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Stepped-Up Pressure on Assad

by Stephen Lendman Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2012 at 9:31 PM


Stepped-Up Pressure on Assad

by Stephen Lendman

Last weekend's anti-Assad Damascus and Aleppo terrorist violence reflects Washington's violent pursuit of regime change.

Peaceful resolution efforts are subverted. Obama's waging undeclared war. On March 19, Iran's Russian ambassador, Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, explained US-style democracy, saying:

"There were the first signs that American democracy had come to Damascus (and Aleppo). We saw American puppets’ attempt to establish democracy in Syria by exploding (bombs) in Damascus (and Aleppo)."

Dozens died. Many others were injured. Calling Washington's regional allies "reactionary Arab regimes," he said getting in bed with the devil has a price. Their Western support will backfire when their regimes are targeted.

On Monday morning, heavy Damascus fighting erupted. Witnesses said explosions and machine gun fire were heard in the al-Mezzeh district. It's home for several government security installations. Russia Today reported one resident saying:

"There is fighting near Hamada supermarket and the sound of explosions there and elsewhere in the neighborhood. Security police have blocked several side streets and the street lighting has been cut off."

Free Syrian Army leader Col. Riad al-Asaad refused comment, saying "(t)his is a sensitive military matter that we cannot comment about."

Days of stepped-up violence reveals Washington's real intentions. Assad's right calling insurgents "terrorists." Syria's Foreign Ministry said Western and regional states are supplying heavy weapons and munitions. It's no secret Saudi Arabia is providing them. So are Qatar and Israel, among others.

At the same time, high-level Syrian National Council defections show internal dissension. Prominent SNC member Kamal Labwani called the group "autocratic" and dysfunctional, saying:

"There is no council. It's an illusion." Chairman Burhan Ghalioun runs the group despotically. In the process, he sidelined and/or alienated most members.

Perhaps recent violence reflects both frustration and added Western pressure to commit it. It suggests stepped-up terrorism coming, including similar incidents, assassinations, kidnappings, and other forms of violence.

On March 20, Vyacheslav Matuzov, chairman of the Russian Friendship Society with Arab Countries, lashed out at Saudi Arabia and Qatar for sending insurgents heavy weapons, saying:

"The opposition which seeks to register a political stand should completely reject the terrorist acts in the last two days in Damascus and Aleppo."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also expressed anger over foreign fighters and weapons entering Syria from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and Libya.

He also backs peaceful resolution and opposes calls for Assad to stop resisting terrorist violence. If not him, who will? In addition, he said Russia will support a Security Council resolution if it's evenhanded, contains no ultimatums, and excludes replicating Libya's model.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour expressed similar sentiments. According to Lebanon's Daily Star, government security forces strengthened their border presence. In addition, dozens of arrests foiled attempts to smuggle weapons to Syrian insurgents.

He and Lavrov also urged greater political and diplomatic pressure on Washington to stop supporting terrorist gangs committing sabotage, murder and other forms of violence.

The more Assad responds, the more he's blamed for doing his job. However, popular support backs him, and no wonder. Threatened by ongoing violence, including in Syria's largest cities, residents depend on government help for protection. It's true wherever insurgencies erupt.

Instead of alienating growing numbers, Western-backed terrorism's uniting them against foreign elements they oppose.

Despite its strong anti-Assad sentiment, Human Rights Watch issued a March 19 open letter. It condemned opposition terrorism. It noted targeted killings, summary executions, kidnappings for ransom, torture, hostage taking, and other violent crimes.

A UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry February 2012 report also said opposition forces committed gross human rights abuses, including murder, disappearances, and forced displacement of thousands of Syrian residents from areas they held.

It also accused state security forces of greater violations instead of explaining Assad's responsibility to confront foreign-generated terrorism forcibly. It's his job to protect Syrians from violent killer gangs. Other leaders would do the same thing.

On March 20, a five-member UN team launched a monitoring operation. It's part of an effort to establish a ceasefire and halt violence on both sides. In a letter to UN envoy Kofi Annan, Assad expressed eagerness to halt fighting, but insisted foreign fighters must disarm and supplying them with weapons and munitions must stop.

Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari also said his country "is committed to making Mr. Annan's mission successful. The technical team from (his) office will discuss further issues related to the fulfillment of his mission."

At the same time, a UN humanitarian mission arrived in Syria to assess conditions in areas most violence prone, including Homs, Hama and Deraa.

Stopping its spread appears doubtful, given Washington's regime change intention by any means. For months, US, UK and French special forces have been actively involved as in Libya last year. So are CIA and MI6 operatives.

Major media scoundrels say nothing. Instead they blame Assad for doing his job. On March 20, his security forces routed insurgent gangs from Deir al-Zor, Syria's largest northeastern city. Days earlier they gained control of Idlib in Syria's northwest.

In response to government gains, guerrilla attacks targeted Damascus and Aleppo. Expect more ahead despite efforts to establish a ceasefire and halt violence.

However, killer gangs alone can't defeat Syria's armed forces, no matter how much aid they're supplied, tactics used, or help they're getting from Western and regional special forces, as well as intelligence.

As a result, expect Washington to circumvent the Security Council and wage war. Defense Secretary Panetta and Joint Chiefs head General Martin Demsey told Senate Armed Service Committee members that Pentagon officials were preparing war plans at Obama's request.

Last month, barely stopping short of declaring war, Obama condemned Assad, demanded he step down, and urged international intervention without saying how. When Washington's regime change train leaves the station, it doesn't stop until accomplishing its mission by whatever means necessary.

After a year of insurgent violence, Assad appears more firmly in control. As a result, expect war. It's usually Washington's last option and sometimes it's first. Expect it. It's coming.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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