26 November 2015

Syria and the Strategy of Tension

For some time it has been suggested that the United States is involved in some kind of semi- or informal relationship with al Nusra in Syria. This seems to many to be an assertion that is prima facie absurd. How could the United States even consider allying with a branch of al Qaeda? Doesn't that fly in the face of everything the War on Terror is all about? You might think so, but you would be mistaken.

The events of September 2001 were a watershed. It provided the justification for a new programme, one long in the works, which was determined to secure American global hegemony. The War on Terror is but a facet or aspect of this greater objective. It's a tactic serving larger strategic goals. It's a bitter pill for many to swallow, but they must acknowledge that in the end, terror seems to serve this goal (the expansion of Establishment power) more than hinder it. The corporate-state complex has greatly benefitted from this new arrangement. The War on Terror is really terror unleashed as a justification for expansionist war and the restriction of democratic impulses in society. The rapid emergence of the Internet as well as growing social and economic tensions has only necessitated the need for the Establishment to quickly and comprehensively gain absolute control. The world has not grown smaller, but bigger. There's so much more to manage and the shadowy hydra of terrorism affords the powers that be a potent tool in manipulating the public through fear. It's an enemy that cannot be defeated, a war that cannot end.

I do not agree with those who simply write off these attacks as false-flag operations. Just because they ultimately serve and benefit the Establishment does not mean the perpetrators are fellow conspirators or even mere patsies. There are cases where this may indeed prove true, and undoubted historical precedent, but sweeping generalizations of that nature do not reflect present reality nor is it necessary in order to comprehend the methodology and nature of the forces at work.

Petraeus' suggestion at the end of August that the US should formally embrace the policy of working with al Nusra in order to oust Assad indicates that the discussion is live in the circles of power... and in fact may be an attempt to openly formalize and proclaim what has been the covert reality.

The publically disgraced but still Establishment-esteemed Petraeus in suggesting this policy gives it credence and dispels any notions of an Obama pro-Islamic conspiracy which the Right continues to dream about. The policy does not reflect a pro-Islamic stance on the part of the administration, nor is it the tip of an iceberg leading back to some great Benghazi scandal. Rather it's in keeping with a long-term policy the US has committed itself to. America has a long history with Islamic Radicalism, both supporting it and fighting against it, often combating its own allies and creations.

If the Republicans want to point fingers they must indict not only Bill Clinton, but both Bush administrations and especially their great icon Ronald Reagan. The GHW Bush, Clinton and Reagan administrations directly supported the people the United States has been fighting for the past 14+ years and these fighters have spread across the globe. George W Bush's administration is not off the hook either. While they launched a war on many former Islamist allies, they continued to support Chechen jihadis against Russia, and not a few are now in ISIS.

America also has a long history in employing what is euphemistically referred to as the Strategy of Tension. Essentially this doctrine calls for the destabilisation of societies for political ends. This means you play off you allies against each other, support them and work against them at the same time. Utilizing covert and paramilitary groups, politics can be shaped, wars fomented, economics manipulated and geo-political moves can be made.

Does Obama have it in him? Is he really up to this level of sophistication and proactive policy crafting and implementation? Probably not, but neither did his immediate predecessor. I think it can be convincingly argued that Reagan didn't either. And yet in every case, whether comprehended or not, the policy has been embraced by the Executive. It empowers their hand as well as the hands of the Praetorians who actually shape and execute the policy. The Unitary Executive empowers not only the presidency but the whole of the Executive branch and removes power from congressional and thus ostensibly democratic oversight and control.

Arming al-Nusra is just the type of operation the Strategy of Tension would exemplify. Use them and let them fight your battle and then when it's over the war machine scores a victory, gets to reset the board and once again finds the enemy it so desperately needs. You fight the enemy you backed and in many cases created.

The Free Syrian Army is something of a myth and is an umbrella term utilized to describe various militias that fight the Assad regime when they're not massacring civilians and each other. The al Nusra faction of Al Qaeda has been the most effective and there's been cooperation between some of the so-called 'moderate' militias and al Nusra who is after all fighting both ISIS and Assad. They're fighting America's war. One is reminded of the Anglo-Americans utilizing Stalin's USSR to do the bulk of the fighting against Germany. We're seeing the same thing on a small scale. Petraeus, a realist, student of history and ethical Consequentialist sees no problem with the arrangement.

