On last week’s “Community Conversations” hosted my Mike Honig (ThinkwingRadio.com), over a couple of days, there were discussions about the situation in Syria. You can hear those shows at the links below.
- KPFT Open Journal – Community Conversation – Daily Call-in KPFT, 2012-07-31) (Starts @ 6m15s) TOPICS: Recap of Dispute Resolution Council (DRCHouston.org), Mitt’s International Gaffe Tour, Business ethics (is it right just because it’s legal), Occupy Movement, Indian national electric grid failure (2nd day); is it coming soon to a power grid near you? Syrian civil war, now in Aleppo. Are the echoes of WW1 still resonating violently today, particularly in the Arab world? Is it time for an interstate flood and drought control system to be built spanning the nation?
- KPFT Open Journal – Community Conversation – Daily Call-in ( KPFT, 2012-08-01) (Starts @ 6m20s) TOPICS: Recap of Syrian Civil War discussion, US election integrity, using the word ‘rape’ as a metaphor: okay or insensitive? Do we need third or fourth political parties? Feeding the poor: FreeToGiveHouston.org
The caller comments and my responses during those shows encouraged one listener to initiate what became this email exchange. I am reproducing it here because it was interesting, intelligent, courteous and thoughtful, and the writer included documentation linked or attached to support the writer’s points.
Please note that the viewpoints expressed in these messages are exclusively mine, Nesta’s, or those of any sources cited, and not those of KPFT or its management.
All typos and misspellings are the errors of the respective writers and their spellcheck.
Nesta and I would be most interested in seeing what thoughts and comments which readers of this exchange might contribute.
Sent: Friday, August 03, 2012 7:07 PM
From: Nesta Ras
Subject: Community Conversation on KPFT
Hello Mike Honig
I was able to listen to Community Conversation a couple of days during the time you were hosting the show on behalf of Duane Bradley.
There were a couple of times when you were asked about the ongoing conflict in Syria. I was very surprised to hear your standard response to a very complex situation, with many players, each with their own agendas. To hear you respond with the standard State Department/Fox News type of unipolar and biased statements – I think – does a disservice to the listeners to KPFT, who deserve (at least) somewhat accurate information and an informed response.
Moreover, I think you do yourself a disservice by not attempting to avail yourself of at least a minimal spectrum of information from different different points of view and vested interests that are widely available on the internet. As you state on your website, ” I believe that diverse and accurate information is the essential source of wise decision-making” (and with this I agree wholeheartedly), this should be apply to the topics you are likely very well versed in as well as the ones you might not be as knowledgeable about.
I have added an article that I believe is a excellent analysis of the scope of what is happening and how it is playing out in Syria. Whether you agree with it or not, I hope that you could access some of the numerous news and opinion websites – particularly foreign news websites who are not projecting an Americanist worldview.
You might be familiar with the following sites – but if not – please at least take a peruse. They might not be your politics but they diffinately broaden the canvass of opinions and information you might use to balance one “fact” against another, ultimately attempting to find a least a kernel of truth between the lines.
Thanks for reading…
The Syrian Intelligence War: A Tale of Two Security Headquarters By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya Global Research, July 31, 2012
There is much more to the conflict in Syria than meets the eye. Syria is currently the scene of a cold war between the US, NATO, Israel, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on one side and Russia, China, Iran, and the Resistance Bloc on the other hand. Amidst the fighting between the Syrian government and anti-government forces, an intense intelligence war has also been taking place.
Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundes Nachrichtendienst (BND, Federal Intelligence Service), has been pointing its finger at Al-Qaeda for the bombings in Syria. This, however, has the effect of hiding and detracting the role that the intelligence services of the US and its allies have played. By crediting Al-Qaeda, the Bundes Nachrichtendienst is helping get Washington and its allies off the hook. Albeit Al-Qaeda is far more than just a US intelligence asset, the organization and label of Al-Qaeda is a catch-all term that is used to camouflage the operations of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other affiliated intelligence services.
