Monday, February 27, 2012

The Damascus Dimension

On the face of it, events in Syria are not much different from the recent pattern of "Arab Spring" events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya: stir up trouble and then come in to arbitrate in order to achieve regime change. It marks a departure from the standards of international law which were upheld until then, namely the integrity of a nation's internal affairs and the illegality of outside interference. The humanitarian argument is weak. Imagine somebody had armed the Manchester and London rioters with machine guns so that they could go on looting for longer. This would then be followed by declarations that the looters were deeply unhappy with their government and that they were an expression of the will of the people. Finally, after more heavy-handed policing attempts, outside interference would recognise them as the real representatives of the British people and justify military action against the government due to their continued suppression of the revolt. The only key difference in the Western stance regarding Syria, and other Arab countries before, is that they had a hand in organising the nascent rebellion from the start.

Using this new ploy of political and, in Libya, military intervention without the need to declare hostilities or obey the rules of war, the USA, Britain and France redrew the political map of the Middle East with great ease whilst the people of those countries, long fed up with their rulers, fell for the rhetoric. In all those countries, the Muslim Brotherhood was installed in government. Not many people are aware that this organisation has been a tool in the service of imperial America since the second World War (see my book Surrendering Islam). Populist democracy remains well out of reach for the people of Egypt or Libya. In Egypt, the democratic process has been postponed. The one thing the West cannot afford is to give the people a real voice, knowing their opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian cause.

In Iran and Syria, however, the price has evaded the West, not because those countries are inherently stronger, but because they are protected by China and Russia. Russia has not forgotten the humiliation she was subjected to by the West after having effectively been bankrupted and bought out and is gradually regaining her national pride. Whilst still a formidable military power, she has realised that she can't put up much resistance on her own and has finally teamed up as a junior partner with China. China in turn, has stepped up to a new phase in establishing its supremacy vis-a-vis the United States after having quietly waited for a long time for the only super power surviving the "Cold War" to weaken. Its oil deal with Iran in exchange for commodities is a direct affront to the supremacy of the dollar and, in particular after the US and European sanctions banning the import of Iranian oil, nothing short of a declaration of war. India did a similar deal with Iran at the same time, and the US has been powerless in preventing it. The gradual weakening of the dollar as the universal reserve currency means that the "free trade" ideology that served as a justification for imperial expansion in the past is irretrievably damaged and the empire will have to retreat slowly back into more clearly defined borders, in other words: the end of Pax Americana.

Like the British Empire before, we can expect that the American empire will not contract quietly or peacefully. We may well be heading for full-blown confrontation any time soon, but with a Chino-Russian alliance the USA is facing a superior enemy and one that also holds an economic trump card in that China owns much of America's debt and can thus accelerate the dollar's demise. Since Israel is also forcing America's hand, making the case for the supreme importance of her own security needs, this war is likely going to spark off in Syria once the exchange of insults goes out of hand. Already China has rebuffed Hilary Clinton for her arrogance with regard to comments about the alleged in-humanitarian Russian and Chinese veto of a UN security council resolution on Syria. China pointed the finger at America's poor human rights record in occupied Iraq. No mention was made yet of America's long history of using its veto to protect Israel against being censored for its human rights abuses against Palestinians.

In spite of the ongoing polemics against Iran's nuclear programme as well as numerous attempts of portraying Iran as an international terrorist threat, albeit so amateurish that one could conclude that if this is the best the Iranian government could manage, then we needn't worry about its nuclear capability, from the alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the recent bodged terrorist attack in Bangkok - Syria remains the more likely candidate for the start of hostilities between the old and the new super power, not only because it is right at the doorstep of Israel, but also because Iran is a much more difficult target due to its excellent defence capability against an attack from the Persian gulf and, recently, its demonstration of the ability to interfere with drones that would be used in an aerial attack. China is already fighting a proxy war with the USA in Afghanistan, just like the USA fought on Afghan territory with Russia, and the war is not going well for the Western coalition. China also has bought support and forged alliances in South America and Central Africa, the latter being an added reason why the West needed to take a more direct control of North-African countries. However, China is moving at a slow pace and unlikely to go for an all-out confrontation unless the US forces her onto the battle field.

For the West, China remains a closed world, and likewise, China is not sufficiently aware of the way Western propaganda operates. Therefore, she missed many an opportunity at scoring points. Hosting the Olympics, for example, did not assist China in repairing its tainted image in the West. It seems, China also fails to fully comprehend the economic warfare in which the West engages through monetary manipulation. Instead of, for example, pledging to support the stability of the Euro, without giving much detail, however, probably in an attempt to impress on Western opinion or to gain a greater stake in policy deliberations of the IMF, China could have through bilateral arrangements assisted troubled European countries, such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, to exit the Euro zone, thus gaining direct political influence in the midst of Europe without risking a collapse of its European markets due to the break-up of the Euro. Such a strategy would have isolated the United States even further and would have been extremely smart given the American approach of trying to weaken the European Union on the one hand whilst resting assured, on the other hand, that Europe completely depends on her in political and defence terms.

A further dimension, highlighting the crucial importance of what is currently being played out in Syria, is the religious and prophetic narrative: Both Christian and Muslim prophecies describe the region as a key battle field during the end times. According to Muslim tradition, the dictator of the united Western (one-world) empire, as-Sufyani, will emerge out of the conflict in Damascus and wreak havoc in the Muslim world. He will be confronted by a re-united Muslim army which eventually rallies around the Mahdi. After their victory, the Dajjal, or Anti-Christ, emerges, and finally his slayer, Jesus, the Messiah, who descends again to earth at a mosque near Damascus. Watch this space!