September 14, 2013
A Short History Of The War On Syria - 2006-2014
In 2006 the U.S. was at war in Iraq. Some of the enemy forces it very much struggled to fight against were coming in through Syria. The same year Israel lost a war against Hizbullah. Its armored forces were ambushed whenever they tried to push deeper into Lebanon while Hizbullah managed to continuously fire rockets against Israeli army position and cities. Hizbullah receives supply for its missile force from Syria and from Iran through Syria. Its long-term plans to attack Iran and to thereby keep supremacy in the Middle East depend on severing Hizbullah's supply routes. The sectarian Sunni Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, saw their Sunni brethren defeat in Iraq and a Shia government, supported by Iran, taking over the country. All these countries had reason to fight Syria. There were also economic reasons to subvert an independent Syria. A gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey was competing with one from Iran to Syria. Large finds of natural gas in the coastal waters of Israel and Lebanon make such finds in Syrian waters quite plausible.
In late 2006 the United States started to finance an external opposition to Syria's ruling Baath party. Those exiles were largely members of the Muslim Brotherhood which had been evicted from Syria after their bloody uprising against the Syrian state between 1976 and 1982 had failed. In 2007 a plan for regime change in Syria was agreed upon between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The aim was to destroy the "resistance" alliance of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
By 2011 three years of drought, caused by global warming and Turkey's upstream dams and irrigation projects, had weakened the Syrian economy. Large parts of the poor rural population lost their means of living and moved into the cities. They provided the fertile ground needed to launch an uprising against the Syrian state.
The U.S. part in the plan was to provide the media and "global opinion" cover for the insurgency. To that purpose it used the tool from its "color revolution" tool box. "Citizen journalists" were recruited, trained and provided with the video and communication equipment needed for media propagandizing. Others were trained in organizing "peaceful civil demonstrations". The Saudis took care of the darker part of the plan. They financed and armed rebel groups, often related to the exiled Muslim Brotherhood, which had the task to instigate a wider insurgency by taking on government forces as well as the peaceful demonstrators.A main part of the scheme was the introduction of a sectarian view that would split the largely secular Syria into several constituencies.
A local disturbance in Deraa near the Jordanian border was used to launch the uprising. Peaceful demonstration were held but soon shots were fired towards the police as well as towards the demonstrators. Inevitably both sides escalated. Groups armed by the Saudis target the government forces. Having colleagues killed and wounded the government forces retaliated against the demonstrators. Some of those took up arms themselves and fought the government. "Citizen journalist" propagandized the victims on the "peaceful demonstrators" side but never mentioned those on the government side. "Western" media agencies followed that scheme. Cells in other Syrian cities were activated. Again "peaceful demonstrations" were cover for "a third force", as the Arab League investigation commission named it, which fought against government forces and also instigated the demonstrators to take up arms. The U.S. government helped by issuing its own propaganda for example by lying about Syrian artillery deployment against demonstrators when, at that point, none had yet happened. U.S. para-government organizations, Avaaz, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, joined the campaign against the Syrian government. Cyber attacks against the Syrian government news agency helped to suppress the other side of the story. Up to today the website of the official Syrian Arab News Agency, sana.sy, is purged from Google search results.
It was soon visible that the planned for "color revolution" strategy did not work. The Syrian state was more resilient than had been perceived. The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was more beloved and respected than the insurgency instigators ever expected. He also fulfilled many of the demands the serious protesters had. The constitution was rewritten, new parties were allowed, elections held and the most abusive security forces came under stricter control. The big cities, even though predominantly Sunni, did not support or join the increasing violent and sectarian fighters. Defections from the Syrian army and from political cadres were few and unimportant. For some time the Syrian economy held up quite well. The general population as well as the government rejected the scheme of a sectarian divide.
The enemies of Syria had to increase their commitment. Saudi Arabia and Qatar used all their capabilities to recruit foreign Jihadis willing to fight in Syria. The CIA, using Saudi money, brought in weapons and thousands of tons of ammunition from all over the world. Insurgency groups were provided with training and battlefield intelligence. A group of exiles was build up as external future government.
The Syrian government had to retreat to conserve its forces. Major parts of rural Syria were taken over by the insurgency. The population there fled over the boarders or into the cities. Where the insurgency foraged into parts of cities it was difficult to dislodge without creating immense damage to the infrastructure and buildings. But the Syrian government learned its lessons. With the help of its friends from Iran and Hizbullah its army units were retrained to fight against insurgency forces. Paramilitary units of locals were build up to take over those parts the army had cleaned of insurgents. Russia kept the supplies coming.
