by Stephen Lendman
On April 6, 2009, Seymour Hersh headlined "Syria Calling," saying:
When Israel's December 2008/January 2009 Cast Lead war on Gaza ended, so did "promising peace talks between Israel and Syria."
For almost a year, both countries negotiated. They did so in Istanbul through intermediaries. Many complicated issues were resolved. Diplomatic normalization was agreed on in principle.
At a mid-January Qatar summit, Assad called Israel's war "the language of blood." He wanted Arab League members to boycott Israel. He urged closing Israeli embassies throughout the region.
He wanted all "direct or indirect ties" severed. He ended discussions over Golan Heights issues.
He emailed Hersh saying Israel was "doing everything possible to undermine the prospects for peace." At the same time, he remained committed to "closing the deal," Hersh said.
"We have to wait a little while to see how things will evolve and how the situation will change," Assad said. "We still believe that we need to conclude a serious dialogue to lead us to peace."
At the time, US and other government officials said renewed Israeli/Syrian talks on Golan were highly likely.
They depended largely on Washington acting as mediator. Doing so would let Obama engage in Middle East peace negotiations.
According to Hersh:
"A senior Syrian official explained that Israel's failure to unseat Hamas from power in Gaza, despite the scale of the war, gave Assad enough political room to continue the negotiations without losing credibility in the Arab world."
"Assad also ha(d) the support of Arab leaders...invested in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
"A major change in American policy toward Syria (was) clearly under way. The return of the Golan Heights (was) part of a broader strategy for peace in the Middle East that include(d) countering Iran's influence."
Hersh quoted former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk saying:
"Syria is a strategic linchpin for dealing with Iran and the Palestinian issue. Don't forget, everything in the Middle East is connected, as Obama once said."
An unnamed former US diplomat involved in Middle East peace talks called Syria "low-hanging fruit waiting for someone to harvest."
A treaty between Israel and Syria "would be the start of a wide-reaching peace-implementation process that (would) unfold over time."
Syrians were ready to deal since Oslo. Obama needed to do "due diligence."
Start talking to Assad. Deal in "specifics." Vagueness won't work.
Israelis and Americans believed concluding a Golan deal could help isolate Iran. It could moderate Syria's support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
An alternative view was that Assad wants Iran involved in regional talks. In February 2009, John Kerry chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He met with Assad in Damascus. It was his third visit since 2000. "He wants to engage with the West," said Kerry.
"Our latest conversation gave me a much greater sense that Assad is willing to do the things that he needs to do in order to change his relationship with the United States."
"He told me he's willing to engage positively with Iraq, and have direct discussions with Israel over the Golan Heights - with Americans at the table. I will encourage the Administration to take him up on it."
Assad said if America seeks peace, it has "to deal with Syria and (its) rights." They include Golan. It's Syrian territory. It's "not negotiable, and the Israelis know we are not going to negotiate the line of 1967."
At the same time, he suggested compromises were possible. "We only demarcate the line," he said. "We negotiate the relations, the water and everything else."
If Israel wants peace, it has to "deal with the core issue and not waste time talking about who is going to send arms to Hezbollah or Hamas."
"Hezbollah is in Lebanon and Hamas is in Palestine. If they want to solve the problem of Hezbollah, they have to deal with Lebanon."
"For Hamas, they have to deal with Gaza. For Iran, it is not part of the peace process anyway. This peace is about peace between Syria and Israel."
According to Hersh, Obama expressed willingness to talk to Assad with no preconditions. Rhetorically he endorsed Syrian peace with Israel.
At AIPAC's 2008 annual conference, he said:
"We must never force Israel to the negotiating table, but neither should we ever block negotiations when Israel's leaders decide that they may serve Israeli interests."
"As President, I will do whatever I can to help Israel succeed in these negotiations."
Hersh said Obama faced tough diplomatic choices. Assad was ready to deal. Bush officials spurned him. Obama has to "prove" he's different.
He's just as duplicitous. He said one thing. He planned another. He wants sovereign Syrian independence destroyed. America targets all independent states.
It wants all nations governed by Washington rules. Why Gaddafi was ousted is instructive. He was fiercely independent.
He supported pan-Africanism. He wanted a United States of Africa. He wanted it free from imperial domination.
He wanted Libyans sharing in the nation's oil wealth. America finds the notion abhorrent.
Under Gaddafi's 1999 Decision No. 111, Libyans got free healthcare, education, electricity, water, training, rehabilitation, housing assistance, disability and old-age benefits, as well as interest-free state loans.
They got generous subsidies to study abroad. They got help to buy a new car. They got practically free gasoline. Newlyweds were generously subsidized to begin married life.
Gaddafi's Green Book called a house "a basic need of both the individual and family. "(T)herefore it should not be owned by others."
It believed women should be treated like men. "(A)ll individuals have a natural right to self-expression by any means," it said.
