Is Washington Purposely Bleeding Syria?

Posted by Admin On Saturday, 26 April 2014 2 comments

There’s growing evidence that the Obama administration is providing just enough aid to the rebels to sustain the war, but not enough to topple Assad.

Almost three years ago, the late Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Anthony Shadid sat down with Bashar al-Assad’s cousin and confidant Rami Makhlouf for an exclusive interview. The topic of conversation was Syria’s nascent uprising, which was then entering its third month. Makhlouf, a billionaire tycoon who had benefited tremendously from Syria’s economic pivot to crony capitalism, was a symbol of the excess and corruption that defined Assad’s Syria and was a prime target of much of the anger that had erupted onto the Syrian streets.
“When we suffer, we will not suffer alone,” Makhlouf warned Shadid, a thinly veiled threat to those inside and outside Syria who dared to stand up to the Syrian regime. The regime considered its crackdown on dissent “a fight to the end,” he continued.
Three months after Shadid’s interview with Makhlouf, President Obama declared that the “time has come for President Assad to step aside.” Despite similar proclamations from leaders across the Western world and countless predictions of its imminent demise since the start of the uprising, the Assad regime has survived. Three years later, it is clear Makhlouf wasn’t bluffing. Consistent with his early assessment, the regime has treated the conflict as a zero-sum game that could only be won through uncompromising military force. Far from collapsing, many analysts now believe the Syrian government has all the momentum in its fight against an increasingly divided opposition.
Today, the distressing consequences of Makhlouf’s “fight to the end” have come into sharp focus. The latest estimates place the violent death toll since the start of the uprising at around150,000. The destruction of the country’s healthcare system has led to thousands of additional preventable deaths. Dr. Annie Sparrow, a public health expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, estimates that the total death toll, including deaths due to lack of access to basic medical care, could exceed 300,000. A new report from Save the Children vividly illustrates the horrors unfolding daily. It documented cases of patients undergoing unnecessary amputation due to lack of necessary medical equipment, the death of newborn babies because of power outages at hospitals and even cases of metal bars being used to knock out patients as a substitute for scarce anesthetics. Moreover, the country’s vaccination program has collapsed, resulting in an outbreak of polio, a disease that had previously been eradicated in Syria. According to Save the Children, the country’s prewar vaccination rate of 91 percent dropped to 68 percent just one year into the conflict. It is undoubtedly much lower now.
A series of UN investigations have revealed that these alarming realities were the byproduct of the systematic targeting of healthcare personnel and infrastructure by Syrian government forces and the intentional prevention of medical aid from entering contested areas. “Medicines are routinely denied to those who need them, including tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly,” says the latest report, highlighting the lack of progress since a binding UN Security Council resolution demanding the free flow of aid passed two months ago. Another investigation, conducted late last year, concluded that “government forces deliberately target medical personnel to gain military advantage by depriving the opposition and those perceived to support them of medical assistance for injuries sustained.… The situation is so dire that the general populace often elects not to seek [medical] help for fear of arrest, detention, torture or death.” The investigators also found that “some anti-Government armed groups have attacked hospitals in certain areas.” Thus, it’s no wonder that three out of five Syrian hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, and that half of Syria’s doctors have reportedly fled the country.
Of course, doctors aren’t the only Syrians who have been forced from their homes. The most recent estimates are that 2.6 million Syrians have sought refuge in neighboring countries and an additional 6.5 million are internally displaced. Thus, nearly half of Syria’s citizens have been dispossessed of their homes. Last week, the UN’s World Food Programme announced it will becutting desperately needed food parcel deliveries in Syria by 20 percent because contributing nations aren’t fulfilling their financial obligations.
Despite the shocking scale of the humanitarian crisis, the prospect of a resolution to this conflict is now more remote than ever. Hopes for a political settlement, pushed forward by Russia and the United States, amount to little more than a fantasy at this point. The latest round of negotiations, the much-touted Geneva II conference, ended after Assad’s representativesrefused to even discuss the possibility of a transitional government. Moreover, the Syrian government arrested family members of the opposition delegation it was supposedly negotiating with in good faith. It was relatively clear from the beginning that these negotiations were destined to fail. The Syrian government, emboldened by its gains on the ground, believes that it is winning. It has refused to offer any tangible concessions since the beginning of the uprising, even in times when it was believed to be flailing. Why would it negotiate its own demise now, when it is brimming with confidence?
With the unyielding support of Iran and its regional ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, along with a steady flow of weapons and diplomatic cover at the UN from Russia, the Syrian government is on the brink of declaring victory. Preparations are under way for a sham election that will grant Assad another seven-year term as president. In the last of these so-called elections, a referendum held in 2007, Assad supposedly garnered 97 percent of the vote with a turnout of 95 percent. As the UN’s special envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has suggested, this election will be the final nail in the coffin of any political solution to the conflict.
On the rebel front, it’s become increasingly clear that the opposition’s Western backers are no longer interested in toppling Assad, assuming they ever were. An exposé that ran on the front page of The New York Times this month described the cynically incremental support the United States is providing rebels on Syria’s southern front. Rebels who have received military aid through US-controlled supply lines in Jordan told the Times that “the Obama administration is giving just enough to keep the rebel cause alive, but not enough to actually help it win.” This isn’t exactly a revelation. In a column for The Washington Post last summer, Fareed Zakaria wrotethat by providing just enough support to keep Syria’s rebels fighting, but not nearly enough for them to topple Assad, Obama was playing a “Machiavellian rather than humanitarian game.” Syria expert Joshua Landis recently echoed this belief when he tweeted that the United States is playing “a mischievous role. It is supporting rebels but making sure they cannot win.”
New York Times report last October on Obama’s decision to back down from the threat of force after the August chemical weapons attack sheds more light on the reasoning behind the administration’s stance on Syria. In this story, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is described as the administration official whose views on Syria were most closely aligned with the president’s. During internal debates on the matter, McDonough reportedly “questioned how much it was in America’s interest to tamp down the violence in Syria.” He later suggested that “a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and al Qaeda would work to America’s advantage.”
President Obama’s answer to a question on Syria during a recent interview provides further insight into his calculus:
“I’m always darkly amused by this notion that somehow Iran has won in Syria. I mean, you hear sometimes people saying, ‘They’re winning in Syria.’ And you say, ‘This was their one friend in the Arab world, a member of the Arab League, and it is now in rubble.’ It’s bleeding them because they’re having to send in billions of dollars. Their key proxy, Hezbollah, which had a very comfortable and powerful perch in Lebanon, now finds itself attacked by Sunni extremists. This isn’t good for Iran. They’re losing as much as anybody. The Russians find their one friend in the region in rubble and delegitimized.”
The implication here is that the president of the United States could be seeking to intentionally prolong the war, despite the catastrophic scale of the death and destruction that is taking place as a result, because it is bad for Iran and Russia.
As the Syrian people mark the beginning of the fourth year of their tragedy, caught in the middle of an international chess match they no longer have power to influence, one thing is abundantly clear: Makhlouf was right—the regime did not suffer alone.

