Wednesday, September 25, 2013

America’s place in the world shifted, few Americans noticed it- The Economist

America's place in the world shifted, few Americans noticed it- The Economist
Post USSR Collapse, Western inroads into Eurasia Rolled Back to Syria
Truth about Sarin Gas, Rebels used it in Ghouta
To a student of history , who has served in Cairo and Algiers ( 1960s ) ,in Paris (1970s) and Bucharest (1980s) , ten years in Turkey ( 1969-73 and 1992 to 1998 ) , with a ringside view in Amman ( 1989-92) of 1991 US led coalition war on Saddam Hussain over Kuwait and posts in Baku ( on the Caspian ) and lectures and travel in central and west Asia , the sudden end of the US- Russian standoff with naval armadas and other military hardware on alert and in attendance , the quickly choreographed solution with US Sec of State John Kerry's public offer of forgoing a US attack on Syria which itself was not clearly defined and, lo and behold an immediate positive response by Syrian foreign minister Muallam, who conveniently happened to be in Moscow besides Russian FM Lavrov , would remain a moment of historic turn around perhaps , perhaps like the turnaround of  the Ottoman troops twice from the gates of Vienna in 16th century .
To a skeptic diplomat and political analyst , it appeared to be a done deal , when under pressure from US hawks and military-industry complex , Obama drew a red line last year of ban on use of Chemical weapons by Syria against anyone including rebels .The weapons are an insurance against at least a hundred Israeli nukes and other WMDs .Let us see what alternative Russia provides for Syrian security since keeping its military profile and presence in Syria , renewed in 2005 during Bashar Assad's visit to Moscow is matter of strategic life and death for Russia.
It may be recalled that soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, under a naive Gorbachov and a drunk or drugged Yeltsin, U.S.-led West sent in a large number of so-called experts on capitalism, democracy and globalisation and transferred from half to one trillion dollars from the former Soviet Union territory to banks and other organisations in the West, in the process creating seven oligarchs in Russia out of which six were Jews. Some of them have left Russia and one who wanted to take over the country is in prison in Siberia.
Under the pretext of war against terror, following the September 11 attacks on the US symbols of power, Washington obtained rights to place its military aircraft and troops in Central Asian states like Uzbekistan, Kyrgizstan and Tajikistan in order to occupy strategic points in the region to threaten the countries of the region including Russia and China.
Then it began the process of encroachment on the Russian near abroad by organising what I call US franchised Street revolutions for regime change to bring in pro- Washington rulers. It got rid of Milosevic in Serbia after having destroyed multiethnic, multi-linguistic and multi-religious Yugoslavia. Without proper medical aid Milosevic died as a result of a biased ICC ruling. US also succeeded in changing the Presidents in Georgia and also in Kyrgyzstan but it failed in Belarus .It also succeeded in Ukraine although the election remained contested. When US tried a rebellion in Uzbekistan, its ruler Islam Karimov expelled US military aircrafts and troops from its base there. Since then the position of Georgia ruler has been weakened with a new parliament opposed to him. When Georgia encouraged by USA and Israel tried to snatch some disputed territory from Russia, it was punished very severely. Situation in Ukraine is still in flux although it's totally pro-US Pres was removed, because of enticement by the NATO and European Union. Ukraine is the home of the concept of Russian nationhood and eastern part is populated by Russian speaking Ukrainians, with Russia's Caspian and Mediterranean fleets anchored there.
I had written a number of articles on these franchised revolutions, which are given below;

Articles by Mr. K. Gajendra Singh from Security Research Review-(Volume 1(4) August 2005)

