Tag Archives: Syria

Europe’s Pro-War Leftists: Selling “Humanitarian Intervention”

“I believe in two principles: never again war and never again Auschwitz.”[1]

These words could be heard at a convention of the Green Party of Germany in May 1999, during the NATO bombing campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in which Germany participated. The speaker was the Green politician Joschka Fischer, Germany’s Foreign Minister at the time. His comment was meant to be a justification for the war against the Serbian people, the same people that already had to suffer under German imperialism in two World Wars.

In the 70s this same Mr. Fischer was a radical leftist activist and in the 80s he became one of the founders of Germany’s Green Party. The premise behind its creation was to give political and parliamentary representation to all the different environmentalist and anti-war groups. At that time, if anyone had spoken about the possibility that this same party would one day play an active role in a war of aggression against Yugoslavia at the end of the millennium, it would have been labeled as absurd. In fact, direct German involvement in any war used to be completely taboo and no one from the Left or from the Right would have even dared to consider such an option; the popular consensus was that after 1945, no war would be started out of Germany ever again.

This political transition in Germany, which has been mirrored across much of Western Europe, is important for understanding how it came to pass that many mainstream “leftists” became modern-day warmongers, sometimes to even greater extremes than their conservative counterparts.

It is their promotion of the self-contradictory concept of “humanitarian interventionism” (as carried out, for example against Yugoslavia in 1999 and Libya in 2011) that has come to make the approach of allegedly “progressive” policy-makers so subversive. Their moral authority is spun as being much more credible than the more blatant ranting of neo-conservative preachers of hate.

In Western Europe, most proponents of militarisation on the mainstream Left are associated with Green or Social Democratic parties. One of the first advocates of militarized “humanitarian intervention” was Daniel Cohn-Bendit, member of the Green Party of France. He was also one of the masterminds behind the abolition of European nation states in favour of a stronger European Union. During the Civil War in the former Yugoslav Republic of Bosnia, Cohn-Bendit demanded that the Serbs had to be bombed, and anyone who didn’t agree with that would carry the same burden of guilt as those who turned a blind eye to the Fascist mass murder in World War Two:

“Shame on us! We, the generation that held our parents’ generation in such contempt because of its political cowardice, now we watch on seemingly helpless, powerless and yet still holier-than-thou as the Bosnian Muslims are ethnically cleansed.”[2]

Indeed, the ploy of drawing parallels with Nazi crimes in order to demonise a rival who stands in the way of Western geostrategic interests was perfected during the Bosnian war. A case in point was the story of the so-called death camps in Bosnia: In August 1992, a British newspaper published a photograph of an emaciated man behind a fence, which was supposed to be proof of the existence of Nazi-style concentration camps run by Serbs. However, as German journalist Thomas Deichmann later found out, the man was standing outside the fence and therefore was not imprisoned behind barbed wire.[3] To be sure, detention camps existed on all sides and there is no doubt that conditions there were often horrific. The point, however, is that Western propagandists tried to whitewash the Croat and Muslim sides, portraying them wholly as victims, while at the same time presenting the Bosnian Serbs as barbarians and Nazis.

Using labels to demonize opponents or even whole populations is not a new concept when it comes to the mudslinging of propaganda wars. A de-politicised understanding of Fascism merely as a form of nationalism makes it possible for postmodern leftists to present wars of aggression as “humanitarian interventions” and therefore as “anti-fascism” in action. The more traditional leftist idea of anti-fascism would view fascism not only as a chauvinist/racist ideology, but would also consider its economic background and the alliance of high finance, the arms industry and political elites.

When the United Nations Security Council proposed Resolution 1973 on the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya in March 2011, which served as a pretence for attacking the country, Germany abstained from voting, along with Russia, China, India and Brazil. The German conservative-liberal coalition government was heavily criticised by Social Democratic and especially Green circles for not taking a stronger pro-war stance. Former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer attacked his successor Guido Westerwelle for not having supported the resolution of the warmongers, and added that Germany could now “forget about a constant seat in the U.N. Security Council.”[4]

Therefore it is not surprising that in the current conflict in Syria (which is significantly orchestrated and financed by the West, as were the civil wars in Yugoslavia and Libya), Western Europe’s Green politicians and other liberal leftists are the strongest proponents of a policy of escalation towards the Al Assad government. Claudia Roth, one of the two current German Green Party chairs, recently hosted a TV debate on Syria and shouted down any voice of reason pleading for negotiations with the Al Assad government.[5] One of them was writer and politician Jürgen Todenhöfer, who holds a balanced position on the conflict and recently travelled to Damascus for an interview with Al Assad, in order to let the Western world hear the “other side” as well.[6] The fact that anyone let Al Assad voice his opinion was already too much for Ms. Roth, who expressed her irritation with Mr. Todenhöfer’s trip to Syria in no uncertain terms.

At the same time, the first Western head of state to openly raise the possibility of attacking Syria was France’s newly elected “socialist” president François Hollande. In his statement he let the world know that he would “not rule out international military intervention in Syria”.[7]

Hollande’s election to the presidency expressed many people’s hope that Nicolas Sarkozy’s five years of reactionary, neoliberal and corrupt leadership would be replaced by a more humane way of governing. Unfortunately, when it comes to foreign policy, Hollande seems to carry on his predecessor’s neo-colonial agenda.[8]

In the cases of both Libya and Syria, Bernard-Henri Lévy, a French “nouveau” philosopher, professional self-promoter and frequent object of media mockery, called upon his government to intervene and prevent the “killing of innocent civilians”. [9] Of course his open call for war was sold as humanitarian grassroots activism. In an open letter to the French president, published (among others) by Huffington Post, Lévy used the massacre in Hula as a justification for intervention.[10] The fact that evidence indicates that the victims of this terrible crime were supporters of Al Assad’s government who were killed by insurgents[11] doesn’t matter to the black-and-white world of these virtuous philanthropic activists.

