NATOs ouster of the Gaddafi regime.
The conference, however, underscored the absence
of any cohesive Syrian opposition and the
dangerous fault lines opened up by the drive to bring down the Assad regime.
Among the first to walk out of the
Turkish-Qatari-sponsored gathering was the
Kurdish National Council, which refused to accept
the Syrian National Councils leadership after
the body blocked any introduction of the Kurdish
question into an amorphous statement of
principles that supposedly embodies the shared
vision of the various groups represented.
A statement affirming the national rights of the
Kurdish people, who constitute up to 20 percent
of the Syrian population, was unacceptable to the
leadership of the SNC, not to mention its Turkish
sponsors. The Turkish government is waging its
own bloody war against the Kurds inside Turkey,
which has claimed some 40,000 lives since 1984.
The Erdogan government cannot accept an
affirmation of constitutional rights of Syrian
Kurdsa population that fled Turkish oppression
between the 1920s and 1940sfor fear that it
would strengthen the struggle of Kurds inside Turkey.
Washington has no intention of interceding on
behalf of the Kurds. Erdogan boasted after his
meeting with Obama in Seoul that it was pleasing
to see the United States at our side in the fight
against the [Kurdish] separatist terrorist
organization. He said that Obama had promised to
provide Turkey with Predator drones to aid in suppressing Kurdish opposition.
Others left the SNC unity conference protesting
that the organization was entirely undemocratic
and was dominated by the Turkish-backed Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In the end, the conference approved an innocuous
document vowing to support a civil, democratic,
pluralistic, independent and sovereign state in
Syria, while providing no concrete program for how it would be realized.
An unnamed Turkish government official told the
Turkish daily Hurriyet that this was sufficient.
If they agree on a document that puts forth a
constitutional vision that is endorsed by
everybody ahead of the meeting of the Friends of
Syria that will take place in Istanbul on 1
April, then the SNC [could be recognized] as the
sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The official also called on the Free Syrian Army
to stop operating as gang-like groups and subordinate themselves to the SNC.
A chilling indication of the character of these
gangs was provided by the German news magazine
Spiegels web site, which profiled the activities
of a group of Islamist fighters who had held the
Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs before
it was retaken by Syrian security forces.
The magazine interviewed several of these
fighters in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. One of
them, Hussein, said that he had been a member of
a rebel death squad assigned to the execution
of captured government soldiers and other
perceived supporters of the Assad regime or those
believed to be spies or traitors. He was quoted
in the report as saying that he himself had
decapitated four Syrian army soldiers with a knife.
He also reported that other rebels were
assigned to an interrogation squad that
tortured their captives until they confessed to crimes.
A second Free Syrian Army fighter, Abu Rami, said
that the group had executed 150 men as of last
summer, roughly 20 percent of its prisoners.
Moreover, when we realize that a Sunni is spying
on us, we hold a brief trial for him, he added,
saying that another 200 to 250 people had been executed on this basis.
Both Russia and China have announced that they
will not attend the Friends of Syria conference in Istanbul.
Its participants arent looking for dialogue
that could put an end to the conflict, Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich
told reporters in Moscow Wednesday. Russia
boycotted the groups February 24 meeting in
Tunis on the same grounds. On the contrary, it
may pave the way for external interference, he said.
Both Moscow and Beijing know that behind the
human rights rhetoric about Syria, Washington
and its allies are seeking to topple Assad and
impose a regime dominated by Sunni Islamists in
order to isolate and undermine Iran in
preparation for war. The aim is not only to
eliminate this key regional rival, but also to
deprive both Russia and China of easy access to
the regions energy resources. Thus, contained in
the imperialist intervention in Syria is the threat of far wider wars.
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