Western attempts to take over Central Asian states resulted in the strengthening of Songhai Corporation Organization (SCO), which warned  NATO by organizing military drills and execises.
During the last few weeks I've been to various TV channels and have been pleasantly surprised that Doordarshan and Parliament channels are much more open and free from bias than India's so-called main corporate channels which are pro-American on foreign affairs . During one of the discussions, one participant claimed that if USA attacked Syria, Russia will make a lot of noise and do nothing. Another participant said that what Russia can do when its GDP is almost that of India's GDP. The differences in the nuclear and missile assets. It is because of such assets that US dare not attack North Korea.
Below are three interesting and important articles related to use of Sarin gas, which it appears now  was clearly used by Al Qaeda related or other extremist groups and perhaps supplied by Saudi Arabia or brought over from Libya after the destruction of the state by USA ,Britain and France and Italy .Libya has been damaged almost completely. There's no rule of law. A year ago the American Amb Stevens and three of his aides were killed in Benghazi by terrorist groups .Libya's oil was the main attraction for the Western powers, its production has been reduced to one fifth. Before the bombing of Libya reportedly 5000 people had been killed but since then it is reported that almost 100,000 Libyans have died and there is complete chaos. Weapons supplied by West and paid for by the Gulf oil monarchies and stolen from Libya's military stores have brought about mayhem and chaos in neighboring countries like Mali, Algeria and an even beyond. Such is the result of humanitarian intervention which British, French and US leaders with support from Turkey Jordan and GCC countries wanted to bring about in Syria.
K.Gajendra Singh 24 Sept., 2013, Mayur Vihar, Delhi-91.

PS.The world should be thankful to The Economist and New York Times for good and honest journalism in this case .  

America, Russia and Syria

Style and substance

It may not look like it, but Barack Obama's presidency is tied to Syria
Sep 21st 2013 | WASHINGTON, DC | London Economist

LIKE a poolside daydream, Barack Obama's plan to get Congress to authorise the use of force in Syria, announced during the Labour Day holiday, did not survive two weeks back at work. Before a deal was struck on September 14th between John Kerry, the secretary of state, and Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, it looked unlikely that the president would get the votes he needed in the House of Representatives and doubtful that he would succeed in the Senate. In narrow political terms, Russia rescued Mr Obama from the thing that presidents fear even more than hurricanes, sex scandals and economic collapse: impotence.
If this was a moment when America's place in the world shifted, few Americans noticed it. At a Tea Party meeting in northern Virginia on September 16th there was talk of defunding Obamacare, of constitution readings and of the sanctity of property rights. One woman told a story about how government bureaucrats had shut down a birthday party she had hosted for some eight year-olds and also interfered with her freedom to hollow out pumpkins. Nobody mentioned Syria.
This forgetfulness is widely shared. With the government facing a partial shutdown at the end of the month unless a budget is passed, most politicians are busy thinking through the permutations of yet another round of fiscal negotiations. "The economy is like a house fire," says David Winston, a pollster who advises Republican leaders in the House. "There may be some other things wrong with the building, like a broken window or some bad wiring, but the blaze on the roof is what you really notice." Yet for all this hurry to move on to the next fight, Mr Obama's presidency is now tied to what happens in Syria.
