Tuesday, April 30, 2013

'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' Editor: The Region Is On The Brink Of War – Perhaps Even World War



by MEMRI
Recently, 'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, who is known to oppose U.S. policy in the Middle East and to support the resistance axis, [1] reiterated a claim he had made in the past that the West, headed by the U.S., is planning to launch a war in Syria.
On April 26, a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that "the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons," 'Atwan published in the paper an article stating that the region was on the brink of war, and perhaps even world war. Writing that this war had been planned several months ago by the U.S. and the U.K., he said that as in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, this time too the U.S. would use the pretext of the presence of weapons of mass destruction to justify its actions. He also said that the visits in recent weeks by Arab heads of state to the White House were for meetings of a "war council," to plan the war in Syria and to divide the military missions amongst themselves.
It should be noted that previously, during President Barack Obama's visit to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan in March 2013, Atwan had published articles warning that war in the region was imminent. In those articles, he wrote that President Obama's visit was aimed at advancing the upcoming military action against Syria and/or Iran, and that reports of his intent to revive the peace process were merely a cover for this.
As grounds for his claims, 'Atwan cited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's unexpected apology to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, which was brokered by President Obama during his visit to Israel; the reconciliation between Turkey and the PKK at this particular time; and reports in the Western media on training camps of Syrian opposition fighters that are operating in Jordan and Turkey.
Like 'Atwan, Ibrahim Al-Amin, chairman of the board of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is known to be close to Hizbullah and to support the resistance axis, stated that the West and the Arab countries that support the Syrian opposition are working to isolate the Assad regime, in preparation for military action against it. He noted also that President Obama had acted to include Jordan in the anti-Assad front.
The following is a review of these articles on the imminence of war in the region:

'Abd Al-Bari 'Atwan, 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' Article, April 26, 2013

We Wouldn't Be Surprised If The U.S. And Britain Set A Date For The War Months Ago

 In his April 26, 2013 article in Al-Quds Al-'Arabi, 'Atwan wrote: "U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is making the rounds of the Gulf capitals in order to sell them advanced planes and missiles to address the Iranian threat, as he puts it, said yesterday that 'the U.S. intelligence community assesses with some degree of varying confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin.' 

"Several minutes after Mr. Hagel made this statement, the British Foreign Office hastened to announce that it [too] has information that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and called on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to cooperate with international elements and prove that he had not ordered the use of [such weapons].

"We do not believe that the publication of these positions with such perfect coordination could be a coincidence – considering that [the U.S. and the U.K.] were the backbone of the three last wars launched by the West, specifically by NATO, in order to change the regimes of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. 

"President Barack Obama has said on more than one occasion that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would be a red line, and that the American response would be harsh. Now we have confirmation from two intelligence sources, both U.S. intelligence and British intelligence, that this red line has been crossed. One American official said that all options are now on the table, [while] another said that the U.S. administration is consulting with its allies [to confirm] that Syria has crossed the red line, and U.S. congressmen said in reply that it has indeed been crossed. [All these statements] are part of a carefully laid out plan to condition the American public opinion for war.
"The [broken] record about the weapons of mass destruction that was used [to justify the war] in Iraq is now being played again at full volume. Tomorrow, the Arab and global media will announce a state of emergency and begin interviewing pundits... They will stress/reiterate that chemical weapons have indeed been used, and [talk about] the victims, and make direct or indirect demands for military intervention as soon as possible.

"We are on the brink of regional war, perhaps even world war. To be precise, we are waiting for D-Day, and we will not be surprised if the date for this war was, [in fact], set several months ago in the American and British war rooms, and all that remains is to execute [the plan]." 

Visits By Arab Leaders To White House In Recent Days – A War Council

"In recent days, Washington has seen the arrival of several Arab leaders making a pilgrimage to the White House: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Saudi Foreign Minister Emir Saud Al-Faisal, Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa visited yesterday and Jordanian King 'Adballah visited today, and, before the middle of next month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose visit will be the 'happy ending.' This pilgrimage is not for tourism purposes or for discussing an Arab peace plan to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, but rather for a war council meant to assign roles and tasks, examine military and political plans, and divide up the financial expenses of the war.

"The Syrian crisis must not continue, because the lack of a decisive outcome causes concern and worry for Washington's allies, and increases the presence of Muslim jihad groups on the ground. This contributes further to the desperation and frustration among the moderate armed resistance factions, and redoubles Israeli fears regarding the possibility of chemical weapons falling into the hands of extremist groups, which is why we must act swiftly. We do not know what kind of military action will be undertaken to topple the Syrian regime, since it is a military secret and in war there are surprises, but we know full well that when intelligence reports address reasons and pretexts to invade an Arab or Muslim country they are always mendacious and false. It is sad that we expose this lie only after the target country is destroyed. An example of this is Iraq.