From “Auschwitz” in Bosnia and Kosovo to a “Syrian dictator” slaughtering women and children, the strategy of overcoming people’s resistance towards wars of aggression by appealing to their guilty conscience – the “don’t turn a blind eye” tactic – stays the same. And no one plays this game better than today’s “progressive” false samaritans.

Bearing all this in mind, we return to the example of Germany. To date, the country’s government has actively participated in spreading anti-Syrian propaganda, but has not expressed a pro-intervention enthusiasm comparable to the “progressive” pro-war disinformation campaign. Although not many positive things could be said about Chancellor Merkel’s neoliberal, U.S.-friendly government, Germany’s present administration at least does not seem to be inclined to risk a military adventure to the same extent as the Green/Social Democratic opposition, and continues to speak in favour of a “diplomatic solution”.[12] And while the current government’s track record proves they are far from innocent in matters of interventionism[13], things could get even worse during elections in 2013 if Germany’s government again forms a Social Democratic/Green coalition, as was the case from 1998 to 2005. After all, they managed to pull off a historic achievement by making war presentable again to the German public for the first time since 1945.

[8] During his presidency, Sarkozy was responsible for militarised intervention both in Cote d’Ivoire and Libya.

[13] All this, however, despite the fact that the German army and Federal Intelligence Service is providing military aid to the insurgents in Syria. See:http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/aug2012/syri-a21.shtml.

Published on:

Global Research, September 21, 2012

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US Sponsored “Islamic Fundamentalism”: The Roots of the US-Wahhabi Alliance

The alliance between the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia helped spread the ideology of fundamentalist Sunni Islam all over the globe. The majority of its victims are not citizens of Western countries, but citizens of countries that U.S. elites consider a threat to their economic and geopolitical interests. Many victims of Sunni extremism (often called Wahhabism or Salafism[1]) are in fact Muslims (often with a secular leftist or nationalist political background), moderate Sunni or members of Shiʿite Islamic faith.

This article addresses the history of Wahhabi fundamentalism and the examples of Afghanistan in the 80s, as well as the current situation in Syria. Both cases illustrate America’s responsibility for the destruction of secular, socially progressive societies in the Islamic world and elsewhere.

The Origins of Wahhabism

Wahhabi ideology serves U.S. interests for several reasons. Its followers’ archaic perception of society makes them reject any kind of progressive social change. Therefore they are well equipped to push back socialist, secular or nationalist movements, whose independence-oriented policies are a threat to America’s geopolitical agenda. Although Wahhabism certainly is not representative of the majority of Sunni Muslims, Wahhabi Muslims are Sunni extremists, which causes them to maintain an extremely hostile stance towards Shi’te Islam.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which brought down the secular-nationalist regime of Saddam Hussein (a Sunni), the influence of Shi’ite-dominated Iran increased and caused a certain power shift in favor of Shiʿite Islam in the region. Due to this strengthened Shiʿite representation, American activities in the Middle East in recent years have been almost exclusively directed against Shiʿite interests. The emancipation of deprived Shiʿite masses in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen or Lebanon are contrary to aspirations from the side of the U.S., whose main allies in the region (next to Israel) consist of repressive Sunni regimes and terror groups.

In the case of Syria, President Bashar Al-Assad (an ally of Iran) and the secular Syrian society particularly evoke the hatred of extremists. The fact that Al-Assad belongs to the Alawite minority (a mystical religious group and a branch of Shiʿite Islam) makes him unacceptable to Wahhabi purists.

Portraying Syria ruled solely by its Alawi minority (as some mainstream journalists tend to do) would nevertheless be wrong. As Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya pointed out, among the Syrian top officials killed by a terrorist attack on July 18, 2012, Sunnis and Christians could be found among the Alawites.[2]

It is therefore worth examining the background of these enemies of secularism, multi-faith society and progress. Wahhabism is a puritanical branch of Sunni Islam that was founded in the middle of the 18th Century by Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab, a theologian who propagated holy war and the “purification” of Islam. One of his inspirations was Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), an early Islamic fundamentalist scholar who opposed any kind of intellectual debate that differentiated between the word of god and its interpretation.

Al-Wahhab and his ideas might have been forgotten by history if he hadn’t made a pact with Muhammad ibn Saud, emir of Al-Diriyah and ruler of the first Saudi state in 1744.

According to Robert Dreyfuss, the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance:

“…began a campaign of killing and plunder all across Arabia, first in central Arabia, then in Asir in Southern Arabia and parts of Yemen, and finally in Rhiadh and the Hijaz. In 1802 they raided the Shiite holy city of Karbala in what is now Iraq, killing most of the city’s population, destroying the dome over the grave of a founder of Shiism, and looting property, weapons, clothing, carpets, gold, silver and precious copies of the Quran.”[3]

In order to keep the faith “pure”, influences from Greek philosophy, Christianity and Judaism had to be exterminated. Intellectuals, artists, scientists and progressive rulers were declared enemies with no right to live.

It goes without saying that the idea of representing the pure teaching of Islam was fanatically pursued; in fact, Wahhabi warriors were fighting in order to spread the most archaic lifestyle that could be found within Arab culture.