Geo TV premeditated assault on ISI

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Geo TV premeditated assault on ISI 

DG ISI and Hamid MirBy Brig Asif Haroon Raja 
On April 19, 2014, Geo TV anchor and senior journalist Hamid Mir was attacked by unknown assailant (s) in Karachi when he was travelling in a car from the airport to Geo office. Out of 12 bullets fired, six bullets pierced his abdomen and legs. The driver who remained unscathed drove him to the hospital where he is currently under treatment and reportedly is out of danger. Such gory attacks by unidentified terrorists are a common phenomenon in Karachi where daily score of the target killers ranges from 6-12. Despite Rangers-Police combined targeted operation since last September, the gory practice has not been controlled. The dastardly attack on Hamid Mir is condemnable and we pray for his early recovery.
While the attack on Hamid Mir was undoubtedly reprehensible, the unethical reaction of Geo TV was more shameful. Ironically, the Geo News channel’s onslaught began with a vengeance within hours of the incident when even on-spot inspection of the site and preliminary investigation had not been carried out and FIR was not registered. It seemed as if the TV channel was already waiting in readiness to spring into action and start a willful malicious media campaign against the DG ISI, ISI as an institution and the Army. What was detestable was that the photo of DG ISI was repeatedly flashed during the over 8-hour program aired without a break, indirectly holding him responsible for the attack. Ansar Abbasi in his exuberance demanded immediate resignation of DG ISI.
Even a layman could make out that the program aired by Geo TV had been stage-managed and pre-meditated with the sole objective of tarnishing the image of DG ISI and ISI. The hidden purpose behind the vilification program was to create a gulf between the armed forces and the people of Pakistan in general and the government and the defence establishment in particular. The whole lot of tutored anchors trained their guns on the ISI and based their arguments on the statement of the brother of Hamid Mir who stated soon after the incident that Hamid had secretly expressed his fears within his family members and close friends and his employer that he was receiving threats from ISI and in case he was murdered, DG ISI Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam would be responsible. Surprisingly, none of the analysts bothered to consider any other possibility.Hamid Mir Car
Neither Hamid nor any of his family member or his organization deemed it fit to register an FIR, or even a complaint that he was facing life threat. If he was facing life threats, how come he was moving around so freely and boldly without a guard? Why did he continue to remain in an offensive mode and repeatedly put the blame of missing persons on intelligence agencies despite the threats? His body language and facial expressions never indicated any signs of stress. Some say, the time bomb found strapped under his car last year was a ploy to increase his popularity rating and ISI threat was also played up to enhance his rating. How come Hamid Mir and his TV channel came in bad books and felt threatened and none else? It meant something was wrong somewhere. Is it not true that the Geo in its blind urge to make big money has crossed the red lines and all limits of decency?
Over a period of time, Geo TV has earned the reputation of being more of an Indian channel than a Pakistani channel promoting Indian themes/ agenda and maintaining an anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan stance. As opposed to spiteful role of Indian media against Pakistan, Geo TV stance towards India has always been soft and friendly. Jang Group owned by Mir Shakil-ur Rahman co-hosts highly controversial Aman-ki-Asha program with India which is RAW funded. Ansar Abbasi, one of the journalists of Geo News has recently come out with a bizarre revelation that Aman-ki-Asha is ISI funded. Geo TV and ‘The News/Jang’ newspapers are known for promoting secularism, creating rifts between the institutions and sowing seeds of doubts/ misgivings over settled issues like ‘Two-nation’ theory, Objectives Resolution, ideology of Pakistan, and making Quaid-e-Azam controversial by projecting him as a secular.
While Geo TV glamorizes Hamid Mir, he is looked down upon by many for his anti-Army/ISI/FC stance, for espousing the cause of separatists wanting to make Baluchistan independent, overplaying missing persons issue and for his pro-India posture. In early 2009, while the then government was denying that Ajmal Kasab, falsely implicated by India in Mumbai attacks case in November 2008, was a Pakistani, Hamid Mir took the Geo team to a village in Punjab and broke the story that Kasab was a Pakistani born and brought up in village Faridkot. He sold the story despite the villagers showing their ignorance about Kasab. That way he strengthened India’s handle to beat Pakistan with.
