Voltaire Network

Disruption of US interests in the Levant

While the war against Syria was decided in 2001 to break the "Axis of Resistance" to get its hands on gas reserves and reshape the "Broader Middle East", Washington’s priorities have been disrupted. The new goal is to stop the terrorist contagion fueled by all the states involved and which none are able to control. The military-industrial complex, the notables of Washington and the mainstream media now hope for the victory of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

| Damascus (Syria)
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While two days of consultations were recently held in Moscow, under the chairmanship of Sergei Lavrov, between the Syrian government and 32 leaders of the opposition, almost everyone in Washington wishes for a victory of Bashar al-Assad. Only parties that support the principle of the fight against the jihadists will be able to participate in the future government of national unity.

The situation in the Levant is likely to evolve quickly on the one hand due to the crisis of authority in Washington and partly because of the accession of Prince Salman to the Saudi throne. This could be facilitated by political change in Israel.

First, the crisis of authority that paralyzes the US continues to mobilize the ruling class. After the call from the honorary chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) for President Obama to surround himself with experienced personalities from both sides [1], the New York Times published an editorial [2] devoted to a report published in October by the Rand Corporation [3].

The main think tank dedicated to military matters has made a 180 ° turnaround in one year. According to it, the victory of the Syrian Arab Republic is now "the most desirable option" for the US, while its fall would be "the worst of outcomes." Armed groups have lost support among the urban population, the defections have stopped for over a year and the Syrian army continues its liberation. Moreover, Rand continues, a Syrian victory will not benefit Iran as long as Daesh remains present in Iraq. The institute predicts that states that have so far supplied the jihadists will stop doing so. Indeed, they cannot hope to defeat Syria in this way and now fear that the jihadists will turn against them. Therefore, concluded the Rand, there will be no negotiated solution with the sponsor states, but a clear victory of the "regime" to which the United States should be associated.

One can observe the radical change of position on the part of the military-industrial complex. A year ago, the Rand advocated bombing Syria like Libya, and conducting limited action on the ground by creating protected areas administered by the "revolutionaries". Today, it implicitly admits that there has never been a revolution in Syria and, after a long moment of hesitation on its future, the Sunni majority again supports the secular Republic.

The atmosphere in Washington today resembles that of early 2006, when the Army was bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq and Donald Rumsfeld was trying to hide the defeat. At the time, Congress created the Baker-Hamilton Commission. This, after eight months of work, concluded that US forces would not be able to stabilize the countries they occupied without the help of Iran and Syria. The picture of the military situation was so scary that the Americans sanctioned George W. Bush in the midterm elections. The President then sacrificed Rumsfeld and replaced him with a member of the Commission, Robert Gates. The new Secretary of Defense concluded field agreements with Tehran and Damascus, bought the main groups of the Iraqi Resistance (the carrot) and increased the number of troops there (the stick) to stabilize the situation.

Secondly, in Arabia, the new king Salman first tried to sack all former supporters of his predecessor, even going as far as to dismiss Prince Miteb and the Secretary General of the palace two hours after the death of King Abdullah. Then he retracted his decisions after receiving the condolences of his US sovereign. Ultimately, Miteb will be the only survivor of the previous era, while Prince Bandar was fired. But Bandar maintained Daesh with the help of the CIA, in order to put pressure on King Abdullah in the interest of the Saudi clan.

His ouster, demanded by President Obama, probably marks the end of Saudi predominance in international terrorism. This time -the fourth, should be right one:
- In 2010, the prince had been banned for trying to organize a coup, but was returned for war against Syria;
- In 2012, he had been the victim of an attack in retaliation for the killing of members of the Syrian National Security Council, but he was back to business a year later, weak and obsessive;
- In 2014, John Kerry again demanded his dismissal, but he returned stage center for the Egyptian crisis;
- He has just been sacrificed by his own clan which leaves him no prospect of return in the short or medium term.

Third, the Israeli attack on Hezbollah followed by the response of Hezbollah against Israel paradoxically highlights the weakness of Benjamin Netanyahu in an election period. The outgoing Prime Minister hoped that the Lebanese resistance would be unable to respond to the attack and that he would come out fresh from the confrontation. His miscalculation could cost him his job, to the delight of the White House which has long ceased concealing its exasperation at his fanaticism.

From developments in Washington, in Riyadh and perhaps soon in Tel Aviv, it is reasonable to conclude that in the coming months, the US will focus its efforts to exclude Daesh from the Levant and throw it out of its area influence against Russia and China. For its part, Saudi Arabia should try both to save its authority in neighboring Bahrain and Yemen, while providing assistance to the big loser in the war against Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whom the US has decided to drop. This development will be shorter or longer depending on the election results in Tel Aviv. While the jihadists have become a threat to the stability of all states in the Levant, including Israel, Netanyahu could continue to put his aviation and hospitals at their service. But it is hard to imagine that he would persist when all other states in the region fight them. On the contrary, if the Prime Minister lost the election, his successor would immediately lend a hand to the United States against the jihadists.

Once again, Damascus, the oldest inhabited city in the world, will have survived the barbarians who wanted to destroy it.

Roger Lagassé

[1] “Washington is in Revolt Against Obama”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Roger Lagassé, Voltaire Network, 26 January 2015.

[2] “Shifting Realities in Syria”, The Editorial Board, The New York Times Sunday Review, 24 janvier 2015.

[3] Alternative Futures for Syria. Regional Implications and Challenges for the United States, Andrew M. Liepman, Brian Nichiporuk, Jason Killmeyer, Rand Corporation, October 22, 2014.

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