By rahnuma ahmed
The last two months plus flashed by as I burned the midnight oil, working on three manuscripts, intended for Boi Mela 2012. While it is true that I’ve accomplished a lot, there are still chunks left that need to be done, which means they will not make it to the book fair. But hey, no regrets. Viewing the book fair as a goal post helped spur my work, but the Mela is not a train one needs to catch, not at the cost of the quality of the product. Printing mistakes, atrocious ones in the case of Oitijjo’s publication of Rabindranath’s works this year, have created a heightened sense of awareness about the quality of the books published. I watched Shamsuzzaman Khan, director-general of Bangla Academy, and Sanjida Khatun, torch-bearer of Tagore, caution publishers on TV news to not reduce the national book fair into a mindless race of touching the February goal post.
No regrets about not making it to the book fair, true, but I missed writing my columns. Sorely. Out of touch with the world, one where western leaders and their Gulf monarchical collaborators attempt to implement their plans of a ‘New Middle-East’ map, instead of the older, ‘Greater Middle East’ (The Unfolding Crisis in Pakistan-III. “New Imperial Cartographies. Destroying and Re-creating National Boundaries,” New Age, May 18, 2009).
The term was introduced by the US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in a Tel Aviv press conference in July 2006, “[w]hat we’re seeing here [in regards to the destruction of Lebanon and the Israeli attacks on Lebanon], in a sense, is the growing—the ‘birth pangs’—of a ‘New Middle East’ and whatever we do we [meaning the United States] have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the New Middle East [and] not going back to the old one.” (full citation, with the additions in square brackets, from Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”, Global Research, November 18, 2006).
“Creative destruction”, in the words of neo-conservative philosopher and Bush adviser Michael Ledeen, is “an awesome revolutionary force.” And, as Nazemroaya elaborates, it “generates conditions of violence and warfare throughout the region” — extending from “Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan,” and, might I add, drone-attacked Pakistan — so that the United States, Britain and Israel can redraw the map of the Middle East, to further their “geo-strategic needs and objectives.”
American-Israeli plans for rolling back Syria (i.e., US Cold War strategy of forcing change in the major policies of a state, usually by replacing its ruling regime) was outlined by Pentagon hawk Richard Perle — who was dubbed a “traitor” by Seymour Hersh, American investigative journalist widely-respected for his truth-telling — in A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (1996), prepared for Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu. “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli objective in its own right.” (Stephen Lendman, US Intervention in Syria, April 30, 2011).
The plan to roll back Syria unfolds before us as the year-long popular uprising against president Bashar al-Assad’s autocratic and dynastic rule, countered by a brutal crackdown, is fuelled, manipulated and orchestrated towards realising NATO’s “geo-strategic needs and objectives.”
Syria is crucial because the road to Tehran goes through Damascus.
The end of the Assad regime, says Obama’s National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, “would constitute Iran’s greatest setback in the region yet” since Iran is “basically down to just two principal remaining allies — the Assad clique in Libya and Hezbollah.” (Obama aide: End of Assad regime will serve severe blow to Iran, Haaretz, November 22, 2011).
Western rulers selectively pick and name their Muslim enemies — on occasions, “Islamo-fascists,” on others, “(secular) dictators” (Gaddafi, Assad) — as they, to quote Nazemoroaya, “create an arc of instability, chaos and violence” in the Middle East to further their own megalomaniacal ends. Not those of common people, neither in their own nations — whose people are gradually ridding themselves of the wool pulled over their eyes, realising that their nations are not democratically governed, but ruled by corporate fascists, the global 1% — nor in those belonging to the south.
Besides US and Israeli involvement, writes Nazemroaya, Syrian protestors are being armed and funded by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states via Jordan and Saad Hariri in Lebanon. More details are available from Asia Times Online‘s Pepe Escobar, who cites an International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) report by a Qatar-based researcher, which indicates that the self-described Free Syria Army is “basically a bunch of hardcore Islamists, plus a few genuine army defectors, but mostly radicalized Muslim Brotherhood bought, paid for and weaponized by the US, Israel, the Gulf monarchies and Turkey.” Escobar points out sarcastically, “There’s nothing “pro-democracy” about this lot — as incessantly sold by Western corporate and Saudi-owned media.” (That Rocky Road to Damascus, November 23, 2011).
