Increased intervention in Syria: How many targets is the US eyeing?

intervention

M. K. Bhadrakumar |

The shooting down of a Syrian SU-22 warplane by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet to the south of the city of Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS, on Sunday is a significant escalation of the conflict in Syria. The US statement is deliberately vague, claiming that the Syrian jet had dropped bombs “near SDF fighters”. The US central command (CENTCOM) statement said the Syrian plane was downed “in collective self-defense of coalition-partnered forces”. It said “pro-Syrian regime forces” attacked an SDF held town south of Tabqa and wounded a number of fighters, driving them from the town. In a show of force, coalition aircraft stopped the initial advance. When a Syrian army SU-22 jet then dropped bombs near the US-backed forces, the statement said, it was immediately shot by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet.

The Syrian statement maintains that the jet was on an anti-terrorist mission against Islamic State militants.

According to the CENTCOM statement, before it downed the plane, it “contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established “de-confliction line” to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing”. The statement added that the US does “not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian or pro-regime forces” but will not “hesitate to defend itself or its “partnered forces from any threat.”

Read more: Escalation of the Syrian conflict: Is the US hurting Syria more than ever?

The Syrian statement, on the other hand, maintains that the jet was on an anti-terrorist mission against Islamic State militants. The Syrian military command has alleged that the incident underscores the “coordination between the US and the ISIS.”

A few days ago, Russia had also alleged that the US was facilitating a retreat by the ISIS fighters in Raqqa in a southerly direction toward the city of Dier Ezzur, where a Syrian army brigade is holding out against rebel groups for the past few years. The Russian jets had bombed some ISIS convoys moving out of Raqqa.

It remains to be seen whether the US move to shoot down the Syrian warplane is a deliberate step toward drawing a “red line” as regards the bombing operations by the government jets or is a retaliation for the Russian air strikes on the ISIS convoys.

On June 6, Pentagon announced another strike on pro-Syrian government forces as they entered the de-confliction zone with Russian forces.

At any rate, the US has been steadily escalating its attacks on Syrian government forces through the recent months. Thus:

  • On September 16 last year, US aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian Army near the Deir Ezzur airport, killing nearly 100 people.
  • On April 7, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Homs province, following a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province for which Washington held the Syrian government responsible.

Read more: Why is the US attacking the Syrians who are fighting ISIS?

  • On May 18, the US struck pro-government forces near Al-Tanf in the area of an established de-confliction zone close to the Iraqi border.
  • On June 6, Pentagon announced another strike on pro-Syrian government forces as they entered the de-confliction zone with Russian forces. At least two Syrian servicemen were killed and more than 15 injured.
  • On June 8, the US again bombed pro-government forces near Al-Tanf following an alleged attack by a combat drone.

Interestingly, late Sunday evening, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards announced that it has carried out a missile strike from its bases in the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan (bordering Iraq) at ISIS targets in Dier Ezzor. The IRGC said that the missile strike was an act of retaliation for the terrorist strikes in Tehran on June 7.

US efforts to dismantle Iran

Iranian authorities have long suspected a distant CIA hand in the Israeli-sponsored assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists between 2009 and 2012.

The US has not reacted to the Iranian missile attack on a target in Syria, which is the first such incident of its kind in the 6-year old conflict. More importantly, we do not know whether Iran is also drawing a “red line” to assert that the ISIS will no longer be able to hide behind the US and/or Israeli intelligence.

A commentary by the Middle East Eye on Friday had noted:

  • Earlier this month it was revealed that the newly appointed head of Iran operations at the CIA, Michael D’Andrea (dubbed “Ayatollah Mike”) is expected to go on the offensive against the Islamic Republic.

Read more: Is there any Kurdish-Daesh-Saudi connection in Syria and Iran?

  • Managing the twin threats of IS-inspired terrorism and CIA espionage – and crucially, the potential intersection of these threats in the context of escalating regional tensions – will be the ultimate test of the Iranian security establishment’s skill and resolve… “Ayatollah Mike” is likely to focus less on traditional espionage and more on subversive activities, an area where the CIA has achieved qualified successes. The CIA, working jointly with Israeli experts, was behind the “Stuxnet” cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear establishment.
  • Iranian authorities have long suspected a distant CIA hand in the Israeli-sponsored assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists between 2009 and 2012. There are fears that the assassination campaign may restart in earnest, especially if the Trump administration gives the green light to the Israelis with a view to destabilizing the nuclear accord.

The US-Israeli game plan might be to draw out Iran into a confrontation at some point – and, in the process, of course, poke the Russian bear too in Syria.