The US has through various means aided in their arming. US trained groups and weapons have continued to end up in their camp and US ally Qatar has also played no small part. Qatar's role provides plausible deniability for the American administration, but this is a smokescreen for the Mainstream Media to hide behind. The US has been closely involved with Qatar, selling them billions of dollars worth of weapons and working with them as they have trained militias in Libya, some of which are today in Syria. It's hardly a scandal when it merely reflects a long term policy. And yet some of these militias have clearly allied themselves with al Nusra. That's the bit of information the Establishment would like to hide.

Meanwhile while on the one hand Qatar is closely allied with Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, their alliance with the US as well as their regional activities have also served to elevate tensions in the theatre and once again we are reminded of the Strategy of Tension. The US has found a convenient ally in Qatar that is utilized to effect covert operations and support for terrorist groups that serve the overall strategy. But at the same time they weaken the hand of the Saudis and others who the US also wishes to restrict in some circumstances. Elsewhere, the US backs, funds and supports the Saudis. And once again, weapons 'mysteriously' end up in the hands of terrorist groups through the agency and facilitation the Saudis are able to provide.

The Saudi war in Yemen is an American operation from start to finish. Washington is funding it as well as directly providing arms and logistical support. The Saudis are acting as proxies and yet they have their own regional interests that cannot be ignored and provide plausible deniability for the US. Everyone is using everyone else and seeking their own interests and yet the US alone has the power to pull the plug as it were and shut down battlefields and alter policies. The fact that Qatar's funding for al Nusra (and probably ISIS) continues and the fact that Saudi Arabia is able to continue its war in Yemen are the direct result of US approval and planning. They could stop it in an instant, first and foremost by shutting down the arms sales. These arms are being funneled directly into these conflicts and the US knows this and approves of it. These groups are armed with US weaponry, some captured to be sure but much of it has come off the shelf.

Qatar in particular is the new darling for the Praetorians, providing that element of  je ne sai quoi to America's goals in the Middle East. Qatar is functioning as both an element of confusion and a catalyst to break old stalemates and untie sundry Gordian knots.

The US is feeding the fire and unleashing the dogs of war.

Another recent example of ally vs. ally has been in the news with the recent release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. The episode demonstrates the nature of these relationships. No one fully trusts anyone else and allies work against each other. The Israelis have a fairly bold track record in this regard. They've taken some profound risks and have offended the US more than once and yet do so knowing that the alliance will stand. One is also reminded of past occurrences such as when Israel created an informal alliance with Apartheid South Africa. The two American allies collaborated on nuclear projects and if you believe it, they did so under the nose of their American masters and generated considerable angst in Washington.     

What of Qatar's support for Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas? This can be understood on several levels. Qatar has its own interests and the US will oppose them while at the same time supporting them. Or the US may be happy to employ them as a tool of tension. Or, the US keeps many eggs (options) in the basket and Egypt under a Qatari-influenced Morsi was preferable to chaos. Qatari aid to Morsi can be understood as a proxy influence on the part of the US, while at the same time the US moved to reinstate military rule. Proxy rule was acceptable, but Egypt under al Sisi and the military (essentially a return to status quo) is even better. That said al Sisi is evidently wary of the Americans. He knows them well. He's received American training and as a former military attaché to Saudi Arabia, he undoubtedly grasps the nature of America's power and influence in the region. Thus al Sisi has attempted what not a few satellite or proxy rulers have attempted in the past. He is trying to play his own 'tension' game by ensuring that all his eggs aren't in one basket. The French have often served in this role as an alternative arms supplier to the Americans. Sometimes this is appreciated as a way to support an American proxy without being subjected to a media spotlight. Other times and perhaps most of the time, it greatly irritates the Americans as it is a lost opportunity for the Military-Industrial Complex to profit as well as wield direct unrefracted influence.

Don't forget these wars and bombing operations are also something of a sales pitch that all these countries and the military-industrial sectors will seek to exploit.

But for now rather than look to France, al Sisi has moved to establish relations with Moscow. While many in the US find this to be problematic even treacherous, it's really just another opportunity for the US to exercise influence, gain information and open future doors. But al Sisi had best remember, the US keeps tabs and holds a grudge. But for right now, the US wants Egypt to calm down. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Egypt is needed to guarantee Israeli security. The Qataris preferred Morsi and there's nothing to suggest that they and whomever they might support might not prove useful at a later date should al Sisi need correcting.

Ultimately the US has invested itself with the Qataris – a slight counter to Saudi influence to be sure, and has stationed two of the major forward commands in the country.  Their military and diplomatic influence is sufficient that Qatar could be stopped if the US really wanted to counter them. Qatari schemes and operations are not clandestine, they are not lost in a tangle, like the US relationship with Pakistan's ISI, nor is the Qatari political-military relationship comparable to that of Islamabad.

