When the Tahrir Revolution occurred last year, I published a piece in a Turkish newspaper which took a look at possible machinations behind the scenes. The piece suggested that the U.S. State Department was really behind the events, and that the sudden high visibility of new media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was more than just the outcome of global fashion movements. In the next instance, I wrote another piece for the same paper that interpreted the turmoil in the Arab world as possibly presenting a stage for new proxy-wars between the superpowers competing with one another for resources and influence.
The fact that the situation in Egypt has not really changed all that much, that the military is still pulling the strings behind dark curtains, seems all but confirmed by the popular unrest sparked by the Mubarak verdict and the now distinct possibility that his life sentence will be commuted at some stage in the future. InLibya, the NATO intervention followed by the U.S.-led execution of Colonel Gadhafi has now led to a volatile situation that could still push Libya over the brink turning it into a North-African Afghanistan, beset by years of civil war with the civilian population as the major victim. In Yemen, the U.S.-brokered withdrawal of Ali Abdullah Saleh has only led to replacing him with his erstwhile right-hand, Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi. The more things change, the more they stay the same . . .
But global public opinion can still be united in its justified aversion of Bashar al-Assad. Right??? Not only is he a hereditary dictator who quietly took over the reins of the country after his father’s demise, events in the small town Houla have clearly shown that he is a bloodthirsty tyrant who does not even shy away from killing the innocents. But, in the face of this outrage, Russia and China still maintain their support for the embattled dictator. The fact that Iran equally persists in openly expressing its backing for the Assad regime surprises no-one. After all, Iran’s own undeclared nuclear programme deserves combined U.S.-Isreali efforts to undermine Tehran’s virtual infrastructure by means of Stuxnet and other Flames.
The world population’s sensibilities are not to be manipulated to supply its leadership with a satisfactory pretext to push for intervention in Syria. What does it matter that Tehran was planning to build a new pipeline connecting Iran, Iraq and Syria??? And the fact that the Syrian opposition has been safely and securely based in Turkey, a country that in 1999 nearly invaded Syria, is but a normal circumstance. Turkey’s Nabucco pipeline project, which has jettisoned Iran’s cooperation, would not have been served well by the new spirit of mutual aid and cooperation that had suddenly engulfed Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus– the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian leadership having reached a Memorandum of Understanding in late July 2011 after months of arduous negotiations. Nor is the fact that the violence in Syria has now seriously undermined Russia’s plans to refurbish its naval base in the Syrian por tof Tartus, used by theSoviet Union since the late 60s and scheduled to resume operations in 2011, of any concern. In addition, Russia also had plans for setting up naval logistic facilities on the Socotra Island, Yemen, as well as in Tripoli, Libya.
The legitimate grievances of the suppressed Arab populations have now ensured that Iran will not be challenging Turkey’s intentions of supplying Europ ewith an alternative to Russian oil and gas. At the same time, these same complaints have now also thwarted Russia’s plans to establish a serious presence on the Mediterranean and in the Gulf of Yemen.
Over the past months, Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of the Assad regime. Tayyip Erdoğan has more than once called for Assad’s removal. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the other hand, has instead called for calm and deliberation in dealing with Damascus, insisting on the implementation of the Annan Plan. Earlier this year, the recently much-publicised U.S. whistleblower Sibel Edmonds declared publicly that her sources indicated that the Syrian armed opposition has been receiving logistic aid and military training since April 2011. Edmonds also declared that the U.S. and Turkey had been cooperating on this, and that the U.S. Air Force base in İncirlik (Turkey) is used as a training facility for the so-called Free Syrian Army and other opponents of the Damascus regime. At the same time, reports have surfaced that Libyan fighters from Misrata went to Syria in an effort to support attempts to overthrow Assad. In addition, rumours have equally abounded about Saudi Arabia and Qattar’s mobilization of Jihadi fighters to undermine the secular Baath regime in Syria.
All these stories have become irrelevant, now that the Houla massacres have shown Assad’s real face to the world. Or, is there another story behind the gruesome pictures??? Last Sunday, Syria’s president addressed the world in an attempt to tell his side: “A year and a half after the crisis began, things became clear and the masks were removed . . . the international role in what is taking place was exposed since decades . . . colonialism remains unchanged but its methods and faces are changing and the regional role exposed itself”. Assad, like Pontius Pilate before him, washed his hands in innocence, indicating that foreign-sponsored terrorists were responsible for the killings in Houla. The Russian television channel Anna News sent a crew to Houla to find out what had really happened. Anna News’ Viktor Reznov (arguably named after the videogame character) writes that the inhabitants of Houla “had a good relationship with the Syrian soldiers; they even divide food and water with the Syrian soldiers”. Reznov, quoting the inhabitants, calls the killers “terrorists” who had come from “Ar-Rastan or Hama” and that they “asked the residents” of Houla “to either kill Syrian soldiers with them or [that] they [‘d] be killed [instead]”.
Can this be true??? Were foreign-backed terrorists responsible for the slaughter of innocents in Houla??? Was the massacre an elaborate attempt to convince the world’s public opinion that the time had come to send in air support and possibly ground troops to overthrow Assad???