by Steven Sahiounie, published on Mideast Discourse, February 14, 2022
Syria seems forgotten in the U.S. but the Caesar Sanctions, U.S. proxy occupation of the oil wells and wheat fields, and Turkish support for Salafists (including ISIS and many foreigners) in Northern Syria leave the country unable to rebuild or to meet the needs of the people. If our attention has moved on to the next U.S. aggression, Syria has not been freed from U.S. hostilities. While our Arab League partners in the long war are re-engaging with a Syria no longer a threat to their hegemony, and Turkey continues to work toward annexation of northern Syrian land, the country remains crippled by an ongoing intervention and occupation. [jb]
The Kremlin announced intelligence findings which show the US is planning to use the CIA to instigate terrorist actions in Latakia and Damascus directed against Russian and Iranian presence. This action would be used as a US promoted media campaign within Syria to produce fear and instability leading to an uprising, or call for ‘regime change’.
When the US-NATO war machine began their Syrian ‘regime change’ project in 2011, many thought that the project would be given up after the Syrian Arab Army and their Russian ally fought the terrorists that the US CIA program, Timber Sycamore, was supporting. Trump cut off the program in 2017. But, the Biden administration is still holding out for full ‘regime change’, which began while President Joe Biden was Vice President under President Obama, the chief architect of the Syrian war.
Lack of Biden plan on Syria
Since taking office, the Biden administration has not prepared a Syrian strategy. It has not even appointed an envoy. The decision to keep about 200 US troops guarding the oil wells of northeastern Syria, preventing the Syrian central government from providing gasoline and electricity for the people, has been one of the only decisions taken, in conjunction with an even smaller group of US troops at Al Tanf, guarding the Baghdad to Damascus highway. In both circumstances the US is in flagrant violation of international law as they are illegally occupying Syria.
ISIS ‘safe zone’ in Idlib?
The US ally in Syria is the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They accuse Turkey of harboring, assisting, and protecting terrorists in Idlib in the northwest, near Latakia. They point to the fact that both the first, and second heads of ISIS have been killed by US forces in Idlib, and virtually on the Turkish border, and within walking distance of Turkish occupation forces in Idlib.
The SDF have accused Turkey of establishing an ISIS ‘safe zone’ in Idlib. Russia and Turkey have a signed agreement concerning Idlib, and Turkey was to prevent the terrorists in Idlib from attacking the M4 highway connecting Latakia to Aleppo for commerce; however, the agreement was never implemented by Turkey, who continues to cultivate a strong relationship with the terrorists who occupy Idlib. This Turkish strategy fulfills the US position of keeping Idlib in a stalemate with no progress for the Syrian benefit, or the relief of civilian suffering there as human shields.
The US and Turkey are using Idlib as a bargaining card in the final political solution for Syria, but that solution is not discussed or planned. The new information concerning a CIA plan for terror acts may be part of what the US sees as a final political solution: ‘regime change’.
The aftermath of almost 11 years of war and US-EU sanctions have left Syria almost broke. The central government had always been a source of subsidized food products, bread, gasoline, cooking gas, and heating fuel. These subsidies were available to all citizens, regardless. However, recently the decision was made to eliminate subsidies for all except the Civil Servants, who live on a very modest salary, and the poor. The working ‘poor’, the middle classes of small business owners and workers in the private sector were hit the hardest by the cuts. Schools are still free of charge, but hospitals now require the patient to buy their own medical supplies. The economy stands on the verge of collapse. The government has in the past warned that future wheat supplies cannot be bought and imported, as no money is left, and while bread is available now, it might not be in the future.
Sweida is an agricultural town in the south of Syria. The population is mainly of the Druze religious sect. Throughout the war, some Druze liked to claim they were ‘neutral’, neither supportive of the central government, nor the US-supported armed opposition which were terrorists following Radical Islam. However, the Druze are among the soldiers and officers in the Syrian Arab Army, and have lost many in fighting against the terrorists. The Druze have no connection or sympathy for the political ideology of Radical Islam, which is what the CIA supported with their founding of the Free Syrian Army, which morphed into Al Qaeda, and finally took the form of ISIS.
The Druze are hardworking, and capable, and well-armed. They were able to fight off the terrorist attacks on their area and defend their own community along with support from the Syrian Arab Army.
Recently, the Druze have taken to street protests in Sweida asking for UN resolution 2254 [the resolution calls for the Syrian government to negotiate with the opposition in exchange for an end to the war on the ground which doesn’t make much sense right now], and denouncing the cut in subsidies, while complaining about the lack of electricity in the country, which in most areas is 30 minutes in four intervals per 24 hours. No one would dispute their complaints about the lack of electricity and subsidies; however, the Druze lost their solidarity with the rest of their fellow countrymen when they brought out Druze flags and weapons to the supposedly peaceful protests.
Syrians learned early on in 2011 that a peaceful protest can turn violent if the protesters bring weapons and use them against Syrian security forces eliciting an armed response. The Druze played right into the CIA handbook which was written in Deraa in 2011.
Rebuilding and the Arab League
Syria has been rumored to be brought back into the Arab League. Already several Arab embassies have reopened in Damascus, and Syria has begun to reestablish commercial diplomatic relations with key regional powers, including Bahrain, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.
With the US-EU sanctions in place it is impossible to begin the task of rebuilding Syria. Private merchants of the construction industry are prohibited by the sanctions from importing any materials, and there are banking sanctions which prohibit them from paying for their goods abroad in the standard format.
Thousands of Syrians have become economic migrants abroad, and the numbers are continuing to rise as the cost of living, and lack of jobs inside the country due to the US-NATO ‘regime change’ project aftermath drives the Syrian population further and further into suffering.
Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist from Latakia, Syria.