On the side of the insurgent instigators some things started to go wrong. The Jihadis Saudi Arabia provided were good fighters but ideologues that did not fit into the Syrian social context. They started to clash with the population as well as with local fighters. Just today a large fight is taking place in north-east Syria between Jihadi groups and local bandits. Arguments with al-Qaeda inspired forces over weapon supplies from Libya killed the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi. Despite being revamped at least three times the planned for government in exile group proved ineffective due to bickering and infighting between its sponsors. The "peaceful protesters" media campaign broke down as more and more stories and pictures from the massacres committed by the insurgency came to light. The population in those countries that supported the insurgency turned against any involvement in the conflict.
When it became likely that the insurgency might not be able to overcome the Syrian army U.S. president Obama introduced his "red line" over chemical weapon use. This was an invitation to the insurgency side to introduce chemical weapons to the battlefield, to then blame the Syrian government and to thereby create a U.S. intervention on their side. They tried to do so for a few times but Obama was then not yet willing to commit outright force. To prevent the upcoming Jihadis from taking over Syria should the Assad government fall, the U.S. planed to have U.S. trained "moderate" fighters take the lead in the fight especially in the capital Damascus.
In mid August 2013 a group of 300 CIA trained fighters entered Syria from Jordan. A second group followed soon after. (The Obama administration is now trying to change that date.) Their task was to go to Damascus and to take the fight to the Syrian government itself. They were obliterated on their way to Damascus' suburbs. Without U.S.air support, like it provided in Libya, further use of U.S. trained forces would have been useless. The "red-line" plan was activated. On August 21 some chemical stuff was released in some Damascus suburbs. Immediately an immense number of videos showing rows of alleged dead were uploaded to Youtube. But those videos did not show the right symptoms for a Sarin attack nor did they show the medical attention one would expect in the hours immediately following a real chemical weapon attack. It was clearly a false flag incident. But Obama tried to convince the world that the Syrian government had indeed used chemical weapons and released some flimsy claims of evidence but no evidence at all. He called on allies to join him for a military intervention.
The British parliament voted down a request from its government to join the war. The British population, like in the U.S., had no stomach for another lengthy war. Obama was in a catch 22 situation. He could go to war without asking Congress and would then face a possible impeachment from a very hostile House, or he could ask Congress for a vote for war. He soon climbed down from his "I'll wage this war" position and decided to go to Congress. The U.S. population was widely against another Middle East war as was the U.S. military. Pressured by their constituents and in view of unconvincing claims of evidence about the "massacre" Congress denied Obama its vote for war. In this Congress even defied AIPAC and the Israel lobby lost its first fight in over 22 years.
Obama has an urgent domestic agenda to implement. There is Obama-care, the budget and an upcoming fight over on the debt ceiling. Having lost in Congress Obama could not, solely on his assumed presidential powers, go to war. He would have risked an immediate impeachment process and a lame duck status for the rest of his presidency. What was he to do?
There the white Russian knight, Vladimir Putin, rode to Obama's rescue.
Putin offered a deal: Syria would agree to give up its unconventional weapons and the U.S. would agree for the Syrian government and president Assad to stay in power. The idea goes back to August 2012 when former Sen. Richard Lugar had proposed such a deal in Moscow.
Syria's chemical weapon are pretty useless on the tactical battlefield. But their potential use against Israeli population centers had proven to be a quite useful strategic deterrence. But now those weapons had become a liability. Instead of preventing an external war owning them was now threatening to invite one. At the same time Hizbullah's conventional missile force had already proven to be a good deterrent without the problems unconventional weapons carry with them. Syria can give away its current strategic deterrence and trust its allies in Iran and Russia to provide an equally effective replacement.
Obama took the rescue line Putin threw to him. He knew that openly entering the Syrian war against a well prepared opponent and its allies would mean a long and uncertain war. He was in a lose-lose situation but could now come out of it and look like a winner. He rescues Israel from the threat of a gas attack and cashes in on a win from his peace-prized hobby horse - WMD-disarmament.
Today the foreign ministers of the Russian Federation and the United States agreed on a Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons. It will require, if possible, the elimination of all of Syria's chemical weapons by mid 2014. The agreement does not say anything about the future of the Assad government. But Russia will have made sure that guarantees were given and received. Syria would not give up these weapons without such a deal. Russia as well as Syria know that Obama must keep face and they will not talk about the silent backroom deal that was made earlier today in Geneva. They behave like Nikita Khrushchev who kept silent over his agreement with Kennedy about the removal of U.S. nuclear missiles from Turkey after the Cuba missile crisis. Besides those guarantees any fulfillment of the disarmament, which may take a bit longer than today agreed upon, depends on the survival of the Syrian government. Taking down Assad is for now out of question.
