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Slicing Syria

 

 

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Today, March 27, 2012, the Syrian government announced that it accepts the six-point peace plan proposed by the United Nations and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary General). The plan calls for a UN-supervised ceasefire. However, the opposition rejected the initiative, saying it would allow the government to continue its repression. The opposition, led by the Syrian National Council, has thus indirectly declared a war till the end. Considering that the council is led by Burhan Ghalioun, a professor at the Université de Paris III Sorbonne in Paris, and that the Free Syrian Army is led by Riad al-Asaad, a former colonel in the Syrian Air Force who defected in July 2011 and has no substantial army, we have an indication that—as in Libya—the council is nothing but a front for NATO’s colonial forces. The fact that the council sits in Istanbul, Turkey, was never elected by the Syrian people, and had been recognized by the USA as “sole legitimate interlocutor,” strengthens this assessment. Syria’s slicing has begun.

Kofi Annan Bashar al-Assad

Kofi Annan and Bashar al-Assad
Damascus March 2012

 

Lost Sovereignty

 

Syria 2012

Syria 2012 - Violence

Essentially, Syria is now trying to decide who is its sovereign group. There are two parameters that allow for the recognition of the existence of sovereignty: internal and external. Internal sovereignty refers to the relations between the sovereign and its own subjects; it deals with the question: by what right does the sovereign exercise authority over its subjects? In the past, the most common answer was by divine right. Nowadays, a social contract, like a Constitution, is the norm. External sovereignty concerns the relationship between sovereign entities. Foreign governments recognize the sovereignty of a state over a territory and its denizens, or not. This parameter is not exact; in the recent past, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China claimed sovereignty over the same territory. Different countries adopted different responses on the issue. This fluid definition of external sovereignty proves it is less valuable than internal sovereignty. Hence, the latter is de facto its defining property. A state can exist without external sovereignty, but it would fail without an internal one.

As expanded in Lebanon Beats Syria, the Syrian government lost its internal sovereignty last year. June 5, 2011, commemorated Naksa Day, the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War. The events included demonstrations on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, mainly near the destroyed city of Quneitra and near the Druze village of Majdal Shams. Syria said afterwards that 23 people were killed by the IDF in the rally. Official Syrian news agency SANA quoted Health Minister Wael al-Halki saying that the death toll included a woman and a child, and that another 350 people suffered gunshot wounds. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said live Israeli fire had caused casualties, and that UN monitors were seeking to confirm the facts. The IDF said that since all the casualties were on the Syrian side of the border it was unable to provide an exact count. The IDF, Syria and the UN agreed that Israeli soldiers shot Syrian citizens demonstrating on the Syrian side of the border. This was a casus belli event, i.e. a formal reason for Syria to open a legitimate war on Israel. The UN Charter prohibits signatory countries from engaging in war except as a means of defending themselves against aggression, or unless the UN as a body has given prior approval to the operation. In this case the first clause could be clearly activated. Yet, Bashar al-Assad did nothing. This is equal to supporting the violator, namely Israel. The Syrian president allowed Syrian citizens to be massacred by a formal enemy and took no action. Eventually, since the 1973 war, Syria was rather complacent towards Israel (even its reaction to the 1982 war was rather mild, despite its air force being destroyed). Syrians have now understood that. They cannot relate to a government that not only humiliated them, but also let them be massacred by others. Bashar al-Assad failed his people, thus Syria is bound to change.

This explains why the Syrian National Council rejected a ceasefire and will attempt to oust the current regime, though it does not mean it has the legitimacy to do so, even if backed by the USA. This is also in line with the scenario described in Rising Ottoman, in which Turkey and Israel seem to be consolidating alliances against each other, after their short-lived alliance collapsed following the Freedom Flotilla Affair. Located in Istanbul, the Syrian National Council will be a Turkish pawn in this new reality. Turkey will ask for a price for its support of the council, and Israel will take advantage of the mayhem in Syria.

