A Kalashnikov in Iraq, until recently, sold for US$100. Now it’s at least $1,000, and most probably $1,500 (those were the days when Sunnis joining the resistance in 2003 could buy a fake Kalashnikov made in Romenia for $20). Destination of choice of the $1,500 Kalashnikov in 2012: Syria. Network: al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers, also known as AQI. Recipients: infiltrated jihadis operating side-by-side with the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Also shuttling between Syria and Iraq is car bombing and suicide bombing, as in two recent bombings in the suburbs of Damascus and the suicide bombing last Friday in Aleppo.
Who would have thought that what the House of Saud wants in Syria - an Islamist regime - is exactly what al-Qaeda wants in Syria?
Ayman "The Surgeon" al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s number one, in an eight-minute video titled "Onwards, Lions of Syria", has just called for the support of Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to topple Bashar al-Assad "pernicious, cancerous regime". They had been responding, in kind, even before The Surgeon came into the picture. Not only those, but especially transplanted Libyan "freedom fighters", formerly known as "rebels".
Who would have thought that what NATOGCC (North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council) wants for Syria is exactly what al-Qaeda wants for Syria?
So when the Assad regime, for all its ghastly military offensives that essentially victimize civilians caught in cross fire, says it’s fighting "terrorists", it’s not exactly bending the truth. Even that ubiquitous, proverbial entity, the unnamed "US official", is blaming AQI for the recent bombings. Same for Iraq’s Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Assadi; "We have intelligence information that a number of Iraqi jihadists went to Syria."
So if Syria could not be the new Libya in the sense of a UN resolution authorizing NATO humanitarian bombing - vetoed by BRICS members Russia and China - Syria is a new Libya in the sense of unsavory ties between the "rebels" and hardcore Salafi-jihadis.
And as the West absolutely loves a win-win situation, no matter how prefabricated, that could also turn into the perfect Pentagon casus belli to intervene - as in freeing Syria from an "al-Qaeda" which was never there in the first place. Remember - for all the hype about the Pentagon/Obama administration’s "pivoting" from the Middle East to East Asia, the global war on terror (GWOT), rebranded by Obama as "overseas contingency operations" (OCO), is still alive and kicking.
Liberate me so I can kill at ease
Last year, Asia Times Online extensively reported that "liberated" Libya - "liberated" by the so-called NATO rebels - would descend into militia hell. That’s exactly what’s happening; at least 250 different militias in Misurata alone, according to Human Rights Watch, acting as cops on the beat, judges and exterminators all rolled into one. There’s no Ministry of Justice to speak of in "liberated" Libya. If you go to jail, you end up dead; and if you are a sub-Saharan African, you get a bonus of extensive torture at a liberated resort before meeting the same fate.
Just as in Libya, as a matter of strategy, for the House of Saud/Qatar Sunni axis, any possibility of a real dialogue between the (armed) insurrection and the Assad regime has been thwarted. After all; the key objective is regime change. Thus crude propaganda - in an Arab media largely controlled either by Saudis or Qataris - rules.
Example; the much-lauded Britain-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, which vomits unending, unsubstantiated statistics on government "massacres" - and even "genocide" - gets its funds from a Dubai entity financed by shady Western and GCC donors.
As a bonus, the non-stop "opposition" spin totally laser-guides Western corporate media coverage. CNN attributed the Aleppo bombing last Friday to "terrorists" - in quotation marks; imagine the hysteria if this was the US Green Zone in Iraq bombed by the Sunni resistance in the mid-2000s. The BBC actually believed the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood spin according to which the Syrian government bombed itself; it would be like the Pentagon bombing itself in the Green Zone. As for Arab media - largely controlled by Saudis and Qataris - it has totally ignored the AQI connection.
The GCC League - formerly Arab League - after bombing its own report on Syria because it didn’t fit the prefabricated narrative of an "evil" regime unilaterally bombing its people, is now peddling a supposedly humanitarian plan B; a joint Arab/UN peacekeeping mission to "supervise the execution of a cease-fire". But no one should be fooled; the agenda remains regime change.
Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, has been making the right noises, ruling out a humanitarian intervention. At the same time, it’s refreshing to hear the oh so progressive House of Saud carping about the "lack of commitment of the Syrian government", and pontificating that "what Syria is witnessing is not racist, not sectarian, nor guerrilla war, but a mass purge without any humanitarian considerations".
Imagine the House of Saud’s "humanitarian considerations" should a pro-democracy movement emerge in the Shi’ite majority eastern province (it did; and it was ruthlessly pre-empted). Better yet; look at how "humanitarian" they looked in their invasion of Bahrain.
The NATOGCC agenda remains the same; regime change, by any means possible. Even Warrior-in-Chief US President Barack Obama said so himself. The GCC minions will happily oblige. So expect an inflation of Kalashnikovs crossing borders, more car bombings, more suicide bombings, more civilians caught in cross fire, and the slow, immensely tragic, fragmentation of Syria.
Asia Times Online, February 14, 2012.
Pepe Escobar is the author of “Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War” (Nimble Books, 2007) and “Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge”. His new book, just out, is “Obama does Globalistan” (Nimble Books, 2009).