By Ardeshir Ommani
The Syrian armed opposition is not independent from the United States and reactionary Arab regimes in its objective to capture power, not through the ballot box by imposing a civil war. The degree of its dependency and servitude manifests itself when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unambiguously called on "friends of democratic Syria" to unite and rally against President Bashar Assad. This proclamation was ushered the day after the US sponsored authorization for military intervention into Syria was rejected by China and Russia, who were forced to veto the US plan for invasion of Syria.
In the continuation of her command, Clinton reiterated that the "international community", just like George W Bush's "coalition of the willing" had a duty to promote a political transition that would see President Bashar al-Assad step down.
Clinton gave her directive to the whole world while visiting Bulgaria, one of the 10 poorest countries of Europe, with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of less than US$53 billion in 2010, the Per Capita Income of $13,449 and the General government gross debt as high as 19.7% of the country's GDP. The purpose of interposing Bulgaria's poor economic conditions is not to denigrate the country or its people, but to show that US Imperialism with its plans of domination, destruction and plunder uses even the most poverty-stricken nations to turn against other struggling countries such as Syria, Iran and not too long ago Libya to accomplish its criminal purpose. Following in the footsteps of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Company just before the invasion of Iraq, Clinton lashed out at Russia and China as a stepping stone to declare "faced with a neutered Security Council we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with our allies and partners…."
I think we have seen this movie before. The first character that appears on the stage is a spokesman for the Arab League (AL). It makes no difference whether he is elected or appointed by the Saudi Arabian King and Prime Minister and more importantly he has received Hillary Clinton's or General David H. Petraeus, the Director of the CIA's blessings. Following his assignment, the Arab League emissary who has been ushered to the UN General Assembly room by Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the United Nations, pleads for establishing a "no fly zone" to save the lives of the innocent Syrians for God's sake!
If there is no contest to the resolution well-prepared by the US government, then Washington gets to work and with the help of the coalition of the willing, permission in hand, begins the bombarding of Syrian logistics, every kind of arms depot, the electrical grids, the factories, food depots, water reservoirs, city sewer systems and schools and hospitals. Does this scenario have precedence? Yes, about six months after extracting the license to impose a "no fly zone" over Libya, the Western powers with carpet bombings flattened that country, liberated the country's light sweet crude oil and succeeded to install one of the senior ENI SpA executives (Italy's major oil company) as Libya's oil minister and in two months the Western oil companies were sucking out 1.3 million barrels a day.
This time the job of preparing the draft resolution was given to the Moroccan representative to the UN who was on a fast track. The plan demanded the Syrian government withdraw all of its armed forces from all populated areas back to its barracks. However, it ignored Russia's demand that the Syrian opposition distance itself from extremist groups that commit violence and crimes against civilians. The second Russian demand that was totally ignored was that 'armed groups must stop attacks against state institutions and the public while the Syrian armed forces are leaving the cities.' The refusal to include these provisions into the draft resolution meant only one thing: dissolution of the Syrian state and a total "regime change".
Instead of being apologetic, the co-authors of the draft began slamming the integrity of the Russian government. For instance, Morocco's representative charged the Russian government with ignoring the "Arab's common stances". France's delegate went as far as calling Russia and China accomplices in crimes committed by the Syrian regime. For Russia and China who had seen the terrible consequences in Libya, there was only one alternative and that was vetoing the resolution.
This time around, in the case of Syria, China and Russia had learned their bitter lesson and resisted being fooled for a second time. But the US and its allies had stacked the cards in favor of passing the resolution and doing unto Syria what they did to Libya. More telling, the US did not accept any alteration in the resolution, which forced China and Russia to veto the motion and defeat it.
As far back as in November 2011, NATO in collaboration with the pro-imperialist and reactionary Arab Sheiks of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey were planning to invade Syria, set up a colonial regime and overthrow a social democratic secular government. According to an article on Al Bawaba, an Arabic/English internet site, Senior European sources revealed that Arab jet fighters and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistical support would impose a no-fly zone in Syria's sky after the Arab League issues a decision calling for armed intervention. The sources told Kuwait's al Rai daily that the Syrian trucks, tanks and military vehicles would not be excluded from the targets of the invading jets.