"Is it any accident that we read intelligence reports in a known French newspaper [stating that] Jordan will allow Israeli jets to fly over its territory if a decision is made to attack Syria's chemical weapons?

"We do not fear the fall of the [Syrian] regime – we were never in its camp – but we do fear for the Syrian homeland and fear that our region will disintegrate on a sectarian and racial basis, and that we will sink into bloody sectarian civil wars that will dwarf the current war in Iraq.

"The statements made by Syrian Information Minister [Omran Al-Zoabi] in Moscow, possibly at the behest of [Russia's] leadership, that his regime would not use chemical weapons under any circumstances, whether against the [Syrian] people or against Israel, were an attempt to thwart Washington's and London's intent to raise the issue of the use of chemical weapons and use [this argument] as a pretext for any attack on Syria. However, [this statement] came too late for them, so it might not be effective. 

"President Assad will be required to do what the late president Saddam Hussein had to do, and later what Libyan leader Mu'ammar Al-Qadhafi had to do – that is, to hand over all his chemical and biological weapons to the American-British coalition, and then to leave [the regime] or die like the other two if he refuses – with or without a trial.

"Will Assad submit to these demands? I doubt it, which is why we must prepare for a new war that might be different from the three wars that preceded it in terms of means and results, but [might also] not be. However, [in any case], we Arab and Muslims will be the victims of this war."[2]

'Atwan's 'Al-Quds Al-Arabi' Articles, March 2013

The Revival Of The Peace Process Is A Cover For Impending War

As mentioned, 'Atwan had earlier made similar statements during Obama's March 2013 visit to the region. On March 21, 2013, on the evening of the first day of Obama's visit, he wrote: "Obama's visit to the region is the visit of a warmonger, not a man of peace. He came to ignite a war and plan its details with his Israeli counterpart, Netanyahu..."[3] 

In an article published the following day, titled "A Message Of War From Obama To Iran," 'Atwan explained at length that the visit was meant to lay the groundwork for war: "When Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for eight hours in two sessions, and comes directly from the airport to visit the Iron Dome missile system that was constructed with the financial and technical support of the U.S., this is no courtesy visit or 'political tourism,' and its purpose is not just to listen to leaders, as U.S. officials have claimed since the tour began...

"Someone who comes to the region as a tourist does not sponsor a difficult, or near-impossible, reconciliation between Israel and Turkey by asking Netanyahu to phone Recep Tayyip Erdogan and make a clear and unambiguous apology, and undertake to compensate the families of the Marmara victims and lift the seige from the occupied Palestinian territories and from the Gaza Strip in particular... 

"The question that presents itself is what motivated Netanyahu to withdraw from his arrogant positions... Another question is what motivated the Turkish prime minister to accept this apology straight away and to hasten to exchange ambassadors and normalize relations between the two countries, without even a transition period to test intentions, especially those of the Israelis.

"Throughout this visit, Obama worked hard to cook up some [plan] whose consequences may be seen in the coming weeks or months. One of these consequences pertains to Syria, and another to Iran. Whatever he cooked up is not a plan for peace – otherwise we would have seen him doing more for Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas, for instance by [bringing about] a freeze of the [Israeli] settlements, instead of reiterating that Israel is a Jewish state and [demanding] Arab normalization [with it] for nothing in return. 

"The West's military interventions are not surprise retaliatory [attacks], like most [military interventions staged by] third world countries, especially by Arab countries. Rather, they are staged according to plans prepared months or years in advance. The occupation of Iraq, for instance, was planned three years in advance, and the establishment of the State of Israel took place almost 30 years after the Balfour Declaration. 

"I believe it is no coincidence that Turkey is reconciling with the Kurds, that PKK leader Abdallah Ocalan has ordered his followers to cast down their weapons, and that Patriot missiles were deployed on the Turkey-Syria border some two months ago. The Saudi announcement on the exposure of an Iranian spy network was also no coincidence. Turkey is a NATO member, and its role in bringing down the Syrian regime is no secret. Moreover, it fears Iran's emerging nuclear power no less than do Israel and Saudi Arabia. 

"On this visit, Obama acted like a rich Saudi sheikh carelessly handing out millions at every stop on his way... This surprising American generosity cannot be without strings attached.

