Syria and Iran in Focus
by Stephen Lendman
America's longstanding agenda targets both countries. Israel wants regional rivals removed. Washington wants independent regimes replaced by pro-Western puppet ones.
All options are considered, including war. For months, saber rattling targeted Tehran. Multiple rounds of sanctions were imposed. Stiffer ones are considered. More on Iran below.
For 15 months, Syria's been wracked by Western-generated violence. No end of conflict appears likely. Constitutional reform and democratic elections don't matter. Neither does majority pro-Assad support.
Washington's comfortable dealing with democrats, despots, or anything in between so long as regimes serve its interests. Otherwise they're targeted for removal. International law is a non-starter. So are fundamental US statute laws and America's Constitution.
Since early last year, Western and regional nations armed, funded and trained insurgents. US, UK and perhaps other Special Forces actively aid them. So do CIA and MI6 operatives.
Al Qaeda elements actively participate. Washington uses them strategically as enemies and allies. At times, it's done simultaneously in different parts of the world. Scoundrel media reports don't explain. Regurgitating official lies are featured.
Last year, Russia accused Western nations of illicitly arming Syrian insurgents. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said:
"Nobody is commenting on it and no one is admitting it, but the facts are impossible to contradict. Weapons are being smuggled into Syria from Turkey and Iraq."
They're also supplied by other nations. So are mercenaries used to depose Assad.
On May 16, Syrian officials reported a truck seized with hidden weapons in al-Raqqa province. Numerous times other elicit caches were discovered.
In late April, Lebanon's navy intercepted a Sierra-Leone registered ship carrying arms and munitions. Heavy ones bound for Syrian insurgents included machine guns, artillery shells, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Last February, Itar Tass reported a Russian secret services source saying "(h)uge batches of small arms and munitions for the Syrian Liberation Army's troops are supplied from Lebanon (by opposition March 14 alliance elements), Iraq and Turkey, but unofficially, not through (their) governments."
"The supply list includes submachine guns, machine guns, sniper rifles and antitank grenade launchers."
Lt. General Leonid Sazhin said "the scenario that has already been developed and administered by the United States and (its) NATO allies, mainly France, Britain and Turkey, as well as the monarchy regimes from the Cooperation for the Arab States of the Gulf, in particular Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is being implemented in Syria."
Qatar's actively involved. So are Jordan, Libya and Israel. Doing so is illegal. International law prohibits interfering in the internal affairs of other countries except in self-defense.
On May 15, the Washington Post headlined "Syrian rebels get influx of arms with gulf neighbors' money, US coordination," saying:
Insurgents got "significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks." Coordinated by Washington, Gulf states (notably Saudi Arabia) finance them. Opposition elements, US, and foreign officials confirm what's ongoing.
Obama claims Washington's not supplying weapons and munitions directly. Be skeptical. He's a serial liar. Nothing he says is credible. Directly and/or indirectly, administration officials are very much involved. America orchestrated the insurgency from inception.
According to an unnamed State Department official:
"We are increasing our nonlethal assistance to the Syrian opposition, and we continue to coordinate our efforts with friends and allies in the region and beyond in order to have the biggest impact on what we are collectively doing."
Washington maintains direct contact with insurgent leaders. "Many officials now consider an expanding military confrontation to be inevitable. Material is being stockpiled in Damascus, in Idlib near the Turkish border and in Zabadani on the Lebanese border."
Large supplies are flowing. One opposition figure said "(s)ome areas are loaded with weapons."
Washington officials met with Eastern Syrian Kurds. Talks included "opening a second front against Assad's forces that would compel him to move resources from the west."
When NATO meets in Chicago this weekend, discussions will include anti-Assad strategy.
Syrian "(o)pposition figures said they have been in direct contact with State Department officials to designate worthy rebel recipients of arms and pinpoint locations for stockpiles...."
Pentagon officials prepared military options. They include destroying Syria's air defenses. In fact, if air strikes begin, all strategic sites will be targeted. Libya's model will be replicated. Mass deaths and destruction will follow. Increasingly it looks likely.