The fates of Libya and Syria could not be more similar. While deep in economic crisis, the US and Europe are looking to regenerate capitalism through widespread war with the developing countries before being ready for war in many forms....hard and soft....with Russia and China......
By Kaveh L Afrasiabi
PALO ALTO - At last week's Munich Security Conference, there was a conspicuous absence of any meaningful discussion of the "Iran crisis" threatening global peace and security.
This was not surprising since the Europeans have moved in lockstep with the United States on Iran despite a US reorientation of its defense policy towards Asia and the Pacific at the expense of Europe.
In early January, US President Barack Obama unveiled a new US defense strategy that reflected a continuing US commitment to maintaining global military superiority while addressing the need for bringing a decade of military over-expansion to a halt.
In light of Pentagon budget cuts and rising US domestic needs, the US requires greater "burden sharing" between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, former US Defense Secretary Gates said at last year's Munich conference. His successor, Leon Panetta, sounded more upbeat at this year's conference , predicating that the Afghan conflict would soon end.
Neither Panetta nor any other Western speaker gave more than cursory attention to Iran and the danger signs in Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz. The conference devoted much attention to Syria, but not Bahrain, another flash point of mass rebellion and insecurity in the Arab world. Many speakers took aim at Russia for its unapologetic support of the embattled Baathist regime in Damascus.
It seems that in Europe, ad hoc policy such as France and England's naval bandwagoning with the American armada in the Persian Gulf has replaced rational defense strategies that could entertain an Iranian-European security debate and even cooperation.
Given Europe's proximity to Iran compared to the US and shared interests with Tehran, there ought to be an enlightened Iran-European security dialogue unaffected by Israeli and American intrusions.
Because of their economic interdependence, Iran and the European countries have the potential to lay down the elements of a broad security agreement that is mutually rewarding, such as a non-intervention pact. That would instantly take care of European anxieties about Iran's missile threat, the threat of terrorism, and the like, as well as Tehran's worries that Europe is conspiring with Washington and Tel Aviv for regime change in Iran.
Europe is increasingly a mirror of interventionist and hawkish US policy toward Iran, despite the threats to Europe's security, especially energy security, in light of EU's recent decision to impose an oil embargo on Iran within a few months.
Had the participants at the Munich security conference  paid serious attention to the issue of energy security, then they would have been compelled to debate the impact of the Western approach on the stability of world oil market, upon which the fate of global economic recovery rests.
"The Europeans have joined the Americans in declaring an economic war on Iran and are refusing to see the light of reality, which is that this is not an alternative to war but a prelude to it," said a Tehran University political science professor who spoke with the author on the condition of anonymity.
"The costs to Europe of a blind obedience to the United States on Iran are on the rise and may soon become prohibitively too high if the Europeans are not careful," added the Tehran professor, who has published widely on the subject of Iran's relations with Europe and wishes to see a genuine "European Union-Iran dialogue" apart from the "five plus one" talks that include US, Russia, and China, on the subject of the nuclear standoff.
In the past, there were several rounds of such dialogue on economic, human rights, and other issues, but these have stalled in the wake of the continent's concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions. In deferring to US for leadership on the Iran issue, a whole range of diplomatic possibilities have been ignored, which is neither in Europe's nor Iran's interests.
China is likely the biggest beneficiary of a crisis that has diverted US military attention from other "priority areas". A US-Iran war would drain the US economy, and this too would benefit Beijing in some significant respects, heralding a declining Western superpower overstretching itself that paves the way to future superpowers.
Europe stands to gain little from its current approach toward Iran. Only through real debate can Europe open new horizons in terms of security cooperation.
1. See here for Panetta's speech.
2. Link to the Munich conference.