Friday, February 21, 2014

PUTIN’S ULTIMATE TEST: Ghassan Kadi 21 February 2014


Ghassan Kadi
21 February 2014

The world has already shifted from the single polarity of the post-USSR era of the so-called “New World Order” into a multipolar world in which the traditional stakeholders of the global wealth (ie Western nations) are falling heavily under debt. Needless to say their currencies, the US Dollar and the Euro are under severe threat. This Western predicament is further enhanced by the economic rise of the BRICS nations.

But this is not all. Militarily-speaking, the rise of China has been crowned recently by building its own aircraft carrier. There is little doubt that several more will be built. Chinese naval vessels are gallivanting around the China Sea posing real concerns for Japan, America’s regional ally and protectorate. The Chinese are little intimidated by the US-Japanese defence treaties and are simply doing what they believe is going to serve China’s interest, and in a manner as if the USA does not exist at all.

 India’s rise to military superpowerhood is not to be overlooked either. Apart from its nuclear capabilities, the Indian fleet is a force to be reckoned with.

 But of course history repeats itself, and more so frequently in this time and age. America’s biggest military rival will remain to be Russia, at least for a while yet being the nuclear power that it is and possessing superior military technology.

 Putin’s Russia has already dug the first stake into the heart of the New World Order five years ago, in Georgia to be exact. Later on, even though Russia did not veto the UNSC no fly resolution in Libya, Russia made a loud and clear message to the Americans that Syria is a red line that Russia will not allow them to cross. As a result, America suffered a huge humiliation and its dreams of bombarding Damascus into smithereens were put to rest when in last September Russia shot down a US missile heading towards Damascus and diverted another one by hacking into its system.

 Some observers deny this incident, but no observer with any level of vision can deny the sudden backdown of America not only from attacking Syria, but also how it went into negotiations with the Iranians.

 Any political observer who does not see and recognise those momentous events is either in deliberate denial or suffers from lack of clear vision. But to take this hysteria to the extent of promoting that there is a joint American-Russian-Iranian conspiracy against Syria is vexatious, stupid and even possibly malicious.

The West is so bemused by the Russian rise that it tried to mobilize all it can to use the Sochi Games as a political football by capitalizing on the gay rights issue. Apart from the anti-Russian antics by Western gay activists, the American NGO known as “Russia Freedom Fund” is an organization that receives tax-deductable donations. When tax deductions are granted, this stipulates government subsidies. Now why would the American government give this organization a tax deduction status if it does not see this as part of its media war campaign against Russia?

But this is not all again. The West is taking confrontation with Russia to territories that Putin is going to be very unhappy with; Ukraine.

 The events of Ukraine mimic and mirror what happened in Daraa, Syria three years ago almost to every detail. Snipers are aiming at demonstrators and police personnel. Money is being paid for people to demonstrate. Dissent groups are being financed by the West.

 Even Pussy Riot fit into the anti-Russian evil Western web.

The events in Ukraine are not any less serious than the Russian incursion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. That event happened at America’s door steps, and now the Americans are hotting up the Cold War by taking this challenge to Russia’s door step.

The question is whether or not there is enough patriotism and clear vision among the Ukrainians like there is among the majority of Syrians who stood by their army and president.

The events of Ukraine can prove to be Putin’s ultimate test. The way out of it needs extreme skill, strength and determination. Thus far, Putin has come out from each skirmish unscathed and smiling. For the sake of world peace and order, one should hope that he comes out as a victor.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"BEFORE" OR "AFTER" By Ghassan Kadi 18 February 2014


Ghassan Kadi
18 February 2014

Less than 24 hours after September 11, I called a friend of mine who lived in Manhattan. At that time, no one had yet been allowed anywhere near Ground Zero and the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq had not yet happened and not even September 11was called September 11. Yet, the event was clearly a huge one, and during the conversation, with clarity, I remember saying to my friend that this day will be marked in history as a turning point and that in the future, we will be referring to events in terms of being “before or after”.

Today, we often hear and use the term “before September 11” and “after September 11” without stopping twice to think that it was only a few minutes that changed the world.

Today also, we are witnessing another history-changing event. It is not one of such short duration, but its outcome, either way, is going to have an effect that will change history.

