‘US creating civil war in Syria’

Press TV has interviewed Brian Becker, national coordinator with the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition from Washington, to discuss the Geneva II talks on Syria.

What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Brian Becker what do you think? According to this timeline, at December they came out and said: you know what? These might end up in the hands of extremists. Then at the same time, maybe, I do not know within what timeframe of that month, they then retook back that decision, said that they were going to provide nonlethal aid and it was during that month that they decided, secretly, Congress decided, that they were going to go now, to supplying small arms as well as some powerful weapons like antitank rockets.

Becker: Well, I think that the most important thing is to put this discussion into the framework or the context of what the US is really trying to achieve both on the ground and in the battlefield in Syria and at the so-called Geneva peace talks.

It seems to me that diplomatic position of the US government in Geneva, which is to say in advance that Assad must go, in other words, one thing that the Assad government has said that it will not do, that it will not in advance decide that that Assad government will be a non-player in the future government or transitional government and at the same time he US is continuing to funnel arms to the opposition shows that while the US is pretending to talk about peace... its real goal is to keep civil war going.

Right now they feel that the relationship of course has shifted to the advantage of the Assad government, both because of its military capacity, because of its international allies and because it still enjoys a considerable base of popular support and so they want to whittle down or weaken the Syrian government over the long term.

Obama was almost ready to strike Syria with a major military campaign, it would not have been minor, it would have been major. He stepped backed from that in the face of considerable American and international opposition. They are continuing now to talk about peace in Geneva but I think that the real goal is to keep the civil war going on and that is why they are sending more guns including heavier weapons into Syria, and by the way I think we do not really know the nature of the weapons the CIA has been coordinating through Amman, Jordan; for the last three years as all the weapon shipments from the proxy forces, from Saudi Arabia, from Qatar, from Turkey.

The CIA has been in the very center of that, so whether the guns, the genesis of the heavy weapons, comes from Saudi Arabia, it is still passing through CIA-coordinated shipment campaigns.

Press TV: Well, there is only one thing with what you said Brian Becker, that perhaps goes against what you said in terms of the US wanting the civil war to continue and that is based on what James Clapper has said, he is a top US intelligence official, that al-Qaeda , al-Nusrah Front aspires to attack the United States, which he goes into some details, 26,000 rebel fighters that he called battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, 7,000 of them are foreigners from 50 countries including Europe and US being included in some of those fighters. Would not that make the US really not want to prolong this civil war?

Becker: Well, I think that there are two points. One is: I think there is a debate within the Washington establishment as there has been since the beginning of this, about the advisability of fermenting civil war. There are some and perhaps Clapper is part of that, who feel that it is unwise, we know from the decision in August, September, to pull back from the near escalation of the war that that represented considerable opposition even inside of Washington but there is a second issue here which is Clapper has to... when they are under so much heat for the NSA and the intelligence agencies mass spying on the American people and the people of the world, as revealed by the Snowden documents. They have to also have enemies and the enemy of al-Qaeda is a go-to enemy, is a perfect and during rationale and justification.

So I think there could be an inter-tangling of two different agendas there in terms of Clapper’s own position.

Press TV: Brian Becker this was a development but it is not really 100 percent in terms of confirmation, the fact that the Syrian delegation has agreed to this transitional governing body. This was something that the opposition actually came out and said. We still do not have 100 percent guarantee on their confirmation but at the same time, obviously the redline is still going to be there, which is the handover of power or Bashar al-Assad stepping down.

Overall, do not you think that given that redline that this so-called divided opposition is not ready to negotiate and therefore puts the whole Geneva II talks under question?

Becker: Absolutely. There is no question that the Assad government from the beginning, from the beginning of the Geneva discussions, Geneva I and the original roadmap, has been opened to a transitional government, what they decided and what they said from the beginning was that they would not in advance, as a precondition, agree that the Assad government or Assad himself would have to be outside of the transitional government or that the Ba’athist Party would disappear from the political process. They have not agreed to that.

Secondly, the opposition in Geneva, really, who do they speak for? Yes, they have been the chosen selected proxies for the Western forces, but do they actually control the forces on the ground? 

