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75 years & counting: a history of Western regime change in Syria – Part I

Originally published: Orinoco Tribune on October 25, 2021 by Vanessa Beeley (more by Orinoco Tribune)  | (Posted Oct 30, 2021)

Washington and London’s latest war against Syria was incubated in CIA and MI6 offices long before the manufactured “uprising” erupted in 2011.

This was not the first time that the U.S. neocolonialist alliance had attempted regime change in Syria. Historian Stephen Gowans writes about Washington’s Long War on Syria in his comprehensive book on the U.S.-led interference in Syrian state affairs for decades.

Gowans describes American opposition to the “fiercely independent” Arab nationalist movement that came to power in Syria in 1963. In 1971 Hafez Al Assad was elected President, the father of Bashar Al Assad both of whom uphold the principles of Arab unity and independence.

Washington sought to purge Arab nationalist influence from the Syrian state and the Arab world more broadly because it was a threat to its agenda of establishing global primacy and promoting business-friendly investment climates for U.S. banks, investors and corporations throughout the world.Arab nationalists aspired to unify the world’s 400 million Arabs into a single super-state capable of challenging United States hegemony in West Asia and North Africa and becoming a major player on the world stage free from the domination of the former colonial powers and the U.S.

Washington had waged long wars on the leaders of the Arab nationalist movement—Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, Iraq’s Saddam, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Syria’s Assads, often allying with particularly violent forms of political Islam to undermine its Arab nationalist foes.

– from the introduction to Gowans’ book

By 2011, only one pan-Arabist state remained standing in the region–Syria–and it was targeted for subjugation to U.S. supremacy which led to the ten years of bloodshed and misery in a progressive, prosperous and stable sovereign nation.

The reformist President Assad was criminalised by colonial media outlets in the West and aligned Gulf State channels as consent was manufactured for yet another interventionist campaign by the UK and U.S. to bring Syria to heel.

Ten years later and Syria is bloody but unbowed and is emerging the military victor of the externally fomented conflict with the support of allies in Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Iraqi resistance forces and diplomatic support from China.

However, despite this pyrrhic victory there remains a media complex, including so-called anti-imperialist outlets that are maintaining the various narratives that manufactured consent for the 2011 regime-change war in the first place.

These include narratives like “police state” “Assad the tyrant” and “authoritarian state” among others. It is rare that these claims are given any historical context or evidence that demonstrates in-depth research beyond the corporate media claims.

Peter Ford, former UK Ambassador to Syria, told me:

I always like to say that maybe Syria is a police state because in states which the West tries to subvert there is a lot of policing to be done!

What follows is a list of the CIA and MI6 interventions in Syrian affairs since the 1940s. It should clearly demonstrate why Syria has needed to shore up its security apparatus to protect itself from the U.S., Israel and UK-led black ops that have targeted the country for decades.

Part one of this series will go from 1946 to 2012 although the U.S., UK, EU interference in Syria began long before that. Part two will cover events from 2012 onwards demonstrating the manipulation of events and biased media coverage of the U.S. Coalition proxy war against Syria leading to a ten year war, barbaric economic sanctions and horrifying bloodshed to remove the Syrian government from power and to secure U.S./UK/Israeli/Turkish/Gulf State interests in the region.

Note: I have included declassified intelligence documents in the year they were published, not the year they were released.

Syria is finally declared independent from the French mandate which was imposed upon the country by the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement that ‘gave’ Syria to France.

France fought to prevent Syrian independence culminating in a direct attack against Damascus in 1945 killing an estimated 400 Syrian civilians and military in the process.

The CIA was created as a rebrand of previous Intelligence agencies.

The CIA coup of 1949 after Syria had declared war on the Nazis and ended the colonial Vichy French occupation ousted an elected, secular President Shukri Al Quwatli who supported the Palestinian cause, was anti-Zionist and did not recognise the (U.S. President) Truman-incubated state of Israel.