Ironically, we do not refer to the Levant today as “the Levant of after Sykes-Picot”; but in reality it is. Little has changed since the winners of WWI (ie British and French) divided the spoils of the war and partitioned the Levant. Even an event as big as the inception of Israel did not in effect change that formula and/or the borders of the newly created states of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

But this post Sykes-Picot formula is likely to change. It will change once we start talking about “before” or  “after the war against Syria”. Historically, Syria has been under attack by many nations over the centuries, but apart from the Crusaders, there has never been a time during which Syria/the Levant has been under such a Biblical onslaught. This is utterly unprecedented.

As the struggle is becoming more and more transparent for those who were refusing to see it in the beginning, the most obvious facet of this war is that it is a war between fundamentalist Islamism and secular nationalism. Divides of this nature are often least spoken about in most nations. They get ignored and shoved away in fear of creating tension and divisions. Even in the United States itself, the schism between the ultra-Right religious fundamentalists and the liberal sector of the community is not one that anyone wants to bring out to the open. The divide will continue and fester, and it may never have a total blowout.

In Syria however, the gloves are off and it is already an all-out war. Reportedly over 140 thousand people have already been killed and more to come. A vicious war of this extent cannot and will not end with half measures and resolutions that are meant to be politically-correct.

This is a war that will have clear edge decisive endings. There will be outright winners and outright losers.

If the fundamentalists win, they will not stop at Syria. They will be unstoppable; they will want to overtake Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. One of their organizations already calls itself ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). They have already declared what is their agenda is and what they will do to the current Sykes-Picot borders.
Fundamentalist Islamic movements have been on the move for a few decades now. Their ultimate objective is to turn the whole world to Sharia law. If they capture Syria, the rest of the Levant will fall like chess tokens, and the rest of the Islamic World will eventually follow suit.

Their win in the Levant will fuel similar actions in the whole Islamic World all the way from Morocco to Indonesia, those states which will be under threat of being overtaken by revolutions seeking the establishment of Sharia law.
This is a critical time for Islamic fundamentalism; it will either gain momentum after the war against Syria or it will be stifled.

On the other hand, the liberal voices in the Levant have been feeling the threats of the Islamists for decades, and for all those decades they played the diplomatic game that American liberals are now playing with the TEA party. But should the Syrian liberals win, they will want to make sure that they have obliterated fundamentalism from its core. There will be no half measures, no diplomacy, and no holy shrines for the Islamists to hide within.

Syria will not be able to live in peace if it kicks them out of its own borders only. They will have to be chased up in Lebanon. Syrian troops will have to enter Lebanon invited or otherwise kissing the Sykes-Picot accord goodbye. With the aid of Hezbollah and Lebanese liberals, the Islamists will have to be crushed in Lebanon. The same will apply to Jordan and Iraq. The Islamists will have no place to hide in except Saudi Arabia, and the tide will change against their favour in the rest of the Islamic World.
If this leads to an all-out war between Syria and Saudi Arabia, then Syria will have no option but to keep chasing them up even if it had to crush them in their final resort, the Shrine of Mecca.

No one can foresee the future, and the above scenario may remain totally hypothetical. That said, there is little doubt that the outcome of the war will be decisive and that we will be talking about the course of history in terms of “before” or “after the war against Syria”.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

BANDAR'S LAST STAND By Ghassan Kadi 24 December 2013

By Ghassan Kadi
24 December 2013

Indications are that the USA is intent about fighting real fundamentalist terrorism at its grass root levels. After two failed wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, America was fooled By Saudi Arabia to believe that it can use those same terrorist elements to topple the government in Syria, and thus giving Hezbollah and Iran a very painful blow from which they cannot recover. The USA was led to believe that it can easily later on turn around to cull out the Islamists in Syria.

The plot did not work. Assad remains standing and the terrorists are becoming more powerful and more radicalized and out of control.

Under pressure from Russia and the turn of events, the USA had to make a U-turn realizing that Iran can play a big role in stabilizing the region, rather than destabilizing it. This angered both the Israelis and the Saudis. The Americans will have an uphill battle with their Israeli friends no doubt. They may even finally come to the understanding that supporting Israel is creating enemies and insecurity for America. But the question herein is what will they do with their Saudi friends?

America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is based, or should we say was based on two foundations; the former’s need for oil, and the common political enemy; ie the Iran/Syria/Hezbollah triangle.

