Syria: Chemical Weapons – What Can the International Community Do?

The Syria conflict has gained renewed intensity after the al-Assad regimes announced its willingness to utilize its stockpile of chemical weapons if the international community were to militarily involve itself; thus ensuring that international activity in the region will not surpass mere sanctions and also suggests that the al-Assad regime may be feeling the pressure of the various opposition groups within Syria.

Despite the Confirmation of Biological Weapons, the International Community Still Can’t Do Anything

Though Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons has been an open secret for the past 4 decades, the Assad’s regime’s announcement is a direct confirmation that Syria does indeed have a chemical weapons arsenal at their disposal.  The announcement targeted the international community, stating that if any foreign intervention in Syria’s civil war would be met with the deployment of chemical weapons.  The weapons include mustard and sarin gases, as well as cyanide, and are capable of being deployed by aircraft, surface-to-air missiles and rockets.  The announcement has sparked renewed animosity towards the regime, as well as towards the eastern powers that still persist in supporting the Assad regime, such as Russia and China.  Though the announcement does spark another international dilemma to be confronted if the community were to begin renewed intervention-talks, it does not present any new looming threat for the opposition groups still fighting throughout the Syrian country.  As the perpetuating conflict in Aleppo demonstrates, the opposition groups are utilizing a hit-and-run, urban-guerrilla warfare against the security forces of the regime.  The chemical weapons are poorly suited for such close-quarters style combat; rather, these weapons are generally most effective against mass formations in open country.  This does pose a problem for neighboring anti-Assad countries, such as Turkey.  Turkey has remained a proponent of direct military involvement and has, in the past, deployed reinforcing troops along its borders and has run military-training exercises as a show of force.  So saying, the foreign powers that constitute the ‘Friends of Syria’ contact group are those most threatened by the weapons and it is for this reason that the recurring hopes for further foreign assistance to the people of Syria will most likely dwindle away again.  Nevertheless, Assad forces have killed more than 15,000 protesters in an attempt to repress what it has called a ‘foreign conspiracy’.  Thus the efforts of diplomacy, embodied by the UN’s Annan plan, have gone nowhere and the humanitarian catastrophe escalates.

“No chemical or biological weapons will every be used.  Unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.” – Jihad Madkissi, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman

Russia, a remaining ally for the Syrian dictator, has refused to budge on its stance against unilateral international action, but they have also warned Assad against using the chemical weapons.  Russia’s defense of Assad can be explained by merely pointing a finger at the current President, that being Putin.  The repression enforced in Russia during the first round of presidential elections represents elements of the Stalin-esque era, as well as the heavy-handedness supporting by Russia and represented by Assad in Syria.  Combined with the installment of loyal office-holders in the regime by Putin, the regidity of the country to liberalization is evident.  So saying, Syria also represents to Russia its last stronghold in the Middle East and is also part of a lucrative bilateral trade agreement, thus making Russia very reluctant to lose such an ally.  Many have stated that if Russia were to withdraw its veto on any and all UN measures, then the international community would be able to respond with force against Assad.  However, the complexities of involvement go beyond the mere reluctance of Russia and the American gun-ho attitude of invasion without knowledge, as in Iraq, cannot be the strategy taken.  If Russia were to continue maintaining strong ties to the Assad regime whilst the international community launched a Libyan-style intervention, the result would be a proxy struggle mired in a protracted civil war.  With great powers funding militias on both sides, entering a period of escalated violence, civilian casualties would dwarf the already high numbers currently.  The situation then would not resemble the relatively successful Libyan intervention, but more so that of the Lebanon civil war which resulted in over 150,000 deaths over decades long span.  So saying, an internationally involved military conflict would not provide the sought after government transition.  As of now the Obama Administration, despite hot-headed criticism from GOP Presidential candidate Romney, has taken the correct diplomatic path towards Russia.  The American government continues to try and persuade Russia, if not to join the Friends of Syria contact group, then at leas ease its objections to sanctions.  The recurring request comes after another recent UN resolution for sanctions was vetoed by both Russia and China.  Nevertheless, even without Russia, the current sanctions and embargoes will bankrupt the Syrian regime – just not as swiftly as desired.

