The Real Story at Geneva II: Foreign Meddling in Syria ‘Must Stop’

John Glaser, January 22, 2014

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The Geneva II talks on the Syrian civil war in Switzerland started today. In the lead up to the conference, the media focus, unfortunately, had been on which parts of the Syrian opposition would attend and whether or not Iran, the Assad regime’s close ally, would attend (the U.S. pressured the UN to uninvite Iran at the last minute for not accepting the Geneva Communique).

And today, the media focused on two developments: (1) Secretary of State John Kerry’s hardline rhetoric about the Syrian regime’s crimes and how Assad cannot be a part of any transition government, and (2) the tense back-and-forth between UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem, the latter being nothing more than a disagreement over how much time the foreign minister should have to speak.

From where I’m sitting, the real story of the Geneva II conference was all but ignored. It was summed up by Ban Ki-Moon in a press conference following the talks when he said, “all of the countries who have been providing arms to either side must stop and encourage them to engage in political dialogue.”

This opinion, which Moon has repeatedly expressed, echoes that of countless other experts. Back in 2012, UN rights chief Navi Pillay condemned the continued flow of weapons from foreign powers to both sides in the Syrian conflict. “The ongoing provision of arms to the Syrian government and to its opponents feeds additional violence,” she said in the text of remarks made to the Security Council.

James Dobbins, director of the RAND a former US assistant secretary of state told NPR recently, “the external environment in which sides are providing arms to both of the contending parties—all of that suggests that the situation’s going to continue to deteriorate.”

When both sides to a civil war are emboldened by their foreign benefactors, neither feels vulnerable enough to compromise. This virtually ensures perpetual stalemate.

“A continuous supply of weapons to both sides—whether from Russia, Iran or the Gulf States—only maintains the parties’ perception that fighting is a better option than negotiating,” Dr. Florence Gaub, a researcher at the NATO Defense College, wrote at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last year. “This explains why, in terms of statistical probability, an external supply of weapons lengthens a civil war.”

The U.S. has grown more and more trepidatious about the Syrian opposition. Some rebels are getting training and weapons from the U.S., but it is by no means significant (many U.S. officials have even said an Assad victory would be better than al-Qaeda-linked rebels grabbing hold the reins of state). But U.S. allies, particularly in the Arab Gulf states, do continue to aid extremist militants in Syria. Iran and Russia, wary of U.S. (or U.S.-allied) gains in Syria, continue to fully back the Assad regime. Some political will, and a minimal amount of honesty (which we didn’t get from Kerry), could put a stop to this and help mitigate the conflict considerably.




15 Responses to “The Real Story at Geneva II: Foreign Meddling in Syria ‘Must Stop’”

  1. Glaser,

    You oft allude to "Wars of Choice"….what would be any other kind of War?

    The Syrian government, which has a seat at the UN btw, is more than justified in putting down an insurgency of foreigners and even a small minority of "its own people" on its own land…an insurgency heavily funded by foreigners btw…

    "International Law" is very clear on this….

    You can't just change the rules of the game in the middle to serve your own purposes….that is not "law", it's called "cheating"…

  2. I think it's inaccurate to imply that the USA definitely doesn't want Al Qaeda to take over Syria. It's accurate to say that the USA wants people to THINK it doesn't want Al Qaeda to take over Syria, and probably that some people in the USA don't want that.

    However, rhetoric from repeat proven liars means nothing, so we have to look at evidence.

    Al Qaeda is quite often used by the USA to overrun non-US-subservient countries.

    This is the fifth time overall, the second time under Obama, that the USA has used, fought on the side as, or trained, funded, or supported Al Qaeda.

