Why Syria is Winning: Advancing towards a Strategic Victory that will transform the Middle East?

Syria is winning. Despite ongoing bloodshed and serious economic
pressure, Syria is advancing steadily towards a military and strategic
victory that will transform the Middle East. There is clear evidence
that Washington’s plans – whether for ‘regime change’, for rendering the
state dysfunctional or for dismembering the country on sectarian lines –
have failed.
That failure will fatally wound the US dream, announced a decade ago
by Bush junior, for a subservient ‘New Middle East’. Syria’s victory is a
combination of coherent popular support for the national army, in face
of a vicious sectarian Islamists (takfiris), firm backing by key allies, and fragmentation of the international forces lined up against them.
The economic hardships, including regular blackouts, are now worse
but have not broken the Syrian people’s will to resist. The government
ensures basic foods are affordable and maintains education, health,
sports, cultural and other services. A string of formerly hostile states
and UN agencies are resuming their relations with Syria. An improved
security situation, the recent big power agreement with Iran and other
favourable diplomatic moves are all signs that the Axis of Resistance
has strengthened.
You wouldn’t know much of this by reading the western media, which
has lied persistently about the character of the conflict and
developments in the crisis. Key features of that deception have been to
hide NATO’s backing for the takfiri groups, yet trumpet their
advances and ignore the Syrian Army roll-backs. In fact, these
western-backed terrorists have made no real strategic advance since a
flood of foreign fighters helped them take parts of northern Aleppo,
back in mid-2012.
In my second visit to Syria during the crisis, in July 2015, I could
see how security had improved around the major cities. In my first visit
in December 2013, although NATO’s throat-cutters had been ejected from
much of Homs and Qsayr, they were in the ancient village of Maloula and
along the Qalamoun Mountains, as well as attacking the road south to
Sweida. This year we were able to travel freely by road from Sweida to
Damascus to Homs to Latakia, with just one minor detour around Harasta.
In late 2013 there was daily mortaring of eastern Damascus; this year it
was far less common. The army seems to control 90% of the heavily
populated areas.
Fact check one: there never were any ‘moderate rebels’. A genuine
political reform movement was displaced by a Saudi-backed Islamist
insurrection, through March-April 2011. In the first few months of the
crisis, from Daraa to Homs, key armed groups like the Farouq brigade
were extremists backed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who practised public
atrocities and blew up hospitals, using genocidal slogans and practising
sectarian ethnic cleansing (1). Syrians these days call them all
‘Daesh’ (ISIL) or just ‘mercenaries’, not bothering too much with the
different brand names. The recent statement by ‘moderate rebel’ leader
Lamia Nahas that Syria’s ‘minorities are evil and must be disposed of’,
just as Hitler and the Ottomans disposed of minorities (2), only
underlines that fact. The character of the armed conflict has always
been between a confrontation between an authoritarian but pluralist and
socially inclusive state, and Saudi-style sectarian Islamists, acting as
proxy armies for the big powers.
Fact check two: almost all the atrocities blamed on the Syrian Army
have been committed by western-backed gangs, as part of their strategy
to attract deeper western intervention. That includes the discredited
chemical weapons claims (3) and the collateral damage claims of the
so-called ‘barrel bombing’. US journalist Nir Rosen wrote back in 2012,
‘Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any
explanation … Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition
fighters but … described in reports as innocent civilians killed by
security forces’ (4). Those opposition reports are still relied on by
partisan groups such as Amnesty International (US) and Human Rights
Watch, to bolster the war propaganda. The Syrian Army has indeed
executed captured terrorists, and the secret police continue to detain
and mistreat those suspected of collaborating with those terrorists. But
this is an army which enjoys very strong public support. The Islamist
gangs, on the other hand, openly boast of their atrocities and have
minimal public support.
Fact check three: while there is a terrorist ‘presence’ in large
parts of Syria, neither Daesh/ISIL nor any other armed group ‘controls’
much of the populated Syrian territory. Western agencies (such as Janes
and ISW) regularly confuse presence with control. Notwithstanding the
Daesh/ISIL offensives in Daraa, Idlib and Eastern Homs, the heavily
populated areas of Syria are under noticeably stronger army control than
they were in 2013. Only a few areas have been held for months or years.
In any sustained confrontation, the Army generally wins; but it is
under pressure and not infrequently makes a tactical retreat, because it
is fighting on dozens of fronts.
The Syrian Army has tightened its cordon around northern Aleppo,
Douma and Harasta, and has had recent victories in Hasaka, Idlib and
Daraa. With Hezbollah forces the Army has virtually eliminated
Daesh/ISIL and its squabbling partners from the Qalamoun mountains,
along the border with Lebanon.
Despite years of mass terrorism and western sanctions the Syrian
state is functioning surprisingly well. In July 2015 our group visited
large sports centres, schools and hospitals. Millions of Syrian children
attend school and hundreds of thousands still study in mostly fee-free
universities. Unemployment, shortages and power blackouts plague the
country. Takfiri groups have targeted hospitals for demolition since
2011. They also regularly attack power plants, leading to government
rationing of electricity, until the system is back up. There are serious
shortages and widespread poverty but, despite the war, everyday life
goes on.
For example, there was controversy in 2014 over building the ‘Uptown’
complex in New Sham, a large satellite city outside Damascus. The
facility comprises restaurants, shops, sports facilities and, at the
