By Edmond Y. Azadian
The bloodbath in Syria cannot be called a civil war, no matter how much the news media continues to promote that misnomer. What has happened was part of a Neocon plan of creating a domino effect to destroy stable regimes in the Middle East, beginning with Iraq, then Libya and Syria, with the end target being Iran.
The Bush-Cheney Administration did not have time to complete its plan, to which new life will be breathed after President Obama’s term expires in January, no matter which candidate wins.
Just as the Clinton Administration drew a line in the sand for Europe, by dismantling Yugoslavia and curtailing Russia’s influence on that continent Moscow tried to do the same in Syria, despite the fact that it had conceded that it was no longer a superpower.
Many interests and policies collide on the Syrian battlefront, with sometimes shifting allegiances — Al Nusra Front, Free Syrian Army, Ahrar El-Sham, ISIS, al Qaeda, etc. New factions with new names appear on the map and sometimes they disappear when funds and arms are cut off as most of these groups are composed of foreign mercenaries, disqualifying the strife from being called a “civil war.”
Despite pressure from the State Department and Neocons, President Obama thus far has been paying only lip service to the idea of regime change in Syria, because it is obvious to any informed observer what could happen when a strongman is removed: devastation and destabilization have been well-documented in Iraq, Libya and Yemen in the wake of this very action.
In the first two cases, there has been no tears shed in Israel, despite one million civilian deaths, 4,500 US war victims and an equal number of suicides among the US veterans of the Iraq war, because two major strongmen with hostile intentions have been removed.
A different picture is emerging in Syria’s case. First, confrontation with Russia is a real prospect and second (and ironically) all of the parties, except perhaps Ankara, openly and tacitly agree that the removal of the Assad regime will create a political vacuum and thus lead to an open invitation to Islamic extremists. Even Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu of Israel can see that a weakened President Assad in place is a surer guarantee for Israel’s security than a fragmented Syria where disparate militias are fighting on its border.
Another component of the irony is the warming up of relations between Israel and Russia. The recent appointment of Avigdor Lieberman was criticized severely in the West. Even the New York Times dedicated a scathing editorial characterizing the move as a further defeat of the two-state solution for the Palestinian Problem.
Only the Kremlin was discretely pleased by the promotion of a Russian-speaking politician in Israel. And that sentiment was expressed when Netanyahu visited Moscow last week to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
In the Syrian war theater, the scenario may change if Hillary Clinton succeeds President Obama, because she has been advocating the creation of a no-fly zone in Syria to escalate tensions with Russia and to please Turkey.
Contrary to the Turkish sultan’s wishes, President Obama refused the no-fly zone and continued supporting Kurdish forces in Syria.
However, since marching orders for any US move in the Middle East take Israeli concerns into consideration, that may change.
Turkey was not able to convince Washington to establish the no-fly zone on its border with Syria, to prevent the formation of a Kurdish enclave, yet President Erdogan has not given up hope and his surrogates and mercenaries are continuing his policy, which incidentally includes the destruction of Armenian settlement in Syria.
The once-prosperous Armenian community in Aleppo is overwhelmingly composed of descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors. Because of Turkey’s hostile intentions, Aleppo Armenians once again have become refugees. Armenians in Kessab are still recovering from the devastation brought by mercenaries operating under the direct order of the Turkish secret service, MIT.
Pitched battles are still raging in Aleppo, which is divided between government and rebel forces. The latter have been deliberately targeting the Armenian quarter, which has suffered numerous casualties.
Similar to the way an attack was planned to destroy the Armenian Martyrs’ Memorial in Deir Zor on the eve of the Genocide centennial, recently a bloody attack was directed at the Syriac Orthodox Church in Qamishli while Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, the patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church, was holding a special ceremony commemorating the 101st anniversary of the Assyrian Genocide by Turkey.
Aleppo was once the largest city in Syria, as well as its center for commerce, with a pre-war population of 2.3 million; now that figure has been reduced to one million. The Armenian community there once numbered 60,000 and now only 8,000 remain in the ruins of that devastated city. During a recent offensive against Holy Trinity (Zvartnots) Church, the Armenian maternity hospital and many historic and cultural buildings have been damaged.
Armenia’s ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Arman Kirakossian, has lodged a protest at the 105th session of the OSCE permanent council, strongly condemning the targeted attacks on Christian neighborhoods in Aleppo which have killed many Armenians.
According to Kirakossian, ethnic and religious minorities, including the Armenians, are key targets for militant groups such as Islamic State or Al Nusra, as well as al Qaeda. “The actions of these groups seriously threatens the OSCE regional security,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s hands are full: he is waging a war against the Kurds and has already displaced more than 500,000 civilians in the region. Only in the last month, he has killed 6,000 young Kurds, under the guise of combatting terrorism. Because of this carnage, he has become a pariah in the West. The Turkish economy and tourism, once popular with Europeans, now are mostly dependent on extreme Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Azerbaijan.
A tenuous cease-fire is still being observed in Syria, but war in Aleppo is still raging with the Russian air force pounding Turkish surrogates there.
Recent territorial gains have emboldened President Assad, who has vowed to recover the country’s territory “inch by inch.” But above all, he has proclaimed, “Erdogan’s Ottoman dreams will find their graves in Aleppo.”
This rhetoric is no big consolation to the 8,000 Armenians trapped in Aleppo’s ruins. This five-year-long tragedy may extend another five years, which means the certain extinction of this once-vibrant Armenian community.
Syria’s neighbors and their overlords can change the course and the destiny of this beleaguered country if they can find a common cause. Meanwhile, the Genocide continues for Aleppo Armenians.