Syrian intellectuals and scientists have also been reportedly assassinated in Damascus. Like in Iraq and Iran, it is probably the work of Israel’s Mossad and part of Tel Aviv’s policy of crippling scientific and technological advancement in enemy states. Informed sources in Washington have already clarified that Israel is helping the Free Syrian Army and actively participating in the intelligence war against Syria. An unnamed US official has confirmed to David Ignatius that both the CIA and Mossad are involved in Syria.  In his own words: “Scores of Israeli intelligence officers are also operating along Syria’s border, though they are keeping a low profile.”  A Qatari defector in Venezuela has also been reported to have divulged that the Qataris have been outsourced intelligence work against Syria by the CIA and Mossad.
The Bombing of the Syrian National Security Headquarters and its Crisis Unit in Damascus
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the bombing of the Syrian National Security Headquarters in the northwest Damascene neighbourhood of Al-Rawda on July 18, 2012. Very little is actually known about what happened exactly. Moreover, Syrian television and media did not show scenes of the explosion as people have become accustomed to. This may be due to the security-based nature of the bombing location.
Key members of Syria’s security and military command structure, Dawoud Rajiha, Assef Shawkat, and Hassan Turkmani, were all killed on July 18. Rajiha was the Syrian defence minister, deputy prime minister, and deputy commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces. Assef Shawkat was the Syrian deputy defence minister and the husband of Bashar Al-Assad’s older sister Bushra. Hassan Turkmani was the Syrian assistant vice-president, head of Syria’s crisis management operations, and the army general that was formerly minister of defence from 2004 to 2009. Hisham Ikhtiyar (Bakhtiar/Bakhtyar), the chief of the Syrian National Security Bureau, who was also hurt by the bombing, would also die from the injuries he sustained two days later on July 20. These men all formed what was called the Crisis Unit.
A moment should also be taken to note that the biographic background of these dead high-ranking Syrian officials disproves the allegations that the Syrian government is an Alawite regime. While Skawkat was an Alawite, Raijha was a Greek Orthodox Christian, Ikhtiyar a Sunni Muslim, and Turkmani was both an ethnic Turkoman and Sunni Muslim.
The Killing of Crisis Unit Members was executed by a Foreign Intelligence Service
Saudi sources have taken the opportunity to report that the Syrian officials were killed by Maher Al-Assad, the commander of the Syrian Republican Guard and President Al-Assad’s younger brother, because of a rift between them that saw the general’s supporting a political solution over a combative solution.  Pakistani sources, claiming to be receiving direct reports from the perpetrators of the July 18 bombing, contradicted the report by saying Maher Al-Assad was also a target and wounded during the attack.  The Pakistani source published the following:
“Everyone came in time, but Maher Al-Assad did not show up. Two men responsible for the mission waited for some time and pressed the remote control button as the dreaded general took his seat,” the [Syrian Free Army] source said.
“Our men filmed the video from a safe distance which would be made public at an appropriate time,” he revealed to this correspondent [that is, Naveed Ahmad]. One of the two daredevils was an employee of the government and worked in the very office the device was planted while the other was an outsider, according to the [Syrian Free Army] source.
The [Free Syrian Army] sources said Maher had brought his best friend Ghassan Bilal to the meeting as well. Maher al-Assad, who was never seen in the funeral of the key security aides assassinated in the attack, was in fact severely injured and according to a source de-capacitated. 
What the Pakistani source discloses is unreliable for several reasons. One of them is that the credibility of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is extremely questionable. The Free Syrian Army has an undeniable track-record for shoddy propaganda and lying. Syria has also rejected claims about the Free Syrian Army’s involvement and the assertions that the bomb was remote controlled. Lebanon’s Al-Manar, which is Hezbollah’s media network, has reported that there were two bombs and the first was actually dismantled by Assef Shawkat before the second one exploded.
This was actually the second attempt to kill this gathering of Syrian military, security, and intelligence officials. The out of control Free Syrian Army, whose reign of terror has seen brutal and senseless attacks on the civilian population and various acts of lawlessness and terrorism, had claimed on May 20 to have murdered these same Syrian officials earlier, as well as Interior Minister Mohammed Shaar and Baath Party leader Mohammad Saeed Bkheitan.  The claims of the Free Syrian Army turned out to be false the first time as the alleged assassinated Syrian officials appeared on television and denied the SFA’s claims. This time, however, there was no immediate credit taken and there was silence about the murders.
The Free Syrian Army was most probably bypassed by the US and its allies for this targeted attack. Instead of outsourcing the attack to the Free Syrian Army, the operation was probably directly conducted either by the intelligence agency of a NATO or GCC state or a consortium of intelligence agencies trying to topple the Syrian government.
