An interview with Pepe Escobar, Veteran Foreign Correspondent, to further discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Q: Let’s get straight to the points, Syria, who knows thirty thousand or forty thousand deaths over this terrific casualty rates and yet ministries across Europe, Ankara, all saying Assad is finished.
Escobar: Well they have been saying Assad is finished for two years. It is not going to happen, it is not going to happen any time soon. The business elites in Aleppo and Damascus, there is to be behind the regime.
There is no significant split in the army, military intelligence and security services. They have the weapons, they control the major cities, even if they control-let’s say- two thirds of Aleppo but they control the center of business in Aleppo. The opposition or the Free Syrian Army, gangs, let’s call them this way, they control parts of the suburbs in fact.
And most of the population, the civilian population which is caught in the crossfire, let’s say that two years ago there was, of course there was, was legitimate, an impulse starts a democratization of Syria, that was legitimate.
But after one or two months of protests the whole scene was hijacked by foreign powers. We all know them, France, Britain, US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
And now if you talk to Syrians, secular Syrians-- let’s forget about this Sunnis, Shiites divides because in Syria this was fabricated by the West-- Syrians will tell you, look, we know that we are being manipulated by foreign powers. We do not want a repressive Bashar al-Assad regime anymore, we do not want the Free Syrian Army, we do not want this National Coalition and we do not want these Salafi Jihadists financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia beheading people.
Q: Obviously that is a narrative not on any Corporate Media, we leave it to one side. So William Hague here the Foreign Secretary here, Hillary Clinton in her dying days as it were, not the blood clot but obviously as the Secretary of State, again and again from Paris, Washington, London it is the opposite view continuingly being beamed there. What do you think they are really thinking behind the closed doors?
Escobar: Well this is a proxy war and the agenda of this six major partners in destabilizing Syria or the Balkanization of Syria is something that we could extend in fact.
When they noticed that the Salafi Jihadists became the real fighting force on the ground and now we have al-Nusra which is the extension of al-Qaeda...
Q: But do you credit Obama with putting al-Nusra on the terrorists list?
Escobar: Yes but they only put al-Nusra on the terrorist list a few weeks ago. Remember that for most part of the last two years Hillary Clinton was saying that no, this is a legitimate democratic uprising against an evil dictator. And then one day the Secretary of State discovered that the real fighting force on the ground were Salafi Jihadists especially Iraq...
Q: Did she discover it or did she know it? They have agents to study this stuff.
Escobar: Discovered, take discovery as the understatement of this century if you will, but of course the State Department finally acknowledged the obvious.
Everybody knew it that the people who were actually fighting especially in northern Syria, in the Turkish-Syrian border, these were Iraqi commanders, they are not Syrians and these Iraqi commanders who had fighting experience with the Sunni insurgents or resistance in Iraq 2003, 2004, 2005 and also working side by side with the al-Qaeda in Iraq, they were passing their experience to Syrians as well.
So nowadays al-Nusra, they have five thousand fighters on the ground, most of them are Syrians and Iraqis.
Q: But since Afghanistan surely people at the State Department were saying let’s do not have another 9/11. I mean are you saying they are incompetent or they are involved with these al-Qaeda links organizations?
Escobar: No not involved, they utilize them for their own...
Q: But didn’t they make a mistake? Hillary Clinton herself said she made a mistake with the Mujahedin?
Escobar: In terms of US strategic thinking, if we see what’s been happening for the past thirty years at least, one day you are a terrorist, the other day you are a freedom fighter and it is reversible. It depends on your localized agenda in a part of the world could be AFPAK, could be Central Asia and the wider Middle East and Southwest Asia. This is exactly what is happening.
People in Libya who Qaddafi put in jail by the way like Abdlehakim Belhadj, the next day he is a liberator of Tripoli and the next day he is sending his own Libyan fighters to Syria to destabilize Bashar al-Assad.
Q: So in a sense you seem to almost be saying nothing is being learned from 9/11?
Escobar: No, of course not because it is still blowback. You know the late great friend, my friend Chalmers Johnson, I wish he was here with us because he will be writing his fifth book about blowback based on what is happening in Libya and in Syria and what is going to be happening after our friend Brennan gets the CIA job which is going to be an extended shadow war in Southwest Asia.
Q: Well does the Brennan nomination mean President Obama explicitly supports this kind of arguably illegal...
Escobar: Of course he does, this is in a nutshell, I hate to reduction this to examples but in a nutshell, this is the David Petraeus work ethic. David Petraeus turns from the CIA into a paramilitary army, really hard core of very good killers and this is what the CIA is nowadays not only in AFPAK, in Yemen, in Somalia soon all over Central Africa and now from now on in Syria as well.
Q: So the only alternative then is to fight that with other states oriented agencies because if it is going to be like the Schools of the Americas all over again and we know about...
Escobar: It is interesting you mentioned School of The Americas. I was born in South America so when I was growing up I had direct experience of what the Schools of The Americas was doing.
Q: So tell our audience about that.
Escobar: In Brazil, in Argentina, in Chile, they were training the Death Squads of these military dictatorships and it was started at killing but it was very low tack at the time.
Nowadays you can do it with a commando or you can do it with drones. At the time was kidnapping and incarcerating somebody in a basement somewhere for six months and then getting rid of this person.
Q: Well in a sense Hugo Chavez in Venezuela did ally with so many members of Global South. He did say well, he proved that they could stop a US attempted coup.
Escobar: Yes they did in 2002. It took him three days to stop a coup. If you want to understand Chavez, he is still whatever happens to him, he still thinks of what happened ten years ago. The United States directly tried to destabilize a democratically elected government in South America but this time there was no Allende in 1973.
This time the people were in the streets and they said this guy is our president. he stays. Three days later the coup was done and still in Washington they haven’t learned the lesson.