The Levant

The Levant | Unstable Borders

 

Slicing Syria

 

It is difficult to look at what is happening nowadays between Turkey and Syria and not to recognize that Turkey is returning to its historical role as a colonial power. It is openly supporting a rebel Syrian group. It supports the establishment of security zones for Syrian refugees inside Syrian territory. Until now, it claimed this should be done as part of an international force under UN mandate. However, in recent weeks it declared that it may have to act on its own if the Syrian uprising threatens its national security. Turkish officials have declared the meeting of the Friends of Syria group on April 1, in Istanbul, to be a key point; military action against Syria may be decided on then. The most probable scenario is that in the coming months we will see an international force occupying Syria.

If that happens, Turkey will be a major component of the force. Turkey will not treat all Syrian territories equally. Western Syria, especially the coast providing ground access to Lebanon, would be courted. This has happened already in the past. In 1938, Hatay—a small territory on the Mediterranean coast—became independent from the French mandate of Syria as the Republic of Hatay. Following a referendum in 1939, Hatay decided to join Turkey, forming the singular panhandle shape that can be seen on the maps of Turkey. Similar referenda are unlikely to be repeated in the present, but Turkey will present itself as a benevolent colonizer working for the welfare of the Syrian people, trying to become a tolerated presence in the years to come. Eastern Syria is a different story, since its population is mainly Kurdish. Turkey is already engaged in a violent struggle against its own Kurdish population. In the case of a Turkish occupation of Syria, the Kurdish population would be ruthlessly targeted in an effort to make sure that an independent Kurdistan would not emerge out of the turmoil. This is vital, since the nearby, autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan is getting help from Israel (see Kurdistan Revival; Israel Splits Iraq) as counterweight against Turkey. This is why Syria will be sliced.

Israel will not be part of the international force. Despite its closeness to Damascus, it will not occupy it. Israel already learned a harsh lesson when it occupied Beirut in 1982; the IDF is not big enough to violently take over a large city. An entire battalion may be needed to secure a large building, that’s why Beirut was never completely under Israeli control. Yet, Israel may seize the actual opportunity to strengthen its allies, the Kurds in Iraq. If Syria disintegrates, Israel will be able to create an air corridor, running parallel to the Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline, from Israel to Iraqi Kurdistan. Such a corridor could be used for supplying the Kurds with the weapons needed for their secession from Iraq. The military scenario is simple. The radar and communications systems of the Syrian army would be surgically destroyed by Israel. Afterwards, air convoys would deliver the goods. At the center of the convoy heavy Hercules planes carrying everything up to American M113 armored personnel carrier (Israel vertical bypass division did that in the past); surrounding them would be fighter planes protecting the transfer. In no time, Iraqi Kurdistan would be de facto independent.

Mosul Haifa

Mosul–Haifa oil pipeline

The events in Syria would amount to little else than a smoke screen, slightly hiding the fact that Turkey and Israel would be working in the consolidation of their respective alliances against each other. Eventually, two dynamic corridors would emerge. One would be created by Turkey, connecting its mainland with Lebanon. This is critical for the solution of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. In recent months we saw that on the Mediterranean Sea front, where an alliance between Turkey, Lebanon, Northern Cyprus, and to a lesser extent also Iran, has declared the exploitation by Israel of the new gas fields found there, a casus belli event. On the other side, Israel would try to create a corridor to Kurdistan, which would open a new front with Turkey, as well as decreasing ground access options between Turkey and Iran. Israel has forged alliances with Cyprus (see Buying Cyprus), and Azerbaijan (see Azerbaijan-Israel: A Shia—Jewish Alliance); if it gets an entry to Turkey’s backside, the alliances would be more balanced.

We are witnessing the consolidation of these wide military fronts; their proper build-up will take time. The gas wells that may trigger a violent confrontation between Turkey and Israel will also take some time to be placed. Until then, Syria would probably be sliced and swallowed by the new regional colonial powers. In Syria as in Libya, Foreign “National Councils”—another oxymoron typical of Western cultures—are reshaping the Middle East, the “Arab Spring” being nothing else but a name mocking the coming nuclear winter.

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