By Press TV
By Mohyeddin Sajedi
After 20 months from the outset of the Syrian crisis, the US eventually decided to dismiss the main opposition leader and replace him with its own selected council.
The reactions by some of the leaders of the so-called Syrian National Council (SNC) indicate that they have not been aware of the decision before the news was announced.
For the past few months, there have been reports of US efforts to unite the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and holding a broad meeting for them in the Qatari capital, Doha. But no one expected the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to suddenly announce just a few days ahead of the meeting that the SNC does not represent the Syrian nation and to sarcastically say that many of them have “not been in Syria for 20, 30, or 40 years.”
Has Clinton just noticed that former Chairman of the SNC Burhan Ghalioun and the faction’s incumbent leader, Abdulbaset Sieda, have been teaching at French and Swedish universities for decades? Or has something new come up to prompt the US secretary of state to evict the SNC?
The killing of the US ambassador to Libya has probably had a major impact on the change in Washington’s view. The North African country has not formed a comprehensive ruling system yet and Tripoli has become the scene of confrontations among rival militant groups on a daily basis. Moreover, the fall of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has prepared the ground for the rise of al-Qaeda and Wahhabis in Libya, Morocco and their southern neighbors. The chaos in Mali and the seizure of its northern regions by pro-al-Qaeda groups is a clear instance of that trend. Meanwhile, Algeria and Morocco feel a greater danger in this regard.
The so-called Free Syrian Army does not exist in Syria and the name is an umbrella for all the disparate groups conducting operations in the country. The US is concerned that if the Syrian ruling system collapses, and those separate groups become rival factions, a Libya-like situation will be created in Syria. Moreover, Washington has overtly expressed concern over the growth of extremist Salafis in Syria’s armed conflicts.
Former US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and prominent Syrian dissident Riad Seif have devised the plan for the new formation of the opposition groups and their unity. A 50-member council is also scheduled to form another committee to serve as an interim government or a transitional council for Syria. Riad Seif expects the new so-called government to be recognized by more than 100 countries.
The formation of the new opposition council is scheduled to be announced after the US presidential election. In other words, any US administration will continue Washington’s policy of interference in Syria, and will recognize the new opposition council.
The SNC has had such a disappointing performance for the US and West that Washington itself was compelled to take the initiative directly and, as Clinton said, it has selected the members of the new council beforehand. Such an authoritarian and coup like attitude from the US was Washington’s last resort to unite the Syrian opposition. The EU has no independent initiative either, and — like the Palestine crisis — it is waiting for the US scenarios to follow suit. Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are in a far worse predicament, compared with Europe. Ankara has realized that all its efforts to bring the SNC to power have been in vain.
The reason behind the confusion is that neither the US nor its allies in the so-called Friends of Syria group had a clear understanding of the Syrian crisis at the outset and thought that, like the former Tunisian and Egyptian regimes, the Syrian government will be toppled within a few weeks or, like the former Libyan government, it will collapse with foreign military intervention. The resistance of Assad and the Syrian army, continuation of the crisis, weakness of the opposition, emergence of allegedly unwanted elements (al-Qaeda) and likelihood of the spillover of the crisis into the neighboring countries were the realities that Washington gradually accepted.
While, a quick scan of the Middle Eastern newspapers unmasked the wrong policy of the US and the West, it’s not clear what the West’s colossal research centers, CIA, the US Department of State, and US National Security Council had been busy doing.
Despite the fact that Washington dismissed the SNC with such a disrespectful manner, the opposition group has no option but to participate at the Doha meeting, hoping to gain control over at least one-third of the new council. The new council will be very docile as it will vanish overnight in the absence of the US and its allies. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood will hold control over the next council, as it was the case in the previous one. The movement does not scruple to forge ties with anyone in an attempt to come to power.
The major characteristic of this new phase in Syria will consist a more serious and blatant interference in the country. Military, financial, and political assistance will rise. Efforts will be made to stop Qatar and Saudi Arabia to strengthen Wahhabis, and to make sure that the sent weapons do not reach al-Qaeda.
Another characteristic of the US’s plan will be focusing on the two main sustaining pillars of the Syria’s administration, the Syrian army and the General Security Directorate, in order for the challenges of the post-Saddam Iraq not to recur. France has also reacted to this and agreed to upholding the Syrian Army.
After all, some of the opposition wings inside Syria are not ready to attend the Doha meeting. Abdulbaset Sieda says the SNC has been pressured to negotiate with the Syrian government. Objecting to US’s disrespectful manner, some of the members of the council also say that the Doha meeting aims to pave the way for negotiations with Assad.
During the next days, more news will be published about the insurgents’ military attacks, their seizure of an oilfield, or crash of a fighter aircraft belonging to the Syrian army. However, the idea that Syrian army retreats from some regions to create the space for rival groups to clash, emerges gradually.