The RAND Corporation think tank has considerable influence on US policy. Operating like a shadow government, it supports militarism, imperial wars, and technocrat run world government.
Nonetheless, its new report warned against attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. Titled "How to Defuse Iran's Nuclear Threat," it argued for "diplomacy and economic sanctions," not militarism.
"An Israeli or American attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would make it more, not less, likely that the Iranian regime would decide to produce and deploy nuclear weapons. Such an attack would also make it more, not less, difficult to contain Iranian influence."
RAND notes Iran's regional "appeal" as an anti-American, anti-imperial, anti-Zionist "bastion." Attacking its nuclear and/or other sites would enhance its influence. It believes the hawkish Israeli approach:
"rests on a faulty assumption that a future, post-attack Middle East would indeed be free of a nuclear-armed Iran. In fact, a post-attack Middle East may result in the worst of both worlds: a nuclear-armed Iran more determined than ever to challenge the Jewish state, and with far fewer regional and international impediments to doing so."
It recommends supporting current and former Israeli officials arguing against military strikes. It suggests bolstering US/Israeli "security cooperation and intelligence sharing." It believes pressuring Iran non-belligerently can weaken "its capacity to project power."
A future Iranian regime may view Israel differently, it says. Washington should try convincing Iranian people that America "cares about Iran as a nation, not merely a problem to be solved."
"Iranian people offer the surest hope for a future Iran that is more amenable to US interests."
Attacking its facilities "would make it more, not less, likely (to want) nuclear weapons."
Four RAND contributors produced the report, including:
(1) Former US Assistant Secretary of State James Dobbins. He directs RAND's International Security and Defense Policy Center.
(2) Dalia Dassa Kaye, senior RAND political scientist and Pardee RAND graduate school faculty member.
(3) Alireza Nader, senior RAND international policy analyst focusing on Iranian politics and foreign policy.
(4) Frederic Wehrey, senior RAND policy analyst focusing on Persian Gulf security.
Whether their assessment and recommendations influence US and/or Israeli policies remains to be seen.
What their report omitted is significant.
Iran's nuclear program is peaceful, not belligerent. Nothing proves otherwise.
IAEA inspectors discovered no evidence suggesting weapons development and/or production. Neither did annual US intelligence assessments as recently as March 2012.
Discussion of Israel's nuclear arsenal was excluded. So was its willingness to use it if feel threatened. Israel's a global menace. Belligerence and violence reflect official policy.
Palestine's been illegally occupied for 45 years. So has Syria's Golan. Lebanon was attacked in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. Southern Lebanon was illegally occupied for 18 years. Israel still holds Ghajar bordering Golan and Sheba Farms. It's valued for its water resources.
For over 40 years, Israel lawlessly violated Lebanese territory. Daily overflights occur. Lebanon's justified in fearing more war. So is Gaza after Cast Lead.
In 2007, Syria's alleged nuclear site was bombed. Evidence of an existing one was suspect and inconclusive. At the time, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said its experts analyzed satellite imagery. They concluded that the building struck was not a nuclear facility.
Despite just cause, Damascus didn't retaliate. In 1981, Israel destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor. Neither did Baghdad.
Israel's involved in arming and destabilizing Assad's government. It's longstanding agenda calls for regional hegemony. Balkanization and belligerency are policies to achieve it.
Iran hasn't attacked another nation in over 200 years. It threatens none now, including Israel. Claims about wanting Israel wiped off the map are spurious. Calling it a sponsor of regional terrorism are false.
Israel and America threaten world peace, not Iran or Syria. That should be issue one. RAND didn't mention it. Instead it discussed defusing a nonexistent Iranian nuclear threat.
Urging diplomacy and sanctions, not belligerence, misses the point. Political solutions should always be policy. So should welcoming nonbelligerent states into the family of nations, ending repressive sanctions, and working for world peace.
Influential groups should support policies conforming to international law. They should oppose and denounce belligerent, lawless, destructive, or counterproductive ones. RAND and others like it fall short on all counts.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War" http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com 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. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour