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Obama Finally Commits to Putin’s Syrian Policy — A review of Germany’s DWN Reporting

by Eric Zuesse

The basic policy-difference on Syria has been between U.S. president Barack Obama’s insistence that Syria’s legal president must be ousted before any peace-process starts, versus Russian president Vladimir Putin’s insistence that no foreign power possesses the right to determine who the leader of Syria or any other country will or won’t be — only the residents there do, via free and fair democratic elections.  Putin proposes an internationally monitored and verified election in Syria to determine the identity of Syria’s president;  Obama has rejected that proposal — until now.

The world’s most-reliably honest and accurate news-medium, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN), or German Economic News, carried on December 19th three major articles about the latest stages of Obama’s newfound verbal commitment to Putin’s policy.  They are all summarized here, with factual corrections added by me, because no news-source is 100% reliable:

The article  UN-Sicherheitsrat verabschiedet Syrien-Resolution einstimmig” or “UN Security Council Adopts Syria-Resolution Unanimously,” reports that the U.N. Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution that “essentially corresponds to the Russian proposals of the past few weeks”; and, so, “the international community agrees a combined joint action for a cessation of [Syrian] hostilities.”  It also cites the “US Secretary of State John Kerry [saying] after the Security Council meeting chaired by him, that the resolution will send ‘a clear message to all concerned that it is now time to stop the killing in Syria’.” However, the agreement in question is not merely to “Russian proposals of the past few weeks,” because as far back as 6 June 2012, Bloomberg News had headlined, “Russia Open to Syria Transition in Shift Away From Assad,” and reported that, “While Russia for the first time sees a change of government in Syria as possible via a series of steps, it remains adamant that the outcome not be imposed from outside [….]   Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said yesterday that his country has never insisted on Assad staying in power and a decision on his future must be taken by the Syrians themselves, state-run Rossiya 24 television said on its website.”  More recently,  on September 15 of this year, the Guardian  reported that former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari went public saying that the West’s “failure to consider the Russian [2012] offer had led to a ‘self-made disaster’.”  So: this has been Russia’s position consistently since 2012 (not only “the past few weeks”), and it is only now being accepted (at least verbally) by the regime in Washington, and their toadies in other ‘Western’ countries.

The second DWN article, “UN-Friedensplan für Syrien: Das Verdienst der viel geschmähten Russen” or “UN peace plan for Syria: The merit of the much maligned Russians,” opines that “It speaks [favorably] for the US government [i.e., Obama] that it [via John Kerry] has listened to Vladimir Putin” in this matter.  This article summarizes the history by saying that “the Russians have said from the outset that they will not compete against the USA, but want to fight alongside the Western alliance against Islamist terrorism.  The plan for an 18-month transitional period, as it has now been decided by the UN, comes from the Russians.  They also have, contrary to the Western popular fiction, from the very beginning said that they do not want to hold on to Assad.”  However, that slightly misstates Putin’s position, which has instead been: Russia will insist that the next Syrian president be selected only by the Syrian population, regardless of what their choice might happen to be.  To say that “they [the Russian government] do not want to hold on to Assad” is to imply that Putin wouldn’t prefer that the outcome of a democratic election in Syria result in the election of Assad or someone like him (i.e., non-sectarian, and especially not pro-Sunni, anti-Shi’ite, anti-Iranian, pro-Arab, pro-U.S.-aristocracy); it would be in effect to make a misleading, and even false, statement.  (Even the best news-medium isn’t perfect, as these examples clearly show.  But at least DWN  tries its best to be truthful, whereas the norm in the Western press is instead to lie whenever necessary in order to keep up the Western — basically America’s — aristocracy’s anti-Russian propaganda-line.)

The third DWN article reviewed here “Trotz Friedens-Plan: Nato schickt Kriegsschiffe in das Mittelmeer” or “Despite peace plan: NATO sends warships into the Mediterranean Sea,” reports that, “Despite the UN peace plan for Syria, NATO has stepped up its military presence in the Mediterranean area.  NATO has announced that it would support Turkey in the monitoring of the airspace at the border with Syria.  Given the uncertain situation, the representatives of the alliance had decided to help, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday.  NATO would provide, inter alia, AWACS aircraft.  In addition, the monitoring on the Mediterranean Sea will be increased by German and Danish military vessels.”  Along with that comes the DWN editorial opinion, which is unwarranted: this article argues that the NATO move somehow “shows that the US government is only partially able to control the alliance.  NATO has now opened so many fronts that it is possible for the government in Washington barely to make informed decisions.”  The editors’ implication there, that Obama couldn’t have prevented NATO from doing this, is almost certainly false.  It seems to me that progressives throughout the world (such as the owners of DWN seem to be) almost consistently exhibit an unstated underlying assumption that Obama isn’t really set upon the U.S. aristocracy’s decades-long effort and intention to conquer, to take control of, Russia.  That assumption flies in the face of Obama’s actual record.

In their “Linkspartei: Nach UN-Einigung Bundeswehr-Einsatz in Syrien stoppen” or “Left Party says UN agreement requires Germany’s military mission in Syria to stop,” DWN reports the Germany’s Party of the Left contention that “New troops would run counter to the peace plan.” Here is the rest of that brief article:

The chairman of the Left Party, Bernd Riexinger, said:

“I very much welcome it that after nearly five years we are finally taking concrete steps toward peace negotiations in Syria.  The federal government must now immediately stop with all its might the Bundeswehr war deployment.  Hundreds of millions of tax money would now be spent on a German war effort to thwart the peace plan of the United Nations.  Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier also must speak out for an internationally supervised arms embargo.

Apart from peace negotiations and cease-fire agreements in Syria and an internationally monitored arms embargo strengthening nonviolent working organizations, humanitarian assistance to the civilian population and reconstruction assistance by armed groups, free regions and self-government structures are necessary.  Everyone knows that there is no quick solution to the existing conflicts in the Middle East.  Above all, there is no military solution.”

So: Germany’s right-wing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is under pressure from a marginal leftist party to abandon the American anti-Assad war. Both Merkel and her master, Obama, even if they can’t say publicly, are still trying to find some way to defeat Putin, and, in Syria, to block the Syrian election that Putin has been pressing for.  Because, as every knowledgeable person knows, but the Western ‘news’ media prefer to ignore when they don’t come right out with lies denying it: any free and fair internationally monitored and verified election in Syria will almost certainly choose Bashar al-Assad by a huge margin, to lead the country.  Most Syrians — even many Syrian Sunnis — prefer a non-sectarian leader, not the type that the U.S. and Saudi aristocracies want to impose there to defeat Russia.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

3 Comments

  1. Dave Hansell says

    Genuine progress towards free and fair elections without any gerrymandering in this specific situation will require something a great deal more substantive than verbal assurances. Gorbachev fell for that one.

    The actual detailed mechanics of the process will also need to be tied down tightly. Not just the timetable and the process but also the logistics. With millions of Syrians scattered all over Europe and beyond; plus those in ME refugees camps and those now permanently settled elsewhere voter eligibility and registration will be vital to a meaningful and stable outcome based on internal requirements rather than the external agenda of the imperium.

    Based on a long track record it is not exactly difficult to envisage attempts to engineer some kind of partition through a regionalisation of voting outcomes, perhaps using sections of the imported proxy jihadists along with Syrian Kurds.

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