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Carnage in Syria: Not In Our Name

Posted: Jun 06, 2012

“Massacre in Syria Was America’s New Mission for al-Qaeda,” read a recent, front-page banner headline in Kayhan (Universe), an Iranian newspaper that doubles as the daily personal mouthpiece of the country's “spiritual leader,” Ali Khamenei.

The news – falsely attributed to the authoritative magazine Foreign Policy – was further proof that, despite the pretense of Islamic piety, the newspaper is as firm a believer in the Big Lie as was the Nazi propaganda machine. The far more credible Iranian daily, Shargh (East), on the same day carried an item on the recall of foreign ambassadors from Syria in response to the carnage.

Yet, Kayhan’s invention holds the tiniest grain of truth. The loathsome violence perpetuated by Hafiz al-Assad’s criminal regime on innocent Syrians will in the end serve America’s corporate interests, as the United States continues to destabilize the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) under the guise of the “Arab Spring.”

The final intent of the U.S. is to redraw the regional map of the oil-rich MENA swath from the heart of the Middle East to the westernmost reaches of North Africa, a strategy that would allow Big Oil to negotiate on more advantageous terms with far weaker, local interests—such as the separatist Barqa state in oil-rich eastern Libya—a far cry from the days of dealing with such greedy strongmen as Moamar Gadaffi and Hosni Mubarak. Quite tellingly, the latest financial sanction imposed on Syria has frustrated the country’s oil exports, which at 263,000 barrels a day, is a vital revenue stream.

It is incumbent upon all Americans who find killing women and children for better oil deals repugnant, to ask President Obama to take decisive action to stop the violence.

The United States, in addition to the sanctions, has expelled the Syrian charge d'affaire and may soon recall its own ambassador. Yet these diplomatic and financial moves are no match for the Syrian military and intelligence apparatus that is hell bent on preserving the status quo.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has issued an ultimatum to the al-Assad regime to observe the ceasefire terms as agreed upon with the United Nations representative Kofi Annan. Yet the FSA displays neither the military might nor the decisive public support to back its words with effective action.

The only way to stop killing the innocent is for NATO to contain the Syrian military and police to their bases with sufficient air cover while its special forces go after the thugs of al-Shabiha (the Similar) who excel in spreading terror by invading towns and cutting the throats of anyone in sight.

Syria is one of many MENA hot spots that is pitting Washington against Russia and China in a new configuration with the potential to spread the war and violence globally. Clearly the days of dictators, sheiks, kings and emirs in the Middle East and Africa are numbered. Yet the United States and its allies have no long-range plans to shape the regional future beyond their ambition to take the oil and run.

Today, Americans must ask themselves if they are willing to be participants in a military-industrial empire, which is reconstructing the world to serve its own benefit. As the empire’s citizens, they can hold on to their privileged position only for so long before they become one with the rest of a subjugated people. Most alarmingly, they are sure to provide the cannon fodder when China and Russia move to fill the power vacuum in a contested MENA.

Headlines similar to Kayhan’s, which have no other intent but to buttress unpopular regimes by spreading anti-American venom, are not rare in the Middle East. They are not meant for the educated who have access to a wide variety of news sources, but for the semi-literate, volatile street crowds who provide the power base for the pseudo-Islamic movements from Tehran to Cairo.

As “useful idiots,” they not only serve the myopic interests of their own rulers, but also are helpful to the long-range imperial designs that benefit from feeding the fires of regional strife. It is high time for Americans to raise their voices against their own corrupt and calculating rulers to say: Not in our name.

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