Al Quwatli rejected the Trans Arabian Pipeline (TAPLINE) a joint venture of Standard Oil of New Jersey (today ExxonMobil), Standard Oil of California and Texaco (now Chevron) because he believed it would afford the U.S. undue influence in Syria:

Syria’s democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Quwatli, hesitated to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria. (so)… the CIA engineered a coup, replacing al-Kuwaiti with the CIA’s handpicked dictator, a convicted swindler named Husni al-Za’im. Al-Za’im barely had time to dissolve parliament and approve the American pipeline before his countrymen deposed him, 14 weeks into his regime. Robert F Kennedy Jr

Dean Hinton, U.S. State Department official made a prescient statement in relation to the planned CIA coup against Syria in 1949 [emphasis added]:

I want to go on record as saying that this is the stupidest, most irresponsible action a diplomatic mission like ours could get itself involved in, and that we’ve started a series of these things that will never end.

The CIA man in Damascus who replaced Al-Quwatli turned out to be a murderous tyrant. The CIA had recruited General Husni al-Za’im, the Syrian army chief of staff, under direction of President Harry Truman–the advocate of the State of Israel and the 1948 Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

After only 5 months in power, Al-Za’im was also toppled in another coup.

Fourth coup, CIA-supported Adib Shiskali overthrown.

Syrian people re-elected Al Quwatli who pivoted towards the Soviet Union against U.S. interference and supremacy. The West perceived this policy as non-compliant with U.S./UK anti-communism.

CIA Director Dulles declared that “Syria is ripe for a coup” and sent his two coup wizards, Kim Roosevelt and Rocky Stone, to Damascus.”Robert F Kennedy Jr

Operation Straggle–CIA plan to replace the recalcitrant Al-Quwatli Syrian government with an anti-communist regime.

National Security Council member Wilbur Crane Eveland, CIA official Archibald Roosevelt, and Michail Bey Ilyan, former Syrian minister, met in Damascus on 1 July 1956 to discuss a U.S.-backed ‘anti-communist’ takeover of the country. As William Blum wrote in his book ‘Killing Hope’, the plan was for the Syrian military to:

…take control of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, and Hamah. The frontier posts with Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon would also be captured in order to seal Syria’s borders until the radio stations announced that a new government had taken over under Colonel Kabbani, who would place armored units at key positions throughout Damascus.

The plan was postponed for five days, during which time the Suez Crisis happened. Ilyan told Eveland he could not succeed in overthrowing the Syrian government during a war of Israeli aggression. On 31 October, John Foster Dulles informed his brother Allen Dulles, the Director of the CIA:

Re Straggle our people feel that conditions are such that it would be a mistake to try to pull it off.

Operation Wappen – Another CIA coup attempt to oust Quwatli. $3 million was invested in paying off of Syrian military officers to enable the coup.

The plan failed when some of the officers revealed the project to Syrian Intelligence agencies and turned in the CIA bribe money. This failed coup led to Syria being labelled a “Soviet satellite state”.

August 12th– Syrian Army surrounded U.S. Embassy in Damascus to avert a CIA plot to overthrow President Al Quwatli. Syrian Chief of Counter Intelligence Abdul Hamid Sarraj expelled three U.S. diplomats and jailed dozens of Syrian officers involved in the attempted coup.

U.S. President Eisenhower and UK Prime Minister Harold MacMillan conjured up a ‘Suez-in-reverse’’ plot that might have precipitated an all-out war between the Soviet Union and the U.S.

The U.S. deployed a fleet to the Mediterranean, armed several of Syria’s neighbors, and incited Turkey to deploy 50,000 troops to its border. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles suggested that the U.S. sought to invoke the “Eisenhower Doctrine” of retaliating against provocations, and this intention was later confirmed in a military report. No Arab state would describe Syria as a provocateur, and these military deployments were withdrawn.

The MacMillan involvement–Documents released in 2003 revealed that British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower conspired to plunder Syria’s oil resources and to assassinate three Syrian influencers, to force a regime change–Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of Syrian military intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, chief of the Syrian general staff; and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist party.

