The Full Story on Why Obama Backed Down on Syria

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People demonstrate against a US-led strike on Syria in downtown Los Angeles on 31 August 2013. (Photo: AFP - Joe Klamar)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Monday, September 2, 2013

Commentators in the West will surely declare that it was their democratic systems of government that forced US President Barack Obama to back down on attacking Syria. But the events that led up to Washington’s de-escalation suggest there were other factors at play.

When Obama stepped out into the White House Rose Garden to declare that, though still intent on attacking Syria, he wanted to get Congress’ approval first, the Pentagon must have breathed a sigh of relief, knowing full well that a military strike against Damascus could spark a major confrontation in the Middle East for which they were not adequately prepared.

The story starts shortly before the Israeli-Saudi intelligence operation that engineered the chemical attack near the Syrian capital. The Americans and Europeans had begun negotiating with the Russians and the Iranians for a political settlement, after having failed to remove the regime by force. The West’s only condition was that Bashar al-Assad would not be part of the solution, even proposing to Moscow that they would be willing to allow the Syrian president to pick a successor of his own choosing.

When the Russians – after extensive discussions with their allies – told Washington that it was difficult to accept such a condition, the West turned to Plan B, which was to raise the level of military support for the opposition and reorganize the armed groups fighting against the regime, allowing Saudi Arabia to take the lead in mobilizing them to up the ante on Damascus.

The goal was to squeeze Assad by launching major offensives from both the north and the south of the country, in addition to wreaking havoc on Hezbollah on its home ground and providing more appealing incentives for Syrian army officers to defect.

In the meantime, the regime and its allies were already in the process of consolidating military gains on a number of fronts by expanding the area under government control, particularly in the area around Damascus. One such operation was to be launched on the eve of the chemical attack on August 20 against opposition forces to the south and east of the capital.

After the opposition was quickly routed in the north as it tried to sweep through the coastal Latakia region, many of their regional and international backers understood that the only way to bring about a qualitative change on the ground was by drawing the West into a direct foreign military intervention in Syria – but a justification was necessary to prompt Washington to act.

It was for this reason that the “chemical massacre” in the Ghouta area around Damascus was carried out, most likely at the hands of the Saudi and Israeli intelligence. Barely an hour had passed before the orchestrated media campaign to get Assad was in full swing, followed by condemnations and threats from Western capitals.

Washington rushed to cash in on what they insisted was an imminent military attack by sending envoys to both Russia and Iran, giving the two countries a last opportunity to stand down before unleashing their missiles on Syria. But all the sabre-rattling was not enough to force any political concessions – even Assad informed his allies that he had chosen to take a stand.

The Americans tried to respond to this by showing that they were serious about a strike, moving additional naval vessels into the eastern Mediterranean, as well as increasing the number of fighter planes in bases around Syria. But again, Russia and Iran were unmoved, refusing to give Washington any guarantees that its limited strike would not turn into a broader, prolonged war, with devastating consequences for the region as a whole.

They backed their words with action, as Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah put their forces on high alert, ordering them to make preparations for a military confrontation. Most notably, Hezbollah directed its fighters to return to their bases, as it set up an operations room in coordination with Damascus to make effective use of their combined arsenal of rockets.

The first to buckle was that old hand at such affairs, the United Kingdom, whose parliament gave Prime Minister David Cameron a way out, putting their ally Washington in the uncomfortable position of going it alone. Suddenly, Obama, too, felt the need to consult the American public and seek the approval of their representatives in Congress.

Nevertheless, Obama – having lost the initiative – has but two choices before him: He either retreats and seeks out a political settlement, or enters into a military adventure, whose outcome he cannot control. The results of round one of this global confrontation in Syria provide yet another indicator that the days when the US can call the shots, without regard for the rest of the world, are on their way to becoming a relic of history.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Mr. Al-Amin

He lives in a World of propaganda and fata morganas. He does not have a shred of evidence for a Saudi-Israeli conspiracy with the US to use chemical weapons in Damascus. At the same time he tells us in other articles that there is no shred of evidence that the Al-Assad regime is responsible.

There has to be some level of proof one way or the other.

Even if you look at it totally objectively and try and ignore the propaganda element of Hezbollah and Mr. Al_Amin the argument remains rather naïve and rather childish.

In anther article he argues about the response of Hezbollah to the thereat against Syria and what they are going to do.

Anybody who is informed knows that all experienced Hezbollah fighters are heading to Syria, so why do we have to read and listen to this naïve pretensions of a propagandist like Mr. Al_Amin, he is rather naïve and childishly propagandistic

Grow up

nonsense and self-descripton


From possibility to probability, there is cause to believe that Israel is indeed the culprit in giving chemical weapons, via Saudi intelligence operatives, to the rebel chieftains who acquiesced in using them for all parties' purposes of getting the United States into an attack on Syria. This is only one step further toward their accomplishment of destroying Iran. Israel is doggedly determined to maintain its hegemony in the Middle East. It must be the dominant power for this purpose. If only all Americans could understand how they have learned how to manipulate our political system through pac monies and coordination of their totally owned media sources for support of their candidates. One day it is possible that we Americans can see the American Jewish Zionist conspiracy for what it is, and when that bubble does burst, it will undoubtedly restore to the American People the control of their own government.

The clear issue with this article is that is pure analysis, and it is being sold as fact, None of these assumptions are backed by transparent evident.

First of all, what "undisclosed" evidence exists that points to Saudi/Israeli/American/Martian involvement in the Ghouta chemical attack?

Second, does anyone seriously believe that America won't attack Syria because of Hizballah in Lebanon?

Third, this analysis completely neglects the internal politics of each country. The general population barely cares about Syria.

Don't get me wrong, you can't discount American/Saudi involvement in the chemical attack. The problem is that it doesn't sound likely.

An american retired general said "it's a false flag organized by Israël".

Don't be so sure they still won't attack

It has also been the intervention of alternative media that has crippled Obama's options. Worldwide opinion has been shaped by the stories, revelations and hard facts that alternative media have published and broadcast. Very few even believe the US-Zionist-GCC lies anymore as they are dismissed out of hand. Western powers are desperate to achieve some kind of victory, at any cost.

In the US, UK and the EU those wanting to go to war in Syria is below 10%. The people are tired of the bald faced lies, false flag operations and the outright treachery of the leadership of of the US, UK and France. Demonstrations around the world are already commencing. Questions of why the US is backing al Qaeda in Syria are being asked in Congress and throughout the military ranks as well.

The issue for the corporatist bankster hegemony is that of the supply corridor that Syria allows to the West from the entire Persian gulf. The US-EU banksters absolutely need both oil and nat gas to be priced in dollars to support their Ponzi scheme financial system. Should Assad survive and stabilize Syria this wouldn't be the case as Iran and Iraq would buck the dollar. Western powers would rather chaos than oil and nat gas not priced in dollars.

Well, you're correct, Mr al-Amin, though you wisely steer clear of specifics. The most detailed report asserting Saudi direction of the plan comes from an ex-AP staffer with a long and highly respectable journalistic record, though after this I doubt that she'll ever be invited to write for the mainstream media again; her name is Dale Gavlak. Her co-author was a Jordanian medical student named Yahya Ababneh. It's here. The other story, asserting Qatari, Turkish and CIA ("mukhabarat Amriki") direction of the plot, comes from an even more unlikely source, ex-Congressional anti-terrorism chief Yossef Bodansky, whose motives can only be guessed at, and it's here. I hope you can manage the links, because although they differ on who they hold responsible, they both talk explain the Ghouta mass casualty event in terms of planted "kitchen sarin" and an attempt to frame the Syrian government.

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