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(DV) Petersen: Syria in the Imperialist Crosshairs







Syria in the Imperialist Crosshairs
by Kim Petersen
October 26, 2005

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The New York Times is having a heck of a time dodging scorn and maintaining any semblance of authenticity these days, apologizing for its Jayson Blairs, bogus WMD reporting, and Judith Millers. Even owner Arthur Sulzberger’s feet are being held to the fire now. Yet, the paper persists in its role as a stenographer for the US government. The Times’ coverage of the UN report by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis on the slaying of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister, and 20 others, is a further example. [1] 

It is of great importance to note that the Mehlis Report [2] was exclusively an investigation into the possible involvement of Syrians and Lebanese in the assassination of Hariri. Excluded, a priori, with standard imperialistic manipulation of course, was the role of the powers that effectively benefited from the assassination: the United States and Israel.  

Israel Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres responded to the Mehlis Report by calling for a regime change in Syria. The Israel News Agency report made clear that it was a region-wide program for toppling governments; this was shockingly revealed by the title, “UN Gives Green Light for Israel, Syria, Iran War.” [3] 

Another fact of great importance is about Hariri as a person. Since when do imperialistic powers care so inordinately much about the fate of a former prime minister of another country? And why does the UN Security Council, reduced to an outlaw organization, get involved in a resolution regarding the fate of an individual? To what can one attribute such great interest in Hariri? To his stature as former prime minister, to his wealth, or to his connections to the CIA and the Saudi ruling family, and arms deals that made him a billionaire? 

But more important than all this is, was there a Syrian motive for killing Hariri? The answer is a categorical no. Why should the Syrian state kill a man with whom it had good relations despite his opposition to renew the presidency of Emil LaHood? Above all, who was taping all these incriminating conversations, obtained for the Mehlis Report, between Lebanese and Syrian politicians, if not foreign powers? Why would the Syrians tape conversations that could indict them? This is aside from the fact that all those taped conversations do not, in any way, prove that Syrian operatives killed Hariri.  

Who, in the past, killed Bashir Jamail (former presidential candidate during Lebanese civil war), Rashid Karami (eight times prime minister), Kamal Junblatt (socialist parliamentarian and leader in the struggle against colonialism and imperialism), and other Lebanese politicians if not Israeli state operatives, experts in remote controlled detonations? Israel has admitted to a number of assassinations of Arabs it designates as enemies. [4]

The assassination of Hariri has the appearance of a staged assassination between Lebanese Christian militia, Israel, and the United States. After the assassination “how come thousands of Lebanese demonstrators spontaneously pulled out thousands of Lebanese flags and identical red and white sashes in the Beirut square. The presence of large screen TVs and the complex technical infrastructure behind the demonstrations raises questions regarding who is funding and directing the media campaign behind Lebanon’s velvet revolution. These questions have, predictably, not been asked by the American news media.” [5] 

Regardless, the immediate effect of the assassination was the departure of Syrian forces from Lebanon. So why would Syria kill Hariri if the killing would end its role in a part of its historical land that France, severed, and made an independent state? 

It was natural, therefore, that Syria through its ambassador Fayssal Mekdad rejected the findings of the Mehlis Report. 

The US is putting pressure on the UN Security Council to take action. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "The United Nations Security Council has to take extremely seriously the report...” She added, “Accountability is going to be very important for the international community.”  

One wonders about the US’ accountability for 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed in this present aggression? About the half-a-million to a million Iraqi children that perished prior to the current phase of the Persian Gulf Slaughter because of the genocidal UN sanctions that the US insisted be maintained against Iraq? Where is the accountability?

What kind of accountability can the representatives of the US call for in light of their publicly expressed disdain for enumerating the Iraqi civilian fatalities?

The Times was open about US government intentions for the Mehlis Report: “The comments indicated that the United States was determined to rely on the report's damning of Damascus to further its campaign to isolate Syria, which it holds responsible for financing anti-Israel guerrilla groups and encouraging insurgents crossing its border into Iraq.”

The Mehlis Report indicated that the killing “was carried out by a group with an extensive organization and considerable resources and capabilities" and found “there is converging evidence pointing at both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in this terrorist act.” Well, why could not Mehlis, for example, point his converging fingers toward Israel that has been involved in the destruction of Lebanon for over thirty years?

But “converging evidence” is not necessarily conclusive guilt. How soon people forget the evidence that allegedly converged on Libyan operatives in the Lockerbie bombing. John Ashton and Ian Ferguson, authors of Cover-up of Convenience: The Hidden Scandal of Lockerbie, considered western intelligence services, especially of the US, primarily responsible for the Lockerbie bombing. The book directs criticism at the corporate media’s “parroting the twists and turns of the official line and note that no major British or US newspaper, radio, or TV channel has had the journalistic independence to undertake a sustained investigation of this most murky aspect of the disaster.” [6]

The Times quoted President George Bush as noting: “the report strongly suggests that the politically motivated assassination could not have taken place without Syrian involvement.” To this, Bush said the world must “respond accordingly.”

One wonders why this man Bush is still accorded any credence whatsoever following his fraudulent claims of Iraqi drones that threatened American soil, Niger yellow cake, aluminum rods destined for the production of nuclear weapons, and weather balloon-launching vehicles being biochemical weapons labs. And why does Bush care so much for Hariri? Did he donate a few millions dollars to the Republican Party, or did his assassination give him the opportunity to build a case for attacking Syria? Is Hariri a Duke Ferdinand of Austria? Is Beirut a Sarajevo? But with the compliance of two international prostitutes: a former communist dictatorship, Russia, and the paradox of currently communist-capitalist China, many things unimaginable can happen.