    1) Afghanistan starting in 1979 – We have pictures of Carter admin officials holding AK47 with Osama bin Laden
    2) Kosovo in the 1990s – Clinton literally helicoptered Al Qaeda members into Kosovo to overthrow Milosovic, and supported them in doing so
    3) Bosnia – Same thing
    4) Obama illegally provided air-strike cover for Al Qaeda as they overran Libya and murdered Gadhafi
    5) The USA is indeed overtly funding jihadists in Syria, and as the NY Times reports there is no secular element to the armies fighting against Assad. Obama also strongly supports all the countries that ARE providing direct support to Al Qaeda and Al Nusra, etc., including Saudi Arabia, to whom Obama, in 2013, sold 60 billion dollars worth of lethal weapons, as well as almost a billion dollars of internationally banned cluster bombs, as Glaser reported. In 2009, the Obama white house stated, leaked by Wikileaks, that Saudi Arabia is the WORLD's BIGGEST supporter of Sunni terrorism, including Al Qaeda and Al Nusra (and the Taliban, btw). Seymour Hersh reported in 2007 that Bush was training and arming jihadists to overthrow Syria. Obama and Hillary Clinton continued these plans verbatim, and we are now at 100,000 + plus deaths in a terrorist war to unseat one of the last remaining non-US subservient countries in the resource rich Mid East. The entire purpose of the project, from the US standpoint, is to weaken an Iranian ally, maybe get US bases and a compliant regime there, then go for Iran.

    This has been the USA's project since 1945 – achieving total domination over the Middle East.

    When resources were discovered on land promised to the Native Americans, the USA would suddenly say that for "national security" they needed to go ahead and transfer the Natives away and take that land. The USA has simply expanded into doing this on a global scale.

    More detail: http://empireslayer.blogspot.com/2014/01/what-usa

  3. Kerry’s agenda is to, ” kill thee birds with one stone,” destroy Syria with the help of Al-Qaeda,as a result the Russians will disappear, at which point the Iranians will be ripe for the picking.

  4. "GOD BLESS AMERICA"

  5. The US was built on cheating.

  6. Why would God create so many people just to let them be slaughtered by barbaric thugs?

  7. […] John Glaser writes for Antiwar: […]

  8. Augustbrhm: For some people, your sarcasm is a little too subtle…

  9. Eventually, the US' meddling will come back to haunt them. We are NOT as exceptional as some think – by a long shot.

  10. This is FALSE equivalency. The argument made here is that A LEGITIMATE STATE CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO PUT DOWN AN INSURGENCY, than we are going down slippery slope of denying fundamental rights of people to be protected by their government. In the first weeks of Syrian protests it looked like another Arab spring. But it VERY QUICKLY became apparent that it was the case of an attempt by overthrow government by MASKED, HOODED THUGHS. More and more it looked like Lybia scenario, with mercenaries pooring in, armed and well supplied with funds. The garden variety of these groups is IRRELEVANT. They are Al-Qaeda or not, religious or not, Saudi jaibirds or psycohopats, naive religious recruits from Balkans, London, or Pakistan. They ALL are cruel to civians or captured soldiers AS A RULE. The purpose is to EXRACT OBEDIENCE AND FEAR.

    Syrian people, without exception, support their army, and their government. So, to say that the Government should be denied arms, as if they are the equally responsible for the acts of unspeakable terror over population? The only REAL incentive for the West to try hard to shut the Syrian people up is the FEAR, that should they walk away from this conflict VICTORIOUS, then the crimes will ALL COME OUT. There are hundreds of thousands of witnesses to tell their story, and those that have kept insisting that the "rebels" should be armed, and have supplied them with not just money and arms, but wiht the MEDIA PROTECTION. Thus, what all the supporters of the TERRORISTS are seeking, is some sort of new government that will WHITEWASH THEIR CRIMES, cover them up from the judgement of history. But it will not be the first time. The purpose of the courts in Hague is to convict the victims, make then be villains, and absolve all of those in the west from their culpability. Be that Rwanda, or former Yugoslavia.

  11. We are not exceptional at all – unless you want to count exceptionally violent.

  12. The argument made by the US requiring Assad to step down doesn't pass the smell test. If the US were attacked by vicious 'rebels' with guns the way that Syria was, you can bet any president would use all the tremendous power at his disposal to put it down. We have an historical precedent to draw from. When the Southern states left the Union (remember they wanted to leave peacefully), Lincoln hit them with every thing he had. Instead of 100,000+ deaths as in Syria, there were 800,000+ by latest estimates (which includes thousands of Southern civilians). Now Lincoln, our greatest mass murderer, is thought by many historians to be our greatest president.

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  14. I wish general Moon-bat would come clean and tell Saudi Arabia and the US that they are the ones who are prolonging the war in Syria.

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