“Our duty today as Syrians is to unify for one goal, and that is to make our country free and democratic.” – Manaf Tlass, Free Syrian Army Brigade General

As said before, much blame for a lack of direct action by the Western community, is directed as Russia.  If Russia were to remove its support for Assad and thus allow the international community an unhindered approach to do as it pleases, the situation in Syria as a whole still represents a variable that is nigh unconquerable.  The international community was able to involve itself in Libya because it was a large country with a small population, allowing the rebel forces there to capture a significant stronghold.  Syria is roughly one-tenth the size of Libya and it has 3 times as many people.  Moreover, the rebel forces in Syria have not been able to take control of any significant part of the country.  A majority of the Syrian population lives in or around Damascus and Aleppo, both of which remain under the regime’s general control.  The Syrian rebels have been able to launch sporadic attacks, but poor organization and a lack of unity has made expansion and coordination impossible.  Elements of al-Qaeda and other religious extremists are fighting with the rebels, as well as members of the country’s various minority groups – Christian, Druze and Kurdish groups.  This divided group stands under the umbrella name of the Syrian National Council, which faces a loyal Alawite hierarchy.  There has been no signs of high-level dissent, mainly due to the connection between the Alawite dictator and the fact that all key military and intelligence posts are held by Shi’ites as well.  There loyalists have remained supportive because they know that in a post-Assad Syria, they will likely be massacred.  The scenario was seen in Libya where Qaddafi loyalists were executed without trial.  Evidently, the Assad regime still remains military strong and thus an international-militaristic-coalition would not be the correct response to topple the regime.

“It would be morally far more satisfying to do something dramatic that would topple Assad tomorrow.  But starving his regime might prove the more effective strategy.” – Fareed Zakaria, Editor-at-Large of TIME Magazine

In retrospect, the international community must stand behind its current plan to constrict the Syrian regime financially, through a series of stricter embargoes and sanctions.  Though Russia and China remain allies to Bashar al-Assad, their support is not the key element in keeping the international community from entering into Syrian with guns blazing.  The reality is that the international community cannot, or at least should not, become militarily involved because of the uncertainty of the Syrian situation represented by a fractured opposition and because Assad does hold a key deterrence tool, that being a large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons.

 

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Syria: Houla Massacre – The International Puzzle Box

The perpetuating Syrian conflict has become a diplomatic crisis due to its recent intensification resulting in the deaths of 100 dissidents in the town of Houla and once again isolating opposing members of the United Nations Security Council on methods of response.

Syria’s Conflict Continues to Polarize the International Community

The international response to the Syrian civil war has been a blitzkrieg of failed resolutions, condemning statements, economic sanctions, and failed observer missions, all of which have been knee-jerk reactions to the inability of the international community to authorize a join resolution of all UNSC member nations to respond with military force.  Despite the evident slaughter of men, women and children in Houla, both Russia and China reiterated their opposition to military intervention in Syria.  Their resolve is also paralleled by the remaining presence of Syrian diplomats in their countries, a juxtaposition to the position of 9 other Western nations that have expelled Syrian diplomats from their embassies.  Along with Japan, the US, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have all retroactively announce the expulsion of Syrian diplomats in protest of the massacre in Houla.  Nevertheless, the show of force in the Western hemisphere amounts to nothing because of the rigid positions of China and Russia.  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov stated that Moscow will veto any Council resolution that authorizes foreign military interference in Syria.  Similarly, in Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China opposes regime change by force in Syria. The massacre, another death toll to be added to the genocide, is another reflection of the failure of the Annan ceasefire deal.  Annan’s plan had called on the Syrian government to withdraw heavy weapons from civilian areas and abide by a truce with rebels.  President Assad had promised to abide by the regulations if the rebels were to cease their weapon smuggling and lay down their arms, a clause that clearly represented a security dilemma as the rebels would then be helpless.  Although many attacks have been carried out since the plan was laid out a month ago, the Houla massacre represents the peak of slaughter in the deteriorating county of Syria.  According to Herve Ladsous, pro-Assad gunmen known as the shabiha executed civilians and others were killed by artillery and tank fire, all of which was clearly the responsibility of the Syrian government.  So saying, the polarized positions of Russia and China have kept the full power and authority of the UN at bay, whilst allowing executions and genocide of thousands to continue under Assad.

“We took this action to expel Syrian diplomats in response to the massacre in the village of Houla – absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre against innocent children, women, show at point-blank range by regime thuds, the shabiha, aided and abetted by the Iranians, who were actually bragging about it over the weekend.” – Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman.

In response to the climatic events, the European Union is likely to press the Human Rights Council to recommend the UNSC refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court.  Nevertheless, because China and Russia have the power to veto any UN sanctions against Syria, the widespread outrage is unlikely to translate into tough action on the Syrian government.  The dilemma emerging is that members of the international community want different things and do not share the same principles, though mass slaughter being wrong would be one to share.  Russia, China and many 3rd world nations are not victim to the same outrage and gun-ho attitudes of many Western nations.  The repression of a totalitarian regime is not so hard a concept for many to grasp, most especially considering that many nations were victim to repression from Western imperialism.  Despite the demise of the old Soviet empire, the of Putin still represents the hardness of the past.  Though it may be referred to as ugly and not nice, the regimes of the East stand because of their heavy-handedness, as being implemented by Assad to a much greater extent.  Moreover, the repression enforced in Russia during the first round of elections, considered to be rigged, represents elements of the Stalin-esque era.  Combined with the installment of loyal office-holders in the regime by Putin, the rigidity of the country to liberalization is evident.  So saying, Syria also represents to Russia its last stronghold in the Middle East and is also part of a lucrative bilateral trade agreement, thus making Russia very reluctant to lose such an ally.  In the US, the position of Russia and the massacre in Syria has entered the presidential race, with Republic candidate Romney calling Russia’s position heartless and ugly.  Romney has further called for a firmer and more assertive position by the US.  Nevertheless, as with all presidential statement, it is easy to blame and insult but hard to actually come up with an effective strategy or replacement.  The tools with which to approach Russia are not as clear and concise as the GOP candidate presumes.  Many have called for the isolation of Russia through moral and verbal attacks, something that will have as much of an effect as the Anna peace plan in Syria.