The Mehlis Report, however, did not state that the assassination “could not have taken place without Syrian involvement.” It stated, “Given the infiltration of Lebanese institutions and society by the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services working in tandem, it would be difficult to envisage a scenario whereby such a complex assassination plot could have been carried out without their knowledge.” [italics added] The report leaned to Bush’s conclusion but it was not categorical as Bush declared it to be.

It is, however, a most curious statement. If unchallenged, the statement has many logical implications. One implication is that the CIA and Mossad have not infiltrated Lebanese institutions and society. A second implication is that planned terrorist actions must be known about by intelligence services in most countries. Third, US intelligence sources should have known about the “complex assassination plot” of 9-11. In other words, “complex assassination plots” can only, with difficulty, be planned unbeknownst to intelligence services. This whimsical assertion in the Mehlis report is patently false, yet the Times did not see fit to comment on this absurdity. Given that this absurdity appears in the Mehlis Report then how does this reflect on the rest of the report’s findings?

The Times reported that Bush had spoken to Rice about the need for prompt UN action on the report, which he described as "deeply disturbing."

Why the call for a prompt response by the UN? The Mehlis Report stated: “the investigation is not complete.” In fact, the investigation is far from concluded: “The Commission considers that the investigation must continue for some time to come.”

Even if this was a final report, why does this transgression suddenly supersede all other transgressions in importance and immediacy? Why have the surfeit of Israeli violations of international law and UN resolutions been ignored? An Israeli report noted that from 1967 to 1988 the UN Security Council passed 88 resolutions against Israel. During that interval, Israel was condemned 49 times. The UN General Assembly passed 429 resolutions against Israel during that period, condemning Israel 321 times. [7] Indeed, Israel has been in occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights since 1967.

Yet, Rice even had the chutzpah to state: “there are some very important lessons for Syria and the need for Syria to respect a country the rest of us regard as independent.” In the meantime, the US state is hypocritically occupying Iraq (among other territories) through its military, a country whose people it has massacred and whose economic infrastructure it has destroyed. The US government may mouth platitudes about Iraqi independence but Iraq has been savagely rendered dependent.

To top it off, the US is asking the UN to act on a purportedly illegal act by Syria despite the fact that the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has already pronounced the US-UK aggression of Iraq to be illegal. How can the UN be expected to act against one allegedly transgressing country while ignoring the far greater crimes of the complaining country?

So now that Syria is in the crosshairs of US imperialist ambitions in the Middle East, the UN is called upon to continue to ignore the Israeli occupation of Syrian territory (as well as the vicious occupation of Palestinian territory which comprises the entire landmass of Israel) and the US aggression of Iraq (and other states such as Haiti).

The US ambassador to the UN John Bolton called for “serious” measures by the UN Security Council. UK foreign secretary Jack Straw joined forces with his US counterparts. He even said that sanctions were under consideration against Syria. [8]

Since sanctions are rarely limited to a criminal class, a question emerges: Under what principles of morality must Syrian citizens be expected to suffer for the crimes of their dictatorial leaders? Nowhere is there any discussion of sanctions against the apartheid state of Israel for its decades-old non-compliance with UN resolutions despite Israelis -- driven by a racist Zionist ideology that encourages the theft of others’ territory [9] -- having slaughtered masses of people. Ostensibly, UN resolutions correspond to the noisome realpolitik of hyper-power dictate: being valid only insofar as how a country chooses to align itself with greater powers in the world. In this way, the UN further undermines its already tarnished image.

The acquiescence of the UN to US bullying and the dissemination of disinformation and propaganda by the corporate media, a malignant exemplar being the New York Times, denigrate these institutions to the immoral status of tools of the occupiers.  

Sadly for humanity, at present, an unbridled corporate media and a world body free to fulfill its mandate to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” are but illusory hopes. 

Kim Petersen, Co-Editor of Dissident Voice, lives in the traditional Mi'kmaq homeland colonially designated Nova Scotia, Canada. He can be reached at:

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[1] Warren Hodge, “Bush Pushes U.N. to Move Swiftly on Syria Report,” New York Times, 22 October 2005.

[2] Online at “Report of the International Independent Investigation Commission Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1595 (2005).”

[3] Joel Leyden, “UN Gives Green Light for Israel, Syria, Iran War,” Israel News Agency, 21 October 2005. Leyden writes, “This final war with Syria and Iran can be performed quietly from within as Syria and Iran leaders are given one last opportunity to work for peace, commerce and stability in the Middle-East or Israel fighter jets and IDF commandos can get the job done in hours. Hizbullah must and will be removed from the southern Lebanon border where they are presently arming themselves with missiles which can reach Haifa and beyond.”  

[4] Recently, Israeli occupation officials admitted responsibility for the 1973 assassination of the Palestinian poet Ghassan Kanafani. “Israel admits responsibility for assassinating Palestinian poet,” Daily News, 4 October 2005. 

[5] Abhinav Aima, “They Can March Too: Hezbollah and the Politics of Staged Protests,” Common Dreams, 7 March 2005. 

[6] Steve James, “Cover-up of Convenience -- the Hidden Scandal of Lockerbie,” World Socialist Web Site, 24 April 2002.

[7] Reference Desk, “The U.N.'s Record Vis a Vis Israel,” Arutz Sheva. The twisted logic of reporting the surfeit of condemnations of Israel relative to condemnations of Arab states supposedly indicates a bias in the UN. Flowing from this illogic is the implication that a failure to equally condemn Jews and Nazis during World War II would have been biased.

[8] “Britain says UN to mull Syria sanctions,” AlJazeera.Net, 22 October 2005. 

[9] Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared, “Ben Gurion said that anyone who approaches the Zionist problem in a moral aspect is not a Zionist.” Quoted in Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle (South End Press, 1983, 1999), p 481.

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