The only other effective anti-Assad group has been the Kurdish YPG, which is more or less the Syrian branch of the PKK. The PKK is also (when convenient) designated as a terrorist organization. Once again it's hard to not be cynical. The PKK's Ocalan is a terrorist in the eyes of US-Turkish relations and yet the YPG considers him their ideological founder and leader and their political wing is directly tied to the PKK. But in Syria, that's okay, because they're part of the 'Free Syrian Army' fighting Assad. Why should it be different with al Nusra?

And yet even though the US supports the YPG in some instances, they have also turned their back on them due to the new arrangement with NATO ally Turkey. Erdogan in order to reassert his control over the government and further his plan to reform the Turkish political system has reignited the war with Kurds and with tacit approval from the US has turned to bombing YPG targets. Meanwhile America also works to subvert Erdogan and he knows it well. Turkey also harbours Chechen Salafis and Jihadis because it counters Russia and furthers NATO's anti-Russian strategy. And while the Russians hunt down and kill Chechen fighters on the streets of Istanbul they sign energy deals with Erdogan. Russia has been one of Turkey's major export markets. US sanctions against Russia have hurt Moscow but have also harmed the Turkish economy and weakened Erdogan.

Recent events in the Syrian War may all but end the friendly relationship and allow Turkey and Russia to revert to their historically antagonistic and competitive roles of Islamic Byzantium vs. the Third Rome/Orthodox Byzantium.

As long as al Nusra continued the fight against Assad, all was well. The expansion of ISIS has served a purpose and if need be can be contained. Frankly right now, Western governments are getting their Christmas wish list fulfilled. The cyber 9/11 that was needed to implement a new generation of Orwellian state controls now seems almost unnecessary. The recent spate of ISIS attacks has opened the floodgates and US leaders are deliberately trying to tie in the current 'fear episode' with the revelations of Snowden. They are capitalising on the present angst in order to push the cyber agenda and demand a clampdown on the Internet and expand government surveillance powers.

The chaos that's afoot and the level of deception in the media are very reminiscent of what was happening in 2002. The public has learned nothing and domestic political polarity coupled with growing tensions with Russia and China makes the present period seem even more dangerous.

But then Putin marched in and attempted to sabotage the plan. While the Russians have hit some ISIS targets, they've primarily been attacking al Nusra and other anti-Assad elements. The American media reports this as attack on the Free Syrian Army, but without exception will not provide any details about which FSA branches have been hit. Why? Because Russia is bombing al Nusra/al Qaeda positions and destroying the immediate threat to Assad. The US media cannot report this in negative terms and so they remain deliberately vague.

The Russians have clearly seen what the US is up to. They've been watching this game play out in the Caucasus, Ukraine and Central Asia. Putin stopped the US in 2008 by intervening in South Ossetia, he's tried to arrest their expansion in the Donbass and Crimea and now he's countering US schemes in Syria. While Putin is of course acting out of his own interests, it must be said that if any of the outside players have some kind of moral high ground in the conflict it is – ironically, Vladimir Putin. He's supporting the existing secular government, a longtime ally, and the retention of Assad works toward guaranteeing the security of minorities and perhaps some kind of settlement... an end to the war. The alternative can only be chaos, which seems to be the strategic goal of US policy. The chaos will afford the US opportunities to continue expanding its military footprint abroad and the police state at home. Ultimately it will allow them to re-draw the map of Eurasia, in other words establish hegemonic dominance over it.

France as always attempting to play a role that deflects US power has sought to one the one hand cooperate with the US and on the other hand, forge a different path. The Friday the 13th attacks coupled with the downing of a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai, both attacks being claimed by ISIS afforded Hollande an opportunity to become the Western hero in reaching out Putin and bringing Russia onboard with the Western agenda in Syria.

The downing of a Russian jet on the border of Turkey will harm this French/European rapprochement with Putin. US commentators have made it clear the policy makers in Washington don't want to see this relationship established. Turkish fighter jets, US F-16's no less, have worked to sabotage Hollande's attempt to build a coalition and Putin's attempt to seek legitimacy.

The game goes on, ever changing. It's a cauldron of lies and murder and yet so very few are paying attention and ever fewer have possess the basics to apprehend let along comprehend the theatre. People are dying while men in power scheme and profit. Fear and deception grip the publics of many lands and Christians who refuse to live and think as pilgrims and strangers all too easily are deceived and caught up in the fervor.