“We hold the Syrian government responsible for this slaughter of innocent lives.  This massacre is the most unambiguous indictment to date of the Syrian government’s flagrant violations of its United Nations Security Council obligations.” – Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman

The ties between Russia and China are not easily isolated and cut, and thus attacking Russia with morality questions will undoubtedly lead to more rigidity and opposition by the Russian regime to any Western resolution towards Syria.  Moreover, the cohesive West is not as cemented in its mission towards Syria either.  Israel, a strong US ally in the Middle east, does not want to have  strong Syria nearby and welcomes the thought domestic divide and a weakened enemy.  Israel is surrounded by enemies and the likely repeal of its nonaggression treaty with Egypt, due to its rising Islamist party, will represent another enemy and tense relation for Israel.  Israel is also presented with the encroaching threat of a nuclear Iran, another powder keg tied to the Syrian conflict.  Iran is a strong ally to Assad and is responsible for providing much of Syria’s arms trade and troops, such as the trained shabiha thugs.  If the West were to intervene in Syria, not only would this divide the hemisphere of the West and East into extreme poles, but Iran will most likely drop nuclear talks that are set to resume and thus continue its uranium enrichment, possibly resulting in a volatile nuclear power in heart of the Middle East.  So saying, the cultural and religious divides of the Middle East present an unconquerable task of overcoming or appeasing.  Israel’s existence is already reason enough for many nations to start war, but if Turkey were to involve itself militarily on the behalf of the West, the divides between the Kurdish, Shi’ite and Sunni populations would ignite into a much larger international crisis.

“I made it clear that it is not an open-ended process and that time is coming, sooner rather than later, when the international community will need to make an assessment as to how things are going and what further actions or activities may be necessary.” – Kofi Annan, UN special envoy

In retrospect, the situation for the international community is a looming diplomatic and humanitarian crisis which is only perpetuated by their indecisiveness and polarized members.  The Western nations are attempting to involve themselves in the internal dynamics of domestic politics of a country miles away and in the throes of a civil war, a task nigh impossible without considering the opposition they face from their own member nations.

Syria: Ceasefire Failure and Violence Spreads Across Borders

On the eve of the April 10th UN-brokered ceasefire, hopes are fading as conflict in Syria burst over the border into neighboring Lebanon and Turkey on Monday.

The Planned Ceasefire has Resulted in Escalated Violence

The unrelenting violence has indicated that the peace plan promoted by international envoy Kofi Annan and initially accepted by both sides was in tatters.  The Assad regime was to have started pulling troops out of urban areas by Tuesday the 10th, paving the way for a ceasefire to start 48 hours after troop withdrawal.  President Assad agreed on the premise that the opposition forces give written guarantees they would stop fighting and lay down their arms, a demand they immediately rejected considering the security dilemma that would position themselves into.  Without such arms, the security forces would face no challenge to their repressive violence that would quickly silence all domestic violence and therefore make redundant any international efforts to intervene.  So saying, the Free Syrian Army was only acting out of self-preservation by rejecting Assad’s plans.  Moreover, the lack of government forces giving any indication of pulling back verifies the intent of Assad and his loyalists.  The development have come after the US State Department said that the Syrian regime was trying to stall for time with its demands for written guarantees from the opposition forces.  Evidently, the failure of yet another international response has come at the price of more Syrians and the neighboring countries, intensifying the call to action to end the repression in Syria.