A Damascene Operation Ajax
The attack on the Syrian National Security Headquarters in Al-Rawda was a carefully coordinated event that was synchronized with the assault on Damascus by the various armed groups operating under the umbrella and banner of the Free Syrian Army. It is clear that the US and its allies more or less used the same playbook of tactics in Damascus that were used in 2011 to topple the Jamahiriya government in Tripoli. Both are modern reincarnations of the infamous Operation Ajax, which was an intelligence operation launched in 1953 by the US and British governments to topple the democratic government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossageh in Iran. Washington and London installed a brutal and repressive dictatorship under Mohammed-Reza Shah in place of Dr. Mossadegh’s government and Iran was transformed from a constitutional monarchy into a de facto absolute monarchy.
The aim of the attack on high-ranking Syrian officials, especially important figures from the military and security apparatus that has been the backbone of the Syrian regime, was two-pronged. The attack’s aim was to cripple Syria’s command structure with the objective of disorganizing resistance to anti-government forces and creating internal panic within the hierarchy of the Syrian government and military. This psychological blow was supposed to lead to fear, defections, and betrayal as anti-government forces attacked the gates of the Syrian capital.
The mainstream media, in terms of what scholar Edward Said called “image making” experts, also played a supportive role in the US-sponsored siege of Damascus.  Securing a monopoly over information and air waves has also been a part of the intelligence war and a goal of the US and its allies. This is why the signals of Syrian broadcasters have been banned from the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) and Nilesat satellite feeds. This is aimed at preventing Syria from countering the claims of the US and its allies and proxies. By the same token the US and the EU are also trying to cut and block Iranian stations, which are challenging the accounts of the mainstream media in NATO and GCC states. This is also the reason why the US and British media very decidedly condemned the Iranian, Russian, and Chinese medias in their news coverage of the Syrian crisis, which challenge the tide of misinformation from the declining networks of CNN, Fox News, France 24, and Al Jazeera. 
Like the original Operation Ajax in 1953, in which the state-run British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) took part, the mainstream media broadcasts from NATO and GCC states have been synchronized to shape the events on the ground. The media war intensified when the anti-government forces launched their attack of Damascus. The aim was to fuel panic and fear with the hope of getting the Syrian government and the Syrian military to scatter and lose hope instead of facing the anti-government forces. The ultimate objectives are to demoralize the Syrian population and to weaken the Syrian government’s domestic support.
The media outlets of NATO and GCC states insinuated that President Assad and his family fled Damascus to Latakia and would seek asylum in the Russian Federation.  Again, the aims were to cause panic and both the governments in Syria and Russia rejected the false claims. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Assad was “not even thinking about” fleeing to Russia.  This was a repeat of British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s 2011 lie that Muammar Qaddafi had fled from Libya to Venezuela.  This behaviour also falls into line with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s false claim that Vladimir Putin had told him that President Assad had to step down. 
A New Saudi Intelligence Boss: Return of Prince “Bandar Bush”
Shortly after the bombing of the Syrian National Security Headquarters, a July 19 royal decree was enacted in Riyadh to replace Prince Muqrin (Mogren) bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud with Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al-Saud as the director-general of the external intelligence agency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-Istikhbarat Al-Amah (General Intelligence).
Since 2005, Prince Bandar has been the secretary-general of the Saudi Arabian National Security Council, but his new appointment has made heads turn and is being used to infer that Saudi Arabia has a far more aggressive foreign policy. What the appointment reflects is that Saudi Arabia is fully in the service of the US in its intelligence wars against Syria and Iran and that Washington’s men in Riyadh have a firm grip over Saudi Arabia’s intelligence, security, and military apparatus. In the words of the Saudi pundit Jamal Khashoggi and the chief of the Bahrain-based Al-Arab network: “Bandar is quite aggressive, not at all like a typical cautious Saudi diplomat. If the aim is to bring Bashar down quick and fast, he will have a free hand to do what he thinks necessary.” 
Prince Bandar, the son of the deceased Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, has been one of the central figures in creating Al-Qaeda and manipulating militant groups as geo-political tools for Washington since the Cold War. He was the Saudi ambassador to the US from 1983 to 2005. He has been a key figure in the intelligence war in Lebanon against Hezbollah and its allies and involved in exporting Fatah Al-Islam to Lebanon in an attempt to help the Hariri family fight Hezbollah and the March 8 Alliance.
