On Dec. 11, the U.S. took what the Obama administration calls a “big step.” It formally recognized the Syrian Opposition Council as the sole “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. Most observers were not surprised: Washington and its allies have been laboring mightily for months to create the very organization they now “recognize.”
Just before the announcement, a firestorm of media frenzy accused Syria of possessing weapons of mass destruction. NATO then deployed six batteries of Patriot missile systems along Turkey’s border with Syria. Yet, unable to sustain this accusation, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on the same day that the U.S. formally recognized the opposition, downplayed the so-called danger from Syrian chemical weapons. “At this point the intelligence has really kind of leveled off,” Panetta told reporters. (AP, Dec. 11)
A key point in the U.S. recognition was to ensure that the “official” opposition will be a pliant tool of U.S. and Western interests. President Obama made it clear in an interview with ABC News on Dec. 12 that there were definite strings attached: “So we will provide them recognition and obviously with that recognition comes responsibilities on the part of that coalition,” he said. “It is a big step.”
It is obvious that U.S. imperialism has set up this “official” opposition as a means to make military aid and even outright military intervention in Syria more palatable to the world’s peoples. The administration has been very clear about its hopes for the region.
“I would remind you of how this went in the Libya context where we were able to take progressive steps … and to advance the way we dealt with them politically,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said. (AP, Dec. 11)
Nuland was referring to the so-called Libyan National Transitional Council, which used the same designation of “legitimate representative” to open an office in Washington and access billions of dollars in assets frozen in U.S. banks that had belonged to the government of Moammar Gadhafi. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens then went to Benghazi, Libya, as an envoy — accompanied by numerous CIA operatives — to help direct the Libyan rebels.
But the new Libyan regime proved unable to extend its control as planned. In October, some of Washington’s former allies attacked and burned the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and killed Stevens and three CIA operatives doing security there.
Washington is now willing to risk using the most fanatic groups of killers to destroy Syria’s government, economy and society, even as it attempts to keep them under control and prevent another “blowback.”
The Syrian government and people, however, are still fighting the imperialist puppets. It is the Syrians who must determine who their legitimate representatives are, not the corporate-minded strategists in the U.S. and Europe. It’s up to the anti-war movement here to help keep the imperialists out of Syria.