Friday 24 May 2013

EU to lift Syrian arms embargo (PO)

M D Nalapat

Friday, May 24, 2013 - Paris is eager for purchases of defense equipment from the GCC countries. Its economy is dangerously close to stall speed, and the Francois Hollande team does not have either the will or the political support needed to implement the reforms needed for France to avoid joining Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal in the ICU. The hard-nosed GCC countries are known to have informally made the lifting of the EU arms embargo on Syria a condition of fresh arms purchases from France, just as they are concentrating minds in the UK by pointing to the fact that London and overseas banking centres controlled from the city are still the gateways for the bulk of GCC cash investment. Because of Berlin’s reluctance to defy both Paris and London, it is almost certain that the EU arms embargo on supplying deadly munitions to the groups warring against the Bashar Assad-led government will quietly be allowed to lapse in a few weeks time, thereby allowing France in particular to oblige Qatar and Saudi Arabia by sending weaponry to the Syrian rebels

Although for the record the EU will claim that the munitions being supplied will go only to carefully selected groups (which are presumably free of extremist elements), the reality in Syria today is that practically the entire fighting is being done by extremist elements led by Jabhat al Nusra (JN). Wisely, the JN has distributed its key commanders across the spectrum of opposition to Assad, thereby controlling the entire process without seeming to.Each significant resistance group has within its highest echelons individuals affiliated to Jabhat al Nusra, who communicate with each other and coordinate battlefield strategy so as to ensure success against a determined enemy that has the support of the majority of the population of Syria, including Christian, Shia and Druze besides the bulk of the Sunni population.

Less than 15% of the Syrian population seek the replacement of Bashar Assad by the armed groups warring against him, even though few are admirers of the Syrian strongman whose family has run the country for four decades and been unable to unlock the immense talent of the Syrian people in a way which would make Syria as prosperous as some other parts of the Arab states. Although the EU is lurching from one catastrophic policy blunder into another, the fact remains that its intelligence agencies are aware that Jabhat al Nusra supporters are forming the coordinating apparatus for the entire armed revolt against Assad.

Nevertheless, they cannot ignore the economic considerations caused by the desire of the GCC to see Assad replaced by a ruler who shares the Wahabbi ideology favoured by key elements in the GCC. Now that China, Brazil and Africa have become attractive alternative destinations for GCC capital, it is imperative that the EU indulge the oil-rich grouping by fulfilling its geopolitical requirement of marginalizing the Shia throughout the region. This can be achieved by (a) replacing Assad with an ideological cousin of the GCC (b) bringing down the mullahcracy in Iran and (c) hobbling the Nuri al-Maliki government in Iraq by strengthening power sharing arrangements with groups opposed to the Iraqi Prime Minister. In all these moves, the EU is marching in lockstep with the GCC, so much so that it is the latter which is leading the former rather than the reverse. Money is not only talking but shouting out loud.

This columnist respects the GCC and has found his limited interaction with elements of its leadership marked by cordiality. Arab culture is thousands of years old and the Arab people are both highly evolved as well as warm of heart and noble in spirit. Which is why he is concerned that in their anti-Shia zeal, the GCC countries are in the process of unlocking a genie that could plunge the entire region into chaos and benefit politically only the Muslim Brotherhood and its many offshoots. Ultimately, the Brotherhood seeks to replace the hereditary rulers of the GCC with others from their anks, following the precedent established in Egypt, where the Brotherhood has slowly begun to dominate state and other institutions after the Morsi government was sworn in to accolades from the NATO bloc. Within that military alliance, Ankara has worked zealously to ensure that NATO supports the Muslim Brotherhood’s ambitions for the region (minus, at present, the GCC). 

It is this alliance of NATO and the Brotherhood which is behind the resistance in Syria to the Assads, and which is now going to open the sluice gates to a flow of sophisticated weaponry to Syrian and other rebel fighters. While John Kerry, Cameron and Hollande frequently assert that such weapons will go only to “moderate” elements, they are lying and know it. The battle against Assad has been taken over by fanatic elements which use moderates as a cover by giving them titles without field responsibility. It is these individuals, there to provide camouflage to the extremist leadership, who deal with EU interlocutors and pretend to control the armed struggle. While this will fool gullible populations within the NATO bloc, fed as they are on misinformation peddled by a media that has thrown objectivity aside in its pell mell rush to fulfill the goals of NATO, certainly there are many policymakers aware of the truth. Such weapons will go to the hands of those who will move on to the European and GCC theatres once Bashar Assad goes the Kadhafi way. However, Cameron, Hollanbde and Kerry are forcing the pace much as George W Bush, Dick Cheney and Tony Blair did in Iraq in 2003,again against better advice.

The Assad regime knows that it is “Do or Die”. Once the arms embargo is lifted, they will take the war into the camp of their geopolitical tormentors. The conflict will spread to Turkey and to the GCC, where suicide bombings will become an everyday event. A conflict largely confined to Syria will spread across the region, thereby causing instability at a time when the global economy is yet to escape from the clutches of recession. Francois Hollande, in his eagerness to sell armaments and thereby boost his economy, is unleashing a tide that neither he or his allies will be able to control.

No comments:

Post a Comment