Because he was the Saudi ambassador to Washington, he became the key figure in Saudi-US relations and developed close ties to the Bush family, which earned him the name “Bandar Bush.” It has been reported that the relationship was so close that the US Secret Service was part of his security detail. Moreover, he has had a long history with Robert Gates, starting from when Gates was a member of the CIA and helping mobilize fighters in Afghanistan against the Soviets. 
In 2009, Bandar may have attempted to launch a silent coup in Saudi Arabia to impose his father, Crown Prince Sultan, as the new absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia. He was not seen for several years and may have been in some form of confinement. Things changed, however, in 2011 with the Arab Spring; Prince Bandar, Washington’s man, was seen in public again.
Bandar may also be a key figure in Saudi negotiations with Pakistan to purchase nuclear bombs.  United Press International writes:
“As Iran becomes more dangerous and the United States becomes more reluctant to engage in military missions overseas, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may find that renewed military and nuclear cooperation is the best way to secure their interests,” observed Christopher Clary and Mara E. Karlin, former [Pentagon] policy advisers on South Asia and the Middle East. 
The picture that UPI depicts actually is misleading. If anyone is pushing the Saudis to acquire nuclear weapons, it is Washington. The US has also been heavily arming the Saudi regime and the GCC for the same reasons. One dimension of the US strategy is clear: Washington aims to create multiple and ongoing contained conflicts in the Middle East to bleed the region and keep it immobilized. Like the Israelis, the US wants perpetual civil war in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and even Turkey. By being duped into burning its bridges with Syria, the Turkish government has laid the foundations for the destabilization of the Turkish republic.
A Tale of Two Security Headquarters
Days after the appointment of Prince Bandar and the attack of the Syrian Crisis Unit an attack on General Intelligence’s Headquarters in Riyadh was reported by Yemen’s Al-Fajr Press and then widely quoted by the Iranian media. The blast is reported to have killed Banadar’s number two man, the deputy director-general of Saudi external intelligence, while he was entering the building. Rumours are also circulating that Bandar may have been hurt or killed. Saudi Arabia has remained silent over the issue.
The blast in Riyadh is no mere coincidence. It is a retaliatory response to the blast in the Syrian National Security Headquarters. The chances that the Syrians executed the operation while all their energies are being spent on fighting against the US-directed siege on their country are marginal, but still possible. This is speculation, but it is most likely that one of Syria’s friends and allies retaliated against the Saudis for their involvement in the attack on the Crisis Unit in Damascus.
A remote-controlled bomb was also discovered in front of a Yemenese Intelligence building in Aden on July 22, 2012.  The event came shortly after a Yemenese intelligence officer died after a targeted attack in the province of Bayda.  What this means is a matter of speculation, but what is clear is that the intelligence apparatus of Arab states are being targeted. There is a full-out intelligence war in the Middle East and there are probably cross-cutting alliances.
The Bush Jr. Administration’s “Redirection” Policy is Manifest under Obama
In Yemen, the national military has successfully been fractured and divided, which is exactly what Washington, DC and its NATO and GCC allies want to replicate in Syria. Regime change is not their only goal, the destruction and balkanization of the Syrian Arab Republic is. They want sectarianism and balkanization to take root in Syria and across the Middle East. To paraphrase, when the so-called spiritual leaders of the Syrian Free Army and anti-government forces begin saying that “Israel and the Sunnis are allies against the Shias” or that “all Alawites must be exterminated,” it is clear that the end goal is to regionally divide and conquer the peoples of the Middle East by pitting them against one another.
This is part of the Middle East policy that the Bush Jr. White House called the “redirection” in 2007: “The ‘redirection,’ as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.”  Robert Gates, Bandar’s old comrade, was brought into the Pentagon to oversee this “redirection” and retained by Barak Obama, who’s “A New Beginning” Speech in Cairo is an extension of this policy. The New Yorker is worth quoting about what the “redirection” policy began to implement: “[Washington] has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” 
Regardless of the political position that one takes about President Assad and his government, what has to be emphasized is that the governments of the US, UK, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are not involving themselves under the cover of the so-called “international community” on the basis of concern for the Syrian people and their well being. Because of them the words “protester” and “activist” have been hijacked by anti-government militias and foreign intelligence services. Humanitarianism and human rights are not the motive for US involvement. This is a fairy-tale for the naïve. Geo-political opportunism is at play and all the parties involved have blood on their hands at the expense of the Syrian people.