The Muslim Brotherhood was financed and weaponised to topple the secular Syrian government and to assassinate the key figures.

A series of coups and counter-coups. According to Laith Marouf, journalist and lifelong Palestinian cause activist, every single  Syrian President post WW2 was overthrown by a U.S.-orchestrated coup d’etat.

Israel illegally occupied the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War, a war that was much misrepresented in mainstream media, of course in favour of the Zionist aggressor.

A later 1986 declassified CIA document would outline the potential for military insurgence if Assad were to suffer a major defeat by Israel if an attempt were made to liberate the Golan territories.

Israel says 1967 land conquests weren’t planned. 2021 Declassified documents tell a more complicated story.

The documents describe detailed preparations that were made in the military in the years before 1967, with the intention of organizing in advance the control of territories that the defense establishment assessed–with high certainty–would be conquered in the next war.

A perusal of the information indicates that the takeover and retention of these areas–the West Bank from Jordan, the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria–were not a by-product of the fighting, but the manifestation of a strategic approach and prior preparations.

– Adam Raz, Forward, June 4th 2021

The failed CIA-manufactured coup d’etat (1949 in Syria)–BBC interview with CIA officer, Miles Copeland:

Hafez Al Assad came to power. Author and historian Patrick Seale wrote this about the former President, father of President Bashar Al Assad:

A small country like Syria to stand up against the mighty U.S. and say: NO you will not prevail. This is Al-Assad’s historical legacy. He was the only Arab leader who refused to bend a knee for Washington and Israel and refused to accept dictates from them.

“Yom Kippur War”–Syrian military campaign to liberate the Golan territories from illegal Zionist occupation.

According to the Vinogradov memo, Anwar al-Sadat, holder of the titles of President, Prime Minister, ASU Chairman, Chief Commander, Supreme Military Ruler, entered into conspiracy with the Israelis, betrayed his ally Syria, condemned the Syrian army to destruction and Damascus to bombardment, allowed General Sharon’s tanks to cross without hindrance to the western bank of the Suez Canal, and actually planned a defeat of the Egyptian troops in the October War […] in order to allow for the U.S. come-back to the Middle East.
– Israel Shamir, “What Really Happened in the “Yom Kippur” War?”Counterpunch February 2012

Syria further alienates itself from U.S. neocolonialist policy by supporting the Iranian Revolution. The revolution overthrew the CIA imposed Shah of Iran who had been CIA-assisted to topple the government of Mohammed Mosaddeq, a hardline nationalist who had campaigned against British oil companies in Iran, threatening to nationalise Iranian resources.

Brzezinski Cable–A cable from the National Security Council to Secretary of State Zbigniew Brzezinski sought collaboration between European and Gulf State monarchies to “identify possible alternative regimes” to the [Syrian] government led by Hafez Al Assad. (‘Syria July 16, 1980’, National Security Council, 4203XX, Memorandum for Zbigniew Brzezinski, declassified document)

The start of the U.S. coalition, Saudi Arabia, Saddam Hussein and Jordan-backed Muslim Brotherhood insurrection which led a series of savage attacks against Syrian civilians and military (Aleppo cadet massacre) until the CIA coup was crushed by Hafez Al Assad in Hama in 1982.

The Muslim Brotherhood U.S.-backed campaign of violence was hugely downplayed in Western media whose focus was on the “totalitarian regime” crack-down by Al Assad in order to support their regime change policy.

The CIA, at the time, observed that “Syrians are pragmatists who do not want a Muslim Brotherhood government”. (Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)–Syria: Muslim Brotherhood Pressure Intensifies 1982)

The Yinon Plan

Israel must become an imperial regional power, and must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states.

Rifaat Al Assad failed in a suspected coup to overthrow his brother’s government (Hafez Al Assad).

Rifaat al-Assad, brother of Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, was reportedly in charge of an elite military force called Saraya al-Difaa’ (“al-difa”), or “Defense Companies,” until 1984 (al-Wasat 16 Feb. 1998).

