Ok, so I’ve been getting a few requests from friends, readers and assorted other members of the dorkoshpere to try and give some clarity to the whole Syria thingy. Back in the Dark Ages when the Navy used to cruise my friends and I around the Med, we slipped in and out of all the Mid-East party spots; Algiers, Libya, the Mog and many other secretie type locations…shhhh! Only one of those places scared the poop outta me then, and continues to do so now; Syria. I’d rather walk down Gaza draped in nothing but a US flag and spinning a dreidel than to ever feel Syrian sand under my feet again. An old company spook that I knew back in the day used to say that Syria was the Cuba of the middle-east – and no one wants to fck with Cuba.
But someone wants to get the US into a war with Syria.
Trying to figure out who and why is a Sisyphean task – the sheer tonnage of media-agenda bias and governmental disinformation makes me all sad and stuff. When I get sad I am reminded of the Jesuits, and they remind me of logic and latin! When the Jesuits taught me logic, they taught me that when attempting to find causation, one must search for benefit. Cui Bono – “to whose benefit” was the phrase, and I think it will help us here.
So who would benefit from an open conflict between the US and Syria? Lets start with elimination — it will not be good for the United States, it will not be good for Israel, it will not be good for Syria, it will not be good for Iran and it will not be good for Hezbollah. From where I sit, only the Saudi’s can benefit from this scenario, plus they would get the bonus of not actually having to participate.
Billions of Saudi dollars have been pouring into the conflict in Syria, but so far they have not been successful in their attempts to overthrow the Assad regime. Now the Saudis are trying to play their trump card — the U.S. military. If the Saudis are successful, they will get to pit the two greatest long-term strategic enemies of Sunni Islam against each other — the U.S. and Israel on one side and Shia Islam on the other. In such a scenario, the more damage that both sides do to each other the happier the Sunnis will be.
There would be others benefiting from a U.S. war with Syria as well. For example, it is well-known that Qatar wants to run a natural gas pipeline out of the Persian Gulf, through Syria and into Europe. And so Qatar has also been pouring billions of dollars into the civil war in Syria.
So if it is really Saudi Arabia and Qatar that want to overthrow the Assad regime, why does the United States have to do the heavy lifting?
President Obama is promising that the upcoming attack will only be a “limited military strike” and that we will not be getting into a full-blown war with Syria. (Regardless of the deal he will have to make with the neo-con tea-drinkers in the House).
The only way that will work is if Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all sit on their hands and do nothing to respond to the upcoming U.S. attack. So I guess we can just assume the usual well-reasoned and rational response from them… uhuh. Let’s just say that I hope the MARSOC guys with the laser-targeting gear about to slip through the Syrian surf have got one hell of an evac plan.
What if there is a response, and a U.S. naval vessel gets hit, or pilots are captured, or rockets start raining down on Tel Aviv — the U.S. could easily find itself engaged in a full-blown war with no clear idea as to what constitutes victory.
The vast majority of Americans do not want to get embroiled in another war in the Middle East, and a number of top military officials are expressing “serious reservations” about attacking Syria according to the Washington Post…
For the United States, there really is no good outcome in Syria.
If we attack and Assad stays in power, we appear enfeebled. If we help overthrow the Assad regime, the rebels take control. But they could be even worse than Assad. Most rebel groups have pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, and are rabidly anti-American, anti-Israeli and anti-western.
This war would not be good for Israel either. I have seen a number of supposedly pro-Israel websites out there getting very excited about the prospect of war with Syria, but I think they are shortsighted if not tragically mistaken.
Syria has already threatened to attack Israeli cities if the U.S. attacks. If Syrian missiles start landing in the heart of Tel Aviv, Israel will respond. And if any of those missiles have unconventional warheads, Israel will respond by absolutely destroying Damascus.
And of course a missile exchange between Syria and Israel will almost certainly draw Hezbollah into the conflict. And right now Hezbollah has 70,000 rockets aimed at Israel. If Hezbollah starts launching those rockets, thousands upon thousands of innocent Jewish citizens will be killed.
This is not the calculated Mutually Assured Destruction of the Cold War, where the overwhelming force of the other kept your finger off the trigger. The players in that part of the world have left rational notions of proportionality behind and instead focus on ideas based on thoughts apocalyptic.
If the Saudis want this war so badly, they should saddle-up. They should not be able to start a full-blown regional conflict with their checkbook. At this point, even CNN is openly admitting this…
At this point I want to be very clear that no one who knows the middle-east will ever claim to know exactly who is doing what to whom and why – and trying to figure things out with only the internet and the media leaves one at the mercy of multiple agendas. So, again, I return to looking at what could happen, and who would benefit.
