by Tahir Mustafa (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 40, No. 3, Jumada' al-Ula', 1432)
It was only a matter of time before protests erupted in Syria like elsewhere in the Muslim East. In fact, informed observers were surprised that Syrians had not joined the movement for change sooner when long-entrenched Western-backed dictators like Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Ali Abdullah Saleh were already ousted or under intense pressure to go. The Arabic word, irhal (go or more accurately translated as get lost) has become the standard slogan in the region.
Thus last month’s eruption of protests in Syria starting in Daraa and duly projected and amplified by al-Jazeera has focused attention on the situation in the region. But al-Jazeera refuses to reveal the true identity of those behind the uprising. In fact, the Doha-based network is part of the US-Zionist-Saudi conspiracy to undermine the Syrian regime so that a major challenge to American-Israeli hegemony can be removed and the Saudis can breathe a little easier under the protective umbrella of their Western masters.
The protests in Syria are not entirely indigenous even if people have legitimate grievances. A much larger game is underway that has little to do with the rights of the people. The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia as well as exiled Syrian politicians are all involved in undermining the regime of President Bashar al-Assad for their own nefarious ends. This is not to argue that Assad is a democrat or that he does not rule with an iron fist. Syria’s importance lies elsewhere: unlike regimes in the rest of the Muslim East, it is not an American-Zionist puppet. In fact, it is part of the resistance alliance that includes Islamic Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas against US-Zionist aggression. Add to that the US-Zionist agents in Lebanon whose machinations to undermine Hizbullah have been frustrated by the steadfastness of the resistance movement, and the picture begins to get clearer.
Unlike Libya, Syria would be an even bigger prize for the West and the Zionists. Colonel Muammar Qaddafi of Libya is a two-bit player compared to Bashar al-Assad. Syria is a major plank in the resistance alliance against US-Israel. As long as it remains part of the Iran-Hizbullah-Hamas front, Israel feels insecure because its ill-gotten gains can be challenged and undermined. The uprising in Syria is part of the ongoing US-Zionist conflict that was first checkmated by Hizbullah’s valiant resistance in the Zionist-imposed war of July–August 2006. Instead of crushing Hizbullah, the Zionist invaders suffered a humiliating defeat. The psychological trauma was even greater than their military defeat. The Zionists then tried to eradicate this shame by assaulting and perpetrating a bloodbath in defenseless Gaza in December 2008–January 2009. There too, despite inflicting massive casualties and destroying much of Gaza’s dilapidated infrastructure, Hamas stood its ground and the Zionists failed in their mission to obliterate the resistance movement.
Behind these maneuvers lies the US-Israeli plan to isolate and ultimately destroy the Islamic government in Iran. In this, they also have the backing of the Saudis because they feel vulnerable when Islamic Iran supports Hizbullah’s resistance to Israel and Hamas’ standing firm in Gaza — while the Saudis do not lift a finger to help them. Islamic Iran also exposes the Saudis’ claim to being leaders of the Muslim world. Instead, the Saudis stand exposed as agents of the West and the Zionists, hardly credentials that can earn them laurels among masses in the Muslim world.
The uprising in Syria is part of this chain of events. Recent revelations confirm the deep conspiracy being hatched by the US-Zionist-Saudi nexus to undermine and overthrow the government in Syria. A number of exiled Syrians are involved in this including Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former vice president of Syria, Abdul Razzaq Eid, chief of the Damascus Declaration National Council Abroad, former Syrian opposition MP Mamoun Homsi, Farid al-Ghaderi, leader of the self-styled Reform Party, Saad Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, his Saudi paymaster, Bandar bin Sultan and even an Emirati crown prince.
Al-Ghaderi, like Bandar, has the dubious distinction of visiting in 2007 the Israeli Knesset while the Saudi did it secretly in the summer of 2009 to urge then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to attack and eliminate Hizbullah. He said Saudi Arabia would pay for all the costs of Israeli aggression. Given their experience of three years ago, the Zionists refused to oblige.