The deployment of the Defense Companies in 1983 and 1984 while President Hafez al-Assad was seriously ill and unable to attend to government matters led some members of the Syrian government to fear that Rifaat was becoming too powerful at the expense of other potential successors to Hafez al-Assad.

– refworld report 1998

In addition, (in a 1986 document) the CIA notes the potential for in-fighting among the Alawi elite, particularly over Hafez al-Assad’s brother Rifaat–a controversial figure in Syrian politics.

– Whitney Webb

CIA Report “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change” written by the Foreign Subversion and Instability Center, a part of the CIA’s Mission Center for Global Issues:

This memorandum explores alternative scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Hafez Al Assad. Specifically, it seeks to clarify the individuals and groups that might impel or impede takeover attempts…

The CIA favoured a (majority) Sunni Islam regime in Syria – “U.S. interests in Syria probably would be best served by a Sunni regime,”–particularly one led by Sunni “business-moderates” who would “see a strong need for Western aid and investment.”

The document states clearly that “a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime.”

It is noted that if the Syrian government cracks down hard on  “minor outbreaks of Sunni dissidence”–the minor outbreaks being suicide bombings, assassinations, kidnappings,massacres of religious minority groups just as from 2011 onwards–large scale unrest would be triggered “setting the stage for civil war”. Remember this is in 1986.

First Gulf War–Iraq’s ruler Saddam Hussein was recognised by Hafez Al Assad as a collaborator with the U.S. in the devastating and protracted war with Iran, using chemical weapons approved by the U.S., and as an opportunistic backer of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hafez Al Assad supported the expulsion of Iraq from Kuwait, in line with International Law, in the First Gulf War but both Syria and Iran later opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq even though it would effectively rid them of a mutual enemy, Saddam Hussein.

“Clean Break Doctrine”–Israeli policy document proposed regime change in Iraq primarily as a “means” of “weakening, containing, and rolling back Syria.

As special consultant to U.S. Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan, Pat Buchanan, put it:

In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel ’s enemy remains Syria , but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad.

President Hafez Al Assad died and he was succeeded by his son, Bashar Al Assad.

Qatar Pipeline proposal–Qatar proposes construction of a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Robert F Kennedy Jr wrote in his article ‘Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria’:

Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The international trade embargo until recently prohibited Iran from selling gas abroad.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s gas can reach European markets only if it is liquefied and shipped by sea, a route that restricts volume and dramatically raises costs. The proposed pipeline would have linked Qatar directly to European energy markets via distribution terminals in Turkey, which would pocket rich transit fees.

The Qatar/Turkey pipeline would give the Sunni kingdoms of the Persian Gulf decisive domination of world natural gas markets and strengthen Qatar, America’s closest ally in the Arab world. Qatar hosts two massive American military bases and the U.S. Central Command’s Mideast headquarters.

9/11 triggers U.S. President Bush’s “war on terror”. An overall agenda for the Middle East was set in motion. Former U.S. General Wesley Clark said in his memoirs–two weeks after the World Trade Centre attacks, he was told by a senior Pentagon official that the 2003 invasion of Iraq had already been approved.

Six weeks later he says that same official told him, ‘It’s worse than that’, before indicating a memo ‘from the Office of the Secretary of Defence … [saying] we’re going to take out seven countries in five years’. Those countries were Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan and finally Iran. [ Off-Guardian 9/11 archives here].

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair speaking in November 2011 2 months after 9/11 [emphasis added]

The events of September 11 have opened opportunities that must be grasped to forge better relations with countries such as Iran and Syria.

CIA Extraordinary Rendition program in Syria 2001–2003. The CIA used Syria as an illicit base of operations to torture so-called “ghost detainees“, as part of a program known as extraordinary rendition.

This program was established in the mid-1990s and expanded in the 2000s (Wikipedia). It is believed by some analysts that Syria went along with this program to try to soften U.S. sanctions and to create better relations with the West which was courting President Assad at this time for the “different relationship” which translates as compliant with U.S./UK neocolonialism and the ‘security’ of Israel.


