BY WEBSTER BROOKS
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s “days are numbered. It’s not a matter of if but when,” said President Obama in a recent interview with Atlantic Monthly. Obama’s toughest talk yet on Syria was hardly imperial hubris run amok; his ongoing secret war to overthrow the Assad regime is about to escalate.
For months the media has questioned whether the Obama administration has a strategy to depose Assad, painting a one dimensional portrait of a dictator gone mad slaughtering his own citizens. One might have thought the Fourth Estate would have deployed their considerable corporate resources – and that we would ultimately discover that the administration has been financing Syria’s opposition movement. Or: that the CIA has been training Free Syrian Army forces on Syria’s borders with Jordan and Turkey. And: that the U.S. is funneling weapons to insurgents inside Syria, also providing them with critical communications equipment.
But in all fairness, the “liberal” Obama administration has imposed a virtual gag order on the press. For better or worse, it goes with the territory of running a secret war. The administration’s long arm of censorship hasn’t strangled the foreign press and government whistleblowers.
Earlier this week, a general claiming to represent an insurgent group based in Homs appeared on camera and told Reuters that “French and American assistance has reached us … We now have weapons and anti-aircraft missiles“. RT News Service also reported that Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, formerly a translator with the FBI, wrote that “American soldiers are among the NATO troops that have mysteriously and suddenly landed on the Jordanian and Syrian border. According to her, several sources internationally have confirmed the news, although the US media has been instructed to temporarily censor itself from reporting it.
Of course, President Obama, having repudiated George Bush’s brand of cowboy unilateralism has lots of allies in the Syrian project; the usual NATO suspects and others operating under the moniker “Friends of Syria.” Last month, London’s Daily Star reported: “As the unrest and killings escalate in the troubled Arab state, agents from MI6 and the CIA are already in Syria assessing the situation.”
Similarly, DEBKAfile – the unofficial mouthpiece of Israel’s intelligence community -revealed that “recent reports confirm that British and Qatari Special forces are on the ground in the city of Homs, involved in training rebel forces as well as organizing the supply of weapons in liaison with the Turkish military.”
What happened to violating international law, national sovereignty and the U.N. Charter?
In addition to assembling a coalition of NATO partners and “friendly” Arab governments to take down Assad, Obama’s strategy has by necessity integrated radical Islamists and Al-Qaeda forces into the mix. These forces are engaged in deliberately sabotaging Syrian government institutions and attacking innocent civilians. The recent Arab League “Observer Mission to Syria” documented that “there is an armed entity that is not mentioned in the protocol. In some zones, this armed entity reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence.”
In an interview with BBC News, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted as much when she said, “We have a very dangerous set of actors in the region, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and those who are on our terrorist list, to be sure, supporting-–claiming to support the opposition [in Syria].” Yes, counter-insurgency makes for strange bedfellows. But the Obama administration’s tolerance of jihadists attacking the Syrian government has a larger purpose. The Assad regimes’ response of intensifying its attacks against the Syrian people further serves U.S. interests by justifying (with media complicity) the need for international intervention to decapitate Syria’s government … for humanitarian reasons, of course.
For foreign policy watchers, who have been searching for the definitive “Obama Doctrine” in the Middle East, look no further than Libya and Syria models.” Obama is on a roll, converting the Arab Spring risings into a new anti-Iranian Pax Americana. Perhaps, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said it best, “If the Syrian regime is replaced with another form of government that doesn’t tie its future to the Iranians, the world is a better place.” We shall see. The Middle East is a unique corner of the world where very little goes according to plan.
WEBSTER BROOKS is Founder of the Brooks Foreign Policy Review, a former Senior Fellow for the University of Denver and a widely recognized expert on foreign affairs. He can be reached via Twitter @WBerberBrooks3