Saturday,22 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012
Saturday,22 September, 2018
Issue 1126, 13 - 19 December 2012

Ahram Weekly

Towards the invasion of Syria?

The current scare over Syria’s alleged possession of chemical weapons is being orchestrated as a pretext for a future Western invasion, writes Ismail Salami in Tehran

Al-Ahram Weekly

As part of plans to undermine the Syrian regime, French military agents have recently held face-to-face meetings with foreign-backed militants inside the country in a bid to “assess the situation on the ground.” A report in the French newspaper Le Figaro on Friday said that the main task of these agents was “to find out who controls the battlegrounds around Damascus”.

It thus seems that a Western-orchestrated plan to invade Syria is now underway, and that foreign forces are gearing up for military action against the country. Le Figaro report added that the meetings were held last month with the full knowledge of the French government and that the government wanted to know the “operational capacity of each group” and their “political colours”.

To make matters worse, NATO has also agreed to deploy Patriot missiles on the Syria-Turkey border under the pretext of defending Turkey from attack, with Britain warning Syria of “serious consequences” if the regime uses chemical weapons.

All the pieces of the puzzle are being meticulously put together by these foreign foes of Syria to lend a cloak of legitimacy to an imminent invasion of the country. The pretexts being readied include the idea that Syria is considering using chemical weapons against its own people, that the war may spill over into Turkey, and that Turkey should be able to defend itself against potential attack.

While in Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting, William Hague, the British foreign secretary, said that Britain had delivered a stark message to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad that echoed the words used by the Obama administration in the US on Monday.

“We are worried about chemical weapons,” Hague said. “We have become more concerned about them in recent days for the same reasons the US has. We have already sent our own, clear, private message directly to the Syrians about the serious consequences that would follow from the use of those weapons.”

Syria has blasted NATO’s decision to deploy Patriot missiles as “psychological warfare”, saying that the new deployment will not deter it from seeking victory over militants that it views as terrorists.

Despite some Western countries claiming that NATO’s decision to deploy the missiles shows their lack of appetite for military intervention in Syria, in fact the deployment should be seen as a strong message that the West is indeed gearing up for military intervention.

Syria said that the NATO deployment would not make the government change course, calling the talk of chemical weapons part of a conspiracy to justify future intervention.

“The Turkish step and NATO’s support for it are provocative moves that constitute psychological warfare,” Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV recently. “If they think this will affect our determination and work for a decisive victory in this fight against terrorism, they are very wrong.”

 “In the event that [foreign powers] actually consider an aggression, they should also consider the consequences. I believe the cost will be high… They need to understand that they will be putting the entire region in danger, if they try to commit such folly,” Mekdad said.

That the Syrian government would use chemical weapons against its own population or even against the militants threatening the regime is a threadbare claim concocted by the West to embark on militaristic voyeurism and a possible military expedition against Syria.

It is very reminiscent of Washington’s claim that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before it launched its military invasion of that country and brought about almost inconceivable human suffering as a result. Sadly, some realities seem to be soon forgotten.

An opinion poll conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) on 12-19 August 2007, indicated a human loss of 1,033,000 in the US-led Iraq War. Although the range varied between 946,000 and 1,120,000 deaths, such colossal human losses are almost beyond imagination.

According to the ORB, “48 per cent died from gunshot wounds, 20 per cent from the impact of a car bomb, nine per cent from aerial bombardment, six per cent as a result of an accident and six per cent from another blast/ordnance.”

Russia’s new ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, has well described the West’s intentions behind the recent moves, saying “this is not a threat to us, but it is an indication that NATO is moving towards engagement. We see a danger of the further involvement of NATO in the situation in Syria as a result of provocation or border incidents.”

It is also possible that the West may provide the Syrian rebels with chemical weapons, encouraging them to use them against the Syrian population and then to shift the blame onto the Syrian government. This would then allow the West to proceed with its plan to invade the country. This idea is supported by looking at the attention that has recently been accorded to this issue by the US and other Western countries.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have both vowed to take action if Syria uses chemical weapons. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also warned recently that any use of chemical weapons by Syria would prompt an immediate military response.

The sad truth is that the West has already formed a coalition against Syria, with even Israel being part of it. According to the Hebrew-language Maariv newspaper, Tel Aviv is preparing for such a scenario amid increasing speculation that the US military will intervene in Syria “within days” if chemical weapons are used.

This chemical weapons scenario thus seems to be the pretext that Washington and its western allies will likely use in order to force the international community to swallow yet another episode of military adventurism in the Middle East.

The writer is an Iranian Middle East expert.

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