1. David Ignatius, “Looking for a Syrian endgame,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2012.
3. Ali Bluwi, “Role of Russia and Iran in Syrian crisis,” Arab News, July 28, 2012.
4. Naveed Ahmad, “Failing Damascus, Aleppo campaigns expose lack of military expertise,” The News, July 27, 212.
6. “Syria: Damascus clashes prompt claims of high-level assassinations – Sunday 20 May,” The Guardian, May 20, 2012.
7. Edward W. Said, Orientalism, 25th anniversary ed. (NYC: Vintage Books, 1979), p.307.
8. “Chinese, Iranian press alone back UN Syria veto,” British Broadcasting Corporation News, February 6, 2012; Robert Mackey, “Crisis in Syria Looks Very Different on Satellite Channels Owned by Russia and Iran,” The Lede (The New York Times), February 10, 2012.
9. Damien McElroy, “Syria: Bashar al-Assad ‘flees to Latakia,’” The Daily Telegraph, July 19, 2012; Khaled Yacoub Owei,” Syrian President Assad in Latakia: opposition sources,” eds. Samia Nakhoul and Diana Abdallah, Reuters, July 19, 2012; Loveday Morris, “Hunt for Assad is on amid claims of wife Asma’s exit to Russia,” The Independent, July 20, 2012.
10. “Russia says ‘not thinking about’ asylum for Assad,” Reuters, July 28, 2012.
11. “Hague: some information Gaddafi on way to Venezuela,” Reuters, February 21, 2011.
12. “Putin no longer backs Syria’s Assad – Cameron,” Reuters, June 19, 2012; “Lavrov Denies Russia ‘Changed Stance’ on Syria,” Russian News and Information Agency (RIA Novosti), June 21, 2012.
13. Angus McDowall, “Saudi Prince Bandar: a flamboyant, hawkish spy chief,” ed. Mark Heinrich, Reuters, July 20, 2012.
14. In fact, one of the reasons that Robert Gates, who was the defence secretary of the Bush Jr. Administration, was kept by the Obama Administration is tied to Washington’s objectives to remobilize the militant brigades against Arab societies.
15. “Saudis ‘mull buying nukes from Pakistan,’” United Press International, July 25, 2012.
17. Mohammed Mukhashaf and Rania El Gamal, “Yemen defuses bomb at Aden intelligence building,” ed. Tim Pearce, Reuters, July 23, 2012.
18. “Yemen intelligence officer shot dead: ministry,” Agence France-Presse, July 21, 2012.
19. Seymour Hersh, “The Redirection,” The New Yorker, vol. 83, no. 2 (March 5, 2007): p.54.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya’s Book, Clarity Press
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“The only force capable of transforming the world, capable of transforming society, is that capacity of unity, organization, and mobilization of the people in front of any power” – Bolivian activist Oscar Olivera
On Sat, Aug 4, 2012 at 4:23 PM, Thinkwing Radio wrote:
I apologize for not asking the obvious question last night in my response (I’ll plead ‘tired’), but what is your opinion on the Syria situation?
“A lie can travel halfway ’round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
– This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain, but it has never been verified as originating with Twain. This quote may have originated with Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92) who attributed it to an old proverb in a sermon delivered on Sunday morning, April 1, 1855. Spurgeon was a celebrated English fundamentalist Baptist preacher. His words were: “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”
Visit Mike on Twitter @ThinkwingRadio
“ThinkWing”™, ”ThinkwingRadio” ™, “ThinkwingMedia”™, and Winged idea and Microphone Logo are trademarks of Mike Honig
From: Nesta Ras
To: Thinkwing Radio
Re: A Followup Question (WAS RE: Community Conversation on KPFT)
Sent: Sat 8/4/2012 6:48 PM
I appreciate your replying to my email, particularly since there was no obligation to do so.
