Prospect of a massive war grips the Middle East

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The developments of the past few days in the Middle East, especially in Syria, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have triggered an atmosphere of fear concerning a conflict that may involve the entire region.

In the past day, Turkey has already pursued Kurdish militants inside Syria using heavy artillery against targets south of its border with Syria. The Syrian government and Turkish military have confirmed that targets have been hit in Hatay Province, Aleppo Province, Idlis Province, and Latakia Province inside Syria.

Damascus has already sent a letter of complaint to the United Nations, where it described the attacks as an assault on Syrian government forces. It called for the UN to “take responsibility for international peace and security by putting an end to the crimes committed by the Turkish regime.” It also added that Ankara’s offensive is “an attempt to increase the morale of armed terrorist groupings, who are being defeated (by the Syrian Arab Army).”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has started to mass its troops near Syria as part of a military ‘exercise’, announcing it as the “largest and most important” in the region’s history. Over the weekend, Riyadh also announced its commitment to oust the Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS) threat out of Syria thus justifying its planned military drills, which as of press time, will commence in a few hours.

Riyadh’s and Ankara’s military escalation an act of desperation

Although far from being implemented, last week’s talks of a cessation in hostilities in Syria as discussed by major world powers in Munich have been received rather negatively by the Saudis and Turkish government. For one, both countries fear that a cease fire agreement might benefit Bashar Al Assad, Syria’s legitimate president, to stay in power and put to waste their 5-year effort of supporting the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels fighting the Syrian government.

Syria’s government described the Turkish attack on Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and stronghold of different terrorist groups including Islamic State, as retaliation for the advances made by the Syrian military against rebel groups fighting Assad’s regime. The Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted that the artillery firing was in response to Kurdish insurgency crossing into Turkey’s border with Syria. Contrary to this claim, it has been revealed that Turkey’s interest in Syria has been the supply of illegal oil being shipped from IS to refineries in Turkey – an operation which was stopped by the Russian air campaign against Islamic State.

Escalation will lead to total war in the region

The Turks and Saudis possible ground offensive in Syria will have unimaginable consequences for the region. At present, the conflict in Syria already involves all major rebel and terror groups in the region, including the likes of Al Qaeda, Al-Nusrah Front, and Islamic State. The United States and Russia are involved in ‘fighting’ IS, but both having a different outcome in mind for Syria’s future. NATO forces are also involved in the military operations, as provided by the UK, France, and now Turkey.

Experts and commentators alike have described the Syrian Civil War as a “proto-world war with nearly a dozen countries embroiled in two overlapping conflicts.” In the latest Munich Security Report, it has been stated that “for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the escalation of violence between major powers cannot be dismissed as an unrealistic nightmare.”

Russia is aiming to maintain a transitional government that includes the present leadership of Syria, a prospect opposed by the United States, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies. Syria’s main ally in the region, Iran, also supports Moscow’s position. Iraq and Lebanon also shares a Syria that still involves Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

The government of Turkey, which authorized the downing of Russian bomber jet back in November 2015, is currently bombarding targets in Syria, choosing to use artillery instead of its air force to avoid Russia’s anti-aircraft installation in the northern part of Syria.

Syria has warned that any invasion force that challenges the country’s sovereignty will be considered an act of war. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who for years has advocated a negotiated settlement for Syria, gave a grim warning against such invasion force, saying that “the Americans and our Arab partners must think well: do they want a permanent war? All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war.”

So far, the American position in this latest conflict escalation is to lead the different factions back into the negotiating table and warned Turkey and the Saudis against destabilizing actions in Syria, as stated by US Secretary of State John Kerry in a recent Munich Security Conference. Curiously though, behind the negotiations US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he expects commando units from Saudi and the UAE to start covertly invading Syria.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced in a conference that “there is some serious discussion going on with regards to looking at a ground component in Syria, because there has to be a possibility of taking and holding ground, that one cannot do from the air.” The Foreign Minister is advocating for a ground offensive, but that which should involve and be led by the United States. Earlier, he also called for the removal of Bashar al-Assad “by force.”

As for the Iranians they have warned that a military escalation led by the Saudis will be met in kind. Speaking in Tehran, Iranian Deputy Staff Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri declared that “we will not let the situation in Syria get out of control so that some rogue states could implement their policies. If needed, we will take some appropriate decisions.”

McCain’s anti-reality and hysteria a reflection of the West’s insecurities towards Russian war in Syria

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By now, the Russian military’s involvement in the ongoing Syrian Civil War is not breaking news. The facts have been properly laid down and conveyed to the watching world with reports that are verified, and in some cases, in a high-tech kind of delivery. What seems like a constant CCTV feed from the skies and the seas has shown highly accurate weapons raining down on the otherwise common enemy that is the Islamic State (IS).