“The Syrian regime does not understand compromise.  Its ethos is ‘rule or die’.  Therefore, Syria will continue its inexorable slide into full-scale civil war, especially since the chance for effective foreign intervention to stop bloodletting is also zero.” – Augustus Richard Norton, Middle East specialist from Boston University

Monday has proved to be one of the bloodiest days of the uprising despite the truce deal, which should be marked by troop withdrawals from towns and cities.  Activists reported more than 100 deaths, among them at least 30 civilians who died during the Syrian army bombardment in the central province of Hama.  The violence has also claimed the lives of civilians and journalists in neighboring countries, illustrating the international consequences of this civil war.  Lebanese Prime Minster Najib Mikati condemned the Syrian regime and sent his condolences for the death of Ali Shaaban, part of a 3-man crew with Lebanese television channel al-Jadeed, which was filming on Lebanon’s norther border with Syria.  In Turkey, violence broke out as a group of dozens of Syrians sought to cross the Turkish border, the latest of more than 20,000 other refugees.  The group was spotted making its way to the border and both Syrian nationals and Turkish policeman approached the border.  As the two groups met at the border, they were fired upon by unidentified gunmen in Syria, who injured the Syrian refugees, policeman and the translator on the Turkish side of the border.  With the population in both Lebanon and Turkey deeply divided between those who support the opposition and those who still hope the embattled president will remain in power, some fear that such incidents could prove a spark in a very combustible environment.

“We summoned the Syrian charge d’affaires in Ankara, and told him that every Syrian within Turkish territory was under Turkish protection, and we urged him that the fighting on the other side of the border stop.  We said that if this repeats, we will take necessary measures.” – Turkish spokesman

In retrospect, the diplomatic options open to the international community have been exhausted and the internal strife of the Syria conflict has begun to spill over unto neighboring lands, escalating the immediate need for definitive action.  If Turkey was backed by the US and other Western nations, all members of the “Friends of Syria” contact group, then the long-discussed ‘safe zones’ on the Syria side of the Turkish border could be the next step against violence in Syria.  The worsening conditions of the conflict make the situation far worse for the international community, as well as a bad reflection on their inability to respond effectively.  Much of the blame can be laid on the feet of Assad’s international powerhouse friends.  China has supported Assad in his year-long effort to crush the uprising.  Russia, which has defended him in the UNSC and remains Assad’s most important ally, stopped short of pressing him to rein in his army.

Kony 2012: American Response Options (Part 3 of 3)

The YouTube sensation ‘Kony 2012’ has resonated throughout the global population, sensationalizing the actions of a relatively insignificant warlord in Sub-Saharan Africa and calling for American-UN military response, but there are no viable options open for American paramilitary operations in the region.

American Response Options in Africa are Slim to None

Despite widespread calls to action against Joseph Kony and allegories relating military options to landing a man on the moon, the organization known as Invisible Children fails to recognize the nigh impossible option for strategic counterinsurgency in Sub-Saharan Africa against the leader of the Lord’s Resistant Army.  Though his actions are horrific and demand attention, the short film has exaggerated the extent of his crimes and his strength.  If Joseph Kony were to be as strong as the video entails, commanding the attention of thousands of soldiers and enslaving thousands more as child soldiers and sex slaves, the US intelligence would then actually consider him a threat deserving of their attention.  As it stands currently, Joseph Kony stands with only a group of a few hundred guerrilla soldiers and only a few hundred child soldiers (though any number of child soldiers is evidently wrong); thus, his status as a threat to even the regions he currently raids is rather minimal.  Moreover, the video suggests that Joseph Kony still resides in Uganda and is their number one threat.  The LRA fled Uganda in 1985 after the military coup that saw the installation of Museveni, who then began to suppress opposition forces such as the LRA.  This being said, the LRA does continuously launch raids in lands ranging from southern Darfur to the northern regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo but even the Uganda president does not consider Joseph Kony to be his number one threat or even a priority for the military.  Evidently, with no outside motivation or support, counterinsurgency against Kony is likely to be dead on arrival considering his lack of posing a real threat to the already divided and corrupt region.

“The organization behind Kony 2012 – Invisible Children Inc – is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ‘misleading, ‘naive’ and ‘dangerous’ by Yale professor Chris Blattman, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of ‘manipulating facts for strategic purposes’.  They have also been criticized for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if Invisible Children meets the Bureau’s standard.” – KeepitTrill.com

The escalation of US engagement in Uganda, as well as media coverage, came about in Obama’s sudden announcement in October to deploy special forces unites to help Uganda military operations.  Obama’s statement did not publicize the fact that the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has had an unspecified number of soldiers deployed in the area to assist the Ugandan army for years.  In late 2008, AFRICOM was even involved in a military push to take out the LRA once and for all.  Known as Operation Lighting Thunder, the military push ended in embarrassing failure as the LRA had vacated the region 72 hours prior to the arrival of the Ugandan troops, meanwhile the Congolese troops never even showed up at the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Kony had been hiding.  Far from neutralizing the LRA, the operation prompted a strategically effective and ferocious response. In January and February 2009, the LRA abducted around 700 people, including an estimated 500 children and killed almost 1,000. All of this, and the plight of local populations, who are caught between a rebel group with nothing to lose and armies that have not prioritized civilian protection, has been mostly overlooked.  The reactions to Obama’s statement and the Kony 2012 video underscores how little Americans really know about US involvement in Uganda.