"In light of all this, I do not rule out that the region is facing a war... The deadlock in the Syrian arena and in the Iranian nuclear issue cannot continue... The coming months will be very difficult, and 2013 may go down in history as the year of decisive military [conflict] in the Middle East."[4]

June Will Be A Month Of Decisive Developments In The Syrian Dossier

On April 7, 2013, following the visit of U.S. State Secretary John Kerry to the region, Al-Quds Al-Arabi noted in an editorial: "...We do not understand the enthusiasm of the U.S. administration to revive the peace negotiations at this particular time, nor do we understand Turkey's role in it now that a reconciliation has been brought about between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Israeli counterpart, Netanyahu... We fear that this surprising American awakening... is a cover for a new Israeli or American war in the region against Syria or Iran, or both. Bush Jr. used the same cover before his forces invaded and occupied Iraq."[5]

A week later, on April 14, 'Atwan wrote, "Sources close to Arab and Gulf decision-makers suggest that serious – maybe even critical – developments in Syria, are likely in June [2013]..." As evidence of this, he noted the following: British army scientists have found evidence of chemical weapons used during the Syrian conflict; according to CNN, the U.S. administration is reviving plans to intervene militarily in Syria; training programs for Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces, held in Jordan and Turkey by U.S. and British special forces under the supervision of the CIA, are to end in mid-May; the moratorium on the European Union's decision to impose an arms embargo on the Syrian opposition will expire in early June, paving the way for free and independent action from both Britain and France; and finally, the intense dispute between the Syrian regime and the UN about international investigations into chemical weapons continues.[6]

'Atwan went on to predict that the West would use the issue of unconventional weapons as a pretext to intervene militarily in Syria, just as it did in Iraq, and warned that unlike Saddam Hussein, who was isolated and without allies, Assad "has the support of Russia, Iran, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and the BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India and South Africa)."[7]

Ibrahim Al-Amin In Lebanese Daily 'Al-Akhbar': Preparations For Military Defeat Of Assad Regime

Ibrahim Al-Amin, chairman of the board of the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hizbullah, wrote that the developments in the region, and especially in Lebanon, indicate that the West and some Gulf countries intend to resolve the Syrian crisis by military means. He explained that the resignation of Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati, as well as the attempts to weaken Hizbullah inside and outside Lebanon, and to strengthen Lebanese elements loyal to the West and the Gulf states at the expense of the Lebanese army, are all part of a plan to isolate the Assad regime and to drag Lebanon into the Syrian crisis. 

According to Al-Amin, the West and its Arab allies are working to prevent any political resolution of this crisis, so as to pave the way for military action: "... The Arab and international camp that opposes the Syrian regime hastened to take practical steps in order to increase the pressure [on Syria] – [both] politically and on the ground. [These steps] include preempting any initiative by the [Syrian] opposition, e.g., by isolating [Opposition Forces leader] Mu'adh Al-Khatib; violating the understandings between the U.S. and Russia and appointing a prime minister to head a transitional [Syrian] government that will take charge of all Syria's interests worldwide; and training thousands of [Syrian opposition] fighters in Syria and in Turkey and Jordan [in the use of] advanced weapons. [This is] in order to... [launch] the decisive battle against the [Syrian] regime within the next three months...

"[In his visit to the region, Obama] firmly insisted to the Jordanian king that [Jordan must] become a full member of the anti-Assad front. At the same time, he charged the Israeli leadership to keep silent and refrain from any initiative against Iran, Syria, or Hizbullah, and to reconcile with Turkey and bring the cooperation between the two countries to a new level – especially now that they are facing a common enemy: Bashar Al-Assad..."[8]


[1] 'Atwan is also known to have been a supporter of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.
[2] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 26, 2013.
[3] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 21, 2013.
[4] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 22, 2013.
[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 7, 2013.
[6] In March 2013, Syria asked the U.N. to investigate a chemical weapons attack on the village of Khan Al-Assal outside of Aleppo, allegedly perpetrated by rebels, in which 130 people were killed or injured. At the request of the Syrian opposition and Western countries, U.N. Secretary-General Ban asked Syria to allow an expanded investigation into reported chemical attacks in other parts of Syria. Syria rejected this and refused to let investigators enter its territory. The Washington Post, April 17, 2013.
[7] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), April 14, 2013. The excerpts presented here are from an English translation posted April 15 on 'Atwan's website (bari'Atwan.com).
[8] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 23, 2013.


MEMRI

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