Syria remains the region's only independent secular state. Washington aims to replace its regime with a client one.
Libya's model was replicated. Months of externally generated violence followed. So far it's short of war. For how long is uncertain. Obama can't wait to wage another one to keep ravaging the world one country at a time.
Months of violence, sanctions and isolation have taken a toll. Deaths mount. No one knows how many. Western media reported numbers come from opposition forces, not independent observers. Nothing they say is reliable.
Assad's government says 2,000 security forces have been killed. "Terrorist gangs" are blamed. Whatever the actual number, they've been many. Heavily armed insurgents are responsible. Conflict resolution isn't imminent.
Syria's economy deteriorates steadily. In 2011, its GDP collapsed 30% - from around $55 billion to $37 billion. Its currency also plunged from 47 to 62 to the dollar. Basic goods and services are in short supply. Heating and cooking oil are scarce. Electricity is on and off.
Assad's regime is weakening. National institutions are eroding. Opposition forces are locally organized. Neighborhood committees and armed groups were formed. At issue is usurping state power despite divisions of strategy, especially over peaceful or violent conflict resolution and pro or con advocacy for outside intervention.
After months of turmoil, heightened fear prevails. On December 23, Syrian state television reported two suicide car bombings, the first ones in Damascus since conflict began. Kfar Sousa district was targeted. It's where state security and intelligence facilities are located. Heavy gunfire followed. Syria reported 40 or more killed and 100 wounded.
The attacks came a day after 60 Arab League observers arrived. They're an advance monitoring team with hundreds more to come. Whether they'll help or hurt is uncertain. More on that below.
Their mission will last a month unless renewed. It wants all security forces withdrawn from urban areas and detainees released. Nothing is said about heavily armed insurgent terrorists doing much of the killing. Conflict resolution depends on stopping all of it equitably.
Of concern is that monitors are a step short of occupation. It's reminiscent of events preceding NATO's 1999 Serbia/Kosovo war. In March 1999, Slobodon Milosovic got an unacceptable ultimatum, the so-called Rambouillet Agreement. It was a take-it-or-leave it deal no responsible leader would accept.
It involved surrendering Serbia's sovereignty to NATO occupation with unimpeded access throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), including its airspace and territorial waters. Moreover, NATO demanded use of areas and facilities therein for its mission, irrespective of FRY laws.
It also required Milosevic's full cooperation. It was an offer designed to reject. War, mass destruction and slaughter followed. Serbia's sovereign Kosovo territory was lost. It's now Washington/NATO occupied territory, run by Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, an unindicted drug trafficker with known organized crime ties.
Washington, Israel, and key NATO partners have similar designs on Syria. War's perhaps planned. Pro-Western Arab League despots supported NATO's Libya war, mass slaughter and destruction. At the same time, they ignore ongoing atrocities in Bahrain, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, elsewhere in the region, and internally.
Calls for military intervention are increasing. In late November on CNN's State of the Union, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice accused Assad of "driving his country to the brink of civil war. (He's) no friend of the United States."
"Syria is the handmaiden of the Iranians throughout the region and so the fall of (Assad) would be a great thing not just for the Syrian people....but also for the policies of the United States and those who want a more peaceful Middle East."
She also called for tough sanctions, isolation and intervention, adding that if Russia and China won't agree, "then we (and allies) have to do it on our own." Stopping short of suggesting war, the implication is striking.
A Syrian National Council (SNC) was established. It's similar to Libya's puppet Transitional National Council (TNC). Originally formed in 2005, it was revived on August 23, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. It represents Western-backed internal opposition elements against the rights and interests of most Syrians.
It called for a Libyan-style no-fly zone and foreign intervention. It supplies intelligence to Washington and other Western nations. If unconventional tactics fail, stepped up violence and war remain options.
Since early 2011, NATO countries used regional bases to provide anti-regime support. Saudi Arabia, Lebanon's March 14 alliance, Turkey, Jordan and Israel are financing and arming insurgents.
So far, Russia and China blocked a Libyan-style "humanitarian intervention." Washington, however, wants regime change. Huge challenges remain to stop it.
SNC members want the Security Council to establish "protected zone" cover in violent prone areas. Free Syrian Army (FSA) security force defectors and insurgents also want no-fly zone protection and foreign military involvement. Deferring so far from direct NATO action, Washington backs Turkey and Arab League partners intervening.