“Obama claimed that he decided to act because it ‘furthers US national security interests and foreign policy’.  Yet it is not entirely clear how that could be true, since Kony and the LRA have not targeted Americans or American interests and are not capable of overthrowing an allied government.” – Mareike Schomerus, Foreign Affairs Magazine.

During the past decade, US-based activists concerned about the LRA have successfully pressured the Bush and Obama administrations to take a side in the fight between the LRA and the Ugandan government.  In their campaigns, such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony, a vile man undoubtedly, as uniquely evil.  Nevertheless, they rarely refer to the Ugandan atrocities or those of Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, such as attacks against civilians or looting of civilian homes and businesses, or the complicated regional politics fueling the conflict.  Many of the regions’ religious leaders openly oppose US engagement in the region and reports about growing fatigue within the Uganda army are not welcoming.  Of the more than 4,000 Ugandan troops that were originally sent to LRA-affected areas, less than 2,000 remain.  To just break even with those losses, Obama would have to send far more than the planned 100.  Any high expectations in Uganda for new US soldiers, meanwhile, can also be dashed as information from Washington has stated that the troops are to remain in Kambala and to give advice, rather than go into combat.

“Even if all these concerns could be set aside – assume, for a moment, that the military intelligence is good; the lessons of the past have been learned; mechanisms to protect the population will be put in place; the armies of Uganda, Congo and South Sudan are controlled; and the US special forces are able to find and kill Kony – would the effort bring peace? The answer is probably not.” – Tim Allen, Foreign Affairs magazine

Though Kony’s death would be welcomed at home and abroad, the mission would not be entirely satisfactory if troops killed him instead of bringing him to trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Such problems have been seen in Libya where domestic forces killed Moammar Qaddafi before trial and are now calling for the death of his sons, despite ICC mandates for their arrest and trial.  This division is in Uganda too, as the international community wants to see justice be brought forth and not an executioner’s blade, as desired by the Ugandan government.  Beyond the details of dealing with Kony, the political challenges of the region are also simply too massive for Obama’s new operation to yield to fruition.  The violence in Uganda, Congo and South Sudan has been the most devastating in the world since the mid 1990s.  Some estimates have placed the death toll in the millions and the LRA is more so a symptom of this than a cause of the endemic violence.  If Kony is removed the LRA fighter will merely join another group or act independently.  Clearly, the options open to counteract Kony are few, if not entirely nonexistent, because of the wide range of obstacles that are inherent to the corrupt and impoverished region of Africa.

“According to local sources, the LRA has already announced that it is ready for a fight, and it said to have called on its members to gather and ‘celebrate’ Christmas and New Year’s – a reference to the string of retaliatory attacks it carried out on December 25, 2008 and in the days that followed.” – Koen Vlassenroot, Foreign Affairs magazine

In retrospect, until the underlying problem of the regions’ poor governance is adequately dealt with, there will be no sustainable peace.  Seriously addressing the suffering of central Africans would require the engagement of a much larger order and a huge deployment of peacekeeping troops with a clear legal mandate.  Such extensive and risky actions would not b supported by domestic forces at home and thus, with not political agenda serving as motivation, there is not reason for such US involvement.  The only source of reason for international involvement is the discovery of oil in Lake Albert, but even so, the risks far outweigh the gains.  It would require a long-term commitment and would be targeted not only at chasing the LRA.  Moreover, the deployment of such a force would need to emerge from concerted efforts of various international groups – including the African Union, the United Nations, the ICC, and governments in the region – not as knee-jerk reactions to media splashes.  If achieving stability and relative prosperity to the blighted region of Africa is the real objective, devoting efforts solely on the LRA will obviously not be anywhere near enough.

Kony 2012: Misleading? – Corporate Interests (Part 2 of 3)

The new viral sensation entitled ‘Kony 2012’ has beguiled the masses through its depiction of corrupt innocence, luring the sincerity of the masses into a campaign that may express elements of corporate duplicity.

Kony 2012 Could be Another Imperialist Search for Oil

The purpose of this post is not to claim the inherent deceitfulness of the seemingly sincere campaign being head by Jason Russell; rather, it is to impress upon the open-minded and skeptical the very real likelihood of corporate opportunism that could manipulate the charity into yet another example of american imposition of corporate interests abroad.  To begin, the sensation that is Kony 2012 has been propagated throughout every social media asset and has over 1 million pledges for its ‘Cover the Night’ event on April 20th.  The crimes and atrocities being committed in Sub-Saharan Africa are horrendous and dehumanizing, but the idea of forced intervention into foreign lands for ‘crimes against humanity’ is not isolated to this event.  The charity calls upon the people to encourage an action that can be defined as Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “White Man’s Burden”, in which it is suggested that the duty of the White people is to help rescue the savage peoples of the world from their un-Christian ways.  This theme was and still is a political phenomenon that influences foreign policy in lands that are now opposed to America because of the exploitation of its people and resources, as well as the destruction of their infrastructure that was left in the American wake.  Ranging from corporate sponsored CIA operations in Panama, Guatemala, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Vietnam, there was has always been ulterior motives for invading these countries.  The Middle east is the most evident example of blind patriotism in which American lives have been lost for the purpose of securing oil in Iraq, opium in Afghanistan and the general Iran-Contra scandal was a blunt enough demonstration of the corruption behind the CIA.