Websites and social communications networks like Facebook and Twitter were not the only means used to coordinate demonstrations in Syria, especially Darra. Scores of UAE-supplied Thuraya mobile satellite handsets to specific activists in Syrian districts were also utilized. An Emirati crown prince, owner of Thuraya mobile handsets facilitated dispatch of these phones, which enabled users to communicate directly via satellite without using land lines or mobile Syrian networks, in addition to using Jordanian and UAE SIM cards. Weapons are being smuggled to Syrian rebels from Jordan using pack animals. These are paid for by Bandar who had tried, unsuccessfully, to smuggle hundreds of millions of dollars in cash to Syria for disbursement among anti-government groups. Dressed in disguise and travelling on a fake passport, Bandar thought he could slip through Syrian immigration and customs. He was caught, interrogated and detained for several months. At that time, Bandar claimed his mission was to organize a “coup against King Abdullah” who had become senile. This led to his return and disappearance in the kingdom for nearly 18 months. He re-appeared only last October. Given recent revelations, it would appear Bandar’s plan was to finance anti-government groups in Syria. He has now organized these through Jordan.
Early last month, Nasser Qandil, a former Lebanese MP, revealed that Syrian opposition figures had met in Lebanon to plan and coordinate “sabotage” operations in Syria. Qandil said “On January 18, Hariri’s consultant Hani Hammoud went to Paris where he met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffery Feltman, and former Lebanese minister Marwan Hmedeh who is part of the March 14 alliance. It is reported that during this meeting, Fares Khashan, who works for Hariri’s Future newspaper, was tasked with coordinating with the Syrian opposition groups abroad. It was after this meeting that the Syrian conspirators flew to Beirut in private jets to avoid detection. Immigration and customs procedures were also bypassed, courtesy of Hariri.
Dr. Haytham Mannaa, spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights confirmed in discussions with al-Manar television website that he was invited to a meeting in a Paris cafe with a Syrian businessman who had dual Syrian-French nationality. He was accompanied by three other Syrians and a reporter for al-Jazeera. The talks focused on Syria and “…the needs of the youth in Daraa, Syria. The Syrian businessman with the Western nationality offered to arm Syrian opposition groups both qualitatively and quantitatively.” Dr. Mannaa has reported that he and the other Syrians were stunned at what they had heard.
The offer was categorically rejected, according to Dr. Mannaa. He then informed the movement leaders in Daraa, his hometown, that under no circumstances should they accept offers of arms regardless of their origin, and no weapons should be used. This would be a disaster for the opposition, fully aware that any regime confronted with this kind of challenge would come down hard and easily crush the uprising. The reply he received was that no weapons would enter the district of Daraa. It is, however, clear that while those leading the movement in Daraa may not have accepted arms from Syrian agents working for the West, there have been several instances of unidentified men driving in fast moving cars shooting at demonstrators. Some policemen have also been shot and wounded. Who are these people? The Syrian government insists these are foreign agents. Given the discussions in the Parisian cafe, could this not be a possibility?
Dr. Mannaa has also revealed that the Paris cafe arms offer was not the first its kind. “There were two other armament offers, one of them came from a Lebanese party that is currently at odds with Syria,” Dr. Mannaa was quoted as saying. This was an indirect reference to Hariri’s Future Movement that is backed by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Once again, there is proof of the trio’s dirty tricks.
It is not difficult to identify the parties anxious to resort to armed struggle in Syria and who their foreign sponsors are. These are groups financed by the Americans, Lebanese groups and parties that lost out in the recent power-struggle, and rich Syrian exiles sidelined in the political process. It is the same groups that have spread rumors about Hizbullah members being in Daraa, a charge categorically rejected by the Islamic resistance group.
Syrian opposition groups are hoping the US and its NATO allies would come to their aid the same way they have done in Libya. What they forget is that Syria and Libya are very different situations and if the West is feeling such great difficulties in Libya despite its being a soft target, Syria would be a lot worse.