My opinion on the conflict in Syria in a nutshell (although my opinions are substantially reflected in the article below)…
This situation has as little do with the so-called Arab Spring as a drop of rain has to do with filling up the ocean. What does have to do with is what I euphemistically call “Treetops Politics’. These are political machinations that take place above the awareness of the general public – or more accurately – the public is given nebulous, state department -ish rhetoric (i.e. humamitarian wars, etc) in order to get them(us) on board with whatever nefarious actions that are planned that in fact fit the agenda that you never hear about until way after the fact (remember “weapons of mass destruction” and killing babies in incubators in Iraq?).
The issue in Syria is a continuation of the “grand agenda” in which the externally instigated and directed coup against Lybian leader Gaddafi was one page in a larger playbook put in play by our country, France, Great Britain and to an ancillary degree Germany.
The larger scheme is beyond what would or should I have time to lay out but – in short – players are those listed above, but also include to a large degree: Israel, Saudia Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Syria (as a pawn), Russia, China and Turkey.
The issue is not nuclear (dis)armament of Iran, but more so the concern for their increasing ability to project nation power regionally. Thus the situation in Syria, as this country – along with Hezbollah – are linchpins in Iran’s power base in that region.
In the same sense, these countries are important to Russia, and this is why it is HIGHLY unlikely that Russia will allow Syrian leadership to be toppled without an increasing presence and assistance to Syria (unless there is an assassination of the president), especially after the backstapping they received in Lybia by NATO’s overthrow of their leader.
Anyway, that’s my take in short (and I’m sticking to it) Please, if you would look at some of the websites I’ve attached (and articles) or search out a few for yourself. The most important thing is that it is impossible to understand the complexity of any world situation by simply reading and listening to American news outlets. This is totally naive thinking by anyone who believes this.
Thanks for reading…btw, I’ve attached one more article and an interview which definitely worth a watch –
THE ROVING EYE
Where is Prince Bandar?
By Pepe Escobar
Was Prince Bandar “Bush”, 63, son of Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz (perennial Saudi Defense Minister,1963-2001), semi-perennial ambassador to Washington (1983-2005), and secretive jihad financier, killed by a Syrian intelligence death squad?
Thunderous silence prevails on Syrian, Iranian and Arab media (most of it controlled by the Saudis). The same applies for al-Jazeera. This is DEBKA’s somewhat fanciful take.
Dates are crucial. Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud may have pulled off operation “Damascus Volcano” on July 18. He was definitely promoted to head of Saudi intelligence on July 19. And he might have been killed in a bomb attack on the Saudi General Intelligence HQ in
Riyadh on July 22.
One Syrian rumor mill version rules that “Damascus Volcano” came from Saudi intel – with logistics provided by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This is highly unlikely; the CIA is clueless on how to penetrate Assad’s inner sanctum. The predominant version circulating in the Syrian capital is this was a white coup.
“Damascus Volcano”, by the way, was a flop; the swarm of mercenaries – infiltrated via Jordan – who were supposed to take over the capital had to retreat up north. Now the news cycle is fixated on another faux game-changer – the “Battle of Aleppo”.
There are serious problems with all the spin around “Damascus Volcano”. None of the Assad regime’s four heads of military intelligence were killed – they are actually running the (ghastly) show in Aleppo.
There are also problems with a Syrian death squad being able to strike Riyadh’s inner sanctum. But Iranian intelligence could certainly pull this off. As for Debka’s assumption that Tehran may have hired al-Qaeda jihadis for an inside job against the House of Saud, that is rubbish.
The bottom line; no one knows, because no one is talking.
What is certain is that Bandar as head of Saudi intelligence was part of King Abdullah’s hardcore response to the Arab Spring.
In Syria, the House of Saud strategy boils down to regime change – and a fragile, fragmented, Sunni government in Damascus not aligned with Tehran.
Internally, the strategy is to viciously smash any peaceful Shi’ite-majority protest in the eastern provinces. Essentially, there’s no Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia because the House of Saud either bribes or intimidates its subjects.
The overall strategy of choice is “blame it on Iran”; as this logic goes, Saudi Shi’ites are Iranian puppets as much as Bahraini Shi’ites. The Obama administration blindly subscribes to this fallacy – totally missing the point; the House of Saud hates any semblance of Western parliamentary democracy as much as it hates Shi’ites – Iranian and otherwise.
So what happened in Riyadh? A graphic Tehran message to the House of Saud? A rogue suicide bomber? An internal Saudi war? The House of Saud is not talking. And Bandar is not moving.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Copyright 2012 Pepe Escobar.)