Obama will now, slowly, reduce support for the Syrian insurgency. He will press Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to do likewise. As faster Syria agrees and moves to eliminate its chemical weapons as faster will Obama retreat from the war. U.S. media will soon turn to the budget fight and the NSA spying affair as the major news themes and the U.S. public will forget about Syria.
The Syrian opposition does not like the deal and does not want it to succeed. The Syrian Military Council will do its best to derail it. But it will soon be out of political support and out of money. Meanwhile the local SMC forces are fighting al-Qaeda aligned groups. It could well be that some of the local Syrian insurgency groups will soon join government forces in attacking the Jihadis. General Selim Idris may find some low level bureaucratic job in Dubai or Qatar.
The Saudi king hates al-Qaeda ideologues just as much as he hates the Muslim Brotherhood and the Sasanids. He will agree to stop the war and will crack down on its financiers. Prince Bandar, who's responsibility was the recruiting the insurgent fighters, has (again) screwed up his job by not keeping them under control. He may be sent back into the desert. The Gulf states will (have to) follow the Saudi example.
In Israel Netanyahoo knows that he lost this fight. AIPAC's defeat in Congress tells him that. While this round against the resistance was indecisive, a lot of Syria has been destroyed and its strategic arms have for now been dismantled. Netanyahoo will agree to the U.S. plan of winding down the war but will demand some undeserved "compensation". He always does and Obama always gives to him.
The Turkish premier Erdogan will try to continue to support the insurgency in Syria. He is the only statesman who does so for ideological reasons. A true believer. But he also has lots of problems with his other neighbors and the external credit driven Turkish economy is on the verge of falling into a deep hole. Some hints from Russia and Iran that this winter might bring some technical difficulties with Turkey's gas supplies may be enough to make him finally throw in the towel. There are also some people within his own party, especially the Anatolian businessmen, who no longer agree with his rule. They may use his political weakness to bring some one else to the fore.
Out of support and out of any chance to ever win the fight the Syrian part of the insurgency will likely stop fighting and try to come to some clemency agreement with the government. The foreign al-Qaeda parts will continue the fight. But they have little ideological base in the Syrian population and have no chance against a full fledged mechanized army. There will be a clamp down against their financial backers. For some time their terrorism will continue though. The U.S. may soon help Syria with intelligence or drones to fight them down.
Russia is the clear strategic winner of the war on Syria. It is back as a power in the Middle East and has laid the base to stay there for quite some time. It has won major points in the global public opinion. Gazprom will be happy to help Syria with exploring and retrieving its coastal gas reserves. That will pay for Syria's reconstruction and rearmament. Gazprom may also buy gas from the Iran-Syria pipeline, sell it to Europe and strengthen its monopoly there.
Iran has reinforced its strategic role and is now well positioned for negotiations of a deal with the United States that could end the 30 years of hot and cold hostilities. It has spent quite a bit on Syria and will spend more to help rebuilding it but the strategic result, a win for the "axis of resistance", is well worth that price.
Syria and Syrians have won the war and lost a lot. It will take years to reintegrate the refugees, to rebuild and to let the wounds and deep rifts heal. Syria has also regained its independence. In 2014 Bashar al-Assad will likely be reelected as president of the Syrian Arab Republic and Syria's history will remember him as a gracious ruler and as a hero.
The people of the United States have, for the first time in decades, stopped a war that their president wanted to pursue. That is a huge victory and a precedence. They should remember it well when the next manufactured war on this or that small country comes up. They have the power to stop it.
Posted by b on September 14, 2013 at 01:15 PM | Permalink
BTW, complete U-turn today on news I caught on French TV with a "special envoy that had been granted a visa" and was interviewing people in Jaramana in Damascus. Even if the place was presented as a "loyalist" pocket (sic! when you know how big it is...) they were actually showing people who did not happen to be pro-rebels or pro-intervention!
Posted by: Mina | Sep 15, 2013 11:20:18 AM | 102
"he said that al-Nusra Front and ISIS were infiltrated ... by agents of foreign intelligence services."
Yes, reports are the infiltration is very bad. Some of the top leaders are apparently working directly for the CIA! ;)
"The whole work of the evil axis UK/US/NL/Gulf monarchs since the 80s has been to make it impossible to Marxist ideas to make their way into a Muslim head."
Absolutely. This seems to be, once again, we see effects of the US anti-communist focus. The Muslim world has been left with few organized popular organizations except for religious ones which have turned out to not be very popular at all - ie the MB in Egypt and the "rebel" groups in Syria and Libya. So we see lots of anger and popular power being displayed but it lacks the organization to follow up. So in Egypt especially we see the ability to topple governments but not the ability to form them.