“Invisible Children helps fund the Uganda People’s Defense Force, better known as the Ugandan army.  This force not only has an enlistment age of 13 (therefore making them a force who employs child soldiers), but has also been known to free children that Kony has kidnapped and in lieu of providing them with counseling and care, instead brainwash them to fight for their side.  This makes them no better than Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.” – Brian Westrick, journalist for The North Wind

So saying, with a variety of examples depicting American mistakes in land abroad, the American people are tired of war, tired of death and tired of making enemies in other lands.  With a domestic agenda opposed to the utilization of force for the supposed interests of national security and defense, the leaders of the American government are realizing that the populace will not tolerate further imposition of corporate interests on their lives.  On that note, the national interest is heterogeneous in that it is dependent on the leader and groups that are in control at the time, leaving a strong subjective component in which any ambiguous statement of national interest will actually fit into the interests of some special interest group.  With that inherent support always available, with the press corpse and sensationalism of the media running the conveyor belt society along a predetermined path, a sudden resurgence of wakefulness to foreign events within the domestic populace will not frighten corporations away from pursuing their materialist nature in other lands.  Those who would kill for their power, would not hesitate before any option that offers the opportunity to expand their power farther and wider.  Yet, as said before, the wakefulness of the people does mark an obstacle in which the corporations of America must discover new tactics and strategies in which to deceive the masses.

“Obama claimed that he decided to act because it ‘furthers US national security interests and foreign policy’.  Yet it is not entirely clear how that could be true, since Kony and the LRA have not targeted Americans or American interests and are not capable of overthrowing an allied government.” – Mareike Schomerus, Foreign Affairs journalist

Blind passionate and unceasing support is their key to the tax dollars that fund their wars.  Evidently, the scenes being demonstrated in Kony 2012 demonstrate such passionate and devoted support.  The film is a call for an African invasion, using the cover of sincerity and humanity to secure their inspirational hold of the millions of people who have already signed onto the campaign.   If they were to have a military presence in Africa, such as the 100 Special Forces sent to Uganda as military advisers in October 2011, they would need the full support of the public.  With 80 million and counting, the video has truly demonstrated that the public-will is behind such militarily presence, ensuring that the possible ramifications are understood and tolerated by the public.  The people both in corporations and government know how to manipulate people in society to their liking, and having years of experience does nothing to limit their resources and cleverness in the endeavor.  Like the puppet masters they are, the elites are able to use tv, media and mass movements to play the people to the dance of their dominant global takeover.  The key to their manipulation is the information gap and elite consensus, in which the people use heuristics to learn of global events and the stance they should have.  With politicians and businessman of the world framing such news to their bias interpretation, they are able to frame the consensus for the rest of society to conform to.  Kony 2012.  The short film describes the horrors of Joseph Kony’s actions in Uganda, despite the fact that the LRA has not been in Uganda since they were forced to flee Museveni in 1985.  What has been in Uganda since 1985 and still is there, is oil.  Under Lake Albert there are reserves that some reports estimate to be larger than those in Saudi Arabia.  With China the special recipient of oil reserves from Ethiopia, Africa has now become a battlefield for the fiscal superpowers of the US China over the black gold of the world, the one resource that truly determines hegemony.  The US, long-standing ally of Uganda, will undoubtedly ensure that no corruption or exploitation of the oil comes to be, for the cheap price of most favored nation status in trade with Uganda for the majority of the oil reserves that are drilled.

“When the West and the corrupt interests that run this country say they want to invade an area to stop a human rights’ disaster, I have examples from just last year from the Ivory Cost of Africa.  , where the UN admits to having killed thousands of people to overthrow the elected government there in the Ivory Cost.” – Alex Jones, Nightly News

In retrospect, with enough money anything can be bought.  With enough people on board, everyone else will jump on board because they see everyone else doing it.  Like band-wagoning, the people begin to think alike and enter into what psychologists term as ‘group-think’.  As is oft said, the tinkerers of the world will sing the same tunes and march to the same beat, homogenized in their perceptions of the world.  Kony 2012 could become this corporate tool to deceive the people into fomenting militant action in Africa for the materialist purposes of America.

Syria: Assad Accepts Annan Peace Plan

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accepted the UN-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan to end violence; yet the gesture seems shallow and deceitful, as fresh clashes broke out once again across Syria on Wednesday.