This is at best a loveless marriage of convenience that has perhaps run its course. Even with all of its hypocrisies and double standards, America must find in its friendship with Saudi Arabia a major embarrassment. Among other things, this is the state where democracy is all but non -existent, a state that does not allow women basic rights including driving, and a state that does not allow churches to be built on its sand.

More importantly, this is the state that fosters, trains and finances Islamic terrorism. This has become more prominent after the fall of Bin Laden, a foe of the Saudi royal family, and Bandar Bin Sultan appointing himself as a Al-Qaeda surrogate financier. In doing so, Bandar was not only thus far able to use the group to fight for his agenda in Syria, but he managed to stifle their terrorism within Saudi Arabia itself and which threatened and crippled the kingdom with a series of explosions and attacks that spanned for nearly quite a few years that followed Operation Desert Storm on Iraq in 1991.

As the political alliance between the USA and Saudi Arabia is waning and coming to an abrupt and unsavoury end, the future of the economic alliance does not seem much rosier, at least not on the long run.

On one hand, the Saudis are tight-lipped about the amount of their oil reserves. The Americans have always expressed great dis-ease about this. On the other hand, the huge shale oil American deposits are tipped to eventually render America needless of importing Saudi oil and may in fact enable it to become a net exporter.

As far as the Saudi/American relationship is concerned, it is not exactly the time for the Saudis to play hard ball.

Saudi Arabia now seems to be isolated in its stand on Syria. The master mind of Saudi foreign politics, Bandar Bin Sultan dreamt of toppling the Assad government and to have it replaced by a fundamentalist Islamic regime and thereby isolating Iran and weakening Hezbollah. His dreams did not come to fruition and instead ended with America easing off sanctions against Iran and seemingly resolute on reaching a deal with Iran to stamp out fundamentalists.

Domestically, Bandar’s gamble with the USA and playing the game of the big boys is highly likely to shatter his dream to become the first grandson of the founding king Abdul-Aziz to assume the throne. All Saudi monarchs have thus far been the direct children of the founding father, but they are all getting very old and the squabble over the lineage cannot be age-based any longer. Bandar wanted to achieve victory over Iran in Syria and become the unrivaled successor of the throne.

All of this has vanished and the Saudi royal family will soon have to find itself having to choose between Bandar and perhaps the very survival of the royal family and the kingdom’s status quo.

More than two years into the war in Syria, after many temptations given to Russia and two humiliating visits to Putin, a series of false flags attacks in Syria which neither resulted in any UNSC resolutions let alone a unilateral American intervention, anguish is growing within Saudi Arabia resulting from his gambles, Bandar now realizes that he has painted himself into a corner.

Turkey has almost totally abandoned him, and Jordan is growing more concerned about its own interests in this fast-changing world. Qatar wiped its hands clean and gave him the captaincy of the Titanic. Israel cannot support him more overtly than it already does.

The only supporters he has left are the Islamist fighters in Syria and his cohorts in Lebanon (the so-called March 14th Coalition). The formers are losing ground under the Syrian Army on daily basis despite some setbacks. The latters do not stand a chance against the might of Hezbollah should they opt to rekindle the fire of civil war in Lebanon.

It must be said that the March 14th Coalition has been beating up the drums of civil war for a long time. They are bracing for orders from Bandar to light up the fire.

After all of his abysmal failures, what new tricks will Bandar try to, or effectively can pull out of his sleeve? To answer this question one has to be able to answer how far will a filthy rich psychopath go? His hinchmen in Syria are already at war. Will he give the go ahead to their Lebanese counter-part? The recent developments in Lebanon make this scenario look likely, but what achievements will Bandar receive as a result? Those groups cannot be put in the ally basket. Mercenaries would be a better description.

Bandar is highly unlikely to sit quietly in a corner and behave himself. But if he keeps causing more havoc, the next question may not be what will he do, but rather how will he be dealt with? If it comes to this, his peers and who is left of his allies may see him as a liability. In war games, assets deemed as liabilities get tagged as being disposable. The avenues of disposal are countless.

Bandar has already taken his last stand when the USA was forced to abort its attack on Syria.

(Sharmine Narwani wrote a very elaborate and balanced article about the seismic shift that is happening currently in the Middle East. The article is a highly recommended read. link below).

Originally published here: