Arab World · Human-Rights · Libya · Politics · United States

Libya yesterday, Syria today: Who’s next?

Following the removal of the secretary-general of the Libyan National Congress, Muammar Gaddafi, a new front opened up in the American information war. Syria’s closeness to Iran is not to the liking of the United States and Europe.
Syria sits in a central location for energy shipments, and for the oil pipeline from Turkey to Haifa. Controlling the Mediterranean and Asia Minor would be easier if “the right people” were in power in Syria.
Syria with its capital Damascus has been a precious “gem of the Orient” throughout Jewish, Christian and Islamic history. Now it is not being allowed to bask in its cultural and historical significance. The Omayyad Mosque is one of the most important architectural achievements in Islam. The Apostle Paul was converted to Christianity in Damascus. Jewish history is interwoven with Damascus in many ways – starting with the “wandering Syrian ancestors”.

The Arab League dislikes Syria’s liberal policy: hardline Islamists want to gain control over Syria. Even a few American specialists have given advice and guidance to the local revolutionary mobs. Fundamentalist religious fanatics have been financed and armed to stage an uprising against the administration. The “opposition” does not enjoy support amongst the people. People are horrified at the ferocity of the anti-Syrian reporting. There was a thousand-strong pro-Assad demonstration in downtown Damascus at the weekend.
In October, western foreign ministries urged their citizens to leave Syria unless they have a compelling reason to stay. “All travel should be avoided”, intoned the foreign ministries, including that of Finland. Western countries effectively began to empty Syria of their citizens.
My friend Johan Bäckman, an adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki, did the opposite of what was urged: he travelled to Syria with a twenty-strong delegation from Russia. There were Russian representatives of political parties, youth organizations and universities, and journalists.

The headquarters of the Baath party in Damascus
The delegation arrived in Damascus on 19 November. My friend went looking around Damascus. As one, the western media – including the news in Finland – claim that the headquarters of the Baath party in Damascus was hit by a powerful rocket attack on Sunday 20 November. The “Free Syrian Army” claimed responsibility for the early-morning strike. The strike was interpreted as a symbolic blow to President Bashar al-Assad’s administration: a “show of strength” of the new tactical capacity and of a deepening of the conflict. But no pictures of the strike have been published. On 20 November, Finnish television showed a Syrian man – who lives in Finland and belongs to a Rabita mosque, which supports the Muslim Brotherhood – who was interviewed by the anchor. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the anchor didn’t reveal anything about the background of the Syrian man, who described the situation in Syria as “genocide”. He continued insisting that “the United Nations must impose sanctions against all governments who have any dealings with the Syrian Government”. He mentioned the government of the Russian Federation.
My Finnish friend was staying close to the party HQ at the time, in a hotel right next door. He didn’t notice any strike. He is unlikely to have been sleeping so soundly that two rockets failed to wake him.
After all, Syrian army defectors denied attacking the Baath office. Unfortunately, Western people will remember the big headlines of the mainstream media. And even if a little news story corrects the false information, it is likely to go unnoticed.
The news about Syria in the western media underscores the great geopolitical and strategic importance of the region. People and states in such regions risk succumbing to bought color revolutions, international sanctions and armed interventions by NATO.
Color revolutions are coups which external powers instigate by making the political conditions unstable. It would be childish to buy into the captivating narrative that a color revolution is a natural occurrence. The coup is fueled with money and intense psychological warfare waged in the media. This also strengthens moral acceptance by one’s own allies. This method is familiar from Serbia, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Lebanon and Libya. The UN has not given authorization for foreign armed intervention in Syria. But who will provide protection from an information war?
Just recently, NATO attacked Libyan cities. After the bombing, the political leaders of the military operation were very pleased that no American or French soldiers were killed in these air strikes. Now the requirements are set out for Syria. So who is the bombing target for the day after tomorrow?


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