The accusations that the Russians are interested in (only!) their self interests seems to be greatly misplaced. The Russian government is now effectively the political leader of many important international organizations - the SCO, the BRICS, the opposition at the UN - that include all of the developing countries. If Russia was to simply to be following a self-interested strategy they would be risking their leadership of this bloc without which they would be extremely isolated.
Iran is fully on board with this strategy, there is no reason to think that they would support something that would damage Syria for a short term Russian gain. They are even more invested in the outcome of events there than the Russian government.
Posted by: guest77 | Sep 15, 2013 11:31:31 AM | 103
What's not going to change in the immediate foreseeable future -- particularly with a government shutdown looming on the horizon -- is the massive almost monolithic anti-war sentiment of the American public. From all parts of the political spectrum people are opposed to intervention. B is correct in drawing attention to this as a singular historic event in his erudite post. The fact that AIPAC could not find the least bit of traction and was looking at losing a vote in the Senate is remarkable.
I saw a link to MofA on the Naked Capitalism blog several months back. I had been following the rise of the jihadis in Syria, so I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did. It's an excellent source of information not to be found in the prestige press. I appreciate the regular commentators and am confidant that if I find myself unsure on how to respond to some chicanery being circulated, like HRW's recent report saying the rockets used in the Ghouta CW attack provided conclusive proof of SAA guilt, I can turn to this blog for answers. Thank you, b.
Posted by: Mike Maloney | Sep 15, 2013 11:40:48 AM | 104
Another sign of why this deal is bad. When will people understand?!
Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 15, 2013 12:09:57 PM | 105
If I were you, I'd be a bit more circumspect with the optimistic view of the situation with Russia. Aren't they three or four years away from being in the shape you seem to see? Putin and Lavrov have done an excellent job in preventing a terrorist takeover of Syria, but this is only the first act in the play. The world can now see that Russia is serious, and the US is not all-powerful. But good development of Syria and Iran is now needed, plus a way of changing SA. Also, as with Georgia, the world needs to know that fighting Russia is not a good idea. That means Israel needs to regret this. As in, very powerful missiles and air defenses in Syria for a long, long time. Perhaps they can build a Holocaust Museum for all those lost to al-CIAduh in this war.
The PTB in the West probably feel that both Russia and China have elites with money abroad, and children going to University there, too. Many argue that a high percentage of Russian elite would have sold Syria down the river, it's just that Putin is not that type.
Posted by: Ozawa | Sep 15, 2013 12:21:25 PM | 106
104) bad for whom?
Posted by: somebody | Sep 15, 2013 12:23:19 PM | 107
@104 Maybe if you whine a bit more it will sink in.
I can see how you think it is bad as a Nalvany supporter and a Morsi fan though.
You being a Navalny supporter, you see the deal is bad because it has stopped his paymaster, the empire, in its tracks. It has also shown a great solidarity between Russia and the Arab and Muslim world, something that makes the racist ideas of Navalny - who would destroy Russia internally and externally by sowing seeds of hate and division with its neighbors - seem like the ridiculous falsehoods they are.
You being a Morsi supporter, it is obvious how you also think it is bad. It allows multi-ethnic, multi-confessional state in the Middle East a chance to survive and grow strong. This is anathema to people you support like Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood who seek to hoodwink the populations of their nations by convincing them that their problems are not due to neo-liberal capitalism but to the fact that they live side by side with Copts and Shia.
In so many ways this deal smashes to pieces the idea that Russia cannot work with the Muslim world, or that the Muslim world cannot have as its basis strong, secular, multi-ethnic nations.
It's no wonder you hate it so.
Posted by: guest77 | Sep 15, 2013 12:37:06 PM | 108
Assad government hails 'victory' in arms deal, troops attack
Oliver Holmes, Reuters, Sep 15 2013
BEIRUT - Syria's government hailed the Kerry-Lavrov agreement as a "victory" as its warplanes and artillery hit rebel suburbs of the capital again on Sunday. National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar told RIA Novosti:
We welcome these agreements. They are a victory for Syria, achieved thanks to our Russian friends. They are an achievement of Russian diplomacy and Russian leadership. They will help Syrians get out of the crisis. They have prevented a war against Syria by denying a pretext to those who wanted to unleash it.