Assad Buys Time by Accepting Annan Peace Plan

Facing growing global pressure over the rising suppression of his regime in the country, Assad had no option but to accept the UN special envoy’s peace proposal.  With the “Friends of Syria” contact group limiting resources through strict sanctions and increasingly stringent rhetoric against Assad’s few remaining allies in China and Russia, the embattled President had nothing to lose by accepting the peace plan.  Nevertheless, timing was likely the key factor in the Syrian government’s response, hoping to delay international response to the humanitarian crisis in his country.  By making this show of grandeur acceptance of peace, Assad has made it much more difficult for western powers to stress the immediacy of the situation in Syria.  US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and other global leaders are expected to discuss ways to assist the Syrian opposition at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul this Sunday.  The meeting relies heavily on attendance and UN congruence, which Assad has effectively slowed down, because his consent to this peace plan will force the UN into carrying out long-winded negotiation with the Syrian regime.  Despite flicker of hope, with many seeking to find a thaw in the endless tyranny of the Assad family regime, most remain skeptical and agree that Assad’s agreement is merely a fraud at buying time to repress all opposition once and for all.  With similar delay tactics being used by Assad’s last remaining ally, Iran, in the nuclear talks over its facility Parchin, the skepticism is not unfounded.

“They can keep on negotiating and drag this out, because with every passing week they kill more dissidents.  I think what the regime is hoping is they can crush all of this before anybody moves to help the opposition.” – Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

The Syrian cooperation with this plan is a transition from its previous blunt rejections of both UN and Arab League peace plans, but the key difference lies in that Annan’s plan does not require Assad to leave office.  With Russia and China standing-by Assad indefinitely, the plan offered Assad an escape from EU and US sanctions while remaining hold of his seat of power; thus, the logic of Assad’s consent is evident considering its leniency.  China and Russia have vetoed recent UN resolution to condemn Assad, securing him from the brunt of the international community and have thus granted him this last opportunity to talk a good game and gain more time.  The protracted crisis has become an international nightmare and yet the only plan lying ahead is to draw the Chinese and Russian into dialogue to stop the fighting and to allow Assad to stay in power.  The plan rests on political dialogue with another party that has a gun to the head of its civilian populace, has the support of the two largest land powers, and has nothing to lose from perpetuating circular negotiations.   Evidently, the Annan peace plan has little to offer to the opposition and will only serve as another stepping stone for the eventual intensification of violence in another month or two.

“It will talk the talk of cooperation with the international community, but not walk the walk on the actual requirements that are necessary, such as really ceasing the use of lethal force against its own people in the streets of Syria.” – Edward Djerejian, US Ambassador to Syria

The Annan peace plan calls for: an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address grass-roots grievances; a commitment to halt fighting and forge a UN supervised halt of violence by the government and opposition groups; timely humanitarian aid; speeding up the release of arbitrarily detained people, including those engaged in peaceful political activities; ensuring freedom of movement for journalists; and respecting peaceful demonstration and freedom of association.  Assad has little to lose by signing the plan as the concessions he will be forced to make include a ceasefire, ensuring humanitarian assistance, a release of political prisoners, allowing entry to journalists, and permitting demonstrations, all of which can be easily reversed relatively quickly.  Meanwhile, the benefits for Assad are far more significant.  Considering that he is being allowed to stay in power and not face trial for crimes against humanity despite killing over 10,000 Syrian citizens, some UN member states view the President’s acceptance of the plan as a positive step providing evidence of the regime’s new willingness to compromise with the opposition.  Moreover, the plan also hurts the opposition which has not been forced to accept the indefinite rule of Assad according to the plan.  Furthermore, the news of Assad’s acceptance will call for negotiation between the exiled opposition government, the Syrian National Council, which is already in rifts and should the negotiations actually occur, the question of who will speak for the opposition will only exacerbate the divisions.  Annan’s plan also represents an impediment to critical funding from the US to Free Syrian Army, assistance that will not be received and will leave the army empty-handed.

“Given al-Assad’s history of overpromising and underdelivering, that commitment must not be matched by immediate actions.  We will judge Assad’s sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not what he says.” – Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State

In retrospect, the Assad regime has been able to alleviate foreign pressure from the international community in the past and will continue to do so through the usual delay tactics and promises of liberalization.  During the Bush administration, Assad came under scrutiny for the regime’s assumed role in the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and for helping move insurgents into Iraq to kill American soldiers.  At moments of increased international pressure, however, Assad was able to escape through promises of possible peace negotiations with Israel and joining Egypt in that peace camp.  Assad succeeded in escaping the Bush administration through such tactics and will do the same to the current Obama administration unless the UN, US and Arab League realize that none of Assad’s promises of laws of parties, elections and media are even remotely true.