  • It is worth noting the Israeli connection again, as five years ago, it was revealed that Mossad officers had tried to recruit members of the Jundallah terrorist group (which was conducting attacks in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province) by masquerading as CIA officers. While the CIA’s war on Iran, and the Iranian response, will be fought mostly in the shadows – with much of it kept well hidden from the public – repeated terror attacks, be they IS-inspired or conducted by local groups funded or directed by the Saudis, may well force an open confrontation.

The bottom line is that the US military intervention in Syria is fast expanding in scope and range as well as its strategic thrust. President Donald Trump had originally claimed that the US’ exclusive focus will be on the ISIS. But, evidently, that is no longer the case. The war in Syria has since been delegated to the Pentagon and the US military is becoming an active participant in the Syrian conflict. It is apparent that the Syrian government forces are increasingly in the US military’s crosshairs.

Read more: Is the US-Saudi-Israel team getting ahead of Iran?

Conceivably, the US-Israeli game plan might be to draw out Iran (directly or through proxy groups) into a confrontation at some point – and, in the process, of course, poke the Russian bear too in Syria. Moscow’s reaction to the downing of the Syrian jet on Sunday will be keenly watched.

M. K. Bhadrakumar has served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings as India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes extensively in Indian newspapers, Asia Times and the “Indian Punchline”. This piece was first published in Indian Punchline. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Trump & Syria: New President same old Imperialist strategy

New President

Jacob G. Hornberger |

With President Trump’s undeclared attack on Syria, a sovereign and independent nation, he has confirmed, once and for all, that he is just another foreign interventionist, no different from his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush. That means, of course, another four years of war, bombings, assassinations, shootings, terrorism, the war on terrorism, travel restrictions, walls, surveillance, incarceration, POW camps, torture, out of control federal spending and debt, and everything else that comes with an imperialist and interventionist national security state.

Going to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Syria would require Trump and his national-security state people to provide evidence and justification for going to war against Syria.

It’s important to point out that Trump’s decision to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air force base was carried out without a congressional declaration of war. This should, of course, mean something to conservatives, given their purported devotion to the Constitution, which prohibits the president from waging war without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. But don’t count on opposition to Trump’s new war coming from conservatives. They love foreign wars because it means ever-bigger government, along with more spending, taxation, and debt to fund them.

Read more: The US needs to prove that Syrian Government carried out the Chemical attack

Reasons for no congressional declaration of war

No congressional declaration of war against Syria is important for two reasons:

One, it’s the law — the higher law that we the people have imposed on federal officials, including the president, the Pentagon, the CIA, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When these people enact laws against us, such as drug laws, they expect us to obey them even if we disagree with their legitimacy. By the same token, we expect them to obey the laws that we impose on them, as represented by the Constitution.

Is it really beyond reasonable possibility that some other groups around the world would take a page out of the Pentagon’s handbook and implement their own modified version of Operation Northwoods?

Two, going to Congress to seek a declaration of war against Syria would require Trump and his national-security state people to provide evidence and justification for going to war against Syria.

No one really knows whether the Syrian regime actually initiated the attack. So far, all we have are the pronouncements and accusations, none of which constitute evidence. It might well be the Syrian regime that conducted the attacks, but, by the same token, it might well be someone else. One might reply, “But, Jacob, who else could it be?” It could be anyone who would like to make it seem like the Syrian regime is guilty, including people who would like to destroy the friendly relationship that exists between the Trump administration and Russia.

Read more: Syria: Will Russia kneel in front of Washington?

The US and a series of making-things-up

Recall Operation Northwoods. It was a top-secret Pentagon plan that called for terrorist attacks and airplane hijackings to be carried out by secret agents of the US national security state. The attacks would be made to look as though they were carried out by communists from Cuba. Under the plan, the president, who was John Kennedy, would then formally blame Fidel Castro and Cuba for the attacks, thereby providing a false and fraudulent pretext for invading Cuba and effecting regime change there.
(To his everlasting credit, Kennedy rejected the plan.)

Assad isn’t the only brutal dictator the CIA has partnered with over the years. The Shah of Iran and Gen. Pinochet come to mind.

Is it really beyond reasonable possibility that some other groups around the world would take a page out of the Pentagon’s handbook and implement their own modified version of Operation Northwoods? What better way to provide a justification for a US bombing attack on Syria, which would be certain to damage US-Russia relations than a supposed chemical attack carried out by the Syrian regime?

As an aside, it’s somewhat ironic that US interventionists are celebrating the 100th anniversary of World War I because that was the war in which the British government knowingly and deliberately used false and fraudulent propaganda as a way to get the United States embroiled in the war. For example, they put out stories that Germans were impaling Belgium babies, knowing full well that they were making it up but also knowing full well the impact it would have in inducing America to get involved in the war. Of course, by the time Americans discovered that they had been deceived, the war was over. That’s one of the many reasons they so fervently opposed getting embroiled in World War II.

