The UN special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, moderated the dialogue between the Syria’s government delegation and the opposition. When another round of talks ended up on February 12, the diplomat was at a loss, «I am urging everybody to speed up except those who kill people, they shouldn't speed up», he said at a brief news conference. «I am not sure whether I can impose an agenda to people who don't want (it). What can I do: Put a gun to their heads? It is their country, this is a huge responsibility they have». Wendy Sherman, American Undersecretary of State for political affairs, is coming to join the negotiation process on February 13, but he’ll hardly manage to make the parties move in the direction of constructive dialogue. The second round of negotiations held within the framework of Geneva conference on Syria (Geneva-2.1) has stymied, the remaining two days will not produce any result.
There is a peculiarity – media has almost lost interest to the event. In January, every hour a news summary used to come from the conference hall, it’s all changed, the frequency is only two times a day now. The anti-Syria coalition, including the United States, appears to lose interest in the dialogue it has imposed. The matter is that the main events related to final settlement of the Syria issue are taking place away from Switzerland. The US-submitted draft U.N. Security Council resolution on humanitarian aid access in Syria has failed to come through. Washington is high-strung while urgently preparing a new Syria strategy and defining its stance towards Bashar Assad. It all made President Obama come out with an unusually tough statement on February 11 while meeting French President Francois Hollande, «There is great unanimity among most of the Security Council on this resolution [to provide greater aid]. Russia is a holdout,» the President told a gathering of French and U.S. journalists. «And Secretary of State John Kerry and others have delivered a very direct message to the Russians that they cannot say they are concerned about the well-being of the Syrian people when there are starving civilians… It is not just the Syrians that are responsible; the Russians, as well, if they are blocking this kind of resolution». It actually means that the United States along with other members of anti-Syria opposition needs no window-dressing like the Geneva 2.1 conference anymore. In practice the talks are unproductive and the propaganda agenda of the play called «opposition striving for a national dialogue vs. stubborn and insidious dictator Assad» has been exhausted…
The previous White House Syria strategy has gone into in a blind alley. The opposition has turned into a «ragtag bunch of accomplices». «Islamists» slay the «secular elements», the gangs of local anarchists and cutthroats believe that the fight against the «bloody dictatorship» is the very same thing as pillage, violence and criminal business. The contradictions are adroitly used by the government forces which step by step have been wiping the militants out. The Bashar Assad’ popularity is steadily growing in Syria and the neighboring states. The same applies to the anti-Syrian opposition. No matter dozens of official and secret declarations and memorandums, the United States, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have failed to take an ultimate decision on which opposition group they should give their support to, so everyone is left on his own. It feeds rivalry among the armed formations and makes them take the weapons away from those whose sponsor is more generous at the moment. There is nothing like coordination of combat efforts.
The Islamic groups acting under Islamic slogans are gaining ground making other militants sidestep. It hinders military assistance. After all, it’s a tall order for the West to explain why the «fighters for democracy» chop off heads and eat human flesh in front of TV cameras. It all brings to naught the chances for toppling the legal government and making pro-Western forces come to power and promote the goal of creating the Greater Middle East (to reach this goal the civil war was sparked and the jihadist intervention supported). The main argument of Obama and Kerry – «we have managed to remove Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles» – means nothing for Washington’s hawks and activists of anti-Syria coalition, they don’t care about the stockpiles.
The coalition faces a major hindrance on the way of reaching its goals and it’s not the drawn-out and unproductive Geneva conference, but rather Obama himself with his indecisiveness and ambiguities. There is a new pattern of opposing the Syrian regime worked out by hawks. That’s the way it looks in general lines: first, funds going through Saudi Arabia. Second, London is to establish control of the opposition’s military efforts including doing away with Islamists. British SAS did a great job in Libya. Third, taking a final decision on which group the assistance should be mainly directed to. This is a rather coherent plan but it has one drawback: it’s illegal in the eyes of world community and Western public, to put it mildly. The United States administration should rectify this weak point with the help of «Syrian concept». It’s all clear, the Nobel peace prize winner will not get smeared – it’s only about aiding Syrian people to survive the humanitarian disaster, no intervention is envisioned…
But you’ve got to lay it on thick about the humanitarian disaster story to make it believable. António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, has already stated that the conflict in Syria has caused the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide of 1994, «We have not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago», Guterres told a U.N. Security Council briefing. But it’s just a start, a «humanitarian crisis’ is not such a spooky thing anymore. The threat of terrorist act committed on the US or European soil – that’s what counts. This is the decisive argument making everything else pale.
Addressing US Senate Select Committee on January 29, Intelligence National Intelligence Chief James Clapper called Syria a hotbed for «al-Qaeda-aligned groups, «Syria has become a significant location for independent or Al Qaeda aligned groups to recruit train and equip a growing number of extremists, some of whom may conduct external attacks». According to him, «In Syria, terrorists are being trained to come back to the US and carry out attacks in the homeland». Aside from that, «We judge that some elements of Syria’s biological warfare program might have advanced beyond the research and development stage and might be capable of limited agent production, based on the duration of its longstanding program», Clapper claimed.
Three days later 15 US senators joined John Kerry during the Munich annual security event. Lindsey Graham suggested that the Al Qaeda save havens in Syria be attacked by drones. John McCain called for a no-fly zone over Syria to de-escalate the conflict, «Meanwhile, the freedom fighters have only light weapons,» he continued. «It is an unfair fight. So what we want to see is the declaration of a no-fly zone. We can take out their runways and negate their air power using Patriot missile batteries close to the no-fly zone and provide the weapons that they really need. AK-47s don’t do very well against tanks. They need anti-tank and anti-air weapons. That’s what I mean by American leadership». Lindsey Graham Graham, who called Israel «our best ally in the Mideast and probably as good an ally as we have in the world,»said, «Our friends in Israel are being increasingly surrounded by more and more radical regimes who are hell bent on getting the most dangerous weapons». He added, «If we don’t start intervening in a decisive way to stop the slaughter in Syria and to end this conflict as quickly as possible, it’s going to take the whole region down with it».
Two days later a Washington Post piece made no bones about it saying, «With or without U.N. action, it is time for the Obama administration to reconsider how it can check the regime’s crimes and the growing threat of al-Qaeda. As Mr. Kerry reportedly conceded, for now it has no answers».
The mechanism of implementing the US new Syrian strategy has been launched. Nobody is interested anymore in the outcome of Geneva 2.1 conference or the following rounds. The escalation in Syria is entering a new phase. Washington, London and Riyadh believe it will succeed…