In the second half of the 19th century, British imperialism discovered the house of Al Saud as a potentially useful ally in its attempt to gain influence in the Middle-East.

Riadh had been invaded by the Ottoman sultan in 1818. The Al Saud returned to power in 1823, but its area of control was mainly restricted to the Saudi heartland of the Nejd region, known as the second Saudi State. In 1899 the British helped the Al Saud establish a base in its protectorate of Kuwait, in order to reconquer Riadh, at that time ruled by the pro-Ottoman Al Rashid dynasty.

Originally Great Britain’s motivation to gain influence in the Middle-East was caused by their view of Arabia and the Gulf as being “one link in a chain that ran from Suez to India, the two anchors of the empire.”[4] Vast oil reserves would be discovered in the 1930s.

Great Britain became the first country to recognize the new Saudi Arabia as an independent state, establishing its current borders in 1932. A “Treaty of Friendship and Good Understanding” between the British Crown and the Saudi monarch was signed already in 1927. The 1924 integration of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina into the kingdom through military conquest inevitably contributed to firmly entrenching Al Saud’s authority in the Muslim world.

U.S. interest in Saudi Arabia started to grow as well around the same time, and a treaty with the California Arabian Standard Oil Company was agreed upon in 1932. It was the first such agreement created in cooperation with a western oil company.

In the following years and decades, the increasing revenues in oil business enabled the Saudi financing of religious institutions worldwide, propagating extremist interpretations of Islam. The flow of petro-dollars was of great importance to Saudi elites, who adapted a luxurious lifestyle and at the same time maintained an alliance with the Wahhabi base.[5] They also maintained ties to U.S. state officials, who welcomed Saudi oil as well as radical Islam, as long as it was directed against those standing in the way of America’s geopolitical agenda.

“Foreign aid” financed by the Kingdom was tremendous, according to U.S. “anti-terror” expert Alex Alexiev (though he doesn’t acknowledge the U.S. involvement in spreading Wahhabi terror):

“Between 1975 and 1987, the Saudis admit to having spent $48 billion or $4 billion per year on ‘overseas development aid’, a figure which by the end of 2002 grew to over $70 billion (281 billion Saudi rials).These sums are reported to be Saudi state aid and almost certainly do not include private donations which are also distributed by state-controlled charities. Such staggering amounts contrast starkly with the $5 million in terrorist accounts the Saudis claim to have frozen since 9/11.”[6]

A report from September 2009, made by the United States Government Accountability Office, points out the historical relevance of U.S.-Saudi relations:

“Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long historical context. Since the establishment of the modern Saudi state in 1932, and throughout the Cold War, the governments of the United States and Saudi Arabia developed a relationship based on shared interests, including energy production and combating communism. For instance, both Saudi Arabia and the United States became major supporters of the Afghan Mujahideen’s struggle against the Soviet invasion in 1979.”[7]

Saudi-backed archaic ideology served as an incentive to thousands of confused young men to receive military training in Pakistan in the 1980s, from where they were sent to Afghanistan in order to kill Russians.

America’s ‘Holy War’ against the USSR in Afghanistan

In a famous interview from 1998, former National Security Advisor to President Carter and geopolitical strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, openly admitted that the hidden agenda of U.S. involvement in the war between Soviet troops and Afghan Mujahideen (1979-1988) was about “giving to the USSR its Vietnam war.” He also admitted that American covert support of Islamist fighters in Afghanistan had already started six months prior to the beginning of Soviet intervention in order to create a trap that would eventually lead to the collapse of the USSR. Nothing about this is worth regretting, according to Mr. Brzezinski, not even the U.S. alliance with radical Islam:

“What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”[8]

In addition, the former Pakistani regime under General Zia Ul Haq, whose political program consisted of a plan of “Islamisation” of the country, was the main American ally when it came to training Islamist fighters. This happened under close cooperation between the CIA and the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). The ideological indoctrination of the people supposed to fight against the Soviets was being delivered by Pakistani madrassas, schools of radical (Wahhabi) Islam, financed by Saudi Arabia.[9]

While U.S. officials justified their support for the Mujahideen by presenting them as some kind of supposed freedom fighters, their Islamist allies showed less restraint in revealing their plans for Afghanistan. One example was the ISI Director General at the time, Akhtar Abdur Rahman Shaheed, who expressed his opinion quite undiplomatically: “Kabul must burn! Kabul must burn!”[10]

While Brzezinski achieved his goal, the fate of Afghanistan is well known: decades of civil war, brutality, analphabetism, the worst possible violation of women’s rights, extreme poverty and sectarian violence. Not to mention pollution by depleted uranium causing a sharp increase in cancer rates thanks to the U.S. bombing campaign from October 2001.

United States and Saudi Arabia against Secular Syria

Many other scenarios involving CIA/Saudi-sponsored terrorism took place in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union (e.g. in Chechnya, Bosnia, Libya etc.).

Currently, Syria’s secular, multi-ethnic and multi-faith society is being targeted by these very same forces, as well as reactionary regimes belonging to the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) and Turkey. As with the war in Afghanistan in the 80s, U.S. involvement in the Syrian crisis is intended to isolate Iran and, once again, target Russia. In conjunction, Wahhabi extremists are carrying out the same work as their forefathers in the 18th Century, namely fighting all tolerant forms of Islam.