Smoking gun emails reveal [UK Prime Minister] Tony Blair’s ‘deal in blood’ with [U.S. President] George Bush over Iraq war was forged a YEAR before the invasion had even started.

Daily Mail headline

President Bashar al Assad visited Britain, met the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and dined with Tony Blair at Downing Street. Blair recommended bestowing an honour on the President.

Blair went on to cheerlead the destruction of Syria in 2011, an act of supreme hypocrisy that was excused by a Blair mouthpiece:

Engagement with Syria and Assad in 2002 was absolutely right… Mr. Blair has said many times since that the situation has changed and Assad now has to go.

Pre-planned invasion of Iraq on “war on terror” pretext and Israel launched the first missile attack on Syria for thirty years. President Bush immediately condoned the attack.

memo from Blair to Bush discussed creating a ‘post-cold-war world order’. These memos were revealed by the Chilcot report into the WMD hoax that manufactured consent for the criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Blair mentions Syria, Libya and Iran in the context of ‘anti-terrorism’ and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). These countries should be given a ‘choice’:

co-operate on WMD or face isolation and in time, worse.

BBC Media Action launches project to identify opposition to Syrian government inside Syria:

We [BBC Media Action] worked in 2004 with individuals within the ministry who wanted change and tried to get them to be the drivers of that. All media development work that has been done in Syria has, in my opinion, been predicated upon this idea that there can be change from within–you have an authoritarian regime and you find who the reformers are within that (individuals) and you work with them.

– Juliette Harkin former BBC Media Action Project Manager

Syria is labelled an “unusual and extraordinary threat” by President Bush–Severe sanctions were imposed on Syria on the pretext that Damascus was ‘supporting terrorism’  which included the biggest perceived threat to Israel in the region, Hamas and Hezbollah.

In reality the sanctions were punishment for Syria’s opposition to Bush’s Iraq policy and to attempt to bring Assad to the table to discuss weakening his alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. Those sanctions did not include any restriction on future investments by U.S. energy companies.

Christiane Armanpour of CNN interviews President Bashar Al Assad and informs him that the West is planning a regime change. (Note: CNN appear to have removed the video report).

In February of the same year, the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafiq Hariri was assassinated. Hezbollah and Syria would be held responsible for the murder while the covert operations of Israeli Intelligence were overlooked by the UN investigation. This report served only Israel’s interests. It was released 8 months before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in July 2006.

TIME Article–An article appears in TIME magazine headlined “Syria in Bush’s Crosshairs”. It claims, leading up to the 2007 Syrian elections:

The Bush Administration has been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad.

U.S. State Department Cable–Wikileaks releases a 2006 State Department cable showing that destabilizing the Syrian government was a primary goal of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The ultimate intention was to topple Iran, one of Syria’s closest allies. The cable revealed that the U.S.’ goal at the time was to undermine the Syrian government by any means available.

The ‘New Middle East’ Project–The term “New Middle East” was introduced to the world in June 2006 in Tel Aviv by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in replacement of the older and more imposing term, the “Greater Middle East.”

The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region.

– Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Christian Zionist Pierre Gemayel assassinated in Beirut–Gemayel was gunned down in broad daylight in Jedideh, East Beirut on November 21st. He was a member of one of Lebanon’s most prominent Maronite dynasties.

Gemayel won a parliamentary seat in 2000 as representative for the Christian Phalange Party allied with Israel which led to Syria again being blamed for the attack and brought attention back to the Hariri assassination one year prior. President Bush endorsed the claim that Syria was responsible.

Seymour Hersh reports U.S. is “bolstering” extremist groups “sympathetic to al Qaeda [emphasis added]:

A strategic shift–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.

