The Coming U.S. and NATO Occupation of Northern Syria: Iraq Redux
by Wayne MADSEN
There is one thing certain about U.S. Pentagon strategy: it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. And using an old trick from Operation Desert Storm, establishing a humanitarian, NATO-protected no-fly salient in northern Iraq’s Kurdish area, appears to be the same strategy envisioned for northern Syria. There is much in common between the U.S.-led NATO planning for a northern Syria occupation zone and the no-fly zone established in 1992 for Iraq.
Both NATO operations were and are intended to drive Arab Ba’ath Socialist regimes from power. In Iraq, the target was the Ba’ath Party headed by Saddam Hussein; in Syria, the target is, again, an Arab Ba’ath Party and the regime headed by Bashar Al Assad. In Iraq, a no-fly zone was established from the 36th parallel north to the Turkish border. If one were top draw that same boundary westward, it closely compares to the NATO-protected humanitarian zone being proposed for Syria. The NATO-protected northern Syria salient would encompass the cities of Aleppo and Idlib and the provinces of Idlib, Halab, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah (the latter two where many Syrian Kurds live).
In northern Iraq, NATO protected a majority Kurdish population, allowing it to build up defensive and offensive paramilitary forces for the ultimate military operation that led, a little over a decade later, to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. There is also a significant Kurdish minority in northeastern Syria that will be an important NATO asset for the ultimate offensive operations that will bring NATO and Syrian rebels to the walls of Damascus.
The no-fly zone in northern Iraq was originally established for humanitarian purposes as part of Operation Provide Comfort, but it, along with a similar humanitarian zone in southern Iraq, were morphed by the United States and NATO into the more military-oriented Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch. Rather than ensure continued humanitarian assistance to Iraqi Kurds in the north and Iraqi Shi’as in the south, the no-fly zones were used by the U.S. and NATO to test Saddam Hussein’s air defenses north of the 33rd parallel and south of the 36th parallel. Although what is being proposed for Syria is a military-protected salient to protect on Syrian soil Syrian refugees who are now flooding into Turkey in increasing numbers, if the past is prolog, NATO and the United States can be expected to use a northern Syria no-fly zone to pummel Syrian air defense systems with high-tech air-to-surface missiles and ensure that the Syrian air force, like the Iraqi air force, either remains grounded or is shot out of the sky.
During Provide Comfort and Northern Watch, Turkey and the protected Kurdish zone in northern Iraq served as bases of operation for a group of shady Iraqi opposition groups and fronts, most notably the Iraqi National Congress of international con artist Ahmad Chalabi. Turkey is again the primary base of operation for rebel fronts, this time those representing the Syrian opposition, including the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council. Like the Iraqi National Congress and its spin-offs, the Syrian National Council is comprised of Syrians who have not lived in Syria for quite some time and who have lived opulent life styles abroad, courtesy of regular payments from the coffers of the Central Intelligence Agency, Britain’s MI-6 Secret Intelligence Service, France’s Directorate General for External Security (DGSE), and neo-conservative groups tied to Zionist and far-right Lebanese Christian Phalangist interests in the United States. Syrian opposition leaders like Farid Ghadry, the head of the Syrian Reform Party and who is also known to his U.S. defense contractor colleagues as “Frank” Ghadry, is a key player in the Syrian opposition movement in Turkey. Ghadry has addressed the Knesset, is a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and supports all of Israel’s wars against Gaza, the Palestinians on the West Bank, and Lebanon. Ghadry also, not surprisingly, holds Saudi citizenship. Ghadry’s links to Zionists and Wahhabi bankrollers in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are not unique. The connections between the causes of Zionism and Wahhabism – the common goal being the protection at all costs of the Zionist regime in Jerusalem and the Wahhabist regimes that dot the Gulf region – run deep. And like Chalabi, Ghadry is linked to a number of dubious business deals, including a bankrupt chain of coffee ships and a Russia-based firm that specialized in stripping old Soviet-era computers of their gold content.
Turkey, which is, after a brief dalliance with demonstrating a foreign policy more independent of NATO and the United States, has, once again, joined its NATO allies on the same page when it comes to regime change in an Arab country.
Turkey recently hosted the Friends of the Syrian People conference in Istanbul, where 83 nations promised varying degrees of support to the Syrian rebels. The U.S. State Department, influenced by the anti-Damascus and pro-Israeli attitudes of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, promised non-lethal assistance to Syrian rebel groups. The same scenario that was used in providing U.S. assistance to Kurdish rebels and Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress forces in northern Iraq is being played in northern Syria, where Turkey is trying to establish NATO- and Arab League-protected refugee zones in northern Syria. However, the U.S. support for Jalal Talabani’s Kurdish forces and Chalabi’s rebels in northern Iraq went horribly wrong when, in 1995, the Clinton White House and the CIA pulled the plug on an attempted coup to oust Saddam Hussein that was launched from the northern Iraqi region. Many of the coup operatives were rounded up and executed by Saddam’s security forces. The reason for the aborted coup was said to have been a leak from within the coup organizers’ ranks.
With the amount of in-fighting in the Syrian rebel ranks, there is no reason to believe that any U.S. or NATO intervention on their behalf will turn out any differently than that of the failed attempt in 1995 to oust Saddam Hussein from power in Baghdad. It is the involvement of known Middle Eastern “feather merchant” con artists like Chalabi, Ghadry, and their “ten percent” profit colleagues in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that doom most Western intelligence interventions in the Middle East to failure. Iran-contra, the aborted 1995 Iraqi coup, and the blowback from the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya are all testament to the failure guaranteed by any operation that involves the unholy trinity of NATO, the Wahhabist regimes of the Arabian Peninsula, and the Israeli Zionists.
The refugee crisis that will arise from the replacement of Assad with a Salafist-oriented regime in Damascus will send the greater Middle East into an even greater crisis. The establishment of a Kurdish zone in northeastern Syria that will receive support from Kurdish colleagues in northern Iraq will lead to greater pressure for Turkey to grant its own Kurds greater autonomy and a Kurdish state comprising Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey is not out of the question. Neither out of the question is the establishment of an Alawite state in the Latakia province of Syria that would accommodate Assad’s fleeing fellow Alawites, as well Christian Armenians, Greeks, Maronites, and Circassians from other parts of Syria.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided that it was better for Turkey to flip its previous support for Assad to the Syrian rebels and take the same side as that of NATO, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. For Erdogan, that decision may not only prove fateful for continued Turkish control over Turkey’s own eastern Kurdish territories but the entire map of the Middle East.