It is hard to find anyone outside the White House who admires the way the president has handled the crisis. But some are prepared to extend a little understanding. For two years Mr Obama was harangued by hawks and humanitarians for not acting. Then, when a blatant and horrific chemical-weapons attack on August 21st made him change his mind, he found that American support for military action in Syria was much weaker than it had previously appeared.
Mr Obama misread Congress. He worked hard to persuade both parties that America should punish Syria's president, Bashar Assad, for breaking the laws of war. But lawmakers found his plan unconvincing. The administration said both that the proposed strike would be big enough to degrade Syria's military capability and that it would be "unbelievably small".
Finally, he ended up outsourcing policymaking to Russia, which seized on a throwaway remark made by Mr Kerry—that missile strikes might be averted if Syria handed over all its chemical weapons—and turned it overnight into the administration's policy.
In Mr Obama's telling none of this matters. "Folks here in Washington like to grade on style," he told ABC news. "'I'm much more concerned about getting the policy right." Polls suggest that Mr Obama is in tune with the country. A survey by the Pew Research Centre found that two-thirds of Americans support the president's decision to delay missile strikes, even though only a quarter think Syria will actually give up its weapons.
However, the positive approval ratings on foreign affairs that Mr Obama had enjoyed since the start of his presidency have now disappeared. In 2009 66% of Americans approved of the way he handled foreign policy and only 28% disapproved. Now it is 40% for and 57% against. Launching missiles in the Middle East might have made those numbers even worse, though.
For now, the president's position on Syria appears comfortable. But what happens if Syria fails to stick to the deal? Then, argues Jeremy Shapiro, a former state department official now at the Brookings Institution, a think-tank, America will find itself in a repeat of the game of cat-and-mouse played between weapons inspectors and Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator, between 1992 and 2002.
Time to play "hunt-the-WMD" again
That game was characterised by frequent showdowns that mostly stopped short of the use of force. American officials who lived through this experience (some of whom are now in senior positions) hated it, he says, but it actually worked quite well. "If you have to sacrifice the mental health of a few mid-level officials in the US government then so be it." If the Assad regime uses chemical weapons again then Mr Obama will be back where he began, counting votes in Congress to see if he can launch a missile strike that he has already deemed to be necessary.
Uncertainty over what happens next is spreading to other areas of Middle-East policy. David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector who runs the Institute for Science and International Security, a think-tank, says that people are wondering whether the president has put himself in a position where any military action against Iran's nuclear programme would now have to be authorised by Congress first. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which would no doubt be alarmed if this were the case, is keeping quiet.
All American presidents suffer from competing expectations in foreign policy. Voters do not generally want them to attack foreigners. Yet they do want them to look like they are in charge and to use American power to solve problems that other countries cannot. Where Mr Obama has initiated the use of force, he has thus far been lucky: the raid to kill Osama bin Laden did just that. But he will need a lot more luck to get the result he wants in Syria, for he has just given up most of what small amount of control he once had.
Gas Missiles 'Were NOT Sold to Syria'
Export papers seem to back Assad's denial over sarin attack – but Russians won't go into detail