He was the first Syrian official to react to Saturday's deal. He also echoed Kerry and Lavrov in saying it might help Syrians "sit round one table to settle their internal problems." But rebels, calling the international focus on poison gas a sideshow, have dismissed talk the arms pact might herald peace talks and said Assad has stepped up an offensive. Air attacks, shelling and infantry attacks on suburbs of Damascus through Sunday backed up statements from Assad's supporters as well as opponents that he is back on the offensive after a lull in which his troops took up defensive positions in anticipation of US air attacks.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 15, 2013 12:48:29 PM | 109
I must admit I was surprised and pleased to see Americans come out against another insane war. My point however, this could be turned upside down by another false flag, and we know this next one will make the last one look like a picnic, bandar will pull all stops and by then,, Syria has been disarmed. The Saudis don't seem ready to give up, Obama will be getting ready for a new election and we know Hillary Clinton will be prostituting herself for AIPAC and by then, the Brits may decide, a new vote, and of course the French are still itching to get at Assad. By mid to late 2014 if things are still the same in Syria, I am convinced Obama will go back to the insanity idea.
I hope at least the Syrians managed to negotiate some upgraded weapons to make their CW not necessary.
Posted by: ana souri | Sep 15, 2013 2:31:23 PM | 110
Meanwhile ... the Imperial Axis of Evil's propagandist's put their chagrin on display by dropping into panic-mode, and let their mouths run away from their brains with memorable little gems like this:
"So Assad gets off the hook by giving up his chemical weapons. Meanwhile, planeload after planeload of aircraft full of Russian weapons continue to land in Damascus."
... which the unquestioningly obedient BBC dutifully broadcasts to the world.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 15, 2013 2:56:20 PM | 111
? Read your own quote from the link again. Or you think the US statements were positive?
Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 15, 2013 4:44:04 PM | 112
I have not, one single time, seen our media mention Rumsfeld and Cheney's role in making sure that Saddam acquired chemical weapons by making sure that dual use chemical technology was accessable to him.
Point being, do "we", ("we" being the human excrement in Washington DC and our so-called "Fourth Estate"), think that such criminal hypocricy goes un-noticed by the global community? It is this kind of hypocricy that puts words like "I smell sulphur" into the mouths of the leaders of other nations. Putin was right on when he criticized our constant claim of exceptionalism. We are every bit the "evil empire" that we once accused Russia of being. And our media is everything we claimed TASS was during the cold war.
Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Sep 15, 2013 5:44:38 PM | 114
Really great summary, B.
Can anyone give me a hint about causes of France's recent bloodlust?
Posted by: Crest | Sep 15, 2013 5:58:32 PM | 115
R Crest @115
"Can anyone give me a hint about causes of France's recent bloodlust?"
Impotence, shame and fear. The French "left" is totally exposed as a reactionary force allied with imperialism and utterly empty of ideas in the face of rapid economic decline and a growing social crisis. Some on the left are for bombing Syria, others for telling women what to wear.
It is a story repeated all over Europe from Galway Bay to the Urals, from the North Cape to Gibraltar: the lies that the public used to heed just make people laugh now.
A hard rain is going to fall.
Posted by: bevin | Sep 15, 2013 6:51:34 PM | 116
R Crest, bevin - a little research on hollande's cabinet & zionism reveals the degree to which the CRIF and the LICRA own both the political and media powers in todays France. In 56, when Israel got the bomb and an air force from the antecessors of todays socialists, France bargained for muscle to it's colonial wars and joint ventures. Toay, they bargain for campaign euros, preferably in swiss accounts, they're as enslaved as the yankees are. Hollande is as despicable as Obama, it's latest stunt on tv taking credit for Putin's Syrian solution is pathetic.
Posted by: estouxim | Sep 16, 2013 3:48:08 AM | 117
Lysander @ 41
Alexander Mercouris answers most of the Vineyard Saker concerns analysing the Lavrov Kerry agreement. Worth reading
Posted by: estouxim | Sep 16, 2013 4:06:19 AM | 118
According to a news report in Oz today, Americans want Obama to explain why he's so busy making stuff up about Syria while a lot of financial pundits are warning that the bailed-out and unconvicted banksters are again pursuing policies which will lead to a 2008 GFC redux if the Govt doesn't read them the riot act and step in.
Ah-h, the American Dream.
You have to be asleep to believe it.
Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 16, 2013 4:24:41 AM | 119
In the past you have argued that Lavrov's "gambit" was a winning-move, and that it showed he was intent on keeping this out of the UN.
But the UN seems to be very much in the process.
There is nothing that would indicate that the UN inspection team would have any less power than the CW team, for instance - no delineation of powers set out.
The released "Agreement" is much more of a "proposal" rather than a fully fleshed-out "agreement". It appears specific in certain part but these are fairly non controversial.
More importantly, in areas where there really should be detail, relating to UN involvement for example, there is little concrete detail to be found, almost none in fact. This leaves the nature of the "proposal", what is actually being "agreed" to here, open to a great deal of spin, which no doubt is useful for both sides.
In that sense, it's a masterpiece.
