Monday, November 25, 2013

THE DEFINING MOMENTS; IRAN’S DAY: Ghassan Kadi 24 November 2013

THE DEFINING MOMENTS; IRAN’S DAY:
Ghassan Kadi
24 November 2013

When the war in Syria is over, history will record it in a different manner from the manner in which we experienced it. To begin with, the reader of this epic story will most probably know the end result before reading it, and will not experience the day-by-day waking up every morning to listen and to read about the latest developments.

However, what is pertinent right here and now, today, is this moment in time that will be recorded as another turning point. The epic story will be written in terms of such major turning points, and today will be remembered and this cannot be said and repeated emphatically enough.

Thus far, and as the epic story is still unfolding, let us stop for one moment to see those turning points, the defining moments:

1. The “Arab Spring” starts in Tunisia in mid December 2010. In a few days, it topples its president and starts gaining momentum in Egypt.

2. Mubarak falls on the 11th of February 2011, only 18 days after the “revolution” against him started. Shortly after, Muhammad Morsi the Muslim Brotherhood leader is elected as president.

3. The “Spring” moves west into Libya.

4. The UNSC reaches a mandate to implement a no-fly zone in Libya and NATO starts striking Libya.

5. In March 2011, demonstrators in Daraa Syria take to the streets demanding reform and terrorist elements shoot at them and at Syrian army units.

6. The orchestrated events in Daraa are used as a pretext to launch a propaganda campaign against Syria and flooding it with tens of thousands of militants most of whom were Islamic Jihadists.

7. A coalition comprised of Saudi Arabic, Qatar, and Turkey backed by all Western powers combined was aimed at Syria and specifically against the presidency of Bashar Al-Assad. The coalition included the newly-elected Egyptian president Morsi and even included both sides of the Palestinian political divide.

8. A similar but opposed pro-Syrian coalition was formed comprised of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and to some extent China.

9. In the meantime, the battle in Libya rages and NATO breaks its UN-given mandate and plays a huge part in bringing down Gaddafi who eventually was killed on the 20th of October 2011.

10. The anti-Syrian coalition sought a UNSC resolution to implement a no-fly zone in Syria. China and Russia vetoed the resolution. The coalition tried several times later, but it is the first veto that will be remembered the most.

11. The fall of Gaddafi gave the anti-Syrian coalition momentum and it banked on a repeat of the story in Syria.

12. The seemingly reluctant Syrian government to turn the clashes into an all-out war encouraged more and more militants to infiltrate into Syria via Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. The militants controlled a huge chunk of Syria, including parts of Aleppo and Damascus and were gaining the upper hand.

13. On the 18th of July 2012 a big explosion in Damascus kills 4 top ranking military personnel including the minister of defence and Assad’s brother-in-law. The militants reach the peak of their might at this point.

14. The battles rages and Syria unleashes its army.

15. For a few months afterwards, both parties (ie the Syrian Army and the militants) make claims that victory is near without any major changes on the battle ground.

16. On the 5th of June, an ominous date for Arabs, but this time it was 2013 not 1967, the Syrian army aided by Hezbollah score a major victory in Qusayr, a strategic position between Damascus and Homs.

17. With more minor Syria army victories, the militants realized that they were losing the ground battle. They needed a shift in their favour.

18. On the 23rd of June 2013, the prince of Qatar abdicates and cedes his throne to his son. His number 2 man Hamad leaves with him. This is seen as a sign of defeat of Qatari policies in Syria.

19. On the 3rd of July, a military coup in Egypt topples the Muslim Brotherhood president Morsi giving Turkey, Qatar and Islamists in general a huge blow.

20. On the 31st of July 2013, Saudi prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the top Saudi anti-Syrian conspirator visits Putin in a desperate attempt to persuade him to change his position. He returns home disappointed and empty-handed.

21. With events turning towards the benefit of Syria in an escalating manner, in August 2013, Saudi intelligence orchestrates a chemical attack in East Ghouta accusing the army of killing children in a desperate attempt to either push for a UNSC resolution against Syria or to at least give the USA enough excuse to attack Syria without a UNSC resolution.

22. Russia stands firm with Syria in the UNSC and within the Moscow-Washington corridors and draws a red line.

23. Washington believes that Moscow is bluffing. Obama orders an attack on Syria. Two missiles were shot from a NATO base in Spain aiming for Syria. The Russians shot one down and diverted the second into the sea.