centre, children’s rides and other entertainment. ‘How could the state
spend so much money on this, when so many people were suffering from the
war?’ one side of the argument ran. On the other side it was said that
life goes on and families have to live their lives. After Ramadan,
during Eid, we saw thousands of families making use of this very
child-friendly complex.
Security procedures have become ‘normal’. Frequent army checkpoints
are met with remarkable patience. Syrians know they are for their
security, especially against the car and truck bombs used by the
Islamists. Soldiers are efficient but human, often exchanging friendly
chat with the people. Most families have members in the Army and many
have lost loved ones. Syrians do not endure curfews or cower from
soldiers, as so many did under the US-backed fascist dictatorships of
Chile and El Salvador, in the past.
In the north, the Mayor of Latakia told us that this province of 1.3
million now has over three million, having absorbed displaced people
from Aleppo, Idlib and other northern areas affected by incursions of
sectarian terrorists. Most are in free or subsidised government housing,
with family and friends, renting or in small businesses. We saw one
group of about 5,000, many from Hama, at Latakia’s large sports complex.
In the south, Sweida has been hosting 130,000 displaced families from
the Daraa area, doubling the population of that province. Yet Damascus
holds the greater part of the six million internally displaced people
and, with a little help from the UNHCR, the government and army are the
main ones organising their care. The western media only tells you about
the refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, facilities mostly controlled by
the armed groups.
The ‘regime attacking civilians’ or ‘indiscriminately’ bombing
civilian areas only has a basis in the Islamist propaganda on which much
of the western media relies. The fact that, after three years, Syrian
planes and artillery have not flattened hold-out areas like Jobar, Douma
and parts of northern Aleppo, gives the lie to claims against the Army.
You can be almost certain that the next time western media say
‘civilians’ are being killed by ‘indiscriminate’ Syrian government
bombing, it is the Islamist sources themselves who are under attack.
This war is being fought on the ground, building to building, with
many army casualties. Many Syrians we spoke to said they wished the
government would indeed flatten these ghost towns, saying that the only
civilians left there are the families of and collaborators with the
extremist groups. The Syrian Government proceeds with greater caution.
Regional states see what is coming, and have begun to rebuild ties
with Syria. Washington still pushes its chemical weapons lies (in face
of the independent evidence), but lost its stomach for any major
escalation back in late 2013, after the confrontation with Russia. There
is still much sabre rattling (5), but it is noteworthy that Egypt and
the United Arab Emirates (UAE), enemies of Syria just a little while
back, are now normalising their diplomatic relations with Damascus.
The UAE, perhaps the most ‘flexible’ of the Gulf monarchies, but also
linked by Vice President Joe Biden to support for Daesh/ISIL (6), has
its own worries. It recently arrested dozens of Islamists over a plot to
turn the absolutist monarchy into an absolutist caliphate (7). Egypt,
back in military hands after a short-lived Muslim Brotherhood Government
that wanted to join in the attacks on Syria, is now dealing with its
own sectarian terrorism, from that same Brotherhood. The largest of Arab
countries now defends the territorial integrity of Syria and backs (at
least verbally) the Syrian campaigns against terrorism. Egyptian analyst
Hassan Abou Taleb calls this message ‘a condemnation and rejection of
Turkey’s unilateral moves’ against Syria (8).
The Erdogan Government tried to position Turkey at the head of a
Muslim Brotherhood region, but has lost allies, is often at odds with
its anti-Syrian partners and faces dissent at home. Washington has tried
to use the separatist Kurds against both Baghdad and Damascus, while
Turkey sees them as key enemies and the Saudi-backed Islamists slaughter
them as ‘apostate’ Muslims. For their part, the Kurdish communities
have enjoyed greater autonomy and acceptance under Iran and Syria.
Washington’s recent agreement with Iran is an important development,
as the Islamic Republic remains the most important regional ally of
secular Syria and a firm opponent of Saudi-style Islamists. Affirmation
of Iran’s role in the region upsets the Saudis and Israel, but bodes
well for Syria. All commentators see a diplomatic jockeying for position
after the Iran deal and – despite Iran’s recent exclusion from a
meeting between Russian, US and Saudi foreign ministers – there can be
little doubt that Iran’s hand has been strengthened in regional affairs.
An unusual meeting between Syria’s intelligence chief,
Brigadier-General Ali Mamlouk, and the Saudi Defence Minister, Prince
Mohammed Bin Salman (9), also shows that the Syrian Government has
resumed direct discussions with the major sponsor of terrorism in the
region.
Syria is winning because the Syrian people have backed their army
against sectarian provocations, mostly fighting their own battles
against NATO and Gulf Monarchy sponsored multi-national terrorism.
Syrians, including most devout Sunni Muslims, will never accept that
head-chopping, vicious and sectarian perversion of Islam promoted by the
Gulf monarchies.
Syria’s victory will have wider implications. It spells an end to
Washington’s roller coaster of ‘regime change’ across the region, from
Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya. Out of the death and misery caused by this
dirty war we are seeing the emergence of a stronger ‘Axis of
Resistance’. Syria’s victory will also be that of Iran and of the
Lebanese Resistance, led by Hezbollah. Further, the conflict has helped
built significant measures of cooperation with Iraq. The gradual
incorporation of Baghdad into this Axis will seal the humiliating defeat
of plans for a US-Israel-Saudi dominated ‘New Middle East’. This
regional unity comes at a terrible cost, but it is coming, nonetheless.