The references to the UN in the "proposal"/agreement are rather vague, deliberately so it appears.
We don't know which side it was that pushed for such vagueness, and future "exclusives" full of quotes from unnamed insiders should be expected and ignored
Some will say that such vagueness is a part of Lavrov's "brilliant strategy" - ignoring the fact that such a lack of detail can just as well work in The Great Pirate's favour as anyone else's
Posted by: hmm | Sep 16, 2013 7:11:48 AM | 121
The people of the United States have, for the first time in decades, stopped a war that their president wanted to pursue.
No. This is a an illusion, and possibly a dangerous one. What happened is that the potential aggressor (USisr) was weak and vulnerable due to internal quarrels, crossed interests, uncertainty of aim, action, and outcome. The US PTB do not care about public opinion, polls, e-mails, etc. Possibly some Congress Critters were swayed, but that was because the uncertainty and confusion left room for them to adopt an anti-strike stance, and they tepidly ‘joined’ what seems to be a defensible opinion.
This confusion was evident in the attitudes towards Egypt re. (and before as well) the Military Coup.
alexno, at 19, I posted about the pipelines. I agree w. you in a way, but they provide a sort of subtext, a landscape that provides extra rationales for one position or another (national, not oil. cos. etc.) For ex. France joining the position of Quatar (against Assad) can be seen as reaching out to a new partner in the ME, gathering new influence there, shoring up its creds, linking France (and the EU) to the ME in a new way, and reducing dependency on Russian gas. But these are perhaps marginal considerations.
It all comes down to energy (fossil fuels) in the long run.
Who controls it will control the world, and ME oil is a big part of that. Most ppl - and many in the PTB - see, or pretend to see, ‘the economy’ or power relations and domination as a function of finance, currency exchange, debt, investment, technology growth, export growth, political ideologies, societal organization, cost of labor, and so on. (If only the Iraqis got into MacDonald's..) With military might or threat used to impose one thing or another, and also create destruction, non/low-users of energy who fight each other, without really grasping that it is only energy that counts, or admitting it.
Energy (in the form of FF) is considered a kind of backdrop, a supposed constant (beyond local quarrels or profit sharing schemes, sanctions, prices in the market, a pipeline route, etc. etc.) that gives on giving...ignored as an input by almost all traditional thinkers, from Marx to ..say the lame Krugman.
So the pipelines have a long-term importance that may be obscured, or seem trivial, or ‘not for now’... Ignoring energy matters is like snubbing the elephant in the room.
Posted by: Noirette | Sep 16, 2013 9:33:35 AM | 122
It may be of little significance but gazprom, on it's website, makes no reference to "Fossil fuels", a phrase you referred to at least twice.
It does frequently refer to something called "HydroCarbons" however.
could it be possible that Gazprom deals in Hydrocarbons, while Oil Majors deal in "Fossil Fuels"?
Perhaps that is where the obvious confusion lies, over such simple things as the existence or not of "Long Term strategy" or even "pricing Cartels".
(Some people seem going so far as to imply that Oil Majors have little power simply due to the mere existence of State Oil Co's.)
Posted by: hmm | Sep 16, 2013 10:12:46 AM | 123
damn, shouldn't have said that withot checking first :) - actually gazprom do mention Fossil Fuels -
Nonetheless, perhaps in Libya it searches only for "Hydrocarbons"? - at this link it mentions only "hydrocarbons" and not "Fossil Fuels" http://www.gazprom.com/about/production/projects/deposits/libya/
Posted by: hmm | Sep 16, 2013 10:17:05 AM | 124
I think the role of oil & gas is overestimated.
There simply is no "complete dependency"; The very countries that are the keenest to start new wars happen to also be the ones with the most nuclear power reactors. zusa and europe are *not* "completely dependent" on oil and gas and sure enough they needn't start wars for it.
The wars are more to do with religion. It is not by coincidence that there has been and is a pattern. What is it that makes Muslims "bad"? Their religion is strongly opposed to interest usury - while a certain group of unporportionally influential people live from it. Accordingly there is something that "good" Muslim countries like zaudi arabia have in common: they play the money game and are ruled by greedy despotic families.
And then there is Russia, the country that is geostrategically immensely powerful, incredibly rich in resources, and needs nobody, nor does it strive for world dominance or the like. Russia is a souvereign power in every respect and no matter how hard they try - and they *did* try hard - zusa and the other thugs can't bring Russia to her knees.
I think the point of no return has already been crossed. It is only a matter of time for fukuz and their thug cohorts to fall. Sure enough zusa/israel will not go down without creating maximum havoc and yes, right now, a war would be forbiddingly expensive for Russia. But there is no need. *Knowing* that risking a war with Russia would be bound to send zusa/israel and their thug friends right to hell is sufficient; zusa will make lots of self-delusional noise but they will shy away in the end.
