Webster G. Tarpley, Ph.D.
January 19, 2013
On the one hand, official Washington – the principal sponsor of the foreign fighters – has been deeply shaken by reports coming from circles close to the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) which depict a rising wave of hatred in northern Syria against the catastrophic misrule experienced under the death squad occupation there. Ordinary Syrians of all backgrounds are increasingly disgusted by the corruption, incompetence, and oppression of the FSA regime. The rebel chaos is contributing to a significant increase in the popularity of Assad and his regime, which had guaranteed stability and freedom from the worst privations for decades.
On the other hand, NATO commanders have committed, what may turn out to be, a fatal strategic blunder by opening a new fighting front against Algeria and Mali – sending Libyan-based death squads to take hostages at the In Amenas natural gas facility, shortly after France had dispatched troops to northern Mali to confront the advancing Tuareg — before they had succeeded in finishing off Assad. In this, the NATO bigwigs are repeating the same mistake made by Hitler in June 1941 when he launched his Barbarossa attack on the USSR before he had achieved the decisive elimination of the British. The result became an unwinnable two front war which doomed the Nazi dictator.
Who is out of touch with reality – Assad or Obama?
The imperialist think tanks of Washington had been optimistic during the late autumn and early winter of 2012-2013 that the collapse of the Assad government would occur in short order. They were taken aback in early January by Assad’s defiant and self-confident New Year’s speech to his supporters. With her usual snide cynicism, the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland hissed that Assad was “out of touch with reality.” This week The Washington Post was forced to quote an expatriate Syrian journalist’s remark that “many Syrians wonder whether it isn’t the United States and its allies who are out of touch….” (Liz Sly, “Assad still confident that he can control Syria,” The Washington Post, January 12, 2013)
Then came the shocking reports that the rebel-held areas, far from becoming a paradise of freedom and democracy under FSA rule, were exhibiting the grim features of a “failed state.” As David Ignatius, a veteran speaking tube for the State Department and the intelligence community wrote on January 13, “this stark analysis is contained in an intelligence report provided to the State Department last week by Syrian sources working with the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Describing the situation in the area from Aleppo to the Turkish border, where Assad’s army has largely disappeared, the report draws a picture of disorganized fighters, greedy arms peddlers and profiteering warlords.” (David Ignatius, “Anarchy in Syria,” The Washington Post, January 13, 2013)
Sly, working from the same reports, stressed the inability of the rebels to win decisive battles, “The rebels have been systematically overrunning government positions in many locations, but they have not demonstrated the capacity to make headway against the tough defenses ringing Damascus, the capital, and the key prize for whoever claims to control the country.”
The rebels were able to take control of the Taftanaz military airbase located in northern Idlib province after five months of fierce fighting, but this was immediately canceled out by the final defeat of a death squad brigade after a three-month-long campaign in the Daraya neighborhood near Damascus, the key to an even more important military facility. At about the same time, the Russian Foreign Ministry once again underlined that it would not be a party to forcing Assad to give up power.
Conditions rapidly deteriorating in rebel-held areas of Syria
According to Musab al-Hamawi, an anti-regime agitator from Hama, quoted by Sly, “conditions are deteriorating dramatically in rebel-held areas…Assad is confident because he knows we are losing ground in terms of popularity among the people…”
One thinks of Florentine secretary Niccolo Machiavelli’s 1509 report to his government describing conditions in the parts of Venetian territory, which had been occupied by French forces after the battle of Agnadello during the War of the League of Cambrai. Machiavelli wrote that the French occupation was stupid and oppressive, and that the occupiers would soon be driven out, giving the Venetians a new lease on life. This forecast was quickly proven true.
France’s Hollande starts Mali adventure
In 2011, Libyan intelligence called attention to plans by NATO and the Israelis to utilize the Berber-Kabyle-Tuareg people – originally the non-Arab nomads of the Sahara — as an instrument of destabilization. A group of Tuareg adventurers using the cover of religious extremism left southern Libya for a military campaign, which soon gave them control of most of northern Mali, including the area around Timbuktu. Here, they installed a grim and cruel regime claiming to be Islamist, and began preparations for conquering the southern part of Mali as well.
Citing the presence of these Tuaregs as a reason, French President Hollande last week announced that France would honor the request of the Mali government to send military forces against the separatists. Opposition to this move was muted inside France. Most of the former antiwar leftists and others who had supported the attack on Libya had scant objection to the latest imperialist adventure.
Algeria had granted France overflight permission for planes headed for Mali, and this became the transparent pretext for the extremist group loyal to Moktar Bel Moktar, specialized in terrorism and kidnapping, to leave its sanctuary in southern Libya and to attack the British Petroleum natural gas facility at In Amenas, taking hundreds of Algerian workers hostage along with scores of foreign nationals.
In the past, terrorist groups coming from northern Algeria had been unable to move from north to south across the desert to strike the country’s vital oil and gas industry. But now, thanks to the availability of southern Libya as a terrorist base, this has been accomplished.
Out of the crucible of civil war: The Algerian hard line against terrorists
Because of the heritage of a long and costly war of independence to oust the French colonialists, Algeria has a tradition of asserting its own national sovereignty against the NATO bloc. Algerian President Bouteflika, a veteran of the National Liberation Front (FLN)’s resistance against the French military, took power as the GIA was winding down and has been in office ever since. He clearly figures on the CIA hit list.
In 2011, Bouteflika warned NATO that the bombing of Libya in support of the rebels would destabilize the region, and attracted the hostility of the Libyan rebels. More recently, when France announced its incursion into Mali, Bouteflika repeated his warning that the region was being destabilized. Two visits to Algeria over recent years by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not sufficed to turn Algeria into a NATO satellite.
Taking on Mali and Algeria with the outcome of the Syrian destabilization still uncertain shows the folly of the NATO generals.
Now, however, with the rebel onslaught against Damascus bogged down, and belief in an easy victory long since overwhelmed by the enormous casualties inflicted on foreign fighters by the Syrian army, Syria may no longer seem so attractive. Mali, by contrast, offers the possibility of fighting directly against French and perhaps US forces. The NATO generals have divided their forces and opened a second front – never a reliable recipe for success.