What is perhaps interesting is how, predictably, the West has downplayed the Russian effort, from spreading slanderous unconfirmed reports of dead civilians to President Putin’s macho-man image reporting in the Western mainstream media. Indeed, even for the West, especially in Washington, the enemy of your enemy is still your enemy.

For one, John McCain, the Republican politician who previously lost his presidential ambition to Obama back in 2008, and famous for advocating military aggression and political subversion, has recently shared his hysterical interpretation of Moscow’s war against Islamic State in Syria.

In a chilling, Hollywood-style op-ed published in CNN, McCain blamed the Obama administration’s weakness in confronting its adversaries, most especially Russia. He sees Moscow’s bombing of IS forces in Syria as just an effort to restore Russia’s image in the Middle East. What he does not recognize, and most Americans perhaps, is the fact that the spread of terrorism, which the United States helped foster in the first place, is a major concern for Putin, as the countries plagued by extremism is really not that far from Russia’s southern flanks.

He opined that Putin “must be stopped, not least because he will inflame every aspect of this conflict in the process: the refugee crisis, the mass atrocities and the growth of ISIS.” What McCain overlooked is the fact that if it weren’t for his country’s intervention in the Syrian conflict, ISIS would’ve not strengthened and spread in the Middle East. The fact is that these extremely violent Islamists where the ‘moderate’ rebels they were supporting during the early years of the so-called Arab Spring.

Washington’s brand of frenzied foreign policy is not generous enough for McCain and his Republican panic crew: he’s called for “check(ing) Putin’s ambitions…impose greater costs on Russia’s interests…by striking significant Syrian leadership or military targets.” As a former military man himself, does he understand the possible chain of events that might follow if the United States directly attacked Syria’s military? He seems to have forgotten that Washington’s involvement in Syria is not authorized by the United Nations and thus is an illegal act under international laws.

And then McCain indulges in more disgusting assault, calling for more pressure against Russia ‘where it counts’ including sending more weapons to Ukraine, spreading corruption exposes on the Russian leadership, and even more sanctions against Moscow. He added that the US can find ‘willing partners’ in Europe for another ‘coalition of the willing’ (or killing) to further prop up the ‘moderate opposition.’ Finally, he called America’s intervention as it’s ‘last opportunity to make a difference in Syria and avert a strategic disaster…we cannot afford to squander.”

For their part, the Western mainstream media continues to indulge in spreading and amplifying unconfirmed reports of the alleged victims caused by the Russian expedition inside Syria. For instance, the reported civilian casualties resulting from the Russian air campaign where actually spread even before the first bomber sorties had even begun. Also, the purported landing of Russian cruise missiles in Iran has been confirmed (by Tehran and Moscow) to be just ‘part of the intensified Western propaganda war.’

Such apocalyptic visions and mantra of ‘intervene-now-or-never’ runs contrary to what’s spewing out of the Kremlin. For their part since the beginning, Russia has expressed interest in finding “pragmatic ways to join efforts against the common threat.” Putin has expressed his country’s interest in establishing a broad coalition to fight Islamic State, from the simple sharing of intelligence (a proposal Washington rejected) to ending the ‘training program’ of ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels in the ground. In fact, the United States has airdropped a fresh supply of weapons, some 50 tons of it, to support their Syrian puppets.

Washington’s obsession with bringing poisoned ‘democracy’ A.K.A. regime change to the Middle East should be stopped for good if the region deserves to be in peace. It has been clear that the ‘must-go’ policy pursued by the United States against Arab dictators has only worsened the situation. The quagmire has exploded out of proportion that even Europe, with the present influx of refugees to the continent, needed to tackle this otherwise non-issue.

On the lost Arab Spring and the influence of politics on policy

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It is perhaps fair to say the Arab Spring was such a missed opportunity, and in many ways, it is.

The Arab Spring was supposed to be the vanguard for change in the complex politics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It was launched on a platform of Arab democracy (as opposed to American democracy) that will instigate a wave of change, from free speech to economic opportunities.

Despite its disassociation from Western grand plans for the region, the Arab Spring was nevertheless glorified in the West. The revolution took everyone by surprise – including President Barack Obama himself. And it was almost hijacked by the Western mainstream media (BBC, CNN, Fox) as something that the West endorsed, especially with the exaggerated role that technology played to make it happen. They may have supported the revolution at a later point, but certainly did not play a role in its creation.

But some four years since the whole saga began in Tunisia, what we find is a more confused Western, and especially American, policy in the MENA region. For starters, the United States is still a big supporter of whatever Israel does (occasional wars against its neighbors, assassination of foreign leaders); it has a very good military relationship with Sunni Saudi Arabia regardless of Riyadh actions in the region; it used to support ‘moderates’ in such countries as Iraq and Syria where the same moderates have transformed them into extremism and ISIS; and now it is negotiating a historic nuclear deal with Iran, it’s supposed arch-nemesis in the region.