Let us not be romantic; the Syria plan wasn't agreed because zusa suddenly became reasonable or interested in international law. It was agreed because Lavrov told kohn "We wouldn't like to do it, it would create lots of pain and problems for us. But if you really want war you will get it and zusa will end up back in stone age".
kohn/obama "agreed" and were rewarded with some nice PR and Russia patiently tolerating yet another brawling and threatening noise cacophonia.
Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Sep 16, 2013 10:46:34 AM | 125
Different vocabularies are used, partly to obfuscate.
FF = Fossil Fuel = formed thru time by natural processes, existing in the Earth (often buried) thru decomposition of organic matter over millions of years.
Such as: petroleum, aka oil (incl. heavy oil, tar sands, etc.) coal of various kinds, peat, natural gas of various kinds..
As distinguished from energy used by humans (or other living organisms) from continuing and ongoing (not stored) forces or inputs that can be harnessed, such as wind, tides, water streams, or solar input such as in agriculture.
FF is used by the English language community.
Burning wood and bio-detritus has an intermediary status and is treated in various ways. (Lumped here or there, left out, treated separately, etc.) Geothermy (digging into the earth to capt heat and bring it up) is yet another ball of wax.
Hydrocarbons is often used as a synonym for precious, high performing, FF.
Posted by: Noirette | Sep 16, 2013 11:00:33 AM | 126
The idea that Islam is 'opposed to usury' is superficial and propagandistic. It derives from the play the MBs periodically make for mass recruitment by preaching about 'social justice'. It has no effective content or value at all. Muslims in government are just as much into usury as anybody else, though they might disguise it with flim-flam about 'Islamic banking'.
The real reason isn't oil and gas, despite all Pepe Escobar's theories about 'Pipelineistan'. The big oil and gas companies have lost billions on the GWOT. The real reason is obviously what we all thought it was to begin with, before the thought reform crowd got hold of us: it's that Muslims have a very pronounced dislike for Jewish government.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 16, 2013 11:12:27 AM | 127
Anyway. It comes all down to a simple point: Terminate the worst crime "state" of all times israel and live in peace.
Ceterum censeo israel delendum esse.
Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Sep 16, 2013 11:25:25 AM | 128
Have you read Rushdie's memoirs, "Joseph Anton"? He is really describing a turning point indeed, with the fatwa (which came only as tip of the iceberg after the uproar had started at a tool of Indian politicians within the long Hindu-Muslim feud). Then it became a tool of UK Muslim (and non-Muslim) wanabee politicians. It also contains many delightful insigts on UK politics (all these politicians in the books' awards committees...).
I recommend it (although it's full of typos)!
Posted by: Mina | Sep 16, 2013 11:47:06 AM | 129
No, Mina, but thanks for the suggestion. I liked his first two novels, but after Satanic Verses I gave up. Here's an interesting item:
Egyptian authorities recapture Islamist-held town
Patrick Kingsley, Guardian, Sep 16 2013 (excerpt)
Egyptian authorities have finally recaptured a town in central Egypt that had been under the control of Morsi supporters. Armed crowds in Delga, a remote town of 120,000 people in Egypt's Minya province, first scared away its police force following Morsi's overthrow on Jul 3. They then unleashed a campaign of terror on the town's Coptic Christian minority, who make up around a sixth of the local population. Further assaults on up to 10 other towns in the region where Islamists have also weakened state control since July are also planned. The situation has raised concerns that Egypt's government, already fighting Islamist militants in the Sinai, could eventually face a smaller insurgency in central and southern Egypt. The areas were already known as strongholds for Islamist terrorists during the 1990s, and officials say there was a surge in smuggled weapons during Morsi's lax year in office.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Sep 16, 2013 12:01:28 PM | 130
"The idea that Islam is 'opposed to usury' is superficial and propagandistic."
On the contrary,Rowan,Islam is opposed to usury. So is Christianity.
"It derives from the play the MBs periodically make for mass recruitment by preaching about 'social justice'."
Islamic opposition to usury long pre-dates the Muslim Brotherhood, a C20th foundation.
And this does not contradict my first proposition, in the least way:
"Muslims in government are just as much into usury as anybody else, though they might disguise it with flim-flam about 'Islamic banking'.
What those who call themselves muslims do in government has very little bearing on the content of the Koran or the jurisprudence of successive generations of scholars.
The truth is that, historically, usury has been disapproved of in every society in which it has reared its head. And almost all religions of which I am aware, including Judaism, either prohibit or set out to regulate usury, hence, for example, the Jubilee.