– Seymour M Hirsh, “The Redirection” (New Yorker, Feb. 25 2007)

Cheney’s Middle-East advisor calls for regime change in Syria. David Wurmser, author of the “Clean Break” memo and Dick Cheney’s Middle East advisor, is quoted in a Telegraph article headlined “U.S. ‘must break Iran and Syria regimes’”:

We need to do everything possible to destabilise the Syrian regime and exploit every single moment they strategically overstep […] That would include the willingness to escalate as far as we need to go to topple the regime if necessary. […] an end to Baathist rule in Damascus could trigger a domino effect that would then bring down the Tehran regime.

CIA paramilitary raids in Eastern Syria 2004–2008 In October 2008 the CIA conducted the ‘Abu Kamal’ paramilitary raid on the town of Sukkariyeh in Eastern Syria on the pretext of targeting an Iraqi who was supplying insurgents via the Syrian border.

Syria accused the U.S. of terrorist aggression and claimed that 8 civilians had died in the raid, not militants as reported by the U.S. Angry protests against America erupted in Damascus and the Syrian government deployed riot police to protect  the U.S. embassy and buildings from the protestors.

The New York Times later revealed the existence of a secret 2004 military order  authorising the CIA and Special Forces to conduct operations in 15-20 countries, including Syria. The order was approved by the Bush administration Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. U.S. officials acknowledged they had conducted other raids in Syria since 2004 but refused to provide details.

Media industrial complex–U.S. and UK invest millions into Satellite TV Channel–Barada TV–to broadcast anti-Syrian Government propaganda throughout Syria before and after the orchestrated ‘uprising’ of 2011.

Wikileaks released cables showing that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus were concerned that Syrian intelligence were questioning U.S. programs.

Saudi Arabia expresses an oblique desire to remove Assad–Wikileaks releases State Department email, “Saudi Intelligence Chief talks regional security with Brennan delegation (CIA)”, in which Iran was described as being “all over the place [..] the Shiite crescent is becoming a full moon” encompassing Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen.

U.S. embassy cables: Hillary Clinton says Saudi Arabia is a “critical source of terrorist funding”.

Evidence Britain making regime change plans two years before the ‘uprising’ – French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas was approached by British officials who informed him that plans to topple the Syrian government were already in place which included support for an armed ‘opposition’.

U.S. blocks Syrian efforts to join the World Trade Organization–A deliberate attempt to negatively impact further the Syrian economy combined with harsh sanctions.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy tries to orchestrate Israeli/Syrian meeting on French soil.–Sarkozy wanted to put France centre stage in a failed peace process between Israel and Syria so he attempted to bring the two leaders together in Paris but Assad refused to land in Paris until Netanyahu’s plane had departed.

Bashar Al Assad and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris 2009.

Bashar Al Assad and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris 2009.

At this point EU and UK regimes were still in courting mode with Assad. Oil and energy interests were at the forefront of their negotiations.

Assad opposes the Qatar-Turkey oil pipeline–All the hard work of the EU, UK and U.S. to secure their oil interests in Syria were suddenly destroyed when President Assad declared that he would refuse to sign the agreement to allow the pipeline to run through Syria “to protect the interests of our Russian ally.”

Robert F Kennedy Jr described this blow to U.S. Coalition hegemony in his article ‘Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria’:

Assad further enraged the Gulf’s Sunni monarchs by endorsing a Russian-approved “Islamic pipeline” running from Iran’s side of the gas field through Syria and to the ports of Lebanon. The Islamic pipeline would make Shiite Iran, not Sunni Qatar, the principal supplier to the European energy market and dramatically increase Tehran’s influence in the Middke East and the world.

Israel also was understandably determined to derail the Islamic pipeline, which would enrich Iran and Syria and presumably strengthen their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Bashar Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link.

In 2009, according to WikiLeaks, soon after Bashar Assad rejected the Qatar pipeline, the CIA began funding opposition groups in Syria.

The onslaught of terror attacks begin in the Jordan/Syria border town of Daraa.

U.S. Military Intelligence assessment on Bashar Al Assad’s chances of survival–The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Intelligence Department and Stratfor jointly produced this August 2011 report:

The Alawite-Baathist regime of Syria led by the al Assad clan will significantly weaken over the next three years. The potential for the regime to collapse cannot be ruled out, but the road to regime change will be a long and bloody one.

