Ahead of further international negotiations in Vienna this week on the Syria conflict, US Secretary of State John Kerry made a telling preliminary visit to Saudi Arabia. The top American diplomat met with King Salman on May, 15, the day before the Vienna talks opened, urging the Saudis to support the tortuous ceasefire in Syria.
From Western news media reportage, such as this one from Reuters, one would never guess the sinister role played by Saudi Arabia and its Washington patron in the five-year Syrian war. Indeed, quite the opposite is inferred by vapid reports on how Kerry, along with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and others, is convening talks in Vienna to «end the conflict». Kerry the unstinting diplomat for Middle East peace. How dashing! How noble!
The Vienna summit hosted by the International Syria Support Group includes the United Nations, the US, Russia, China, the European Union, Iran and Saudi Arabia among other Middle East states.
So why, it begs to be asked, should Kerry preface his meetings in the Austrian capital with an additional special visit to Saudi King Salman. The entreaty from the American diplomat is a giveaway about the deeper role played by both the US and Saudi Arabia in the Syrian crisis, which has resulted in more than 250,000 deaths and millions of refugees.
Christian Science Monitor, an American news outlet, headlined Kerry’s stopover with King Salman thus: «Kerry in Saudi Arabia for mideast talks».
How blandly uninformative can you get? The boring words suggest the Secretary of State was calling with the Saudi monarch in his Jeddah palace for nothing more exciting than a cup of tea.
Beneath the mundane headline, however, the Christian Science Monitor’s report, based on Associated Press copy, goes on to hint at the real purpose for the urgent American appeal to the House of Saud.
It said: «Kerry is trying to shore up the shaky truce in Syria, which has been fraught with violations on both sides… The situation [in Syria] has been further complicated by the intermingling of some western and Arab-backed rebels with groups such as the al-Qaida [sic] affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, which the UN has designated a terrorist organization and therefore not covered by the truce. Saudi Arabia and the US have rejected attempts by Russia to get those rebels placed on the UN terrorist list».
In the US government-owned Voice of America news outlet, the Secretary of State’s trip to Saudi Arabia is reported in the following insipid way: «Kerry, trying to shore up support for the shaky ceasefire in Syria, met with Saudi King Salman, whose country has been a key supporter of rebels [sic] fighting to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad».
Despite the circumlocution of such Western media reports, one can still deduce that both the US and Saudi Arabia are sponsoring illegally armed groups that are integrated with terrorist organizations, for the objective of regime change against a sovereign state. In short: criminal conspiracy and covert war.
Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham, the groups that are euphemistically «intermingled» with known al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State, are reported to have carried out massacres around Syria’s key battleground city of Aleppo. Both militia are also reported to have used banned chemical weapons to commit atrocities.
Yet these are the same groups that the United States, Britain and France refused to designate as terror groups after blocking a Russian resolution at the UN Security Council last week.
A US spokesperson at the UN told Agence France-Presse that if these groups were proscribed then the ceasefire in Syria would collapse. That startling admission unwittingly reveals that the cessation of hostilities is dependent on al-Qaeda-linked insurgents. In other words, there are no «moderate rebels» that Washington and its Western allies keep asserting. If putative «moderates» were a credible force, then why does the ceasefire depend on the participation of extremist groups?
Of course, for anyone with an informed view of the Syrian conflict, this terrorist delineation is nothing new. Outside of the Western media whitewashed fantasy, it is well understood that the US and its NATO allies have been prosecuting a covert war for regime change in Syria, along with key regional terror sponsors in the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
John Kerry said that there are no «strategic differences» between the US and Saudi Arabia over Syria. The differences, he said, are «tactical».
Washington and its Western partners want political negotiations in Vienna and Geneva in order to achieve the strategic aim of ousting the Syrian government. No doubt to be replaced by a pro-Western puppet regime. The tactics here are political means.
Whereas the politically backward Saudi regime – a semi-feudal absolute monarchy – appears to be unable to extricate itself from the tactic of using terrorist proxies to achieve regime change. The same can be said for the Turkish regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which is a major source of fighters, weapons and cross-border oil smuggling to fund the covert war in Syria.
What Washington is evidently concerned about is that if the ceasefire in Syria collapses entirely, then the Syrian government forces supported by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah will inflict even greater losses on the regime-change mercenaries.
The US is counting on the ceasefire as a political bargaining position from which it can demand «political transition» in Syria, or more prosaically, «regime change». A ceasefire gives the so-called Syrian opposition – a US and Saudi-backed exile ragtag group called the High Negotiations Committee – a negotiating berth.
Without a ceasefire and with the eventual military defeat of the foreign-backed terror mercenaries across Syria, the political negotiations will only serve to bolster and vindicate the Syrian government and its international allies in Russia and Iran.
The legal position of the Syrian government and its allies is correct. The UN Security Council resolution 2254 passed in December excludes al-Qaeda-linked terror groups from ceasefire and any kind of political engagement. The American, British and French sleight of hand is the pretense that Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar ash-Sham extremists are somehow not affiliated with al-Qaeda.
But the involvement of all these groups in breaching the ceasefire tentatively brokered by Washington and Moscow on February 27 is proof of their logistical integration. There are recent reports of deadly feuding between Jaysh al-Islam and Jabhat al-Nusra in suburbs around the capital Damascus. Nevertheless, such rivalries do not negate their common terrorist ideology and tactical role that these groups play in the foreign-sponsored conspiracy for illegal regime change in Syria.
The Western media project the ridiculous image of John Kerry as a peace tribune, shuttling to «shore up peace» in Syria.
The blunt, vile truth is that Kerry is on a mission to salvage Washington’s rabid dogs of war in Syria. Washington needs the ceasefire, not primarily to end violence, but rather to expedite its political tactic for regime change.
Veiled threats of a Plan B – direct American military intervention for regime change in Syria – are too much of a risk. Especially given the danger of a wider conflict with Russian forces. Washington probably doesn’t have the stomach for it either.
At this point in the geopolitical game, Washington is gambling on the political tactic. But from its cynical perspective, the Saudis and Turks are problematic because both of these terror sponsors are undermining the ceasefire cover with which Washington is using to push the political means for regime change.
That’s why Kerry was groveling before the Saudi King ahead of the new round of talks in Vienna. It’s not a stretch to paraphrase Kerry as saying to this royal host: «Please, please your majesty, you must call off our terrorist proxies. Please, please your majesty, give our political tricks a chance to succeed in getting rid of Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies».
Washington and the House of Saud are both up to their necks in terrorist sponsorship in the destruction of Syria. That’s what the real story is, despite Western media fawning and omissions.
One partner-in-crime just happens to be a little more practical than the other. But given the House of Saud’s notorious stupidity, Washington’s machinations in Syria are liable to get a royal flush down the toilet.