By Aksay Lackoo
Aug 29, 2016
The Syrian War, today. On a Tuesday 15th March 2011, the protests for democratic reforms started in the streets of Deraa. Five years later, Syria has become a state of chaos. How has a peaceful protest against Syria’s President become a deadly civil war, leaving more than 250,000 people dead, drawn in global powers and drove international affairs and diplomacy into question?
The early protest of 2011 was the sign of an uprising against a regime responsible for the high unemployment, a lack of political freedom; a society crept by corruption and in regression under Assad’s presidency. The uprising seems rhetoric to have become a civil war as we can picture it today. How did Syria end up in chaos?
Carl V. Clausewitz, the strategic grand master, defines war as a “mere continuation of policy by other means.” Political views are the object, wars are the means and the means include the object. Objective or subjective, wars have a political intent. In Clausewitz’s words, “What remains peculiar to war is simply the peculiar nature of its means.”
The Syrian state is today a plateau of conflicts – name it an ideological war, a civil war, a political war, or the other name. The ‘conflicts’ have divided powerful nations, the U.S, Russia, have pushed the Middle East, with mainly the Middle East into taking sides. While the division is not only reflected in policies, the tug is filthier in the battles. It has become more than just a battle between proponents and opponents of Assad’s regime. The intervention of regional and world powers, including Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the U.S, their military, financial and political support for the government and opposition has contributed directly to the intensification and continuation of the fighting, and turned Syria into a ‘proxy’ battlefield.
Who are the actors of the Syria War? We have the Assad’s regime, the ‘actual’, or ‘initial’ reason for the Syrian’s uprising. Assad’s regime is supported by al-Fadhal al-Abbas’s brigade (a Twelver Shia militant group), the Arab Nationalist Guard ( a group with Pan-Arabism ideals) , the Jaysh al-Muwahhideen brigade ( of the Druze community), Fatemiyoun brigade ( Afghanistani Shia militants), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command ( Palestinian Nationalist militant group), the Gozarto Protection Force , the Qamishli Sootoro, Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the Syrian Resistance, and the Hezbollah (Shia islamist militant group). Russia, Iran and North Korea are the major allies of the Syrian regime.
As opposition, we have the Free Syrian Army, the Fatah Halab “Aleppo Conquest”, Islamic Front (Sunni Islamist group) with the direct or indirect involvement of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and U.S. Controversially, the opposition also include the belligerents Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Nosra (al-Qaeda in Levant , a Sunni Islamist militia) carrying joint operations with the Ahrar al-Sham ( a coalition of Islamist and Salafist groups), the Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria among other opponents to the Syrian Government.
Other major belligerents in the Syrian war is the Rojava (the Syrian Kurdistan), with the support of the International Freedom Battalion, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK - Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê) and the Iraqi Kurdistan.
Coming to the morbid terror in Syrian war, the ISIL, initially affiliated to al-Nosra Front in Syria, is in its war to instill a caliphate in Syria. According to Abouzeid Rania, author of Jihad Next Door, al- Nosra merging with the Islamic State of Iraq, which is criticized to be the outcome of the U.S-led Iraq Invasion, stemmed up the ISIL. Today, it is all the historic of the Syrian chaos.
How did this war reach so far? How pacific protests in the streets of Deraa plunged a whole state into a chaotic and unbreathable land today? War profiteering.
Smedley Butler, a USMC, author of the great book War is a Racket, said in 1933 “Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses…” What he said was that what is the policy behind the war is not known to you, but told to you. “I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested. “, he added.
Let us apply Butler’s views on war to look past the camouflages of the Islamic State (IS) and oppression of Syrians, and to follow the money, to understand the reasons for the war. In 2009, Qatar proposed to build a pipeline through Jordan and Turkey to supply oil to Europe. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad turned this down, and instead signed his own death warrant by signing an agreement for an alternative pipeline which would run through Iran, Iraq and Syria. Oil interests opposed to this deal began funding rebel groups to overthrow Assad, to block this possibility. Sympathy for oppressed Syrians has nothing to do with the realpolitik of financing the war against Assad. In fact, the Islamic State came into existence after a coalition of countries headed by the U.S had begun to provide arms and money to create a rebellion against Assad’s regime.
Exactly parallel to the IS, the origins of the Taliban lie in the massive funding and arms provided by the CIA to local Muslims to engage in jihad against Russia in Afghanistan. But we must dig deeper to find the profit motives behind the Afghan war. The story of the competition between US oil company Unocal and the Argentinian oil Company Bridas for building the oil pipeline through Afghanistan is too complex to describe here. Suffice it to say that when the Taliban became an obstacle to the planned Unocal pipeline, they were removed from the scene. Another major sin of the Taliban was to shut down opium production, which reduced world supply of heroin by more than 50 per cent, and led to multibillion dollar losses to the shadowy global narcotics industry, second only to the world oil industry.
The French newspaper Le Monde has brought investigation on Lafarge, a cement company, to have had arrangements with the IS and other armed groups in order to maintain its production plant operations in Jalabiya.
It is not just about Syria. It is about businessmen – name them entrepreneurs, bankers, state executives, mercenaries, they are after war profiteering.
Oil is after all the best example of why the wars should go on? Libya is the example. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa in 1967. Before his assassination, he had transformed Libya into one of Africa’s richest nation and an important economic powerhouse in the Northern Africa. The country witnessed the highest Human Development Index, the lowest infant mortality and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa with provision of effective free health and education services to all citizens.
Rhetorically, Gaddafi committed an unpardonable crime: he had plans to nationalise Libyan oil, depriving Western oil conglomerates of profits. We all know what happened next. Rebels were armed and funded to create a rebellion against Gaddafi. Who armed and funded the rebels? A coalition of US-EU-Nato bombed blitz of 2011 destroyed hospitals, schools, and energy and water infrastructure. As a result, a once prosperous country has been reduced to rubble, while Nato forces proudly proclaimed their success in defending democracy, and in creating a ‘historic victory’ for the people of Libya against an evil dictator.
What about Iraq? Iraq was one of the most advanced economies of this region. But Saddam Hussein did not learn the lessons from history, and angered big oil by attempting to pursue independent policies for Iraqi oil. False pretexts of WMDs were manufactured to cover the real reasons for the Iraq war. Many senior officials confirmed what Alan Greenspan said: “It is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” The regime change operation, mounted for the “benefit of the Iraqi people” has resulted in complete chaos. Massive destruction of infrastructure has returned Iraq to the Stone Age, killing a million and destroying the power, water, hospitals, schools and other infrastructure to make the lives of the remaining 40 million citizens a living hell.
But we all might agree it is not always about OIL. A decade long war in Sierra Leone is marked by the terror waged by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The RUF is known for the illicit sales of diamonds produced in Sierra Leone. But who bought those diamonds?
Have Libya and Iraq settled into peace today? No? Why? Peace is not a result of winning a war. Winning the war seems far realizable, settling for peace nearly (…)
A.Lackoo, part I of Business of War