Friday, May 30, 2014

Everything Is Moving Along Nicely, Now...

"The reconciliation is telling the world, 'We don't need your mediation, we can do it ourselves'. And with the elections, Assad is saying there's no need for a transitional governing body."
Murhaf Jouejati, professor Middle East studies, National Defense University, Washington

"We tell them, 'We die, our children die', but what about our grandchildren? Should their fate be the same?"
"Let's solve the crisis ourselves [acting] in accordance with directives from the president."
Sheikh Jabir Issa

Thousands of Syrian nationals living in Lebanon arrive outside the Syrian Embassy in Yarze east of Beirut on May 28, 2014, before voting in the upcoming presidential elections in Syria. (JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
It helps to have influential friends. And in the Middle East, Russia is now an influential friend to Iran and to Syria, and Iran's proxy militia, Hezbollah.  It is Russian arms that have so munificently aided the cause of the regime against the Free Syrian Army. Now that the regime has the upper hand, thanks to the sacrifice of Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon, the United States has finally decided to train and arm the Syrian rebels.

Which has not yet resulted in any measure of success for the rebels. Rather, when Russia intervened on behalf of Syria, to forestall American intrusion in the civil war, relating to the use of chemical weapons, President Putin, skilfully guided President Obama in a diplomatic putsch, toward the demand of stripping Syria's government of its chemical arsenal, deftly defusing the threat of American interference in the carnage.

Rose Gottemoeller, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security now states there are unresolved "omissions" in Syria's declaration of its chemical stockpile. Isn't that a surprise. The influence of Iran, a master at subterfuge and obfuscation under the guise of meek acceptance of orders from the international community has taught Bashar al-Assad the fine points of manipulation.

Now his government has designed 'truces' through a network of committees that persuade village elders, mosque clerics or clan members to persuade their Sunni Syrian rebels to surrender. Which the opposition interprets as residents of towns and villages are first forced to surrender their arms under pressure of starvation and the destruction of intense bombardment.

In the process of putting down an insurrection, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has outdone his father before him.  Hafez al-Assad, who destroyed only one town and many of its inhabitants in a deadly gas attack, would be so pleased at the alacrity with which his son took up his post as President, taking his lessons well learned to destroy much of the country's infrastructure, wiping out whole neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools and airports.

Depriving a generation of children of security and an education. But launching an election to give himself an aura of 'legitimacy' where a limited proportion of the country's residents will be free to vote in the midst of a "complex affair, incorporating overlapping political, religious, sectarian, ethnic and tribal narratives", in the words of Charles Lister, visiting fellow at the Brookings Institutions's Doha Center.

The vote will be "farcical", spits out Ahmad al-Jarba, president of the Syrian National Coalition. President Assad's plan to hold an election to restore himself to the people's favour as their sole choice for president represents "a black comedy". Noura Al Ameer, Mr. al-Jarba's deputy, speaks of the regime's cutting off food supplies to force surrender.

Assad uses "the loaf of bread as a means of pressure to achieve military and political goals", she stated. Rebels are given safe passage; surrender to the government or join local pro-Assad defense groups, leading the army to halt its offensive against that particular area. Which was what occurred in Homs earlier this month, leading to the evacuation of fighters, with the government reclaiming territory held by the rebels.

As for the chemicals? 100 tonnes are held at a storage facility near Damascus. The OPCW claims the chemicals have been packed in preparation for transport to the port of Latakia. Syrian authorities say it is not safe to move them. American authorities claim it will take 60 days for the Cape Ray, an American ship designed to neutralize all the chemicals, to complete its work. Which it has not yet begun.

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