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Syria: HRW and the Latakia Massacre

Ten days ago the Guardian was the first "western" media to report on a massacre U.S supported insurgents and terrorists had committed back in August in Syria’s Latakia governate. U.S. media did not follow up on this. But now Human Rights Watch, a U.S. influenced para-government organization which has intensely propagandized against the Syrian government, is publishing a report on Executions, Unlawful Killings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside.

13 October 2013

The fact that such a report is now published by HRW can be interpreted as a sign that U.S. policies on Syria are changing sides and will now, slowly slowly, turn against the insurgents and in favor of the Syrian government. While this will not yet change U.S. calls for "Assad must go" it is a significant change of the direction the winds are blowing.

This change is confirmed by other sources:

“I am beginning to think that the regime’s hardliners could win,” says the [European] ambassador [in Beirut], who maintains close contacts with sources inside the Assad regime and opposition forces. “They are turning the opposition into Al Qaeda and we are all playing into it. I hear this from my colleagues. The main fight now is against Al Qaeda, it’s not against the regime."

We have maintained all along that the insurgency was never a "peaceful protest" but an organized attack of sectarian radical Islamists on the Syrian state. As the true picture of the insurgency is now filtering into the "western" public, only 36% blame Assad for the chemical attack on August 21, someone will have to be blamed for the change of direction.

The HRW report sets up Turkey as the guilty party:

“Given that most foreign fighters in these groups reportedly gain access to Syria via Turkey, from which they also smuggle their weapons, obtain money and other supplies, and retreat to for medical treatment, Turkey should increase border patrols, restrict entry of fighters and arm flows to groups credibly found to be implicated in systematic human rights violations. [...]
The UN Security Council and Turkey’s allies should call on Turkey in particular to do more to verify that no arms are passing through Turkey to these groups.”

A Wall Street Journal piece published yesterday also takes shots at the head of Turkey’s intelligence service MIT for enabling the radical insurgents:

“Syrian opposition leaders, American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats who worked with Mr. Fidan say the MIT acted like a "traffic cop" that arranged weapons drops and let convoys through checkpoints along Turkey’s 565-mile border with Syria.
In meetings with American officials and Syrian opposition leaders, Turkish officials said the threat posed by Jabhat al Nusra, the anti-Assad group, could be dealt with later, say U.S. officials and Syrian opposition leaders.
Mr. Obama told the Turkish leaders he wanted a close relationship, but he voiced concerns about Turkey’s approach to arming the opposition. The goal was to convince the Turks that "not all fighters are good fighters" and that the Islamist threat could harm the wider region, says a senior U.S. official.”

Meanwhile the Syrian army has some further successes against the insurgents. The logistic corridor to Aleppo has been reopened, some more suburbs around Damascus have been cleared and the insurgency siege on a chemical facility has been broken.

Turkey will now be pressed to stop providing to the insurgency in Syria. Without the very significant steady flow of fresh fighters and ammunition coming through Turkey the insurgency will slowly be starved off. This while the international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons continues according to the plans, without any trouble and with full support of the Syrian government. The flawless Syrian cooperation with the Nobel Peace Prize carrying OPCW enhances the Syrian governments standing.

The tide has turned and the earlier defamed international legitimacy of the Syrian government and President Assad is now on a steady rise. But Assad is right to be careful and to distrust any U.S. commitment:

“Those who perceive that by abandoning our chemical weapons and signing the chemical weapons convention we have protected Syria from war are naïve because the US - with its history of aggression and destruction for decades, particularly after World War II - does not need pretexts. It can create new ones every day, and if it loses one pretext, it will look for another in different areas.”

The destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons was unlikely to change the "regime change" course of the U.S. government. The propagandists of the military industrial complex are still pressing for war. But the slow recognition that the only realistic alternative to the "regime" is an Al-Qaeda friendly broken state like Libya has become now seems to create a sufficient momentum to change Washington’s course.

This may also be the sign of a much wider metamorphosis of U.S. interests which is driven by a change in the public mood and the U.S. "system’s" opinion about a U.S. led global empire and the costs to achieve and maintain it.

Moon of Alabama , October 11, 2013.