Read more: The US’s top 10 Lies About Syria

What we all need to realize is that Trump’s attack on Syria means that the United States is now at war with Syria, just as the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor meant, as a practical matter, that the United States was, at that point, at war with Japan.

Even if Syria did carry out the attack as part of its attempt to suppress a revolution in that country, what business is that of the United States? That is, who appointed the US government the policeman of the world? Thus, even if Trump had followed the law and secured a congressional declaration of war, that still wouldn’t make his war legitimate given that the US government has no legitimate business going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

Trump said that he was only doing it for the Syrian children and other victims of the chemical attack. Really?

Aren’t these the same children, along with their parents, who he won’t permit to freely come to the United States as war refugees? Isn’t this the same president who doesn’t give a hoot about American children of illegal immigrants whose parents he is deporting?

Pinochet, Saddam, and now Assad

Let’s not forget some inconvenient truths about the US national-security establishment in all this.

Read more: The US fires Missiles at Syria in escalation of hostilities

One, the CIA partnered with Syria’s president Assad in the torture of Canadian citizens Mahar Arar. We still don’t know how the partnership got established and what its exact terms were because the mainstream press has never pressed the CIA for an answer. But there is no question but that the CIA did partner with this brutal dictator whose nation they are now bombing because he is a brutal dictator.

Two, Assad isn’t the only brutal dictator the CIA has partnered with over the years. The Shah of Iran and Gen. Pinochet come to mind. Indeed, today the United States is partnering and reinforcing the dictatorships of Egypt and Bahrain. Also, let’s not forget the infamous Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein himself. I’ll bet that many Americans have forgotten that the US government partnered with him and even provided him with chemical weapons that he could use against the Iranian people.

Even if Trump had followed the law and secured a congressional declaration of war, that still wouldn’t make his war legitimate given that the US government has no legitimate business going abroad in search of monsters to destroy.

I wonder if the US position on Assad’s supposed use of WMD would change if Assad were to say that the reason he used them was to bring a quick end to the war and to save the lives of Syrian soldiers. Why might that change the perspective of US officials? Because that is the answer they still give to justify the US use of WMDs on children, seniors, and women at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The US attack is the start of a war

What we all need to realize is that Trump’s attack on Syria means that the United States is now at war with Syria, just as the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor meant, as a practical matter, that the United States was, at that point, at war with Japan. While the national-security establishment under President Obama was attacking targets within Syria, Obama could claim that he wasn’t really attacking Syria but rather ISIS. Trump’s attack is different. It is a direct attack on Syria itself.

Read more: What would a US-imposed constitution on Syria look like?

That means, of course, that Syria might well strike back. We don’t know when and we don’t know how. But it is the nature of war for combatant nations to attack and counterattack. If and when the counterattack comes, you can bet your bottom dollar that Trump is going to say the same thing that his predecessors have said — that they just hate us for our “freedom and values” and that the counterattack has nothing to do with the fact that Trump, like Bush and Obama, has initiated a war with another sovereign and independent nation.

What Americans need to realize is that the fundamental problem facing our country is not Donald Trump. Instead, it is a structural problem — one involving the Cold War era structure of the US government — and a philosophical problem — one involving the entire concept of foreign empire and foreign interventionism. As long as the American people continue to keep the federal government as a national-security state, one whose mission includes imperialism and foreign interventionism, America will continue traveling down the road to bankruptcy, moral debauchery, hypocrisy, death, and destruction of liberty and privacy here at home. There is but one solution to all this: the restoration of a constitutional republic to our land and the complete rejection of empire and foreign intervention.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. This article was first published in The Future of Freedom Foundation and is republished here with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

John Kerry blames Britain for derailing Obama’s plan for intervention in Syria

The US secretary of state made the link explicit between British parliament’s vote against air strikes and Obama’s failure to enforce his ‘red line’. Barack Obama’s plan for military intervention in Syria was abruptly derailed by David Cameron and British members of parliament, US secretary of state John Kerry claimed on Thursday.

The American president said he would bomb the Syrian regime if it used chemical weapons but he did not follow through on his promise. The failure to enforce his stated “red line” after President Bashar al-Assad used sarin gas in a Damascus suburb in August 2013 is seen by some as the worst stain on Obama’s legacy. The British parliament’s vote against air strikes has long been cited by Obama and others as a causal factor but Kerry made the link explicit just a week after a diplomatic spat with the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Theresa May, over a United Nations resolution that condemned Israel.

To access the complete article, please use this link: The Guardian