We know that the Free Syrian Army and the other Islamist forces are fighting each other, bitterly fighting each other, major combats, in addition to the fact that they are both fighting the Assad government. So there is no real way that the opposition, the so-called moderate opposition in Geneva, can say any sort of authority that they are speaking for the opposition. The US government knows that too.

I think that the Assad government has shown in the beginning of the process and continues to show that they are willing to find a negotiated settlement. Let us remember that that has been the formal position of the Assad government from day one.

From the day that this armed conflict began and they have also had sectors of the opposition, who are not considered puppets of the West and who are not considered al-Qaeda, who had differences of opinion with Assad government but were considered to be a legitimate force within the Syrian politics, but they were the opposition that rejected the armed struggle and rejected taking arms from outside forces because they said foreign intervention would not strengthen democratic forces in Syria, it will just weaken the entire country.

Press TV: Well, Brian Becker I am not really convinced about what Lawrence Korb said because the question that I posed is the fact that Saudi Arabia..., well, to break it down, it is 50 groups on the last count, that have been merged and put under the umbrella of, I think, the Islamic Front, is what they call it and this to me sounds like a really major deal. Fifty groups that Saudi Arabia is bankrolling, but yet this issue is not something that it seems that even during the Geneva talks, to be the focu, remember the spat that Ban Ki Moon had with Walid al-Muallem when they talked about this.

Why is it that this is not being the focus? Lawrence Korb talks about the al-Qaeda as if they just sprung into Syria. But it was from the US invasion I believe from Iraq that al-Qaeda really started nurturing itself. And of course we are seeing there are many of them in Syria. 

Becker: Indeed. I think that what we really are seeing is a good cop, bad cop kind of scenario play out. The bad cop are the so-called al-Qaeda, the Islamic extremists, the ones who are funded by Saudi Arabia, the American and Western governments are supporting the so-called “moderate opposition”.

The fact of the matter is that the Saudi government is a principal ally of the United States. The Saudi government is a royal family, there is no democracy. The idea that they would be going to Syria to defend the Sunni population or to defend democracy, is laughable because Saudi Arabia is the antithesis of democracy and yet remains a principal US ally.

The Saudi government and the US government were not concerned about the difference between a moderate and Islamic extremist opposition early on, because they thought the main goal and the real thing that they were trying to do, which was to overthrow the Assad government, would be achieved. That was the primary goal. To smash an independent nationalist government in this important part of the world. This geostrategic and recourse-rich part of the world.

Now as they have been thwarted in the effort to overthrow the Assad government, as the military campaign by the rebels, sort of, created lots of divisions, there is now the playing out of debate over who should we support? The Islamic extremists or the moderates?

The rationale of the Obama administration, this may not be Obama himself but his administration says, now we must send more arms to the moderate government, so the extremists do not win. But it was the US government and its allies, Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar, who made the opposition strong in the first place, including the al-Qaeda forces. So they are their creation. It is not just like a Johnny-come-lately where Saudi Arabia suddenly has brought them in. The US has coordinated these arm shipments through the CIA in Jordan for the last three years.

It is the Obama administration’s responsibility for the rise of al-Qaeda.

Press TV: And in closing, Brian Becker, your reaction to Lawrence Korb there?

Becker: Yes, I think that the US would rather have it back ten years ago, where a series of dictators throughout the region maintained US influence but of course the Arab Spring has changed the relationship of forces.  The US is trying to play catch-up in many ways. But here we have it, the US invaded Iraq, they overthrew a sovereign government, they bombed Libya’s government into submission; they were hoping to overthrow the Assad government.

This is part of a long pattern they started with the overthrow of the Mosaddeq government in 1952. The US really does desire puppets if they can get puppets and if they can get puppets, they would prefer they have weak governments rather than regional powers that would challenge US hegemony in this oil-rich region.

So, yes there are contradictions in US policy but the arming of the opposition in Syria, maintaining the flow of weapons, creating civil war and then saying to the Assad government that you are responsible for that, that is just plain hypocrisy.