 

Syria: “Friends of Syria” Contact Group

Syrian government forces unleashed another round of heavy artillery barrage on a rebel-held district of the city of Homs, killing 21 and wounding some 340 people, a use of indiscriminate violence that is serving to escalate the pressure on the international coalition known as “Friends of Syria”.

Bashar al-Assad Has No Fear of International Retaliation

As security forces perpetuate a near-constant barrage of bombardment for the 18th day on Homs, Western powers and the Arab League are preparing for a meeting of the “Friends of Syria” contact group in Tunisia on Friday to pressure Assad to step down.  The International Committee of the Rec Cross (ICRC) have been negotiating a pause in the fighting to allow them to bring aid to civilians suffering the horrendous conditions of the Syrian revolution, but the use of deadly force against unarmed civilians is evidence of the reality that the regime is devoid of sentiment.  Activists said government forces launched attacks on Homs after rebel fighters holding the opposition Baba Amro district blocked troops from entering.  The London-based Syria Network for Human Rights said at least 250 shells and rockets had hit Baba Amro since the morning, leaving 21 dead and many others buried under the rubble.  Homs, a city of 1 million, has been at the heart of the uprising against Assad’s 11 year rule.

“There were hundreds of demonstrators at the main square of Hajar al-Aswad and suddenly buses of security police and shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) turned up and started firing into the crowd.” – Abu Abdallah, Syria activist

In response to mounting international pressure to provide military aid to opponents of Assad, US Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham outlined ways – including military aid, though not necessarily with direct US involvement 0 to usher along the oust of Assad.  Members of the “Friends of Syria” contact group include foreign ministers from US, France and the European Union.  The group was constructed after repeated vetoes by Russia and China of the resolution proposed by the United Nations Security Council.  The US has described the contact group as a route around the UN to pressure the Assad regime, that will discuss sanctions, humanitarian support and support for a democratic transition in Syria.  Meanwhile, Russia and China have remained fairly resolute in their stance to oppose foreign intervention in Syria, backing Assad’s own program for reform, which has been a mocking attempt at a referendum for a new constitution.  The referendum, limiting the term of the presidency, has already begun to crumble and also comes at a period in time in which security forces have unleashed an unfaltering barrage of violence, clearly illustrating the symbolic nature of Assad’s reform agenda.

“We’ll send a clear message to Russia, China and other who are still unsure about how to handle the increasing violence but are up until now unfortunately making the wrong choices.” – Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State

Parallel to the tactics used by his father Hafez in 1982, Bashar al-Assad is under the impression that since indiscriminate violence work then, it can work again.  The difference between 1982 and 2012 is that the Syrian uprising is much more widespread, publicized and recognized then the one city uprising of 1982.  The use of indiscriminate violence in 1982 was not spoken of until many months afterwards; therefore, there were not perpetuation of domestic anti-government expression because of the knowledge that if one city could be utterly silenced then their risk would go unheeded too.  Now, however, the Syrian rebels are widespread, the international community is aware of it and there is an outspoken cry for reform throughout the country that is publicized and supported.  This unrelenting force for change, a tidal wave that is growing in size, is also beginning to influence those few allies that Syria still has, such as Russia.  The Chief of the Arab League, which has suspended Syria for its crackdown on protesters, said Russia and China might tempter their support for Assad.  It is true that Russia will not attend the international meeting on the conflict on Syria; due to the fact that the Syria government will not be represented, but the Russia Foreign Minister is vocalizing his support for a special humanitarian envoy to Syria from the UNSC.  Russia has called for Europe, the US and the Arab region to join force and bring together the Syrian opposition and government, without preconditions, to help them agree on reforms.  As Russia’s last ally in the Middle East, Russia has been providing arms and tanks for the purpose of protester suppression but this sign, though slight, of willingness to end the violence is a stepping stone to a potential reversion of the former anti-UN intervention policy of Russia.

“There are indications coming from China and to some extent Russia that there may be a change in position.” – Nabil Elaraby, Arab League Secretary-General

Moreover, Chinese leaders will be visiting Turkey where talks are expected to focus on violence in Syria.  On Saturday, China said it supporter the Arab League’s proposal to end the conflict and end the Assad regime.  The seemingly contradictory stance from China appears to reflect their desire for mediation while remaining averse to UN involvement that could lead to the authorization of force, as happened in Libya.  Despite this possibility of Russian and Chinese support, a potential divide at the meeting risks paralyzing the international response to Syria’s conflict as humanitarian crisis widens in part of the country.  In contrast to the caution of the US administration over becoming more involved in Syria’s crisis, some Arab states have sought overt support for Syria’s armed opposition.  A decision not to press to arm the opposition is likely to push countries in the region, such as the Gulf state of Qatar, to act on their own, funneling funds and arms to various factions in Syria, which could spur regional spillover conflict.  However, any multilateral decision to lend support to armed groups in the opposition risks not only antagonizing Russia and China, but also formalizing the sectarian fault lines regionally.