The politics of Obama’s final years in office

Opposed by both Israel and Saudi Arabia, the latest Iranian nuclear deal is being praised as a landmark breakthrough in Middle East policy. Notwithstanding the merits of such a deal, the agreement with Iran requires a deeper look especially since Obama’s days in the office is in 2016.

Before his second term started in 2012, Obama pulled out of Afghanistan in late 2011 – some 3 years later than what he had promised during his fight for presidential candidacy in 2008, and just a few months before he was to reassume office at the White House. Indeed, when policy is at the mercy of politics, things ‘suddenly’ get done.

The rush to accomplish things before the time is out

A clearly defined United States’ policy aside, the upcoming US presidential race will certainly shake things up, with more policies being concluded and other surprises being taken into consideration. For instance, we might see a Cuban breakthrough as America pursues normalization with Cuba, an island nation long been under the economic embargo of the United States. Perhaps we can also see a softening of American policy toward Russia and Ukraine to avoid a political backlash for the Democrats in the upcoming presidential elections, or the closing of Guantanamo Bay prison, a promise made by Obama since his 2008 nomination.

On April 12, Hillary Clinton will formally announce her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, a move that will mark the de-fact start of the intense presidential elections. Eight years since Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought it out for the nomination, a woman in the White House is no doubt an interesting thing to see. But we are not there yet: big promises are set to entertain again, just like how Obama promised the impossible before. Conversely, the remaining 19 months will be a thrilling time to see what gets accomplished in the final days of Obama’s presidency.

On a related note: The curious case of Netanyahu’s Congress stunt

To gain political ground for his party once more, America’s main ally in the region, Israel’s hysterical Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed his opposition to the US-Iran nuclear deal in a highly emotional speech before the US Congress. The same tactic of ‘getting things done’ at a critical moment persuaded Netanyahu to grandstand in the receptive US Congress to gain political leverage before a major election.

Unfortunately for him, Netanyahu’s Congress stunt did not grain traction among the wider American establishment. Beyond the shock and awe of his emotional speech calling for a strike against Iran (as always), the spotlight went to the fact that his US Congress speech was not endorsed by the White House (he actually bypassed Obama on this), that the war-hungry Republicans invited Netanyahu to make the speech, and that Obama has since pointed out that all foreign policy decisions should be endorsed by the White House.

If America can bypass the Security Council, what more the Syrian Government?

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The United States, led by Barack Obama himself, has finally bombed Islamic State (IS) targets inside Syria – a bombing campaign of which is unauthorized by the United Nations and the Syrian government.

The United States has begun an air campaign and cruise missile attacks against IS targets in Syria on Tuesday morning, together with aircraft from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as confirmed by the US Central Command. Just in case the Syrian government poses a risk to the American intrusion into their country, the United States also employed, for the first time, F-22 stealth fighters to evade radar.

Over the past few weeks, the United States claimed it had ‘broad international support’ which is essentially a coalition of the killing repressive regimes in the Middle East. Having an uncanny resemblance to the WMD formula against Iraq a decade ago, Washington’s fear mongering against the IS threat operating in Iraq and Syria is subject to contempt especially given that its ‘broad international supporters’ are they themselves involved in toppling Bashar Al Assad’s government and having the ultimate goal of isolating Iran.

The completely illegal airstrikes has provoked reactions from the international community as it is perceived as a backlash to the United States support for ‘moderate’ Islamists in the Middle East to foster regime change against non-allies.

In a statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “now that the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (IS) has been appointed United States’ archenemy, I’d like to recall that ISIS militants are the very same people evolved and powerful sponsorship and material support from abroad at the time of the regime change efforts in Libya and later or when the same process was attempted in Syria.”

Referring to Moscow’s efforts to mediate in the now three year war in Syria, Lavrov added that “they never listened to us when we proposed to unite our efforts and help the Syrian government and the moderate, patriotic Syrian opposition to form a united front against terrorists swarming all over the Syrian Arab Republic – they never listened to us.”

As for Obama, in a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, said that the Syria airstrikes are justified because Syria is “unwilling to protect or unable to prevent the use of its territory” by IS. Obama has forgotten that the Syrian government has been fighting these Western-backed terrorists for three years now, where the ongoing destruction of Syria is as a result of Washington’s backing of so-called moderate rebels in Syria and the wider Middle East.

The Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Obama’s recent campaign to ramp up militarism abroad, from nuclear weapons modernization, establishing new bases to contain China, increased use of drone warfare to name just a few, went against his campaign of scaling back his predecessor’s global war on terror.

Obama has been sucked into the same military aggression founded on systematic and enduring lies, which is part of its ‘responsibility to protect’ but not against extremism, but rather responsibility to protect its greedy interests. Such arrogant imposition of its interests abroad is hardly surprising as it is perfectly in line with America’s sincere belief in its own exceptionalism, just in different packages.