A Catalogue of Failures in Syria Interventions

John Glaser, November 05, 2012

Joshua Landis – who was consistently against US intervention in Syria before he was for sending in heavy weapons to rebels – writes that the Obama administration’s latest effort to set up a new council of Syrian opposition leaders to organize the country towards regime change and to serve as part of a post-Assad interim government “seems doomed.”

Washington’s Plan A, which was to create the SNC, went down in dust. By all accounts, Clinton cannot even stand to hear the name, SNC, uttered any longer.

Plan B was to set up the US office in Istanbul to meet and take the measure of Syrian militia leaders and local coordinating committee directors. The militia leaders scared Washington and the CIA. The word got out that they were “penetrated” by al-Qaida and Salafi types.

And Plan C, Landis writes, “is now in the making,” as the State Department tries again to meddle in Syria to produce a post-Assad ruling coalition Washington approves of. But this effort seems doomed for failure too, not only like its two predecessors (see plans A and B), but like Washington’s past interventions in Syria aimed at choosing who would rule:

This effort is almost identical to US and British efforts of the 1950s to stop Syria from slipping into the hands of the USSR, Nasser and the leftist Baathists.

Eisenhower and Anthony Eden did everything they could in 1956 to force Syria’s urban elites to cooperate in a pro-Western coup, but to no avail. The two largest parties in parliament – the People’s Party of Aleppo and the National Party of Damascus refused to cooperate among themselves in order to avoid revolution .  Pro-Western Syrian politicians insulted and fought amongst themselves with such ferocity, that Western diplomats pulled their hair with despair as they sought to keep Syria from going “commie.”

When the coup failed, many of Syria’s leading pro-Western notables were accused of treason and fled the country. In 1957, the US sought to carry out another putsch, this time on its own. The “American coup”, as it was named, was no more successful. Some of the CIA operatives in charge of handling the Syrians are still alive. Additional Syrian politicians sympathetic to the West were forced to flee the country. Destabilized by Washington’s failed coup making, Syria announced the creation of the United Arab Republic only months later. Nasser become president and carried out wide-ranging land reform in order to destroyed the economic underpinnings of the urban notables that had allied with the West.

Today, Washington is again trying to rally the pro-Western elites of Syria into putting their shoulders to a common wheel with America. In 1957, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq cooperated in Washington’s efforts for regime change. Today Qatar replaces Iraq, but the line up of states helping the US in its “struggle for Syria” has hardly changed. Other aspects that have not changed are the infighting among Syria’s elites and the general resentment and distrust that Syrians share toward the US .

Another option is to recognize that Washington lacks both the ability and the right to tinker in the affairs of Syria. How many past failures have to bear this out for people to simply acknowledge the fact?




11 Responses to “A Catalogue of Failures in Syria Interventions”

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