Fortunately for the regime, the opposition in Syria does not yet have the numbers, organization or capabilities overall to overwhelm the regime forces. Syria’s opposition is extremely fractured [..] The exiled opposition has been quite effecting in developing a narrative on the Syrian opposition to disseminate to major media agencies, but reports of protests are overblown [..]

Without foreign backing, the opposition movement is unlikely to acquire enough money or gain enough traction to acquire large quantities of weaponry, let alone achieve regime change.

– Stratfor

Special Ops from U.S./UK/Turkey were inside Syria, training the extremist armed groups. Wikileaks cable INSIGHT military intervention in Syria:

One Air Force intel guy (U.S.) said very carefully that there isn’t much of a Free Syrian Army to train right now anyway [..] I kept pressing on the question of what these SOF teams would be working toward, and whether this would lead to an eventual air campaign to give a Syrian rebel group cover.

They pretty quickly distanced themselves from that idea, saying that the idea ‘hypothetically’ is to commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces, elicit collapse from within. There wouldn’t be a need for air cover, and they wouldn’t expect these Syrian rebels to be marching in columns anyway.

Weapons shipped from Libya to Syria after the murder of Muammar Gaddafi.

This week it was reported that weapons are flooding in to Syria from a Libya awash with weapons, “with spy chiefs saying” that the country has become a supermarket “of the world’s illegal arms trade.”

“Up to 3,000 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) have gone missing since the conflict” with more than “one million tonnes of weapons belonging to Colonel Quaddaffi” looted after his terrible death at the hands of NATO’s “allies”.

Potentially that is enough SAMs to down 3,000 airliners. The Daily Mail understands that, “…there are now more weapons in Libya than in the entire arsenal of the British Army” according to MI6 estimates.”

– Felicity Arbuthnot, Dissident Voice

British survey firm YouGov published a poll in late 2011 showing support for Assad. The poll revealed that 55% of Syrians maintained support for President Assad.

Time’s correspondent Rania Abouzeid attributed the failure of the protest organizers to draw significant support to the fact that most Syrians were not opposed to their government.

Stephen Gowans, October 2016

NATO and regional allies form the “Friends of Syria Coalition”. According to Robert F Kennedy Jr in his article “Why the Arabs don’t want us in Syria”:

In 2011, the U.S. joined France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UK to form the Friends of Syria Coalition, which formally demanded the removal of Assad.

The CIA provided $6 million to Barada, a British TV channel, to produce pieces entreating Assad’s ouster.

Saudi intelligence documents, published by WikiLeaks, show that by 2012, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were arming, training and funding radical jihadist Sunni fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere to overthrow the Assad’s Shiite-allied regime.

Qatar, which had the most to gain, invested $3 billion in building the insurgency and invited the Pentagon to train insurgents at U.S. bases in Qatar. According to an April 2014 article by Seymour Hersh, the CIA weapons ratlines were financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Al Jazeera foreign correspondent in Beirut Ali Hashem resigns–Hashem cited the channel bias against the Syrian government as the reason for his departure –

Television channels have turned into political parties, pushing the agenda for some outside forces

The Syrian Opposition: who’s doing the talking?–An excellent investigative report by journalist Charlie Skelton for The Guardian when decent and objective journalists were still on the payroll:

They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change, and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the U.S. and London–the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news–it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.

But it’s never too late to ask questions, to scrutinise sources. Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad–that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a sceptic born every minute.

Jonathan Steele in The Guardian–‘Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from western media’

As for foreign military intervention, it has already started. It is not following the Libyan pattern since Russia and China are furious at the west’s deception in the security council last year. They will not accept a new United Nations resolution that allows any use of force.

The model is an older one, going back to the era of the cold war, before “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect” were developed and often misused. Remember Ronald Reagan’s support for the Contras, whom he armed and trained to try to topple Nicaragua’s Sandinistas from bases in Honduras? For Honduras read Turkey, the safe haven where the so-called Free Syrian Army has set up.