And what about the Syrian National Council? It is based in Washington and London, “sprinkled with the usual dodgy exiles, its program calls for governing Syria alongside the same military that has been — a la the Egyptian military junta — shooting civilian protestors.” Dodgy exile? Remember, Ahmad Chalabi, who led the foremost Iraqi opposition movement, the US-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC), who was funded first by the CIA, then by the State Department, and finally by the Defense Department? American support for groups opposed to the Assad government were confirmed by WikiLeaks last year: the US State Department, through its Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), “secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel (London-based Barada TV) that beams anti-government programming into the country.” (Lendman).
This year’s “model” dictator for the drums-of-war beating Western media, writes Escobar, is, after Libya’s Gaddafi, Syria’s Assad. Of course there are good dictators and there are bad dictators, the good ones are those who are US allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain etc. etc., the bad ones are snuffed out, like Saddam. Like Gaddafi. Like Assad. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he says, has reason to dislike them, he says, for they are secular.
The GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), which Escobar calls the “Gulf Counter-Revolution Club,” is now symbiotically united with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation). Diplomats in Brussels confirmed to Asia Times Online that NATOGCC “operatives have set up a command centre in Iskendurun” (Turkey), close to the Turkish-Syrian border, close to Aleppo (Syria). While the cover story for this command centre is to engineer “humanitarian corridors” to Syria, the “humanitarians” come from the US, Canada and France (NATO members) and Saudia Arabia, Qatar and UAE (GCC members). They consist of “ground, naval, air forces and engineering specialists” whose mission is to “infiltrate northern Syria.” According to reports in Le Canard Enchaine (French), daily Milliyet (Turkish), commandos from French intelligence and the British MI6 are training the Free Syria Army in “urban guerrilla techniques in Hatay in Southern Turkey and in Tripoli, in northern Lebanon.” Meanwhile, Libya’s Transitional National Council chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a NATO stooge, has contributed to the Free Syrian Army 600 troops “fresh from toppling the Gaddafi regime.”
The GCC created an Arab League group to monitor what is happening in Syria; the Arab States Observer Mission to Syria (December 24, 2011 to January 18, 2012), comprising civilian and military experts, and human rights activists from 13 Arab countries, and 6 relevant organisations, submitted its report after a month. But because what it reported did not accord with the GCC line, it was ignored by the Western corporate media, and mercilessly destroyed by the House of Saud/Qatar financed Arab media. It was not translated from Arabic into English, and not published on the Arab League’s website. Not until it was leaked.
The report condemned violence by both sides but stressed that much of the violence has been perpetrated by rebels against government forces. It noted the presence of “an armed entity that is not mentioned in the Protocol”, one which in some zones, “has reacted by attacking Syrian security forces and citizens, causing the Government to respond with further violence.” It also said, some of the recent attacks — “bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines” — have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups. Sections of the media, it said, had greatly exaggerated the amount of violence; its field teams had gone “to locations [only to find that reported explosions or violence] were unfounded.” The Mission itself, it noted, had been the “target of a vicious media campaign,” these “contrived reports” had undermined the Missions work. However, most importantly, it said, Syrians “believe the crisis should be resolved peacefully through Arab mediation alone, without international intervention.”
Russia and China’s veto of the recent UN Security Council resolution calling for Bashar al-Assad to step down, the second since last October, on the grounds that it will undermine the opportunity for political setlement (Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin), that it will put undue pressure on the Syrian government and will not help resolve the Syrian issue (Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong), was met with fury by Western diplomats. US ambassador Susan Rice expressed her “disgust,” at the “intransigence,” made “even more shameful when you consider that at least one of these members continues to deliver weapons to (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad).” The British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said he was “appalled,” and asked “how many more deaths they will be prepared to tolerate.” The French Ambassador Gerard Araud too, made the right noises, “History will judge harshly those who… have without scruple aligned themselves with a regime which is massacring its people.”
What for Western war-mongering leaders, and their GCC pets, is “creative destruction,”for Syrians is, as the Mission report noted, “pay[ing] the price for those actions with life and limb.”
Truly disgusting. Shameful. Appalling. Unscrupulous.