He is the one who blamed the ISI for burning down Ziarat Residency and would have kept spitting venom had BLA not claimed responsibility. Reportedly, he had poisoned the ears of Asian Tigers, a group affiliated with TTP who had taken late Col retired Sultan Amir Tarar, popularly known as Col Imam and Squadron Leader retired Khalid Khawaja hostage in March 2010. Based on the information given by Hamid Mir on a phone that Khawaja was an ISI agent and unreliable, the captors killed both of them in January 2011.
ISI bashing by the Geo TV was fully capitalized by the Indian media as well as the British media and the trio worked in tandem to discredit ISI. Let it be known that the ISI is a world famed organization which is second to none and its effectiveness has been acknowledged even by the traditional adversaries. Since its birth in mid 1950s, it has stood as a guard against inimical forces striving to harm Pakistan. It acts as the first line of defence for the armed forces and has valiantly kept the outreach of anti-Pakistan CIA-RAW-MI-6-RAAM-Mosad-BND nexus at bay since 2002 and is also supporting the security forces fighting the war in the northwest and separatist movement in the south zealously. In the process, large numbers of its members have lost their lives at the hands of foreign paid saboteurs.
The Army and ISI are defending the motherland stretching from the peaks of Siachin in the north to the deserts of Sindh and barren hills of Balochistan in the south under extremely adverse conditions. Under extraordinary stressful conditions when the very existence of the country is under grave threat, putting the premier institutions faced with an existential threat under further stress and strain through slanderous media campaign is highly undesirable.
The adversaries of Pakistan consider the armed forces and the ISI as the only bottlenecks in their way to accomplish their sinister designs against Pakistan. The US has invested $ 60 million to buy the loyalties of Pak media while India and Israel too have invested heavy amounts to influence leading TV channels and newspapers. The Christian Science Monitor dated September 2, 2011 reported that two journalists belonging to ‘Express News’ and ‘Dunya News’ filing reports back home from Washington drew their salaries from the US State Department funding through a nonprofit intermediary. Despite their best efforts they have been unable to weaken the trunk of these two organizations.
Apart from demonizing Islam and secularizing the society through media, the other major task of paid Pakistani journalists, anchors and pseudo intellectuals is to build perceptions and create hatred against the Army and ISI. The invisible hand of sabotage and subversion has caused incalculable damage to the fabric of the country. The agents of subversion are busy polluting the minds of the people and weakening the country under a well-defined agenda. Unfortunately, a section of media is playing into the hands of our adversaries of Pakistan for the sake of material benefits.
It is indeed surprising that the head of ISI was callously attacked by the media barons for 8 hours and the government as well as PEMRA remained mum and paralyzed. Other TV channels acted more responsibly. Response of civil society is very encouraging. I have received dozens of messages condemning Geo TV. There are wide calls to block Geo TV for defaming ISI. A petition has been filed in a law court seeking registration of treason case against Jang & Geo Group and his owner Mir Shakilur Rahman and Amir Ali, brother of Hamid Mir.
Being the member of Executive Committee of PESS headed by Lt Gen Hamid Gul, I am in a position to feel the pulse of well over 2.5 million retired officers, JCOs, NCOs and men. They all are highly perturbed and resentful over the perverse role of media and inaction of the government in taking to task the black sheep within media and controlling the unruly and undisciplined media indulging in yellow journalism. Government’s inaction has given rise to suspicions about its intentions and motives.
A judicial commission has been established to probe the incident and come out with its findings. Till the finalization of the report by the Commission, all concerned parties should exercise restraint and refrain from drawing hasty conclusions. PEMRA should come out of its hibernation and start managing the media houses and guide them that instead of indulging in sensationalism, defamation and spreading despondency, they should play a constructive role in bridging divides within the society and promoting harmony between the State institutions.