CIA spending $100,000 per ‘moderate rebel’–President Obama’s ‘train and equip’ program was effectively financing death squads in Syria.

It was calculated that it would cost $500 million to train 5,000 “moderates” for one year hence $100,000 per Muslim Brotherhood extremist thug allied with Al Qaeda and ISIS and supported on the ground by U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford  who was later expelled for his role in fomenting insurgence.

Hillary Clinton U.S. State Department email–From the Wikileaks archives of Hillary Clinton email [emphasis added]:

The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad […] Speaking on CNN’s Amanpour show last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak argued that the toppling down of Assad will be a major blow to the radical axis, major blow to Iran … It’s the only kind of outpost of the Iranian influence in the Arab world … and it will weaken dramatically both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly. Washington should start by expressing its willingness to work with regional allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to organize, train and arm Syrian rebel forces.

The announcement of such a decision would, by itself, likely cause substantial defections from the Syrian military. Then, using territory in Turkey and possibly Jordan, U.S. diplomats and Pentagon officials can start strengthening the opposition.

Saudi Arabia demands that President Assad be overthrown using “all means available”–Wikileaks cable released in 2015:

The fact must be stressed that in the case where the Syrian regime is able to pass through its current crisis in any shape or form, the primary goal that it will pursue is taking revenge on the countries that stood against it, with the Kingdom and some of the countries of the Gulf coming at the top of the list.

If we take into account the extent of this regime’s brutality and viciousness and its lack of hesitancy to resort to any means to realize its aims, then the situation will reach a high degree of danger for the Kingdom, which must seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria.

As regards the international position, it is clear that there is a lack of “desire” and not a lack of “capability” on the part of Western countries, chief among them the United States, to take firm step…

Hillary Clinton receives an email stating “Al Qaeda is on our side [in Syria]”–Clinton received an email from Jake Sullivan, her deputy Chief of Staff (Sullivan is now National Security Advisor to the Joe Biden administration). Sullivan  introduces the email with “see last item–AQ is on our side in Syria

New York Times: “most U.S. weapons sent to Syria were ending up in hands of terrorist groups”. Rebel Arms Flow is Said to Benefit Jihadists in Syria:

American officials have been trying to understand why hard-line Islamists have received the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition through the shadowy pipeline with roots in Qatar, and, to a lesser degree, Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda global leaders arrive in Syria to topple the Syrian government.

2011–2013 160 U.S. military cargo planes full of U.S. weapons sent to Syria–U.S. weapons sent from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Turkey and then imported into Syria via the Turkey rat runs on Syria/Turkey borders enabled by the CIA.

Collaboration between “moderate rebels” aka the Free Syrian Army and Al Qaeda or ISIS–World Affairs blog has collated ten articles  demonstrating that the ‘moderate rebel” concept was concocted in the CIA and MI6 intelligence rooms and never really existed from the beginning of the U.S.-dominated war against Syria.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announces that “Al Qaeda are doing a good job” in Syria:

Relations of victims of jihadist groups in Syria took the French government to court in 2015, accusing Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius of encouraging violence in their country by praising the al-Qaida affiliate, the al-Nusra Front.

* * *

This list of CIA and MI6 meddling in Syrian affairs is not exhaustive but it is designed to enable readers to research historic events that are being deliberately obfuscated by the BBC, The Guardian, Channel 4, CNN etc in favour of distorted facts that will confuse voters and manufacture consent for perpetual British and U.S. criminal military adventurism.

Part Two will cover events from 2012 until the present day and will expose the major media fabrications, billionaire-funded NGO complex and intelligence agency involvement in the bloodshed, displacement and ethnic cleansing of Syrians by the various extremist Contra groups described by corporate media as “moderate rebels”.

Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards–the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism–whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team.

Monthly Review does not necessarily adhere to all of the views conveyed in articles republished at MR Online. Our goal is to share a variety of left perspectives that we think our readers will find interesting or useful. —Eds.