6 Aug 2012

International relations unravel beyond Syria

Things have been unravelling all around and inside the borders of Syria in a variety of bizarre and potentially internationally threatening ways. Of course the uprising in Syria has for many months been a lot more than just a means of overthrowing President Assad‘s revolting police state. It is the West’s way of fighting a proxy war against Iran. Thus, it is Russia’s way of fighting the same war in defence of Teheran. It is also a Sunni jihad sponsored by Saudi Arabia and Qatar – Wahhabist regimes with zero interest in freedom and democracy.

So the complexity is already there. But there have been three more pointers in recent weeks to the conflict possibly spreading further beyond the borders of Syria.

Iran’s role in the conflict

Most recently the Curious Incident on the Road to Damascus. It was on Saturday. It was the road from Damascus International Airport to the capital, not normally a hotbed of rebellious activity, but along this road a busload of Iranians was seized that day.

Depending upon who you believe these were Iranian military personnel with ID cards to prove it, in some cases, infiltrated into the war by Iran to assist the Assad regime and duly arrested and displayed to the world (against the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs) by the Free Syrian Army.

The Syrian government says they were Shia pilgrims en route to a site outside Damascus when they were kidnapped by what the regime routinely calls ‘terrorists’.

The apparent finding of ID cards and the odd timing for a bunch of young men from Iran to go on a pilgrimage in rural Syria – where the rebels generally have the upper hand – lends one to suppose the Free Syrian Army’s version of events may well be closer to the truth. If so, Iran is already further into the war than was even supposed.

Then there is Tripoli – not the Libyan version – but the northern Lebanese coastal city. Here, on and off for months, there have been fire-fights on the streets between pro and anti-Assad supporters in a country that is not at war ether with itself or with Syria. These flare-ups appear to get more serious at every turn.

Kurds granted autonomy

But of by far the most significance, the decision late last month by Syria to grant autonomy to its 2.5 million Kurds by pulling troops out of six mostly Kurdish towns in the north of the country and redeploy the soldiers to Aleppo.

Desperation by President Assad? Yes, it looks that way. But a hugely dangerous game.

Turkey responded immediately by moving missile batteries down to its border with the Syrian Kurdish region. Its Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has said attacking Kurdish rebel bases inside Syria “would be our most natural right”. Turkey regards Kurdish rebels as by far its greatest threat to national security.

And yes, Turkey is of course a member of NATO. And yes again, NATO is committed to collective action against any member state whose national security is threatened.

What would NATO do?

One action by Kurdish rebels from inside Syria now and what would NATO do in support of Turkey? And how would Russia react?

Do not think Turkey’s tough words are mere rhetoric. Unconsidered by the outside world, Turkey regularly bombs what it says are Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq, almost as a matter of routine.

The busload of ‘pilgrims’…the hot nights in Tripoli…and Syria’s Kurds suddenly enjoying freedom they’d hardly dared to dream of and creating a Turkish nightmare…

It’s important to look beyond the terrible events unfolding daily in Aleppo.

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7 reader comments

  1. Ichabod says:

    That’s fine and clear, and I suspect all those behind this have little understanding of how to stop it getting out of hand! Attack Iran this way sounds easy, the results could be catastrophic. Where is the UK in this? Up to its neck as US lapdog again I suspect.

  2. blair smith says:

    Well put Alex.
    This whole sorry situation stinks like pre WW1.

  3. Harland_Com says:

    And what do you make of slightly further afield, Cyprus and Greece?
    Russia is courting the communist led Cyprus government with rescue money; Geithner is offering to rescue Greece if the EEC fails. The Aegean is chock full of oil and Gas.

    Is this not all again about a global proxy war desperate for energy supplies and money?


  4. Philip Edwards says:


    Excellent piece, far superior to anything we get usually in Western mainstream media, or indeed other C4 News “reporters.”

    Syria is merely being used by the West to prepare the way for an attack on Iran. The lies and propaganda coming out of Washington and London wouldn’t have been out of place in Der Sturmer or Volkischer Beobachter.

    Meantime, Saudi-occupied Bahrain is in flames and two more people have been shot down by Saudi forces in the Eastern Province and suicide bombs have gone off in Baghdad and Yemen – funny enough unnoticed by messrs. Rugman, Miller and your international editor ms. Hilsum. I wonder why?

    Keep up the good work. But beware…you will make enemies in high places.

  5. David Sketchley says:

    “Thus, it is Russia‚Äôs way of fighting the same war in defence of Teheran.” This ‘conclusion’ has no basis in fact, and is a mere supposition on the part of the writer.

    If Russia really was interested in ‘defending’ Tehran, as the writer claims, it would have already delivered the S-300 missile system Iran has bought and paid for.

    No, Russia has its own reasons for not allowing the West yet another uncontested regime change.

    Firstly, they’ve been deceived constantly in the UN Security Council by the FUKUS axis and they’ve decided that it won’t happen again.

    Secondly, the only Russian Naval base in the Med is in Syria. They won’t give that geo-strategic position up without a fight.

    Thirdly, trade. Russia has significant trade relations with Syria. Its exports to Syria were worth $1.1 billion in 2010 and its investments in the country were valued at $19.4 billion in 2009 according to The Moscow Times. They’re not likely to just give that up and allow a pro-western regime reduce all that n favour of the West.

    Unfortunately for Russia, they’ve met the masters of hypocrisy in the West. While ‘we’ can meddle in the affairs of sovereign countries for economic reasons, invade their countries, kill a million of their civilians, promote, fund and arm coup d’etats, for their natural resources, Russia is not allowed to support their own economic interests.

    Now why do I have to point this out and NOT Mr Thomson?

  6. David Sketchley says:

    Oh yes, I nearly let another one slip: “the Curious Incident on the Road to Damascus”.

    Mr Thomson doesn’t seem to grasp that if these were really Iranian military personnel, why did such a large number of men not fight? Presumably, Iran would not send a bunch of conscripts there, but seasoned fighters, and it’s not likely they would come unarmed and give up without a fight.

    In their willingness to believe anything ‘our’ ‘allies’ say, most British mainstream journalists are willing to get involved in all kinds of mental gymnastics.

  7. David Sketchley says:

    How long does it take to get a comment ‘moderated’ here?

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