Key Points for Deciphering US Behavior: The Northeast and Northwest, Sanctions, and Reconstruction
While writing this piece, the total confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US is nearly one million, about a third of confirmed cases worldwide. It is both painful and sad, whether concerning the suffering of Americans due to this catastrophe, or the suffering of American medical staff on the front lines as they genuinely fight the virus and try to protect the public’s health.
The inhumanity of the dominant financial elite in the US, toward Americans first and foremost, is now emerging not in wars being launched from beyond the oceans, but in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, and California, where Trump has advised Americans to swallow disinfectants and detergents in order to sterilize their bodies from the inside to tackle the virus. Trump’s main concern and his biggest war is only one issue: immediately resuming turning the wheels of the economy with complete and utter disregard of any consequences for people’s health.
We are only saying this to dismiss any idiocy that may say that the US elite is genuinely interested in helping the Syrian people or any other people – including the American people – to overcome the coronavirus ordeal with minimal losses and pains.
In a previous issue (#961) of Kassioun, we published an article titled: The “Compassionate” US, Abu al-Fath al-Farghali, and Wholesale “Coincidences”, in which we looked at Washington’s ongoing attempts to rely on the coronavirus to continue its plan of “Syrianizing” al-Nusra and delisting it as a terrorist organization, in pursuit of preventing implementation of the Sochi Agreement, and ultimately preventing the implementation of UNSCR 2254.
Since this article is, in a way, a continuation of the previous one, we briefly reiterate the main conclusions we had reached:
- The US attempts to prevent finishing off al-Nusra are not new; it started with, directly and indirectly, working against the Astana track and process, and then against the Sochi Agreement, and always under the “humanitarian” cover.
- Since late last year, these US attempts started to take on a more blatant and rude shape. It started with James Jeffrey’s statement on January 30 in which he said: “we [the US] recognize that there are terrorists in Idlib. There’s also a very large group, the al-Nusra or Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, HTS, that is an al-Qaida offshoot. It is considered a terrorist organization, but it is primarily focused on fighting the Assad regime. It itself claims – we haven’t accepted that claim yet, but they do claim to be patriotic opposition fighters, not terrorists. We have not seen them generate, for example, international threats for some time.” This is a statement that al-Jolani quickly responded to through a lengthy interview with the International Crisis Group, in which he disclosed – with the help of the group that volunteered to polish his image with lengthy sections of the interview – everything that could qualify him to get off the terrorism list. (We addressed this in a separate article in Kassioun, issue #954 under the title The Comedic Play Starring the Trio: Jeffrey, Malley, and Jolani).
- In the past month, with starting the transition to a decisive step in the implementation of the Sochi Agreements by beginning to conduct joint patrols on parts of the M4 highway, pursuant to the March 5 additional protocol between the Russian and Turkish presidents, appeared an audio leak linked to Abu al-Fath al-Farghali, a commander in al-Nusra and to some extent a “religious leader” therein, in which he clearly expresses the transition of al-Nusra to direct enmity with Turkey, and the end of the “seeking the help of an infidel against an infidel” phase, based on his description of the nature of the relationship with Turkey.
- In parallel, US think tanks, like the Washington Institute – which is funded by Zionist AIPAC – used the coronavirus to talk about “three governments” in Syria; one of these “governments”, and indeed the best thereof according to the report, is the “government of technocrats” in reference to the Salvation Government, that is, the government affiliated with al-Nusra.
- The general trend of US action in Syria does not stop at trying to preserve al-Nusra, but rather goes beyond that to keep “three governments” in Syria separate from each other, fighting among each other; in short: preserving the state of war, perpetuating partition, and preventing implementation of UNSCR 2254.
In the context of the aforementioned conclusions, another statement by Jeffrey appeared on March 30, in which he expressed his indignation at Russia because it – according to him – closed the crossing in the northeast, on which the US was relying to perpetuate the reality of economic – and even more importantly, political – separation between the northeast and the rest of Syria.
On April 17, the “Autonomous Administration” issued a statement regarding the first death in the northeast due to the coronavirus. The statement included a very obvious subjective focus on the potential source of coronavirus cases in the northeast, that is, Syrians coming from the “regime-controlled areas”. Based on this allegation, there was a demand for additional measures on the different types of “crossing points” with the rest of Syria. Meanwhile, those who wrote the statement turned a blind eye to other possible sources of the infection, which are numerous, as everyone knows, foremost of which are US soldiers whose army around the world appears to be among the biggest epicenters of infection rates.
In other words, the political dimension of the aforementioned statement, whether or not intended by those who wrote it, feeds into the same US machine, which seeks to perpetuate isolation of the Syrian regions from each other. Furthermore, this feeds into keeping the dialogue between SDF and the regime in the same place and not moving along, in parallel with growing US attempts to push for an alternative dialogue between SDF and Turkey.
In parallel with the intensive “humanitarian efforts”, calls and initiatives aimed at blowing up the threshold reached at the level of opposition structures and the Constitutional Committee, mainly sponsored by the US, are repeated. The threshold reached, despite years of continued sabotage and despite the many flaws that surround it – we are speaking mainly about the Constitutional Committee – is, nevertheless, a sufficient threshold to proceed towards implementation of UNSCR 2254. Therefore, the US – as well as the extremists from the Syrian sides – sees that it is necessary to thwart it entirely, and in particular, the Constitutional Committee.
