The bombs doors are open. The plans have been drawn up.
This has been brewing for a time. The sheer energy and meticulous planning that’s gone into this change of regime – it’s breathtaking.
At least it takes Charlie Skelton’s breath away.
He’s been busy trawling the archives of the websites of Washington and London’s leading think tanks and out of his research has compiled a damning dossier revealing the deep connections between leading figures in Syria’s exiled opposition and policymakers who are being steered in the direction of military intervention.
Central to Skelton’s account is Syrian academic Bassma Kodmani, an Ahmed Chalabi-type figure who was seen attending this year’s Bilderberg conference. Bilderberg! Say no more!
If the revelation of a network of associations between Syrian activists and the U.S./U.K. foreign policy establishment amounts to a smoking gun, then Skelton has certainly succeeded in exposing a nefarious plot.
But there are other ways of measuring the power of this regime-change lobby.
“The plans have been drawn up,” Skelton says. So — we can deduce — the Syrian opposition is united in its goal. It’s just a matter of keeping up the pressure in their push for foreign military intervention.
Somehow that picture doesn’t quite jive with this — an AFP report from just over a week ago:
Syria’s fractured opposition groups on Wednesday wound up talks in the Egyptian capital that descended into chaos and even fist fights as they tried to forge a common vision for a transition in their country.
More than 200 participants from 30 different movements as well as independent figures, civil society groups and activists had gathered in Cairo to form a unified front against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
After two days of meetings hosted by the Arab League, the groups agreed broadly that any transition must exclude Assad and agreed to support the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA).
But they failed to present a united bloc as disagreements led to heated arguments, walkouts and even fist fights, participants said.
And then there is the stream of weapons flowing from the Gulf — absent that supply, some observers repeatedly insist, there would be no armed uprising.
C.J. Chivers reports from Antakya in Turkey, the spigot out of which guns and ammunition are spreading chaos in Syria.
Abu Moayed, a commander in an armed Syrian opposition brigade, stood and waved his arms emphatically at the fellow rebel commanders who filled the sweltering room.
His fighters, he said, needed money and weapons. But they were not getting the support promised from the donors and opposition leaders outside Syria.
“We are borrowing money to feed our wounded!” Abu Moayed shouted. “There is no distribution of the weapons,” he added. “All of our weapons, we are paying for them ourselves.”
The meeting of the rebel commanders, held after Friday Prayer in this Turkish city near Syria’s northern border, said much about the priorities of the Syrian opposition fighting groups at this stage of the conflict, now 17 months old. There was limited discussion of the mass killings in the village of Tremseh the day before — even though the commanders had heard about it and at least one had lost relatives. There was no talk about United Nations cease-fire monitors, the peace envoy Kofi Annan, or endless Security Council debates to halt the conflict. These commanders were focused on the basics of waging war against President Bashar al-Assad.
Abu Moayed, from Idlib, was one of dozens of commanders who converged on the meeting, called by the Idlib Revolutionary Command Council. Held high above the street in a pair of large rooms in an apartment building, the gathering framed both a degree of expanding coordination among anti-Assad fighting groups inside Syria and their frustrations with the opposition’s political leadership outside.
One complaint throughout was that the Syrian National Council, the coalition of exile opposition groups based in Istanbul, was disconnected from the battles fought on the ground. Another was contained in the field commanders’ suspicion that unnamed members of the Syrian political opposition in Turkey were either diverting funds or playing favorites in funneling weapons and money across the border.
“Yesterday we were supposed to receive mortars and cartridges,” said another commander, Issam Afara, addressing his peers. “But we didn’t receive them. I called and demanded: Where are they? Where?”
Where indeed! I thought there was a plan?
“The plans have been drawn up,” Skelton wrote and with these words linked to a 2009 Brookings report whose authors include Iraq-war hawk, Kenneth Pollack.
And what is this plan? Peel Syria away from its alliance with Iran by facilitating a Syrian-Israeli peace agreement.
In 2009 that looked like an objective that was not completely out of reach. After all, in spite of an Israeli attack on an under-construction nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007, in 2008 Turkey had been able to serve as a mediator, laying the foundation for peace talks between Israel and Syria.
So what was the plan? Get Assad to sign a peace treaty with Israel and then foment an uprising to topple Assad?
That sounds like a farcical plan. Then again, Charlie Skelton is a comedy writer.