EYE We want war, and we want it
now By Pepe Escobar
was deep into the night, somewhere over Siberia,
in a Moscow to Beijing flight (BRIC to BRIC?) when
the thought, like a lightning bolt, began to take
What the hell is wrong with those
Maybe it was the narcotic effect of
that perennially dreadful Terminal F at
Sheremetyevo airport - straight out of a Brejnev
gulag. Maybe it was the anticipation of finding
more about the Russia-China joint naval exercise
scheduled for late April.
Or it was simply
another case of "you can take the boy out of the
Middle East, but you can't take the Middle East
out of the boy".
With friends like
these ... It all had to do with that Friends
of Syria (fools for war?) meeting in Istanbul.
Picture Saudi Foreign
Minister Saud al-Faisal
- who seems to have a knack for sending US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton into rapture -
feverishly arguing that the House of Saud, those
paragons of democracy, had "a duty" to weaponize
the Syrian "revolutionary" opposition.
picture al-Faisal ordering an immediate ceasefire
by the Bashar al-Assad government, guilty -
according to the House of Saud - not only of cruel
repression but crimes against humanity.
No; this was not a Monty Python sketch.
To make sure he was milking the right cow,
al-Faisal also said that the Gulf
Counter-revolution Club (GCC), also known as Gulf
Cooperation Council, wanted to get further into
bed with the United States. Translation, if any
was needed; the US-GCC tag team, as expressed by
the weaponization of the Syrian "rebels", is meant
to body slam Iran.
For both the House of
Saud and Qatar (the other GCCs are just extras),
what's goin' on in Syria is not about Syria; it's
always been about Iran.
applies to the Saudi pledge to flood the global
oil market with a spare oil production capacity
that any self-respecting oil analyst knows they
don't have - or rather wouldn't use; after all,
the House of Saud badly needs high oil prices to
bribe its restive eastern province population into
not even thinking about that Arab Spring nonsense.
Clinton got the pledge from the House of
Saud in person, before landing in Istanbul.
Washington's return gift was of the Pentagon kind;
the GCC soon will be protected from "evil" Iran by
a US-supplied missile shield. That implies that an
attack on Iran may have been discarded for 2012 -
but it's certainly "on the table" for 2013.
Asian nations - especially BRICS members
China and India - will keep buying oil from Iran;
the problem is what the European poodles will do.
Other real problems are that the Kurds in northern
Iraq are taking their oil off the market until
Baghdad pays them the share they had agreed upon.
And then there are Syria's 400,000 barrels a day,
which have been dwindling over the past few
Still, the Saudis will keep
playing the make-believe oil scenario as a gift to
Washington - as the US pressures compliant
European Union poodle economies and extremely wary
Asians they have no reason to keep buying Iranian
But then into this mess in Istanbul
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki - whose power
is a direct consequence of Washington's invasion
and destruction of Iraq - steps in with quite a
Here it is, in his own words:
We reject any arming [of Syrian
rebels] and the process to overthrow the [Assad]
regime, because this will leave a greater crisis
in the region ... The stance of these two states
[Qatar and Saudi Arabia] is very strange ...
They are calling for sending arms instead of
working on putting out the fire, and they will
hear our voice, that we are against arming and
against foreign interference ... We are against
the interference of some countries in Syria's
internal affairs, and those countries that are
interfering in Syria's internal affairs will
interfere in the internal affairs of any country
... It has been one year and the regime did not
fall, and it will not fall, and why should it
Maliki knows very well that the
ongoing and already escalating weaponizing of
Sunni Syrians - many of the Salafi and jihadi kind
- will inevitably spill over into Iraq itself, and
threaten his Shi'ite-majority government. And that
irrespective of the fact that his administration
supports the close Iran-Syria relationship.
