July 22, 2017

Many Americans voted for Donald Trump because he vowed to end the foreign conflicts in which the US had become entangled. So far, they have been disappointed. But this week a light flashed at the end of the tunnel.

President Trump, according to numerous reliable Washington sources, has decided to end US arms supplies and logistics support to Syria’s jihadist rebels that have fuelled the bloody six-year conflict. Washington, and its allies Britain and France, have persistently denied arming Syria’s jihadist rebels fighting to bring down the Russian and Iranian-backed government of President Bashar Assad.

Former President George W. Bush actively considered invading Syria around 2008 in collusion with Israel. But the Israelis then pointed out that there were no Western-friendly groups to replace Assad, only extreme militant Sunni Muslim groups. Even the usually reckless Bush called off the invasion of Syria.

By contrast, Barack Obama gave a green light to the CIA to arm, train and logistically support anti-Assad jihadist rebels in Syria. Arms poured in from Lebanon and, later, Turkey, paid for by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. Small numbers of US, British and French advisors went to Syria to teach the jihadists how to use mortars, explosives, and anti-tank weapons. The media’s claim that the fighting in Syria was due to a spontaneous popular uprising was false. The repressive Assad government was widely unpopular but the uprising was another CIA ‘color-style’ operation.

The object of this operation was to overthrow President Assad and his Shiite-leaning regime, which was supported by Iran, a bogeyman to all the US-backed feudal Arab oil monarchies. Syria was also to be punished because it refused Washington’s demands to sever ties with Iran and accept US tutelage.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton championed the covert war against Syria, arranging massive shipments of arms and munitions to the rebels from Kadaffi-era arms stores in Libya, and from Egypt, Croatia, likely Serbia, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan. Once again, the Gulf Arabs paid the bill.

The offensive against Syria was accompanied by a powerful barrage of anti-Assad propaganda from the US and British media. From the background, Israel and its partisans beat the war drum against the Assad government.

The result of the western-engendered carnage in Syria was horrendous: at least 475,000 dead, 5 million Syrian refugees driven into exile in neighboring states (Turkey alone hosts three million), and another 6 million internally displaced. That is, some 11 million Syrians, or 61% of the population, driven from their homes into wretched living conditions and near famine.

Two of Syria’s greatest and oldest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have been pounded into ruins. Jihadist massacres and Russian and American air strikes have ravaged once beautiful, relatively prosperous Syria. Its ancient Christian peoples are fleeing for their lives before US and Saudi takfiri religious fanatics.

Just when it appeared the jihadists were closing in on Damascus, limited but effective Russian military intervention abruptly changed the course of the war. The Syrian Army was able to regain the military initiative and push back the jihadists. Intermixed with so-called ‘takfiri’ rebels are some 3,000 ISIS jihadists who were originally armed and equipped by US advisors but have now run amok. They are under fierce western air attack in Syria and Iraq and are splintering.

Russia and the US have been inching toward a major war over Syria. In fact, US intervention has been far more extensive than generally believed, as this writer has been reporting for the past five years. Turkish media linked to the government in Ankara has just revealed that the US has at least ten small military bases in northern Syria being used to support rebel jihadist forces.

Meanwhile, the US is now relying almost entirely on Kurdish militias, know in Syria as YPG, to attack ISIS and act in US interests. This has outraged Turkey, which regards YPG as part of the hated Kurdish independence movement, PKK, against which Turkey has fought for two decades. During the 1980’s, I covered the Turkish-PKK conflict in eastern Anatolia.

If YPG/PKK emerges victorious from the Syrian conflict, Kurdish demands for an independent state in south eastern Turkey will intensify, threatening the breakup of the Turkish state. Kurds make up some 20% of Turkey’s population of 80 million.

For this very important reason, Turkey has been pulling away from US-run NATO, and warming relations with Moscow. Turkey has NATO’s second largest armed forces and key airbases that cover the Mideast.

