Oh, Horrors, It’s Syria!

All About Iran

By SAUL LANDAU

August 10, 2012 “Information Clearing House” —  I first visited Syria in 2002, returned in 2003 to make a film there and followed with subsequent visits in 2004 and 2006. Since the conflict started in that country last year I followed the situation in the U.S. media, but could not recognize the reality I had witnessed. Much of the reporting, backed by pronouncements from Washington, sounded like a public relations campaign for the “rebels,” or the Free Syrian Army.One can read the reports or watch the TV news and not get a clue that beneath the usual accolades for democracy in Syria and the bashing of the Assad regime, lies the unstated and strategic truth: Washington, London, Paris and the lesser Western capitals, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have Iran in their gun sights, not Bashar al Assad’s dictatorial regime.

Iran has a nuclear program that might produce weapons with which their voice would resonate louder in the region. One does not read that Washington had previously relied on Assad to torture certain prisoners – after sending those men to Syria along with the questions for Assad’s nail pullers to ask them. Washington also accepted Syrian intelligence information relating to various plots against U.S. facilities in the region.

Thousands have died in Syria’s conflict, but the West and its regional allies don’t care about that or about democracy. If anyone thinks of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, regimes that excel in autocracy and human rights abuses, while arming and bankrolling the rebels of Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s Alawite/Shia-Baathist dictatorship as trying to free the Syrian people, I suggest they get a grip on reality.

Washington mutes it criticism of these right-wing Islamist states as the Saudi caliphates export extremist religion and keep women tightly controlled. In the royal kingdoms power comes through birthright, not elections – similar to Syria in that way. The Saudis want to spread their pernicious poison of Islamist ideology through the Salafi-Wahabi rebels in Syria. One should also recall how Saudi royalty zealously backed the Taliban in the 1990s.

Nine-Eleven addicts will recall that 15 of the 19 hijacking murderers of September 11, 2001, came from Saudi Arabia. Instead of bombing Ryadh, we bombed Afghanistan. The Saudis repress their own Shia minority just as they now wish to destroy the Alawite-Shia minority of Syria. Des anyone outside of Alice in Wonderland believe Saudi Arabia wants democracy in Syria?

Then, there’s the Iranian side of the Syria story. The Lebanese Shia Hezbollah party supports Shia Iran and backs Bashar al-Assad’s regime. For 30 years Hezbollah has defended the oppressed Shias of southern Lebanon against Israeli aggression. They have presented themselves as the defenders of Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza. But faced with the slow collapse of their ruthless ally in Syria, they have lost their tongue. Not a word have they uttered about the rape and mass murder of Syrian civilians by Bashar’s soldiers and “Shabiha” militia.

Then we have the heroes of America – La Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Obama himself. Clinton issues a “stern warning” to Assad. Panetta – the same man who repeated to the last U.S. forces in Iraq that old lie about Saddam’s connection to 9/11 – announces that things are “spiraling out of control” in Syria. They have been doing that for at least six months. Has he just realized?

And then Obama told us last week that “given the regime’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad … that the world is watching.” Now, was it not a County Cork (Ireland) newspaper called the Skibbereen Eagle, fearful of Russia’s designs on China, which declared that it was “keeping an eye … on the Tsar of Russia”? Now it is Obama’s turn to emphasize how little clout he has in the mighty conflicts of the world. How Bashar must be shaking in his boots.

Then there’s Iraq, which owes us so much gratitude. Last week it suffered 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities in one day, killing 111 civilians and wounding another 235. The same day, Syria’s bloodbath consumed about the same number of innocents. But Iraq was “down the page” from Syria, buried “below the fold”, as we journalists say, because, of course, we gave freedom to Iraq, Jeffersonian democracy, etc., etc. Didn’t we? So this slaughter to the east of Syria didn’t have quite the same impact, did it? Nothing we did in 2003 led to Iraq’s suffering today. Right?

When our political leaders are happy to condemn Arabs for their savagery, but too timid to utter a word of the mildest criticism when the Israeli army commits crimes against humanity – or watches its allies do it in Lebanon – ordinary people have to remind the world that they are not as timid as the politicians. But when the scorecard of death in Syria reaches 15,000 or 19,000 – perhaps 14 times as many fatalities as in Israel’s savage 2008-2009 onslaught on Gaza – scarcely a single protester, save for Syrian expatriates abroad, walks the streets to condemn these crimes against humanity. Israel’s crimes have not been on this scale since 1948.

And all the while, we forget the “big” truth. That this is an attempt to crush the Syrian dictatorship not because of our love for Syrians or our hatred of our former friend Bashar al-Assad, or because of our outrage at Russia, whose place in the pantheon of hypocrites is clear when we watch its reaction to Assad’s brutality across Syria. No, this is all about Iran and our desire to crush the Islamic Republic and its infernal nuclear plans – if they exist – and has nothing to do with human rights or the right to life or the death of Syrian babies.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP screens Aug 14 at Washington DC’s Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Avenue at 8 pm.

This article was originally published at CounterPunch

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