References


(1) Tim Anderson (2015) ‘Daraa 2011: Syria’s Islamist Insurrection in Disguise’, Global Research, 5 June, online:www.globalresearch.ca/daraa-2011-syrias-islamist-insurrectio


(2) The
Angry Arab (2015) ‘This is what the candidate for Syria’s provisional
(opposition) government wrote on Facebook: a holocaust’, 4 August,
online: angryarab.blogspot.fr/2015/08/this-is-what-candidate-for-syr
(3) Tim Anderson (2015) ‘Chemical Fabrications: East Ghouta and Syria’s Missing Children’, Global Research, 12 April, online:www.globalresearch.ca/chemical-fabrications-east-ghouta-and-


(4) Nir Rosen (2012) ‘Q&A: Nir Rosen on Syria’s armed opposition’, Al Jazeera, 13 Feb, online: www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/02/20122131502016651


(5) Press TV (2015) ‘Syria ‘should not interfere’ in militant ops by US-backed groups’, 3 August, online: www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/08/03/423141/us-syria-isis-isil-


(6) Adam
Taylor (2014) ‘Behind Biden’s gaffe lie real concerns about allies’ role
in rise of the Islamic State’, Washington Post, 6 October, online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/10/06
(7) Bloomberg (2015) ‘U.A.E. to Prosecute 41 Accused of Trying to Establish Caliphate’, 2 August, online:www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-02/u-a-e-to-prosecut


(8) Reuters (2015) Egypt defends Syria’s territorial unity after Turkey moves against IS’, 2 July, online: uk.reuters.com/article/2015/07/29/uk-mideast-crisis-syria-eg


(9) Zeina Karam and Adam Schreck (2015) ‘Iran nuclear deal opens diplomatic channels for Syria’, AP, 6 August, online:news.yahoo.com/iran-nuclear-deal-opens-diplomatic-channels-s;amp;amp;soc_trk=ma