Trump’s announced retreat from Syria – if it turns out to be real – will mark a major turning point in US-Russian relations. It could well avoid a clash between Russia and the US, both nuclear powers. The US has no real business in Syria and no strategic interests

America’s powerful neocons, who have been pressing for war against Russia, will be furious. Expect the media war against Trump to intensify. So too claims that Trump colluded with Moscow to get elected.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2017

This post is in: Syria, USA


  1. More ramblings:
    Trump’s twitter account is @realDonaldTrump; this should be renamed to @surrealDonaldTrump or @unrealDonaldTrump. If the man weren’t so dangerous, he would be a ‘bad joke’. He’s been in office for 6 months; only 42 more to go.
    Those canvassed that voted for the Donald, have changed their mind. One in eight would not have voted for him. Generally Americans ‘stand up’ for their President, right or wrong, and, they stand up and defend him internationally. This is not the case with the Donald. Their criticism of him goes beyond their borders. The first President, I recall, that has been held up as a buffoon internationally.
    The condition gets worse, next to the Korean peninsula, the debacle in the Middle East continues. Almost takes the spotlight off the Kim. Both areas could ‘flare up’ in a heartbeat. It takes one foolish move. Syria is only a part of it.
    The Americans have messed up the Middle East to the point it may take centuries for it to recover and parts of it may never. I assume the original cause of their involvement was the interaction between Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt and that these endeavours went terribly wrong. Once beautiful and thriving countries have been reduced to rubble. Lebanon suffered the same fate, a beautiful culture pockmarked with bullet holes.
    Initially , the oilpatch had a lot to do with it; billions of dollars were being made by gigacorps tied into American finances. This went off the rails.
    I think the initial ‘fly in the ointment’ was a solidarity of the OPEC countries and the huge spike in the cost of a barrel of oil. OPEC, like their masters had learned the culture of ‘greed’. This was OK for the gigacorps, but, not for OPEC. They were castigated for their greed. I’m actually surprised the Middle East still functions, with the oilpatch still squeeking out oil. The only thing I can think of is that the small wars, including Syria, take away the focus from the other oil producing areas and keep the remaining areas in a state of turmoil.
    The price of oil remained relatively low until the 1970s and then tripled in price. The OPEC countries were ‘rolling’ in money and everyone became very aware and defensive about their ‘little patch’. Prior to that, the Arabic nations had largely been wanderers, not concerning themselves with borders, let alone defending them. The countries were ‘rolling in money’ and had no idea of how to use it or what to do with it.
    One of the problems Israel had was that it was already in the 20th century and stood out in sharp contrast. The Arabs felt alienated and threatened by the ‘new kid’. They had an identifiable focal point for all their problems.
    The Arabs had common enemies, but, due to their ‘tribal’ mentality couldn’t pull together as a cohesive group. I suspect the Americans did everything to discourage cohesion. This was an inexpensive way for the Americans, who could not have matched the Arabs financial largesse. The leaders were happy with their ‘gold plated’ Rolls rather than put the funds into a sustainable base or education.
    A small glimmer in the neighbourhood called Quatar. This country was moving towards the 21st century, and, gets sanctioned by those that would prefer to live in the 12th. The blockade is encouraged by the US because it reduces the threat to Israel and fits right in with their buddy, Saudi Arabia. Coincidentally the blockade occurred within days of the Americans visiting Saudi Arabia. The Americans no longer have the financial clout to maintain this; it’s best the Saudis’ take over the reins. The house of Saud (cards?) has to feel really threatened.
    This destruction of Syria is all a ‘shell game’ to keep others from ‘peeking behind the curtain’ to see who the wizards are.

  2. Zeeshan7 says:

    Pulling out of the Syrian conflict at this juncture would be catastrophic. Nothing short of a mini-holocaust of the majority Sunni Muslim population would occur if the Assad-Russia-Iran nexus are left to their own devices, unchecked and unhindered in their reprisal toward the Syrian population. Romanticized videos showing Iraqi forces liberating Mosul in Iraq, while herding civilians to safety, fail to show the reality of what happens to these same civilians when they are in custody, away from news cameras. Graphic footage of alleged ISIS soldiers being executed are in reality, a murderous massacre of Sunni civilians by Shia Iraqi military. Any withdrawal and consequent tip in the power balance in a place like Syria would precipitate a large-scale ethnic religious cleanse.

  3. The worst thing about this is the utter moral blindness of the western media and Americans. They talk about the refugees but no one word of the fact that America is responsible for what happened to them. Then there is the stories of the utterly hypocritical American government has the audacity to say Russia is the aggressor in all of this, and is adding new sanctions.

  4. Damn! Dr. Paul Graig Robert has been saying exactly the same thing about the US Neocons and an engineered war against Russia. Now with two reliable sources reporting. It’s hard for anyone to deny.

  5. Steve_M. says:

    Another excellent article. Eric, you say that the media blitz against Trump will likely intensify if the US stops supporting the Syrian rebels and backs away from a confrontation with Russia. How could it get much worse, given that Trump is feeding this speculation about his collusion with the Russians to win the election by his clumsy attempts to shut down the investigation by Robert Mueller? Trump’s problems with the media are, to a great extent, of his own making.

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