America's Media War on Syria
A New York Times attack piece is typical. On December 22, its editorial headlined, "Get Tougher on Assad," saying:
After months of conflict, Assad's "still killing his people. And leaders in Russia, China and Arab states still haven't done enough to pressure him to stop." Claiming 5,000 unsubstantiated deaths, The Times blames "the brutal government crackdown in nine months of protests."
Unmentioned was Washington's long planned regime change, replicating the Libya model, replacing an independent regime with a client one, and using heavily armed insurgents to destabilize Syria violently.
Assad's willingness to dialogue with opposition elements "seems like another ploy to buy time as he tries to beat Syrians into submission."
Throughout the conflict, Assad made conciliatory offers. Opposition forces dismissed them out of hand, much like Libya's TNC rejected Gaddafi's overtures earlier.
On state television several times since last spring, Assad promised reforms. In June, he announced a 100-member panel to draft parliamentary election law changes, press freedoms, and a new constitution. He also said he'd prosecute those responsible for violence.
"There is little reason to believe Mr. Assad will allow (Arab League) observer(s) unrestricted access to all conflict areas (and be free to) make all of its findings public."
"Meanwhile, Russia is still tying the....Security Council in knots and preventing it from doing what it should have done months ago (through) tough economic and trade sanctions," condemnation, and more. Assad "left no doubt that he is willing to destroy his country to maintain his hold on power, which would be a disaster for the region."
The Times stopped short of endorsing war. Expect it if NATO intervenes directly or indirectly. When Washington's involved militarily, America's media march supportively in lockstep without debate, who benefits and loses, rule of law issues, and other right and wrong considerations.
Throughout the AfPak, Iraq and Libyan conflicts, disputing their legitimacy was verboten.
Instead, Times and other major media opinion pieces suppress truths and manipulate public opinion to support Washington/NATO attacking nonbelligerent countries lawlessly. Perhaps Syria and Iran are next.
Matthew Kroenig titled his Foreign Affairs January/February 2012 article, "Time to Attack Iran." Doing so let his advocacy pose as analysis.
Harvard International Affairs Professor Stephen Walt called his article "a textbook example of war-wongering disguised as analysis. It is a remarkably poor piece of advocacy....This is not fair-minded 'analysis;' it is simply a brief for war designed to reach a predetermined conclusion."
In his article, Kroenig said waging war is "the least bad option. (For years), American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities."
"Proponents (say) the only thing worse than military action (is) Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics" warn doing so won't work and "would spark a full-fledged war and a global economic crisis.
Iran's not aggressive or imperial. It poses no regional threat. It hasn't attacked another nation in over 200 years. It maintains a strong military for self-defense. It's vital given repeated Washington and Israeli threats.
No evidence whatever suggests an Iranian nuclear weapons program. US intelligence assessments through March 2011 found none.
During his December 1, 1997 - November 30, 2009 tenure as IAEA director general, Mohamed ElBaradei concurred. Current head, Yukiya Amano, politicized IAEA policy for Western interests, mainly America's.
Washington manipulated his appointment. He was enlisted to lie. He hasn't disappoint. Ahead of his report suggesting an Iranian nuclear weapons program, he visited Washington for instructions.
"....(S)keptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran poses to US interests in the Middle East and beyond....The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran's nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States."
Kroenig's a former Secretary of Defense Office strategist. He's also a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow. CFR is an influential US organization. From its 1921 beginnings, it's advocated one-world government run by dominant financial interests.
Historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. called it a "front organization (for) the heart of the American establishment." It meets privately and publishes only what it wishes the public to know. Since 1922, Foreign Affairs has been its flagship publication.
Its members represent imperial Washington's interests, including its longstanding objective for unchallenged global dominance. Achieving it depends on replacing independent regimes with client ones and eliminating all military and economic rivals.
War's a frequently used option. Waging it against Iran could embroil the entire region and threaten general war, possibly with nuclear weapons.
In his rage to attack nonbelligerent Iran lawlessly, Kroenig omitted the possibility and said nothing about Israel being nuclear armed and dangerous.
He represents imperial America's quest for world dominance, even if destroying it happens in the process.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.