Might this have been the reason why insurgents killed the youngest son of Syria’s highest Islamic authority, Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun? Indeed, the position of the Grand Mufti is not aligned with Wahhabi extremism, as was clearly shown in last year’s interview with Der Spiegel:

“I see myself as the grand mufti of all 23 million Syrians, not just Muslims, but also Christians and even atheists. I am a man of dialogue. Who knows, maybe an agnostic will convince me with better arguments one day, and I’ll become a non-believer. And if I’m enthusiastic about the opposition’s political platform, I also might change sides.”[11]

In addition, several events that took place on the day this particular interview are worth noticing:

“During the late afternoon, the grand mufti has other appointments: condolence visits with a Christian and a Muslim family. In the evening, he will have to comfort his wife once again, who is completely distraught over the death of Saria. He was the youngest of the couple’s five sons, and the only one still living at home. Saria’s fellow students are holding a vigil at his stone sarcophagus, even now, four weeks after the murder. The young man’s last resting place can be found in the courtyard of a modest mosque. Sheikh Hassoun visits this sad place every day.”[12]

This certainly does not correspond with the Western media’s picture of fanatical Islamists, who consider the death of their sons a sign of honour and martyrdom, as long as they have died under circumstances that caused the death of “infidels” as well. Such behaviour is encouraged by Saudi Arabia, as can be seen on a shocking video available on YouTube. The shocking footage features a father in Jeddah, selling his son to be sent to Syria as a suicide bomber. Even if one questions the authenticity of the video, the ongoing suicide bombings in Syria are undoubtedly real:

Conclusion

To be sure, the religion of Islam poses just as much or little a threat to the world as the religions of Judaism or Christianity. Nevertheless, certain radical pockets exist who use and abuse religion to justify their disgust for dissent and whose totalitarian practices can only be classified as fascist. Their attempts to destroy reason, progress and humanist ideals make them ideal tools for the most aggressive imperialist factions within the U.S. establishment to push for regime change and implement their exploitative impoverishing agendas.

Notes

1“Wahhabi” is a term usually used in a critical context by Muslims. Salafi means “ancestor” and is most often a term used by Sunni fundamentalists to describe themselves.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=32134.

3 Dreyfuss, Robert: “Devil’s Game: How the United States helped unleash fundamentalist Islam”, New York 2005, S. 37.

Ibid.

5 See: Anhalt, Utz: Wüstenkrieg – Jemen, Somalia, Sudan in der Geostrategie der USA, S. 32.

http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/congress/sc062603_alexiev.pdf.

http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09883.pdf.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BRZ110A.html.

http://www.fpif.org/blog/wikileaks_saudi-financed_madrassas_more_widespread_in_pakistan_than_thought.

10 See: “Silent soldier: the man behind the Afghan jehad General Akhtar Abdur Rahman Shaheed”, by Mohammad Yousaf, Karachi, 1991.

11 http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-syrian-grand-mufti-assad-could-step-down-after-free-elections-a-796363-2.html.

12 Ibid.

Published on:

Global Research, September 7, 2012

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The Death of Swiss Neutrality? Foreign Policy in the Service of Imperialism

Switzerland, a country traditionally reputed as a model for democracy and order, is nonetheless politically rife with contradictions. On one side many tend to praise the country’s high living standards, its system of direct democracy and its remarkable range of high quality products popular around the world. On the other hand the practice of bank secrecy has made Switzerland a popular destination for money launderers of all kinds throughout the decades.

Although offshore safe havens such as the British Channel Islands, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and others nowadays enjoy notably higher popularity for large-scale financial criminal activities, Switzerland remains the primary destination in many people’s minds when it comes to dictators, speculators or mafia bosses hiding their dirty money from the not quite long enough arm of the law.

Another key concept many associate with Switzerland is its strict policy of political neutrality. Indeed Switzerland is the second oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Treaty of Paris in 1815.

 Though Switzerland’s ambivalent position during World War II was justifiably criticised by many, the state’s neutral stance has generally been appreciated all over Europe and the rest of the world. Even British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was certainly no fan of neutrals, said:

”Of all the neutrals, Switzerland has the greatest right to distinction. . . What does it matter whether she has been able to give us the commercial advantages we desire or has given too many to the Germans. . .? She has been a democratic state, standing for freedom in self-defence. . . and largely on our side.”[1]

Swiss neutrality makes the country a good meeting ground for negotiations between conflicting global parties. Even the United States, who do not maintain official diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, rely on Swiss support in order to have a diplomatic channel:

“In the absence of diplomatic or consular relations of the United States of America with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as the Protecting Power of the USA in Iran since 21 May 1980. The Swiss Embassy’s Foreign Interests Section provides consular services to U.S. citizens living in or travelling to Iran.”[2]

As a diplomatic contact point between the U.S. and Iran, it is logical that Switzerland would have no valid reason for refusing to meet with Iranian officials. But even a short encounter between the former Swiss federal president Hans Rudolf Merz and the Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad at the United Nations Durban II anti-racism conference in Geneva 2009 was going too far, according to officials from Israel, America’s closest Middle East ally:

“Netanyahu’s office later said that he and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided to recall Ambassador Ilan Elgar from Berne ‘for consultations and in protest at the conference in Geneva.’”[3]

Further testing Switzerland’s neutrality, U.S. and Israeli officials criticised Switzerland for not taking part in the oil embargo against Iran in July 2012.[4]

Relationship with the European Union

Although it does not belong to the European Union, Switzerland collaborates closely with its member states and the majority of Swiss exports are reserved for the EU market. Nevertheless, according to Jean-Claude Juncker[5], Prime Minister of Luxembourg and one of the key architects of EU integration, Switzerland’s independence remains “a geostrategic absurdity” because its position is an anomaly among other European states[6].

