Back in September 1970 I found myself in Damascus, as charming a city as it is ancient, the natives friendly and helpful, especially as I was suffering from food poisoning thanks to a Lebanese kebab from two days before. My stay in the city was interrupted by the sudden death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian strongman who had been twice defeated by the Israelis, yet remained a great hero to the Egyptian public. The Syrians laid out a plane for the press corps and flew the lot of us to Cairo for the funeral. When I approached the press attaché in the airport and thanked him for the gesture, I remember the bittersweet smile he gave and his plea: “Try and remember that not all of us Syrians are what Israel says we are.”
Forty-two years later Syria continues to be the whipping boy of the unholy triple alliance of Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but these are not so strange when you think about it. All three are experts in oppression, religious zealotry, and paying zillions to Washington lobbies. Israel has captured Palestinian lands through force of (American) arms and continues to oppress millions of Palestinians under her occupation. The various bombardments of Gaza have killed thousands of innocents, yet the great American comedian Elie Wiesel recently asked Obama, “How is it that Assad is still in power?”
Saudi Arabia makes Syria look like Switzerland where human rights are concerned. The Saudis are the godfathers of international terror in exchange for peace at home. Thanks to the Saudis’ powerful connections in D.C. and their ability to bribe everyone involved, Uncle Sam and his poodle, the European Union, are turning a blind eye as Saudi-financed jihadis and Al Qaeda fighters are pouring into Syria as I write.
The third great democrat-humanist leading the propaganda fight against Syria is Al Thani, the Qatari thief whose family has lorded over the tiny Persian Gulf strip since the mid-19th century. Qatar recently bribed FIFA, the world soccer federation, to assign the World Cup of 2018 to that crappy little pseudocountry. Having realized how easy it is to win through bribes, Al Thani and his gang of thieves have now set their hooded eyes on bigger things—like establishing a Sunni corridor that isolates Iran and Iraq.
This, then, is the situation, and while La Clinton rails against Russia for arming the Syrian regime, she forgets that Uncle Sam arms the Saudis, the Israelis, the Qataris, and now even the Libyans. The Arab Spring is a far more complex event than credulous journalists in the West imagine. It is not about the weak rising against the strong; it’s about a transfer of power to rival clans and religious groups. The Saudis want Assad out because he’s an Alawite, an offshoot of the Shia, and a man who, like his father before him, has kept Sunni Islamists at bay.
Inside Syria, Western journalists get their info only from jihadis trying to overthrow the Assad regime. Women in Damascus have signaled the few foreigners they have access to that “rebels” fire upon the army with the sole purpose of inciting riot and mayhem. One Western reporter, Alex Thompson, was lured into a fire zone by jihadis who were hoping the army would kill him, garnering the jihadis more sympathy from the West. A friend of mine who has just come out of Syria told me that the murder of children and certain other massacres wore the sign of militant Islam, “no ifs or buts about it.”
I rejoiced at the demise of the Qaddafi gang, but take a look at Libya eight months later. It’s a far, far worse place than it ever was under the Mad Dog. (The only thing good to emerge was that we won’t have his vile children visiting European fleshpots this summer and coming winter, although the two most horrible, Hannibal and Aisha, are at liberty with loads of oil money.)
The Syrian conflict has nothing to do with freedom and everything to do with the new cold war between the West and Russia. The latter supports the last secular regime in the region, just as Uncle Sam and his stooges in Europe support the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, the kleptocracies of the Gulf, and the medieval kingdom of the camel driver Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. If anyone inside the Beltway had any brains—and if there were any parties not locked down by the Israeli lobby—we would let Russia negotiate the future of the Assads, making sure that Saudi-financed jihadis were expelled from that ancient land. Yes, the Assad father-and-son regime has been in power since 1970, and has been quite brutal by Western standards—not, I repeat, not by Middle Eastern ones. But looking once again at how clumsy and self-defeating U.S. foreign policy is, one could be forgiven for wondering how the hell the good uncle ever won against the big, bad Russian bear.
I’ll tell you how. The bear fell into a hole, one it had dug itself, and the uncle took the credit. So what else is new?