In this context, too, we see a continuous attack against the Astana process, which fades a bit only to return again. In essence, this is inseparable from attacking the Astana guarantors separately. One example of that is the lies being promoted in southern Syria about a Russian role in recruiting Syrians to fight in Libya, lies that indicators show are being worked on by someone and are actually being advanced by Syrian sides and others. Likewise, are the lies promoted by some Syrian extremists with regards to economic issues, in which they are the most involved, especially with regards to the issue of sanctions.
The US games aimed at sustaining the war in Syria and keeping the crisis and preventing exit therefrom, cannot be successful, and even explosive, without a high degree of instability. This is because the general tendency during the past few years, and mainly through the role that the Astana process has played, has been focused on identifying hotbeds of military tension and diffusing them one after the other, something that is now in its final stages with progress towards the full implementation of the Sochi Agreement.
Therefore, for the US and the extremist Syrians there is no alternative for igniting new fires in the different Syrian regions, mainly through economic means, in addition to other means, sometimes sectarian and other times nationalist.
One cannot forget the scene where one US official was showing to Syrians sitting with him an application on his mobile phone, tracking the exchange rate of the Syrian pound, and showing them his glee at the collapse of the exchange rate of the Syrian pound on a daily basis. What that official is saying is that this collapse means that the regime is on the verge of collapse.
The reality of the matter is that the US sanctions on Syria, in tandem with the large internal corruption, are two sides of the same coin. The greatest evidence of this can be seen by examining the wheat issue, for example, where the Syrian government insists on importing it at a price higher than the international price under the pretext of sanctions, despite the availability of alternatives, as Kassioun has repeatedly made clear, particularly in a recent article titled Sanctions and “Bullying”… Wheat as an Example (only available in Arabic).
Another well-known example is the government’s failure to purchase its own oil cargo ship, which can bypass all US and Western sanctions with the help of friends, thereby reducing the additional commissions that are being paid (due to sanctions) by up to 72% (Sanctions again, Why Don’t We Buy our Own Ships (Arabic), Kassioun, issue #909).
These two examples are just the tip of the iceberg of examples that all feed into the same issue: Western sanctions have turned into a gold mine through astronomical commissions, shared between the great corrupt forces within the regime and financial links in the West, all at the expense of the Syrian people.
Apart from the issue of profits, sanctions, in conjunction with major internal corruption, provide an environment of continuous tension, which begins with living and economic conditions and always keeps the door open to security tensions that are ignited from time to time as needed, and in a way that serves obstructing movement towards a political solution.
The deceitful Western stance on reconstruction adds to the misleading objective of sanctions. Both, the sanctions and stance on reconstruction, according to what the US states, aim to pressure the regime so as to push it toward a political solution. In reality, sanctions have not changed any regime throughout history – assuming that, to begin with, an external party has the right to impose sanctions to change the regime of another country, which is unacceptable, violates international law, and is a derivative of the traditional Western colonial mentality.
The West describes sanctions and reconstruction as “the stick and carrot” through which it deals with the Syrian regime. However, if we leave aside the West’s claims and look at the facts, we will find two basic matters before us related thereto.
First, if we set aside the Marshall Plan post-WWII, which undertook serious reconstruction of Western Europe under the pressure of competition with the Soviet model at the time, and in light of the outrageous McCarthy campaign, we will not find one successful example of reconstruction funded by the West. Lebanon, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan, the Congo, etc., in all these examples and others – on which Kassioun has presented a study over 13 parts in previous issues – what actually happened is that these countries became shackled with astronomical debts, and a group of thieves and brokers directly affiliated with West came into power.
Western reconstruction has always been represented by eliminating any potential of real economic progress; to the contrary, it has worked to develop the service and non-productive sectors at the expense of real production. Even the simplest form of building homes for people who lost their homes, was only accomplished in negligible proportions. Thus, Western reconstruction is a catastrophe that Syrians should avoid and not treat it as a “carrot”, though it might constitute a “carrot” for the big corrupt forces.
Second, the deteriorating and critical economic situation of the US and Europe makes talking about these countries “donating” to the reconstruction of Syria somewhat of an unwarranted delirium.
Based on the two aforementioned ideas, the Western position, and the US in particular, regarding reconstruction, is in essence nothing more than a complement to sanctions. In other words, the best that the West can offer in the process of rebuilding Syria is to leave Syrians alone, that is, to lift its criminal penalties off of them.
Since the US has no interest in stabilizing Syria and progress toward a political solution in which Syrians themselves decide their destiny, it maintains this sanctions and reconstruction game in the form in which the US has presented it. That is, in a form that allows maintaining tension and increasing the possibility of eruptions, which the US now needs to reinforce to the maximum extent, knowing that it is unable to maintain direct presence on Syrian territory for a long time, precisely as a result of its own deep economic crises.
The only way out of the disaster was, and still is, to push for full implementation of UNSCR 2254 by and for the interests of Syrians, by ending Western sanctions, and ending all sabotage attempts – with political, security, and economic tools – by the US and Syrian extremists in the northwest, northeast, south, and in all regions of Syria and abroad.
The good thing is that the ability of the US, as well as the extremists associated therewith one way or another and from all sides, is increasingly and chronically getting weaker, something in which all patriotic Syrians should invest through their combined efforts, regardless of their current affiliations.