Indeed, there is no doubt that Swiss neutrality could not effectively continue if the country was to join the European Union, as EU member states are currently being forced to give up more and more of their fiscal sovereignty.

However, in Switzerland itself, where all major political parties have guaranteed representation in government, many forces are trying to push the country in a direction that would be more in line with the geostrategic roadmap of Brussels’ key players. In particular, Switzerland’s mainstream leftist party would like to see its country join the EU sooner rather than later. The fact that dominating EU-member states have participated in numerous U.S.-led military aggressions (e.g. Yugoslavia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and Libya just this past year) apparently does not seem to faze the pro-EU stance of many Swiss leftists.

In June 2012, the Social Democratic Party’s faction of the Swiss General Assembly confirmed once again that they do not see a future in bilateral cooperation with the EU, specifying that joining the EU would be the “better institutional way.”[7]

Swiss Social Democrats also support Swiss participation in NATO programs such as the Partnership for Peace, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council and NATO Parliamentary Assembly.[8]

Ironically, Switzerland’s mainstream “leftists” are the most unscrupulous proponents of militarism and imperialism, operating through the rhetoric of shamelessly demagogic “humanitarian” and “internationalist” phrases. For example, when the so called “Republic of Kosovo” declared unilateral independence in February 2008, “neutral” Switzerland was among the first countries to recognise the U.S./NATO protectorate disguised as a state. This happened mostly thanks to the efforts made by the former Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs, Micheline Calmy Rey (a Social Democrat), who had already lobbied for recognition of Kosovo for months.

In May 2012, the Federal Councillor for Foreign Affairs, Didier Burkhalter, attended the NATO conference in Chicago and promised closer collaboration between NATO and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) when Switzerland takes over OSCE presidency in 2014.[9] Furthermore he argued in favour of Swiss participation in NATO’s so called “Cyber Defence” program.[10]

The latest disturbing news on Switzerland’s role in the international community concerns the conflict in Syria, when it was revealed that Syrian anti-government insurgents have Swiss weapons in their arsenal, as the Swiss Sonntags-Zeitung[11] reported:

“The records, photographs, were made on Thursday in the Syrian village of Marea (Aleppo) and show hand grenades of the type shown OHG92 and SM 6-03-1, which were produced by the [Swiss] government-owned arms manufacturer Ruag.”[12]

Allegedly the weapons had been originally sold to the United Arab Emirates, who reportedly delivered them to Syrian insurgents. Other reports indicate the possibility that the arms had been used previously by anti-Gaddafi fighters from Libya, who got them from Qatar, which would mean that one of the most aggressive Gulf regimes received Swiss arms.[13]

In December 2011, a temporary ban on sending arms to Qatar was implemented by Switzerland, but was lifted quickly thereafter.[14] On the other hand, Swiss export of weapons to Syria has been banned since 1998. It is revealing that when it comes to arming pro-Western regimes, Switzerland exercises much less constraint.

As reported recently, about 40 senior representatives of various Syrian opposition groups have been meeting “quietly in Germany under the tutelage of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) to plan for how to set up a post-Assad Syrian government.”[15]

Furthermore the project “has been funded by the State Department, but also has received funding from the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” [16] According to the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed its participation and the donation of approximately 50 000 euros for covering “logistic costs”.[17]

The main problem concerning the decision-making process of Swiss foreign policy is that in no other field of Swiss politics can so many decisions be made without asking for the people’s approval in a referendum. This practice runs completely counter to Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, where referendums normally are meant to be a component of the country’s political culture. Therefore it is easy for factions who follow a transatlantic agenda to hijack Switzerland’s foreign policy and undermine the country’s centuries-old sovereignty.

However, defending a nation state’s democratic and social institutions against global imperialist rule would be a progressive act and has nothing to do with outmoded notions of “nationalism”, as Western mainstream leftists would have us believe. It would, rather, be the first step in the struggle for freedom from supranational corporate interests.

It is no surprise, then, that pro-EU pundits like Juncker label Switzerland’s reticence to jump aboard the EU bandwagon (and abandon its neutrality) as “absurd”. Apparently, his definition of the ideal “democratic process” – as dictated by Brussels and applied broadly – is much less questionable:

“We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don’t understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back.”[18]

Notes

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1997/02/02/opinion/l-churchill-s-switzerland-460141.html.

[2] http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/reps/asia/virn/fosteh.html.

[3] http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel-recalls-swiss-envoy-over-ahmadinejad-presence-at-summit-1.274420.

[4] http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=274099.

[5] Jean-Claude Juncker is President of the Eurogroup (a meeting of the finance ministers of the eurozone)

[6] http://uk.reuters.com/article/2010/12/15/eu-switzerland-idUKLDE6BE0VT20101215.

[7] http://www.nzz.ch/aktuell/schweiz/die-sp-waelzt-das-europadossier-1.17258476.

[8] http://www.sp-ps.ch/…/SIPOL_B_Stellungnahme_SP.pdf.

[9] http://www.currentconcerns.ch/index.php?id=1813.

[10] It goes without saying that U.S./NATO’s cyber activities have more to do with attack than defence. See for example RT on U.S.-Cyberwar against Iran: http://www.rt.com/news/iran-us-israel-cyberwar-virus-weapon-770.

[11] http://www.sonntagszeitung.ch/fokus/artikel-detailseite/?newsid=223610.

