Courtesy of: Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.In the summertime, people flock to Montreux, Switzerland
, to follow the jazz festival. This week, though, the ‘performance’ is by a positively un-swinging lot, part of the (in theory) very serious Geneva 2 conference on Syria.
What is Geneva 2 for? It has nothing to do with ‘peace’. It won’t yield an international deal to end the Syrian tragedy. The horrible war facts on the ground will remain facts, and horrible; many perpetrators won’t be gathering in Montreux. Syrian civil society has not even been invited.
And then the whole charade degenerated into pitiful parody even before it started.
This past Sunday, it seemed that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had decided to spring out of his trademark vegetable slumber, inviting Iran to Geneva 2. The invitation lasted less than 24 hours; after the requisite ‘pressure’ by Washington – instigated by those sterling democrats of the House of Saud – it was duly rescinded.
Thus we had Ban Ki-moon parroting the US State Department, according to which Tehran had not agreed to the principles of the Geneva 1 communiqué, which called for a sustained cessation of armed violence. Iranian diplomats strongly begged to differ, stressing how Tehran understands that the basis of the talks is the full implementation of the previous, June 2012 conference, even if Iran was not part of it.
Ban Ki-moon also invited the Holy See, as well as Australia, Luxembourg, Mexico and the Republic of Korea, among others, to Montreux; as if these actors had any clue about what’s going on in Syria.
But the apex of the farce is that Iran cannot go, while Saudi Arabia and Qatar – who continue to weaponize every Syrian ‘rebel’ in sight, from young adrenaline seekers to Western-supported Takfiris and beheaders – can. And will.
Members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) shoot at advancing government troops in the al-Jadeida neighbourhood, in the Old City of Aleppo, on August 21, 2012. (AFP Photo)
Meet ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Al-Qaeda
Time to break it down. Washington ruled that Iran cannot be in Montreux because it supports Assad. It’s as simple as that.
Washington dictating to the UN is the norm. Washington dictating to the Syrian exiled ‘opposition’ is also the norm. Everyone is a puppet in this lethal comedy.
As for Western spin doctors, they are dizzier than flies over corpses. As part of the new Western myth that the Saudi Arabia-sponsored Islamic Front – formed last September against the US-backed Supreme Military Council – are nothing but ‘good Al-Qaeda’, now we have top ‘rebels’ routinely acknowledging to Western corporate media they are, well, Al-Qaeda.
Tens of thousands of foreign jihadis using Al-Qaeda’s network of safe houses in Turkey – well, that’s not such a big deal. As the narrative goes, ‘our new friends’ in the Islamic Front are just ‘conservative Salafi Muslims’. What if they are fond of the odd torture binge and will think nothing of slaying the odd Shiite or Christian? Not such a big deal.
As for the ‘bad’ Al-Qaeda gang – from Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – they are on a roll. After all, they are the ones with fighting experience/leverage on the ground. And when push comes to shove, they just run yet another ring around clueless Western necks.
Take Ahrar al-Sham. They now lead the Islamic Front – and talk to the Americans. And guess what; they’re going to Montreux! The icing on this Takfiri cake is that, ultimately, their “interests” are being defended by no less than US Secretary of State John Kerry. Washington promoting al-Qaeda? Well, we’ve seen that movie before.
Should I stay or should I go?
Washington is selling the fiction it is ‘leading’ Geneva 2 to ‘reconstruct’ Syria. This is utter nonsense.
Theoretically – and even that is still extremely debatable – the Obama administration’s core interest in Southwest Asia is to negotiate a very complex deal with Iran, which will take most of 2014.
Ultimately, this whole charade is between Washington and Tehran. The US Navy won’t make Assad ‘go’anytime soon – or ever; so everything, in theory, remains on the table.
A Syrian army tank is seen in the Christian town of Maalula on September 11, 2013. (AFP Photo)
And everyone else, the UN, the Holy See, the House of Saud, are just onlookers, even as several players, from the EU to India, China and Japan, can think of nothing but finally normalizing everything with Iran.
The Syrian government, for its part, will be in Montreux; it had agreed to the conference long ago. Yet President Assad laid down; he won’t ‘leave’, as US President Barack Obama demanded. He won’t let the foreign-sponsored ‘opposition’ take over. And he may even contest the next presidential elections.
Assad went for the jugular when he said Geneva 2 should be about his own ‘War on Terror’. Terror, incidentally, widely supported by the West.
So under this perspective, even Washington needs Assad not to go. The bottom line is that the only players who really want Assad to go are the House of Saud and the House of Thani in Qatar. Many in the West have now realized Assad must stay to fight ‘the terrorists’.
The notoriously shady US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford – who always pops up when the US is destabilizing something – this time called an urgent meeting in Istanbul, supported by Turkey and Qatar, and pulled a ‘go to Montreux because I said so’ shtick.
He just needed to follow the money. Those who won’t travel – a lot of Syrian National Coalition (SNC) hangers-on – will find themselves short of cash.
So listen to the sound of ‘patriotism’ talking. The SNC, which was always rabidly against any talks with Assad, suddenly said they’ll go, even though one-third of their shady members boycotted the Istanbul meeting.
What’s even more farcical is what Ford may have told the SNC stalwarts – still subject to much debate across the Middle East. If Ford really said that Bandar Bush’s strategy has been a total failure (in fact turning Syria into an Al-Qaeda hub) then this points to the Obama administration, for all practical purposes, sharing the same objective as Assad’s: fighting ‘terror’.
Still, Geneva 2 won’t ‘solve’ anything. Iran and Russia will keep supporting Damascus. The desert wasteland from Syria to Iraq will keep being occupied by Bandar Bush-supported and Gulf-supported hardcore sectarian jihadis.
The war will keep spreading deeper into Lebanon. The government in Damascus won’t collapse. The refugee crisis will soar. And the West will keep striking a pose of being concerned with ‘terror’.
All that non-jazz in Montreux will come to nothing. And then some bureaucrat will call for a Geneva 3.
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