By Robert Fisk
September 22, 2013 "Information Clearing House - "The Independent" - While the Assad regime in Damascus has denied responsibility for the sarin gas missiles that killed around 1,400 Syrians in the suburb of Ghouta on 21 August, information is now circulating in the city that Russia's new "evidence" about the attack includes the dates of export of the specific rockets used and – more importantly – the countries to which they were originally sold. They were apparently manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1967 and sold by Moscow to three Arab countries, Yemen, Egypt and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's Libya. These details cannot be verified in documents, and Vladimir Putin has not revealed the reasons why he told Barack Obama that he knows Assad's army did not fire the sarin missiles; but if the information is correct – and it is believed to have come from Moscow – Russia did not sell this particular batch of chemical munitions to Syria.
Since Gaddafi's fall in 2011, vast quantities of his abandoned Soviet-made arms have fallen into the hands of rebel groups and al-Qa'ida-affiliated insurgents. Many were later found in Mali, some in Algeria and a vast amount in Sinai. The Syrians have long claimed that a substantial amount of Soviet-made weaponry has made its way from Libya into the hands of rebels in the country's civil war with the help of Qatar – which supported the Libyan rebels against Gaddafi and now pays for arms shipments to Syrian insurgents.
There is no doubt that Syria has a substantial chemical weapons armoury. Nor that Syrian stockpiles contain large amounts of sarin gas 122mm missiles. But if the Russians have indeed been able to identify the specific missile markings on fragments found in Ghouta – and if these are from munitions never exported to Syria – the Assad regime will boast its innocence has been proven.
In a country – indeed a world – where propaganda is more influential than truth, discovering the origin of the chemicals that suffocated so many Syrians a month ago is an investigation fraught with journalistic perils. Reporters sending dispatches from rebel-held parts of Syria are accused by the Assad regime of consorting with terrorists. Journalists reporting from the government side of Syria's front lines are regularly accused of mouthing the regime's propaganda. And even if the Assad regime was not responsible for the 21 August attacks, its forces have committed war crimes aplenty over the past two years. Torture, massacre, the bombardment of civilian targets have long been proved.
Nevertheless, it also has to be said that grave doubts are being expressed by the UN and other international organisations in Damascus that the sarin gas missiles were fired by Assad's army. While these international employees cannot be identified, some of them were in Damascus on 21 August and asked a series of questions to which no one has yet supplied an answer. Why, for example, would Syria wait until the UN inspectors were ensconced in Damascus on 18 August before using sarin gas little more than two days later – and only four miles from the hotel in which the UN had just checked in? Having thus presented the UN with evidence of the use of sarin – which the inspectors quickly acquired at the scene – the Assad regime, if guilty, would surely have realised that a military attack would be staged by Western nations.
As it is, Syria is now due to lose its entire strategic long-term chemical defences against a nuclear-armed Israel – because, if Western leaders are to be believed, it wanted to fire just seven missiles almost a half century old at a rebel suburb in which only 300 of the 1,400 victims (if the rebels themselves are to be believed) were fighters. As one Western NGO put it yesterday: "if Assad really wanted to use sarin gas, why for God's sake, did he wait for two years and then when the UN was actually on the ground to investigate?"
The Russians, of course, have made similar denials of Assad's responsibility for sarin attacks before. When at least 26 Syrians died of sarin poisoning in Khan al-Assal on 19 March – one of the reasons why the UN inspectors were dispatched to Syria last month – Moscow again accused the rebels of responsibility. The Russians later presented the UN with a 100-page report containing its "evidence". Like Putin's evidence about the 21 August attacks, however, it has not been revealed.
A witness who was with Syrian troops of the army's 4th Division on 21 August – a former Special Forces officer considered a reliable source – said he saw no evidence of gas shells being fired, even though he was in one of the suburbs, Moadamiya, which was a target for sarin. He does recall the soldiers expressing concern when they saw the first YouTube images of suffocating civilians – not out of sympathy, but because they feared they would have to fight amid clouds of poison.
"It would perhaps be going beyond conspiracy theories to say the government was not involved," one Syrian journalist said last week, "but we are sure the rebels have got sarin. They would need foreigners to teach them how to fire it. Or is there a 'third force' which we don't know about? If the West needed an excuse to attack Syria, they got it right on time, in the right place, and in front of the UN inspectors."
A Nun Lends a Voice of Skepticism on the Use of Poison Gas by Syria
Andrea Bruce for The New York Times
Published: September 21, 2013
ADONIS, Lebanon — When Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, wanted to bolster his argument that rebels had carried out the poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, he pointed to the work of a 61-year-old Lebanese-born nun who had concluded that the horrifying videos showing hundreds of dead and choking victims, including many children, had been fabricated ahead of time to provide a pretext for foreign intervention.
"Mr. Lavrov is an intelligent person," said the nun, Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross, with a wide smile in a recent interview in this Lebanese mountain town. "He will never stick his name to someone who is saying stupidities."
Mother Agnes, who had lived in Syria for years, has no expertise or training in chemical weapons forensics or filmmaking, and although she was in Damascus at the time of the attacks, she did not visit the sites or interview victims. Still, her assertions — she does not say which side made the videos — have significantly raised her once modest profile as the longtime superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated, a Melkite Greek Catholic monastery in central Syria.
Now, she is lauded by supporters of Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, for championing narratives that resemble his own, and vilified by opposition activists who suspect the government supports her work as an unofficial ambassador.
International rights groups see Mr. Lavrov's reference to the work of an untrained nun as a sign of desperation.
"The fact that the Russian government is relying on this woman's assessment of what happened just shows the lack of evidence for their case," said Lama Fakih, a Syria researcher for Human Rights Watch. "She is not a military expert."
There are other shadows around Mother Agnes. She has helped foreign journalists obtain visas, suggesting trust by the government. The widow and two colleagues of Gilles Jacquier, a French journalist killed in Homs last year, published a book in which they suggest that she conspired in a lethal trap set by the government.
She has sued them for libel, denied any link to the government and has not spoken out in support of Mr. Assad himself. She criticized Syria for its occupation of Lebanon that ended in 2005 and said that government helicopters had struck near the St. James monastery three times, causing damage. Her only interest, she said, is what is best for Syrians — she said that would be for outside powers not to interfere so that Syrians could solve their problems.
"It is not politics," she said. "This is humanitarian."
She refused to say who she thought had made the videos she called fakes, or who she thought had carried out the attacks. "I cannot incriminate, and I won't incriminate," she said. But she suspects that some of the children in the videos had been abducted by fighters from Al Qaeda in Alawite villages more than 150 miles away — a view also voiced by Syrian officials.
In a baggy brown habit, a white wimple, a black veil and rubber sandals, with a large cross around her neck, Mother Agnes described a devout life that until recently had stayed away from Middle East politics.
Born Marie Fadia Laham in Beirut, she was educated by French nuns. The death of her father when she was 15 left her asking "existential questions."
"This led me to become a hippie," she said with a grin.
She fell in with foreigners who came to Lebanon for the drugs — "Lebanese marijuana is the best in the world," she said — and traveled to India and Tibet before returning to religion. At 19, she said, she became a nun in the Carmelite order, where she spent the next 22 years. Much of that was consumed by Lebanon's 15-year civil war, during which she aided displaced families, she said.
She eventually moved to Syria, becoming the superior at the St. James monastery and overseeing a community of 3 monks and 12 nuns in the town of Qara in the Homs diocese.
The uprising that began in Syria in 2011 trickled into the monastery at first through stories told by Muslim laborers, Mother Agnes said. But she became more immersed later that year when she began her own research.
Through conversations with Syrians and clergy throughout the country, she said, she uncovered "the false flag of the Arab Spring." Instead of a popular uprising by citizens enraged by economic stagnation and political oppression, she said, she found a conspiracy cooked up by international powers to destroy Syria.
She said the government's brutal crackdowns on peaceful protesters had been concocted by the news media, and she dismissed the slow transformation of the opposition movement into an armed uprising, saying the rebels had rushed to violence. While allowing that some protesters had good intentions, she said the conflict was driven by foreign powers, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. She pointed to Syria's current situation, with more than 100,000 dead, bitter sectarian tensions and jihadists taking over swaths of territory, as proof that she was right all along.
"What happened is the interference of half the globe in Syrian affairs, infiltrating Syria with foreign fighters, recycling Al Qaeda and putting under threat the civilian population," she said, adding that the world had failed Syria. "We are here, and we didn't achieve anything. We destroyed Syria."
She has paid a price for speaking out. This year, rebels near the monastery warned her that extremist fighters wanted to abduct her, and helped her flee, she said. She had not returned.
After the chemical attacks last month, she said, she locked herself in a hotel room in Geneva and pored over videos of the dead on her computer, sleeping only in short spurts and subsisting on water. "It was like a descent into hell," she recalled. She said she had submitted her findings to foreign diplomats and officials with the United Nations Human Rights Council in a 50-page report that pointed out what she considered inconsistencies in the videos, and asked why there were few images of women and burials. Mr. Lavrov cited her a few days later.
Her work has also won her acclaim with Mr. Assad's supporters. Many of them are in Syria's Christian minority, which makes up 10 percent of the population and has mostly stayed out of the war. Many fear that a victory by the predominately Sunni opposition would leave them with no place in the country, and have cast their lot with Mr. Assad.
"She is a patriot, she loves Syria and Christianity, she stands tall and is never afraid to tell the truth," said a 30-year-old Christian woman reached by phone in Damascus who gave only her first name, Alissar, for security reasons.
But Sid Ahmed Hammouche, a Swiss reporter who helped write the book accusing Mother Agnes of complicity in his colleague's death, sees her differently. "She defends the regime and plays the Christian card," he said. "We know very well that Bashar wanted to play the Christian card, and he still does."
Aurelien Breeden contributed reporting from Paris, Andrew Roth from Moscow, and an employee of The New York Times from Beirut, Lebanon.