[12] http://www.syrianews.cc/syria-syrian-terrorists-weapons-switzerland.

[13] http://www.sonntagszeitung.ch/fokus/artikel-detailseite/?newsid=223610.

[14] http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/War_materiel_exports_return_to_the_spotlight_.html?cid=32277794.

[15] http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/07/20/inside_the_secret_effort_to_plan_for_a_post_assad_syria 

[16] Ibid.

[17] http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/ausland/naher-osten-und-afrika/Schweiz-finanzierte-Syriens-Opposition/story/25230130.

[18] http://www.economist.com/node/1325309.

Published on:

Global Research, August 8, 2012

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VIDEO: Syrian Opposition Studies Terror Tactics in Kosovo

Originally aired on Russia Today, May 4, 2012

The same horrors that were witnessed during the war in Kosovo are now apparently being prepared for the multi-confessional Syrian population by Islamist Syrian Liberation Army trained in Muslim Kosovo in the middle of Europe.

The Syrian Liberation Army group that actually formed the delegation to Kosovo has been fighting with the Syrian government for over a year now. This stand-off has claimed well over 9,000 lives, about half of them Syrian servicemen, law enforcers and officials.

Lately, the militants have been squeezed out of the Syrian cities and their positions along the Syrian-Turkish border. Being unable to turn the tide independently, the Syrian Liberation Army has been addressing to its foreign sponsors to start a military intervention into Syria to topple President Bashar Assad.

However, researcher and GlobalResearch.ca contributor Benjamin Schett told RT the Syrian rebels would not learn much in terms of military tactics from the KLA.

“The so-called Kosovo Liberation Army — this terrorist group — had in fact already been defeated by the Serbian army in 1998.”

Schett says that once Serbia agreed on a ceasefire, pulled back troops, and let in OSCE observers, the KLA used this situation to intensify their attacks so as to provoke a military reaction.

He continued that by presenting themselves as freedom fighters and victims to the Western media, the KLA secured a Western intervention in March 1999 after they staged a fake massacre in Račak.

Schett believes the Syrian rebels would go to Kosovo for knowledge in public relations techniques. He says despite their lack of military prowess, they were adept at making the Western public believe they were fighting for a justified cause amid reports they had committed a slew of war crimes and human rights abuses.

In 1998-1999 Kosovo separatists started an armed conflict with Belgrade to split the Kosovo region from Serbia. The war in the region was marked with mass atrocities and executions of the civilian population. Most of the Serbs that used to live in Kosovo became refugees.

In 2008, 10 years after the beginning of armed conflict with Serbia, Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Belgrade. Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by leading Western countries, most members of NATO and countries associated with the bloc.

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From Bosnia to Syria: Is History Repeating Itself?

Anyone closely following the ongoing crisis in Syria will notice that the desire for reforms is coming from a large part of the Syrian population which has no ties to the armed insurgency supported by foreign powers. These groups, many of them Wahhabi or Salafi terrorists, constitute a serious threat to the unity of Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Christian and Druze living together in a sovereign secular state.

In fact, reports suggest that in places where the armed insurgents have managed to gain control, the actions being carried are tantamount to “ethnic cleansing”. However, as long as those allegedly responsible are acting in a way which serves US-NATO interests, their various undertakings go unreported and media attention is strategically diverted.
(See: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29842)

In reality, many Syrians who are demanding reforms are not opposed to President Al Assad, and in fact believe in his commitment to implement change. Such reforms, however, require time to be carried out in the face of certain obstacles. Indeed, after decades of Baath rule, certain factions within the current regime have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo rather than having their privileges threatened by major changes brought about through reforms.

Moreover, there is also a peaceful opposition within the country that stands for change through dialogue with the government, knowing that sudden provocations could plunge the country into chaos. In an interview with “Syria Comment” from October 2011, writer Louay Hussein, an outspoken and longstanding opponent of the Syrian government, warned of further escalation:

“I believe there are two reasons why demonstrations will significantly diminish; first, the violent oppression by the authorities recently and second, the increase in the number of armed operations by groups opposed to the authorities such as ‘The Free Syrian Army’. This is why I expect more bloodshed in Syria. Moreover, I worry that if we fail to reach a homegrown settlement of the conflict very quickly, we will clearly witness different aspects of a civil war in the near future.”
(See: http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=12507&cp=all)

The mainstream media has dismissed this assessment and ignored these basic facts. Media attention has focussed on the exiled “opposition” group, the “Syrian National Council” (which is already breaking apart thanks to the domineering role of the Muslim Brotherhood) and the “Free Syrian Army”, supported covertly by the West. In addition, one of Western media’s favourite sources of information is the small, London-based organization called the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, whose claims, though unverified, have nevertheless been broadly quoted.

All this bears a striking resemblance to events leading up to last year’s NATO attacks on Libya, in which tens of thousands of Libyan civilians were killed. But there are two key differences:

1. This time Russia and China have been playing a more decisive role. They have expressed their opposition to actions which might lead to aggression against Syria.

2. The so-called Libyan “rebels” had some kind of a stronghold in the city of Benghazi in the East of the country, from where NATO could bomb their way into Tripoli. Comparable conditions do not prevail in Syria.

Might this be a reason for the Syrian insurgents to increase violence by carrying out bomb attacks and provoking shootings, in order to cause severe reactions from government troops and destabilize the country, and thereby reinforce sectarian conflicts? Namely, until the situation escalates to the point that Western powers feel they can “justify” the need for intervention?