It is an open secret that the Saudis have been using Jordan to smuggle weapons into Syria for the rebels. Jordan says it is doing all it can to prevent that and does not want to inflame the situation – and why would they lie? And Assad certainly knows who is behind the civil war in his country. The following is an excerpt from a recent interview with Assad…
Of course it is well known that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, who hold the purse strings can shape and manipulate them to suit their own interests.
Ideologically, these countries mobilize them through direct or indirect means as extremist tools. If they declare that Muslims must pursue Jihad in Syria, thousands of fighters will respond.
Financially, those who finance and arm such groups can instruct them to carry out acts of terrorism and spread anarchy. The influence over them is synergized when a country such as Saudi Arabia directs them through both the Wahhabi ideology and their financial means.
And shortly after the British Parliament voted against military intervention in Syria, Saudi Arabia raised their level of “defense readiness” from “five” to “two” in a clear sign that they fully expect a war to happen…
Saudi Arabia, a supporter of rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, has raised its level of military alertness in anticipation of a possible Western strike in Syria, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
The United States has been calling for punitive action against Assad’s government for a suspected poison gas attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21 that killed hundreds of people.
Saudi Arabia’s defense readiness has been raised to “two” from “five”, a Saudi military source who declined to be named told Reuters. “One” is the highest level of alert.
All that aside – it’s about chemical weapons, right? I have a hard time opposing the President when he says that we have a moral obligation to stop a government that would gas its own people. But this is the middle-east… how sure can we be that Assad pulled the trigger on the gas – what if he didn’t?
Reminding you of my earlier warnings about getting any valid/accurate information about these events, there have been reports from sometime Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak, that the gas came from the Saudis…
Syrian rebels in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta have admitted to Associated Press correspondent Dale Gavlak that they were responsible for last week’s chemical weapons incident which western powers have blamed on Bashar Al-Assad’s forces, revealing that the casualties were the result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them by Saudi Arabia.
“From numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families….many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the (deadly) gas attack,” writes Gavlak.
And this is someone that isn’t fresh out of journalism school. He has been a Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press for two decades and has also worked for National Public Radio (NPR) and written articles for BBC News.”
The Voice of Russia (yikes) has also been reporting on Gavlak’s bombshell findings…
The rebels noted it was a result of an accident caused by rebels mishandling chemical weapons provided to them.
“My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.
As Gavlak reports, Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels died in a weapons storage tunnel. The father stated the weapons were provided to rebel forces by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, describing them as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”
“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K’. “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”
“When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.
Gavlak also refers to an article in the UK’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talks stating that Prince Bandar threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with terror attacks at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if Russia doesn’t agree to change its stance on Syria.
“Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” the article stated.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Saudi Prince allegedly told Vladimir Putin.
If this has any merit at all then the Saudis were so desperate to get the Russians to stand down and allow an attack on Syria that they actually threatened them. Zero Hedge (not the most reputable of sources…) published some additional details on the meeting between Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Russian President Vladimir Putin…
Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”
It is good of the Saudis to admit they control a terrorist organization that “threatens the security” of the Sochi 2014 Olympic games, and that house of Saud uses “in the face of the Syrian regime.” Perhaps the next time there is a bombing in Boston by some Chechen-related terrorists, someone can inquire Saudi Arabia what, if anything, they knew about that.
But the piece de resistance is what happened at the end of the dialogue between the two leaders. It was, in not so many words, a threat by Saudi Arabia aimed squarely at Russia:
As soon as Putin finished his speech, Prince Bandar warned that in light of the course of the talks, things were likely to intensify, especially in the Syrian arena, although he appreciated the Russians’ understanding of Saudi Arabia’s position on Egypt and their readiness to support the Egyptian army despite their fears for Egypt’s future.
The head of the Saudi intelligence services said that the dispute over the approach to the Syrian issue leads to the conclusion that “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate. We believe that the Geneva II Conference will be very difficult in light of this raging situation.”
At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.
Is this whole story fiction? Maybe… but if so, you wrote it and why? Clearly there is more going on here than a bad guy with a gas fetish.
So… I don’t know what to tell you. George Ball once told LBJ during the early discussions about troop escalations in Vietnam, “Wherever you go, that’s where you’re gonna be.” If Assad gassed the children of his own country, and we have the intel cold – then let me pull the trigger. But I’ve been to Syria, and I’ve been on ops based on bad intel – and I’ve learned this; there is no good intel about Syria.
Mr. President, I think we should cancel the op.