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Obama's Regime-Change Policy in Syria | The Nation

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Robert Dreyfuss

Bob Dreyfuss

News of America’s misadventures in foreign policy and defense.

Obama's Regime-Change Policy in Syria

The Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA are making war plans for Syria. And they’re pretty much announcing them.

Over the weekend, on a visit to Turkey, a NATO member, to meet with Syrian opposition leaders and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explicitly declared that Washington’s policy toward Syria is now in what she called the “operational” phase. “We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning,” she said, adding: “Our intelligence services, our military have very important responsibilities and roles to play, so we are going to be setting up a working group to do exactly that.”

Make no mistake: this is regime change by force. It’s not exactly like Iraq, and it’s not exactly like Libya (yet)—but it’s regime change by force anyway. 

In her statement with Davutoglu, Clinton said that the United States is doing the following:

First, supporting the opposition and their efforts to end the violence and begin the transition to a free and democratic Syria without Assad. The United States continues to provide the opposition with communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance and direct financial assistance. We are coordinating our efforts with others who are also providing various forms of support.

Of course, the United States is not supporting the opposition to “end the violence” but to intensify it.

Second, it isn’t known exactly what aid is being provided to the opposition, but it’s certain that when Clinton talks about “communications equipment and other forms of non-lethal assistance,” she means sophisticated spy gear and probably intelligence about Syrian security forces.

And third, when she says that the United States is coordinating with those providing “providing various forms of support,” that means with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar that are supplying increasingly sophisticated arms via Turkey.

In case you missed it, the New York Times reported on August 4 about feverish war plans in Washington, in coordination with Israel:

The State Department and Pentagon planning efforts became more systematic last month after hopes for an internationally brokered resolution faltered in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition in the United Nations Security Council. The planning is being closely coordinated with regional allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel, and it coincides with an expansion of overt and covert American and foreign assistance to Syria’s increasingly potent rebel fighters.

The article added:

Other countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are providing weapons, assisted by a small number of officers from the Central Intelligence Agency who are vetting the fighters receiving them and working with State Department officials trying to unify the fighters with political leaders inside and outside the country. Last month, the Treasury Department granted a waiver to let a new American organization, the Syrian Support Group, raise money for the rebels despite the sanctions that prohibit most financial transactions in Syria.

To cover its tracks the United States is wildly exaggerating the role of Iran and Hezbollah, an ally of Iran and Syria, in supporting the government in Damascus.

Alon Ben-Meir, writing in the Jerusalem Post, warned—without evidence—that Iran might intervene directly in Syria, using military force. In tandem, the US State and Treasury departments this week accused Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, of “actively providing support to the Assad regime as it carries out its bloody campaign against the Syrian people,” though the Wall Street Journal reported that Middle East analysts believe that the idea that Hezbollah is playing an important role in Syria is overstated.

And a no-fly zone? Safe zones for rebels protected by NATO? Bombing of Syria? Stay tuned.

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