The efforts for a peaceful solution made by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would only stand a chance if Western countries and their Saudi and Qatari allies stopped their unilateral support for anti-Assad armed insurgency.

The Lessons of History: Yugoslavia

Historically, this situation is not unique and prompts us to consider how similar events have played out in the past, particularly during the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s which set a historical precedent for armed Western intervention. These tragic conflicts, especially in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, served as a playground for exercising the destabilization of an entire region, manipulating public opinion in order to start a war of aggression, and carrying out regime change and economic (and partly territorial) colonization. (See: Michael Parenti’s incisive speech on the destruction of Yugoslavia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEzOgpMWnVs)

Given the extent to which insurgents in Syria can count on full support from the outside, some parallels to the outbreak of the Bosnian civil war (1992 – 1995) are worth emphasizing. Consider the following: during the war, the leader of the Bosnian Muslims, Alija Izetbegovic, supported covertly by the West, set as a priority the creation of an independent Bosnian state under Muslim rule. However, he had to deal with the problem that his vision did not represent the will of Bosnia’s majority population: according to a 1991 census, 44% of the population considered themselves Muslim/Bosniak, 32.5% Serb and 17% Croat.

While quite accurately all of Bosnia’s Serb population (one of the three constitutional nations within the republic) did not wish to leave the Yugoslav federation, the Croat side did support the holding of a referendum on an independent Bosnia. However, anyone familiar with the political aspirations of Croatia’s then president Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian Croat allies will understand that the Croatian side certainly did not favour Bosnia’s independence because they wanted to live in such a state; rather, breaking Bosnia apart from Yugoslavia was supposed to be the first step in amalgamating the Bosnian territories having a Croatian majority population within the Croatian “motherland”.

Facing these facts and knowing that civil war had already broken out in Croatia in 1991, the only reasonable way to prevent a catastrophe in Bosnia would have been through sincere negotiations on all sides. This, in fact, was the goal of the most popular Bosnian Muslim politician at the time, Fikret Abdic, who considered himself pro-Yugoslav and received the most votes in Bosnia’s 1990 elections. Nevertheless, Izetbegovic – the candidate favoured and supported by U.S. officials – seized the Bosnian presidency instead. (Incidentally, the fact that Izetbegovic had been in prison for having disturbed the order of the Yugoslav state by stating there could be “no peace or coexistence between the Islamic faith and non-Islamic social and political institutions” in a text called the “Islamic Declaration” did not seem to pose a problem to Washington.)

In March 1992, a peaceful solution for Bosnia finally seemed to be within reach. All three Bosnian leaders (Alija Izetbegovic/Muslim, Radovan Karadzic/Serb and Mate Boban/Croat) signed the so-called Lisbon Agreement, which proposed ethnic power-sharing on all administrative levels and the delegation of central government to local ethnic communities. However Izetbegovic withdrew his signature only ten days later, after having met with the U.S. ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmermann. It has been widely confirmed that the U.S. was pushing for an immediate recognition of Bosnia at that time. (See short clip from “Yugoslavia – An Avoidable War”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Iobb8xMFRc)

A few weeks later, war broke out, and the West was one step closer to achieving its goal of nationwide destabilization. Could the same fate be in store for Syria given the parallel involvement of the West in Syria?

In Syria as in Bosnia, efforts to find a compromise would mean putting pressure on both sides to reach an agreement. But if one side already has full support from the West, what incentive is there in pursuing a compromise with the government? In Syria, the insurgents had foreign support from the outset, automatically sabotaging the possibility of real negotiations.

Further exacerbating the situation, the mainstream media has been aggressively building the case for intervention in Syria. Several statements made by Syrian government opponents and some Western media blame the Syrian government of being responsible for the bloody terrorist bomb attacks in Damascus and Aleppo that took place on the weekend of March 17 and 18. But they were stuck for an answer regarding why it would be in President Al Assad’s interest to cause an escalation in the two largest cities of the country where he is still enjoying the support of a majority of the population.

If we go back to the Bosnian example, we can see who has historically taken advantage of such events. On May 27, 1992, a massacre took place in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, killing many innocent people waiting in line to get some bread. The terrible event was immediately and repeatedly broadcast across the world. Just four days later, on May 31, harsh UN sanctions were imposed on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For Western decision-makers, it was clear that the Serbs were responsible for the crime. Many experts disagreed with the finger-pointing, and reference should be made particularly to Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, then Commander of the Bosnia UN troops:

“The streets had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene. The majority of the people killed are alleged to be ‘tame Serbs’.” (http://www.srpska-mreza.com/Bosnia/Sarajevo/breadline.html)

Similar events took place in 1994 and 1995 (See for example “Yugoslavia – An Avoidable War”, in its entirety: http://video.google.de/videoplay?docid=5860186121153047571#)

This finally caused the NATO bombing campaign against Bosnian Serbs, carried out between August 30 and September 20, 1995, as justified by Western calls for “humanitarian intervention”. Following from the Damascus and Aleppo attacks, could a similar “justification” be around the corner for Syria?