Maliki, by the way, was back in power in
the autumn of 2010 because Tehran deftly
intervened to make sure the Sadrists would support
him. To add to Maliki's anger, Qatar is refusing
to extradite Iraqi Vice President Tareq
al-Hashemi, accused of masterminding a pro-Sunni
coup d'etat in Baghdad.
How green was
my jihad valley So Washington is now
merrily embarking in a remix of the 1980s Afghan
jihad - which, as every grain of sand from the
Hindu Kush to Mesopotamia knows, led to that
ghostly entity, al-Qaeda, and the subsequent,
transformer "war on terror".
The House of
Saud and Qatar have institutionalized that motley
crew known as the Free Syrian Army as a mercenary
outfit; they are now on their payroll, to the tune
of $100 million (and counting). Isn't democracy
wonderful - when US-allied Persian Gulf monarchies
can buy a mercenary army for peanuts? Isn't it
great to be a revolutionary with an assured
Not missing a beat, Washington
has set up its own fund as well, for
"humanitarian" assistance to Syria and
"non-lethal" aid to the "rebels"; "non-lethal" as
in ultra battle-ready satellite communications
equipment, plus night-vision goggles. Clinton's
silky spin was that the equipment would allow the
"rebels" to "evade" attacks by the Syrian
government. No mention that now they have access
to actionable US intelligence via a swarm of
drones deployed all over Syria.
clearly see the writing on the (Sunni) wall. The
House of Saud invaded Shi'ite-majority Bahrain to
protect the extremely unpopular Sunni al-Khalifa
dynasty in power - their "cousins". Maliki knows
that a post-Assad Syria would mean Muslim
Brotherhood Sunnis in power - sprinkled with
Salafi-jihadis. In his worst nightmare, Maliki
sees this possible dystopian future as an al-Qaeda
in Iraq remix on steroids.
So this is what
the Istanbul-based "Friends of Syria" bash turned
into; a shameless legitimizing - by Arabs allied
with the US - of civil war in yet another Arab
country. The victims will be average Syrians
caught in the crossfire.
weaponizing entirely dissolves the United Nations
Syria envoy and former secretary general Kofi
Annan's six-point peace plan. The plan calls for a
ceasefire; for the Syrian government to "cease
troop movements" and "begin pullback of military
concentrations"; and for a negotiated political
There will be no ceasefire.
The Assad government accepted the plan. The
weaponized "rebels" rejected it. Imagine the
Syrian government beginning the "pullback of
military concentrations" while swarms of
weaponized "rebels" and assorted mercenaries (from
Libya, Lebanon and Iraq) keep deploying their
torture tactics and launching a barrage of
improvised explosive devices.
I landed in
Beijing eager to learn more about the upcoming
joint Russia-China naval exercise in the Yellow
Sea, but instead I was stuck with a Henry
Kissinger op-ed in the Washington Post.  Here
it is, in Dr K's own words:
The Arab Spring is widely presented
as a regional, youth-led revolution on behalf of
liberal democratic principles. Yet Libya is not
ruled by such forces; it hardly continues as a
state. Neither is Egypt, whose electoral
majority (possibly permanent) is overwhelmingly
Islamist. Nor do democrats seem to predominate
in the Syrian opposition.
League consensus on Syria is not shaped by
countries previously distinguished by the
practice or advocacy of democracy. Rather, it
largely reflects the millennium-old conflict
between Shi'ite and Sunni and an attempt to
reclaim Sunni dominance from a Shi'ite minority.
It is also precisely why so many minority
groups, such as Druzes, Kurds and Christians,
are uneasy about regime change in
Well, China scholar Dr K at
least got this one right (and in total agreement
with Maliki, no less). A full-fledged mercenary
army paid for by autocrat Arabs to overthrow an
Arab government is pure and simple regime change -
US rhetoric about "democracy" and "freedom"
notwithstanding. It's all about classic, imperial
divide and rule, profiting from pitting Sunnis
And then my divine
roasted duck revealed to me that realpolitik
stalwart Dr K is not getting much traction in
Washington these days.