24. The Russians contact the Americans and tell them they will keep the story hush-hush to avoid diplomatic problems and further escalation and force the Americans into the negotiating position and offer them an olive branch based on Syria surrendering its chemical weapons as a face-saving exercise for the Americans.

25. American foothold in the Middle East is shaken, and America is cornered into accepting to start negotiations with Iran to the shear anger and disappointment of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

26. Yesterday, on the 24th of November 2013, the West concedes that Iran has legitimate rights to seek nuclear power heralding the end of sanctions against Iran.

This is where we are now and today. We shall read the rest of the story in history books, but today is Iran’s day.

Congratulations Iran. Thank you for your support to Hezbollah. Thank you for your support to Syria. Thank you thank you thank you. You deserved today’s great victory.

Bandar and Netanyahu, eat your hearts out.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

RUSHING TOWARDS RUSSIA. By Ghassan Kadi

RUSHING TOWARDS RUSSIA
Ghassan Kadi
23 November 2013
As they say, we can only choose our friends, not our family; and this is what human relationships are based on; the choice of who we want to be our friend, business partner or even a spouse.
This is a choice that is considered to be tantamount to freedom and independence, a choice that the right of attaining is something that people fight and are happily ready to die for.

This same fact is also true for groups, tribes, communities and nations.
 

With their diversities in skills and resources, different nations need alliances with other nations to “complete each other’.  Very few nations have the resources and expertise to allow them to stand on their own in this highly developed and competitive world that we live in.  It is this realisation that has pushed the bandwagon of the concept of globalisation and it has probably pushed it a little bit too far. Nonetheless, that push came from a vital need.

 
When political and military conflicts are added to this cocktail, the issue of a nation choosing its own friends becomes very much contingent upon who its enemies are. If we relate this argument to Syria and look at the draconian alliance of its enemies which included all of the Western powers plus Turkey, the Gulf States and Israel just to name the major ones, Syria had no choice but to seek friends and partners with whom it could not only share issues of mutual interest in peace time but also in war time.


Fortuitously, when Syria was looking for friends Russia was in a very similar situation and even though Syria and Russia have had a long standing alliance that goes back all the way to the days of the USSR, this alliance had to be redefined and the boundaries had to be restructured.  After all, this is now Putin’s post USSR and post Boris Yeltsin Russia.

 
A lot has been said about the needs and the interests of Russia in Syria to the extent that we now see vicious and rabid attacks accusing Russia of being a colonialist holding Syria to ransom. The recent oil/gas contract that the Syrian government has granted to the Russians has been like fodder to those Russia hating cynics. What they do not see is that Syria is not rushing towards Russia. This is a natural and normal progression of a long standing alliance that has now fully matured in a time of war.

President Assad has been saying time and time again that once this war is over Syria is going to reciprocate loyalty because now it knows who its friends and enemies are.

If this means nothing to some people and if they see it as a sell-out then perhaps they should consider this other argument. Some argue why not give the contract to Venezuela because they also have the necessary technology and perhaps they might have offered Syria a better financial deal.  People who subscribe to this option seem to forget that this is the Middle East that we are talking about and if we all of a sudden have oil rigs in the sea that are owned and operated by post Chavez Venezuela, a State that is considered by the West as a rogue state, Syria would be giving Israel carte blanche to attack those installation any time, without any notice and neither Syria nor Venezuela would be able to respond to these attacks except by military retaliation.  Having Russia running these operations is an insurance policy that guarantees no scheming zealot will ever dare come near them.

Back to the issue of national alliances; the vocal cynics and critics of Syria’s foreign policies are not offering any viable alternatives. If Syria were to stand alone as some critics seem to suggest, they seem to ignore that Syria would not only have to drill its own natural resources when they don’t have the finances let alone technologies for it, but, Syria would also have to manufacture its own military hardware all the way to tanks and fighter jets and, again, Syria at this stage neither has the finances or the technology to do this.

We forgot something here didn’t we? Syria would have had to use its Syrian made military hardware to fend off a UNSC mandated resolution to attack her because it would have had no Russian Veto to avert this.

Some may rightfully be cynical about the long term viability of the Syrian – Russian alliance and whether or not this alliance will be based on a partnership of equality and mutual respect. No one can give any solid guarantees how this will all pan out in 5, 10 or 20 years from now. What we do know however, is that this alliance, at least potentially, has the hallmark of a long and mutually beneficial collaboration in which Syria will be the new regional oil and gas power and replace Saudi Arabia as a supplier and a kowtower to the West and instead be a true partner to Russia and a sovereign and independent regional power.