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NATO suspends military plans to wage all-out economic war against Syria

Having applied, until now, the humanitarian military intervention model already tested in Yugoslavia and more recently in Libya, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is forced to rewrite its script for Syria. It will now adopt the same strategy that was used in Iraq: To besiege the country, in defiance of the population, and weaken it sufficiently for the next assault.

| Damascus (Syria)
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Saban Forum in Washington, 3 December 2011.

NATO is currently reviewing its strategy for Syria. After eight months of low intensity war and despite the infiltration of many Arab and Pashtun fighters, Syrian society has not fractured. To be sure, some religious clashes took place in Deraa, Homs and Banias, but they were not widespread and were short lived. For the Alliance, it is no longer realistic to think that it can rapidly foment a civil war to justify an "international humanitarian operation."

This realization comes at a time when the ad hoc military coalition is in the throes of a crisis. During the war against Libya, the initiative had been spearheaded by France and the UK. However, the two European heavyweights proved they were incapable of mobilizing the necessary resources. In fact, three quarters of the war effort was provided or funded by the Pentagon. Above all, the deployment of inadequate devices could have wrought disaster had Libya decided to attack NATO’s ships and helicopters [1]. The problem is much worse in the case of Syria, which boasts a population four times larger than that of Libya, and an army seasoned by previous regional conflicts.

It was therefore decided to strengthen the Franco-British duo by bringing in Germany. A tripartite agreement was to be negotiated on December 2 to mark, albeit belatedly, the anniversary of the Lancaster House Treaty [2] which laid down the organizational framework for the joint British and French expeditionary forces and sealed the fate of Libya [3]. However, the event was canceled. In the middle of the Western economic crisis, Berlin is loath to underwrite war expenses without a guaranteed return on its investment.

Germany’s budgetary rationality has shattered the epic dreams of the US-Israeli military-industrial complex. The departure of Robert Gates and the rise of Hillary Clinton have signaled the revival of the project for the "remodeling of the Greater Middle East" and its extension to North Africa. However, this doctrine - which stems from the imperial ideology of Leo Strauss - reeks of a perpetual headlong rush, the war having no other aim than itself. It may be ideal for the war economy of the United States, but it hardly suits Germany’s peace-based economy.

The plan of a conventional war against Syria raises many economic issues. No European nation would have anything to gain either in the short or medium term, while many are likely to lose a few feathers. In the case of Libya, whereas British and French businessmen were swift to cash in on their dividends by renegotiating the oil concessions to their advantage, the Turks and the Italians were left holding the bag, losing nearly all their markets in the former colony.

Pending the creation of an ad hoc military coalition, NATO has temporarily turned to the economic war scenario. It intends to besiege Syria by cutting it off from all import-export trade, and sabotaging its means of production. Behind the moralistic label of "sanctions," the Alliance member states and their Arab League vassals have already imposed a bank freeze that prohibits commodity trading. They are currently concentrating on shutting down lines of communication, including airlines, and the pull out of multinational companies, mainly oil companies. Thus, following in the footsteps of Shell and Total, Petro-Canada is on its way out, closing behind it the plant that supplies electricity to the city of Homs.

In particular, the first major act of sabotage was perpetrated against the pipeline supplying the same power plant, to make sure it could not operate once the Canadian engineers had gone. This terrorist act was claimed by the Syrian Free Army, although it is not possible to verify who was really behind it: military felons, Al Qaeda mercenaries or NATO commandos.

With the exception of fuel and electricity, no shortage has so far been reported in Syria. To mitigate the impact of the siege, Damascus is busy establishing new exchanges with Beijing. Because of the bank embargo, they have to be conducted on a barter basis, as China is already doing with Iran. This system should allow Syria to save its economy, apart from the tourist industry which has already been severely affected over the long term.

At any rate, the siege of Syria has already claimed many economic victims in Turkey, whose cancellation of the free trade agreement with Syria and the introduction of prohibitive tariffs have devastated the border regions. And although the Syrians are prepared to endure deprivations to save their country, the Turks are not willing to suffer the same fate on behalf of NATO’s ambitions.

In addition, this strategic reorientation has placed the Syrian National Council in an awkward position. Those political figures who endorsed a form of nonviolent action inspired by Gene Sharp’s orange revolutions [4] are now forced to subscribe to acts which have been claimed by members of the Syrian Free Army. The conflict is all the more acute considering that both groups are based in Istanbul and expected to work side by side.

The suspension of the international military intervention plan was confirmed by the return to Damascus of the US, French and German Ambassadors. It imposes a change in the media campaign. Already, the Anglo-American media have dropped references to the most outrageous and less credible accusations leveled against Bashar al-Assad, such as the allegation concerning the torture of children. The State Department itself no longer describes the Syrian President as a monster, but as a man "out of touch with reality" (sic) " [5]. His case, therefore, no longer requires an urgent treatment. Moreover, the revelations made by several journalists about the situation in Syrian, belying the image conveyed by Western propaganda for the past eight months [6], calls for an indispensable lull.

[1] "Accidental Heroes. Britain, France and the Libya Operation," by Michael Clarke, Malcolm Chalmers, Jonathan Eyal, Shashank Joshi, Mark Phillips, Elizabeth Quintana and Lee Willett, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Octtobeer 2011, 13 p, 1,4 Mo.

[2] "Déclaration franco-britannique sur la coopération de défense et de sécurité », Réseau Voltaire, 2 November 2010.

[3] “’Operation Odyssey Dawn’ breaking for Washington”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 20 March 2011.

[4] "The Albert Einstein Institution: non-violence according to the CIA”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 4 January 2005.

[5] Daily Press Briefing," U.S. Department of State, 6 December 2011.

[6] "Запад и ближневосточные монархии жаждут сожрать Сирию," by Thierry Meyssan, Komsomolskaia Pravda, 29 November 2011.

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry Meyssan French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

 
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