Let me add, at risk of being accused of harassing you, that this snippet:
"The big oil and gas companies have lost billions on the GWOT" is one that is not borne out by the balance sheets of these companies. They have made record profits as the value of their reserves and the price of their products has increased enormously.
You disburse opinions like an inebriated seaman. Here's another:
"Muslims have a very pronounced dislike for Jewish government."
Leaving aside the peculiar case of Israel, do you have any evidence of this? I know of none which suggest that muslims prefer Christianity or any other religion's government to that of Jews. And historically Jews have greatly preferred muslim to christian rule.
So far as oil and gas reserves are concerned, while they are certainly important to imperialists, for whom wealth and power are critical, none of these wars is fought to control them. Which is just as well, since invariably the cost of wars far outweighs the marginal benefit (usually very dubious) of establishing military control over the sources of products sold on the world market.
The causes of the current wars are very complex- many interests are pushing for war, for all manner of different, often contradictory and sometimes nonsensical 'reasons'.
On the other hand, the push for war is very simply explained: the rulers of the empire, now centred on Washington DC, want to achieve total global hegemony, and military force is the only advantage they have left. And that too, despite enormous investment in preserving it, is withering away with extraordinary speed.
Which, paradoxically, makes the current crisis in the world particularly dangerous: the ruling class sense that they have one last chance to win everything and they are anxious to take that chance before it is too late, and their marginal advantages in weapon systems, by their nature obsolescent, disappears, if it has not already done so. Which, I suspect, Mr Pragma believes to be the case.
Posted by: bevin | Sep 16, 2013 11:13:29 PM | 132
Update on Rushdie's book:
One of his girl friend at the time is obviously manipulated by some intelligence in the US. Could someone explain me why they recruit schizophrenes? How easily are they manipulated? Inclination to obey seems not compatible, but I am no expert.
Posted by: Mina | Sep 17, 2013 5:15:34 AM | 133
really nice overview, and sure the CW 'redline' pretext is there, but available evidence really does point to sarin being used in the aug.21 attack/event/whatever - and more specifically, russian-made and supplied sarin, SC3.
Posted by: Oz | Oct 10, 2013 7:35:10 AM | 134
134) chemistry is chemistry and sarin is sarin, no nationality involved there ...
Better Killing through Chemistry
Buying chemical weapons material through the mail is quick and easy
Instead Tour got a big box the next day by overnight mail. By following one of the well-known recipes for sarin¿mixing dimethyl methylphosphonate, phosphorus trichloride, sodium fluoride and alcohol in the right amounts and sequence¿he could have made 280 grams of the stuff or a comparable amount of soman or GF. (That¿s more than 100 teaspoonfuls.) All this for $130.20 plus shipping and handling.
Nor would delivering the agent be rocket science. To avoid handling poisons, terrorists could build a binary weapon, which performs the chemical reaction in situ. An off-the-shelf pesticide sprayer could then blow the miasma into a building ventilation system. Depending on how well the sprayer worked and how crowded the building was, 280 grams of sarin could kill between a few hundred and tens of thousands of people. The Aum attack on the Tokyo subway involved about 5,000 grams and left 12 people dead, but the cult didn¿t use a sprayer.
Posted by: somebody | Oct 10, 2013 3:20:13 PM | 135
Bevin: I don't know whether comparing me to an 'inebriated seaman' has more bearing on my style than on my substance. I mean, I like to be chatty and breezy rather than pompous and pedantic, which is probably why we don't get on. Now as to the substance, you criticise my remark:
Muslims in government are just as much into usury as anybody else, though they might disguise it with flim-flam about 'Islamic banking'.
Because, you say:
What those who call themselves muslims do in government has very little bearing on the content of the Koran or the jurisprudence of successive generations of scholars.
This is practically circular argument. Having solemnly adopted "the content of the Koran or the jurisprudence of successive generations of scholars" as if they had some relevance to real life, you then define the activities of "those who call themselves muslims in government" as irrelevant to it. But it was only you who imagined that "the content of the Koran or the jurisprudence of successive generations of scholars" was relevant to real life in the first place, not me, because it isn't, and real life is what matters, not the dusty tomes of "the Koran and successive generations of scholars," which are only good for bamboozling callow youths, and useful idiots of any age. And it really is true that Muslims dislike Jewish government. The endless TV snippets about this that surface on MEMRI and similar Jewish, anti-Semite-hunting websites reflect a real mass attitude, a very understandable one. Of course, it is simplistic to imagine that the USA, or any other western country, is simply and solely ruled by Jews, but it's a widely held view in the so-called Muslim World nonetheless.
Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 10, 2013 3:38:15 PM | 136