A great irony, of course is the hypocritical stance taken by the U.S. government, which calls for peace on the one hand and is a leading global supplier of weapons on the other. While the Obama administration might have called on the Syrian rebels to lay down their arms, there is a vast difference between official statements and what is being carried out on the ground. Indeed, there is currently a multi-billion dollar deal underway between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia (a leading arms supplier for the Syrian rebels) for the sale of US advanced weapons. (See: http://rt.com/news/saudi-arabia-protests-piety-514/)

This double standard was certainly applied in Bosnia, where the CIA was secretly smuggling weapons into the area despite an arms embargo officially being in place. (See: “Wie der Dschihad nach Europa kam: Gotteskrieger und Geheimdienste auf dem Balkan” [“How Jihad Came to Europe: Holy Warriors and Secret Services in the Balkans“] by Jürgen Elsässer, 2008)

It is worth noting that in the cases of both Syria and Bosnia (among other examples), Al Qaeda-affiliated mercenaries from several Arab countries were involved. In Syria, they integrated the “opposition”, heralded by the Western mainstream media as the victims of the government crackdown.

This should come as no surprise. Those who operate under the “Al Qaeda” label are often serving the interests of Washington. In Bosnia, where Mujahideen fighters trained Bosnian soldiers and fought against Serbs and Croats, the Al Qaeda leadership had to approve military actions by the Bosnian Muslim Army. (See: Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, http://www.bim.ba/en/79/10/4113)

One of the Bosnian Muslims who refused to fight against the Serbs, the previously mentioned Fikret Abdic, created his own safe haven by making a peace agreement with the Serbian side and by forming the “Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia”, located in the area of Velika Kladusa. British diplomat David Owen described him as “forthright, confident and different from the Sarajevan Muslims. He was in favour of negotiating and compromising with Croats and Serbs to achieve a settlement, and scathing about those Muslims who wanted to block any such settlement.” (David Owen, “Balkan Odyssey“, 1995, S. 82)

In August 1995, under a joint attack carried out by Izetbegovic’s troops and the Croatian army (both Western allies), Abdic’s peaceful, autonomous province collapsed.

Often in the media, conflicts are portrayed with reference to “good guys versus bad guys”, peacekeepers versus terrorists, us versus them. As this example from Bosnia shows, the full story cannot be accurately conveyed using these stylized concepts; not all Muslims were automatically against the Serbs, and certainly not all were interested in having Izetbegovic as president.

And in Syria, it is clear that not all of those who are demanding democracy are enemies of the Al Assad government. However, delving into the “grey area” of the good/evil dichotomy puts into question the clear-cut “justification” for intervention, and casting such doubts is certainly not in the interest of the mainstream media and the Western interests they serve.

In order to avoid misunderstanding, the people on all sides suffered terribly in the Bosnian civil war. But as in Syria, it is important to establish who has an interest in triggering increased social chaos and violence.

Throughout the entire Yugoslav civil war, separatist forces served the Western agenda which consisted in destabilizing and destroying an entire country. Yugoslavia had free education, an equitable distribution of income. It preserved its independence by being a key player within the Non-aligned Movement. In turn, this historical stance by Yugoslavia served as an example for other countries of the Non-aligned Movement which refused to accept the neoliberal diktats of the IMF.

In the context of the Balkans, the Serbian people bore the brunt of the blame from the West, and were vilified largely because they firmly opposed the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Serbia was the largest Yugoslav nation and suffered heavily during World War Two, when the Croatian fascist Ustasa movement systematically slaughtered Croatia’s and Bosnia’s Serb population. It was largely this trauma that made the idea of living in the independent states of Croatia and Bosnia, both led by extremists, unbearable for most Serbs. A realistic image of Serbia’s role in the Yugoslav wars was given by then Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, in an interview made during the Kosovo war:

“We are not angels. Nor are we the devils you have made us out to be. Our regular forces are highly disciplined. The paramilitary irregular forces are a different story. Bad things happened, as they did with both sides during the Vietnam War, or any war for that matter.” (See: http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/MiloInt.html)

All facts considered, the same could easily be said of the Syrian army and other groups fighting on Al Assad’s side. But maintaining an ambivalent position on current events in Syria, as is the trend among many mainstream liberal-leftist circles, means giving in to the neo-colonial and imperialist agenda of Western powers and their pseudo-humanitarian justification. And this despite the fact that they have actively stirred up ethnic and/or religious hatred and ignored reasonable voices, in Yugoslavia as well as in Syria, in order to follow the old Latin concept of “divide et impera“.

Author’s Note: According to the latest reports, Syria’s government has accepted Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan. On April 1, the “Friends of Syria” will be meeting in Istanbul, bringing together mostly Arab and Western countries favouring stronger action against President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Time will tell how these developments will impact the Syrian crisis and the potential effectiveness of the peace plan, knowing that so many outside players are acting in the background.

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VIDEO: US/NATO Proxy War in Syria Follows Precedent Set in Bosnia

Interview on Russia Today, March 19, 2012

In the wake of recent violent clashes in the Syrian capital Damascus, the country’s government has accused Western powers of assisting Qatar and Saudi Arabia with supporting and financing terrorism and further militarizing the region. While accusations abound on purported weapons shipments and the training of insurgents, it is clear that Western involvement in Syria appears to follow a precedent set years ago during NATO intervention in the war in Bosnia, when weapons were being covertly shipped into the region despite an official arms embargo.

According to Benjamin Schett, an independent political researcher based in Vienna, “It might be a repetition of this game in Syria.”

This proxy war with Western powers is being waged amid speculation that Syria is being turned into a terrorist hub and as Schett confirms, “There is an interest in turning Syria into big chaos.”

But claims that Syria’s government is bombing its own people and security buildlings don’t add up. As Schett explains, “I think that doesn’t sound very plausible because the ongoing destablization and increase of sectarian violence in Syria is not so much in the interest of Assad but more in the interest of the insurgents in order to provoke harsh reactions from the Syrian government troops, which finally could provoke foreign intervention.”

 

 

 

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