Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Syria: adapting the story of 'intervention'

As the killing in Syria's civil war deepens, the central role of external, self-interested states in feeding the mayhem is now manifestly evident.

But as the imperialist aspirations and regional war-encouragements of the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and Israel intensify, Guardian liberals and rhetorical leftists alike are maintaining a convenient blindness to such mendacious meddling.

Thus, regular Guardian columnist Richard Seymour asserts:
"The main popular forces in the Syrian opposition are neither pawns nor proxies, nor are they under the domination of pawns and proxies. The armed contingent is too diverse, too localised and to disart[i]culated to be a proxy army, or simply a force of reaction as some claim. Those Turkish-based exile leaders who have looked to imperialist intervention neither control the revolution nor have unrivalled status as its political leadership. By every plausible report, the actual involvement of the imperialist powers has not been very significant; the regional sub-imperialisms are playing a more important role, for some of their own reasons, but even they aren't dominant in this situation. The principal contradiction is the class antagonism within Syria, and practical activity internationally, including antiwar activism, should be based on this understanding." [My italics.]
So runs the dual fiction of 'class-based uprising' and 'insignificant foreign involvement', a narrative needed to hold together the spurious claim of a developing, homegrown revolution.

One could only wish this were so. Yet the 'evidence' for it is contradicted both by the now open sectarian nature of the conflict and the crucial sponsorship of 'rebel' forces by various outside parties with no interest in a progressive, people-serving outcome.

As Seumas Milne puts it:
"For Syrians who want dignity and democracy in a free country, the rapidly mushrooming dependence of their uprising on foreign support is a disaster – even more than was the case in Libya. After all, it is now officials of the dictatorial and sectarian Saudi regime who choose which armed groups get funding, not Syrians. And it is intelligence officials from the US, which sponsors the Israeli occupation of Syrian territory and dictatorships across the region, who decide which rebel units get weapons."
Alas, Milne is an almost lone dissenting voice at the Guardian - if still unwilling to amplify the Guardian's own part - via its whitewashed editorials and senior columnists - in the wider distortion.

Now more seemingly 'aware' of the West's shifting concerns, the paper's Julian Borger contends that, 'suddenly alarmed' by the gathering dominance of Salafist/jihadist fighting forces and their Gulf patrons, the West are re-focusing their support towards a more Turkish-aligned promotion of selected rebel groups:
"Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, flew to Istanbul on Saturday to meet Syrian opposition activists and boost military and intelligence co-operation with the Turkish government to prevent the violence spreading across the border. Jon Wilks, Britain's special envoy to the Syrian opposition, was also in Istanbul last week for a meeting with someone the Foreign Office described as "a senior political representative" of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), during which he stressed the importance of human rights and respect for minorities as a condition of future co-operation. 
On Friday, the UK announced £5m in new non-military aid to Syrian opposition groups, pointedly insisting that all the recipients should be organisations inside Syria, therefore excluding the SNC. Clinton's meetings in Istanbul were also intended to sidestep the exile group, on the grounds that it had little influence on events inside Syria."   
Again, the dutifully-repeated pitch here is of a still 'concerned' West, now adapting its position in 'benign' response to developments they hadn't, apparently, anticipated.

No talk here, either, of Clinton's true mission, which, as any critical analyst should see, is to foment conflict and destabilisation in pursuit of more interventionist excuses rather than "prevent" the spread of violence.

How noble also of Borger to report Britain's latest 'quiet dealings' in Istanbul as some kind of gentlemanly visit and 'cautioning' of the FSA on human rights.

In another prominent piece, Luke Harding appears to acknowledge many of the sectarian divisions on the ground, using testimonies of assorted Syrians to show the diverse range of social and religious backgrounds within the Free Syrian Army.

Yet, this questionable account, like many shifting liberal others, displays, by its very own claims, the equally heterogeneous nature of those either still supporting Assad or, much more significantly, the probable majority fearful of any violent escalation and volatile vacuum still to come.

True to Guardian form, Harding's piece is also at pains to report how Assad is 'playing the sectarian card', but not the zealot rebel factions and their Saudi-Wahabbist backers.  

Meanwhile, the Guardian's Ian Black, echoing standard cries from the 'diplomatic community', is still pointing the most damning finger at Russia and China. 

In a tortuous piece of reasoning, Black seemingly concedes that Kofi Annan's peace plan was never a viable proposition given the realpolitik of contending forces and zero-sum interests at play, yet still insists on holding Russia and China primarily "responsible" for the tragedy.

As Milne also reminds us:
"The Syrian regime is of course backed by Iran and Russia, as it has been for decades. But a better analogy for western and Gulf involvement in the Syrian insurrection would be Iranian and Russian sponsorship of an armed revolt in, say, Saudi Arabia."
And so the liberal media's lamenting of selected others and 'failing intervention' goes on, much like the West's own hypocritical castigations and 'humanitarian' re-positioning, all part of the effort to maintain the illusion of Clinton et al as 'adapting donors' and 'available facilitators' rather than (as with Russia and China) 'regime-supporting obstructionists'.

The deeper, darker nature of the Syrian conflict may now be unravelling, revealing more complex layers of sectarian and social division, an awkward public enlightenment for the Western powers and their regional friends, requiring, as we see here, new lines of political posturing and media adaptation to support the lie of dutiful intervention.

As for those leftist adaptations of the interventionist deceit, one can but watch and learn how liberal incorporation and radical pretension so often combine to help service the lie.


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