"In a socialist society, no person may own a private means of transportation for the purpose of renting to others, because this represents controlling the needs of others."
"The democratic system is a cohesive structure whose foundation stones are firmly laid above the other (through People's Conferences and Committees). There is absolutely no conception of democratic society other than this."
"No representation of the people - representation is a falsehood. The existence of parliaments underlies the absence of the people, for democracy can only exist with the presence of the people and not in the presence of representatives of the people."
Green Book ideology rejects Western-style democracy. It's against predatory capitalism. Gaddafi gave Washington lots of reasons to want him ousted.
Until Washington and NATO blocked its approval, the UN Human Rights Council Libyan praised Gaddafi. It did so in its January 2011 "Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Libya Arab Jamahiriya."
It said his government protected "not only political rights, but also economic, educational, social and cultural rights." It lauded his treatment of religious minorities. It praised his security forces "human rights training."
His vision targeted him for removal. He opted out of AFRICOM. His Great Man-Made River (GMMR) project was extraordinary. Gaddafi called it the "eighth wonder of the world."
An ocean-sized aquifer lies beneath Libyan sands. Gaddafi wanted it developed. He wanted to make the desert bloom. He wanted Libyans to have free water for irrigation, consumption and other uses.
Washington and other Western states want it privatized. They want it exploited for maximum profits.
Banking under Gaddafi was key. Libya's central bank was state owned. It created its own money.
The Libyan dinar was interest free. It was used for productive economic growth. Predatory banking profits were verboten. International lending agency loan sharks of last resort were shut out.
Gaddafi funded Africa's only communications satellite. Hundreds of millions of telecommunication dollars were saved.
He provided two-thirds of the $42 billion needed to launch a public African Central Bank, an African Monetary Fund based, and an African Investment Bank.
He advocated a new gold standard. He wanted gold dinars replacing dollars. His ideas ran contrary to petrodollar dominance. They challenged the dollar as the world's reserve currency.
Gaddafi was a revolutionary leader. He wanted Libyan society based on equity, justice and fair distribution of wealth.
Most Libyans supported him. They did so for good reason. He gave Washington lots of reasons to want him ousted. So did Assad.
Post-WW I, Syria became a French colony. It remained so until April 1946. Eight military coups followed.
In 1970, Hafez al-Assad gained power. He headed Syria's Ba'ath party. In July 2000, his son, Bashar, succeeded him as Syria's president. He's a London-trained ophthalmologist turned politician.
The nation's agricultural sector generates around 25% of Syria's national income. Wheat and cotton are principle crops. Oil is produced and exported. In 2010, GDP growth was 3.2%. Per capita income was $4,800.
Moscow and Syria have longstanding economic and strategic ties. Russian expertise and technology helped build Syrian infrastructure.
It's responsible for dozens of industrial facilities. It includes about one-third of its electrical power capacity, another third of its oil-related operations, and help building the Euphrates dam.
Maritime interests are important. Linking Latakia, Syria with Novorossiysk, Russia on the Black Sea facilitates cargo shipments. Gazprom has oil and gas development operations.
Both countries have nuclear energy ties. They cooperate on other commercial, scientific, military, and environmental issues.
Syria is secular. Its population numbers around 22.5 million. About 90% are Muslims. Most others are Christians. Significant investment goes for education. It's prioritized. It's largely free. Most schools are state-run. Private college charge modest fees.
Free healthcare and subsidized housing are provided. In 2006, IMF structural adjustment mandates compromised them. Conflict conditions since March 2011 affects all government services.
Syria's central bank is state owned. So are most other banks. In 1966, they were consolidated into the public Commercial Bank of Syria.
Specialized public banks promote economic development. They include the Agricultural Cooperative Bank, Industrial Bank, Popular Credit Bank and Real Estate Bank. They're state owned.
They're anathema to Wall Street-style debt finance. They create their own money. Western bankers have no control.
Syria's Council on Money and Credit manages monetary policy. It supervises banking. It's responsible for economic activity. It's subject to ministerial committee review.
Bank lending is mainly for commercial, industrial, construction, and trade transactions. Essential commodities are supplied at low, subsidized prices.
Washington, Israel, Britain, France, and other Western nations target Syria's independence. Doing so is key to isolating Iran. Both countries are strong allies. Toppling one weakens the other.
Syria's military is formidable. A well-armed defense force numbers around 400,000. It has state-of-the-art weapons. Defeating it won't be easy.
At the same time, it's no match against Pentagon power. How much will be used remains to be seen. Obama wants Assad ousted.
He won't likely quit until longstanding plans are accomplished. Expect lots more bloodshed and destruction. Rogue states operate that way. America's by far the worst.
Obama's already guilty of multiple crimes of war and against humanity. He intends more added to his rap sheet.
It bears repeating. He risks embroiling the entire region in conflict. He risks WW III.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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