On Sun, Aug 5, 2012 at 2:48 PM, Thinkwing Radio wrote:
In the broad brush strokes of our discussions so far, I don’t see our views of the situation as far apart. We may have some differences on cause and effect; i.e., was the popular discontent internally spontaneous or was it the result of international agent provocateurs? Next, we may quibble over which parties have been active-if-covert opportunistic enablers and/or facilitators of the conflict, and to what degree is each responsible.
As always with variations of “The Great Game”, there will be strategic winners and losers; and of course, as in all geopolitics, the “Law of Unintended Consequences” is very much a factor. It is reputed that the Chinese ideogram for ‘crisis’ is made up of the symbols for ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’. (BTW, my Chinese Mandarin-speaking wife has not been able to confirm this ;) . One certainty about the Syrian outcome is that within 5 years, it will not have gone as most of the actors hope or expect. C’est l’guerre.
I think that one aspect we have not touched upon, and the one that given the current state of events is really key, is: What outcome do you 1) expect, and 2) hope for?
PS: I’m considering posting this email discussion on my blog. Would you object? And what degree of anonymity (if any) would you wish)?
From: Nesta Ras
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2012 3:46 PM
To: Thinkwing Radio
Subject: Re: Final email…
As always, I appreciate your responding and your civility in doing so.. I would have no problem with you posting the emails . I would certainly be interested in seeing the sorts of comments our e-conversation would bring forward.
In regards to hopes and/or expectations for the outcome, clearly that will be determined by the degree of further financial, hardware and manpower support that those who are funding the numerous militias choose to continue their support.
My guess is that these underwriters (The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and others to a lessor degree…) are committed to an “all in” effort (meaning they will keep the conflict going indefinitely, even if the Syrian president is removed from power…), which will indicate that this has not been about democracy or ending the rule of Assad – who has only recently been conveniently labeled as a dictator (as though that has made a difference in previous US foreign policy alliances…).
As I mentioned in the first email, the foriegn policy agenda that is disseminated for public consumption and the “treetops policy” agenda – that is not – will not be in sync with each other, therefore knowing what any of the countries involved have at stake is difficult to say with any certainty.
What is very likely however, is that as it is coming clearer that Saudi Arabia (and Qatar) are key players in this situation, they are most likely to have some unsettling internal issues to deal with of their own over the coming months (courtesy of other players in the area who have a strong interest in Syria not being balkanized…).
From: Nesta Ras
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2012 1:05 PM
Subject: Final email…
This will be my final email on this topic because I don’t want to (overly) belabor the point I was making with you about sourcing a variety of news and information outlets when attempting to understand not only the situation in Syria, but any issue that appears to be more than meets the eye (or to be beyond the reporting scope of typically accessed new sources like the New York Times, the BBC or even Qatari based and funded Al Jazeera…)
The following (and last) article comes from the Asia Times site. The article could be straight on with it’s information. It could be a mixture of facts and conjecture as well.
In any case, it definitely provides a larger context than the typically mono-chromed and cherrypicked reporting we normally receive that guides the public to draw the proper conclusions that are expected by those who frame the news in the first place.
Thanks for your time
Asia Times article: Obama does Syriana by Pepe Escobar (or a new war for Obama)
THE ROVING EYE
Obama does Syriana
It took Reuters quite a while to be allowed to report that US President Barack Obama had approved an intelligence finding  letting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) loose in its support for the weaponized “rebels” fighting for regime change in Syria.
By now even fishermen in Fiji knew about this “secret” (not to mention that everyone and his neighbor across Latin America knows a thing or two about the CIA’s regime change adventures). Reuters cautiously describes the support as “circumscribed”. That’s code for “leading from behind”.
Whenever the CIA wants to leak something it uses a faithful scribe, such as David Ignatius from the Washington Post. Already on July 18 Ignatius was reproducing his briefing,  according to
which “the CIA has been working with the Syrian opposition for several weeks under a non-lethal directive … Scores of Israeli intelligence officers are also operating along Syria’s border, though they are keeping a low profile.”
How lovely. How low profile do you get along Syria’s borders? An Instagram surrounded by a bunch of grinning truck drivers?
As for the Mossad’s “low profile”, the spin in Tel Aviv is that Israel is able to “control” the swarm of hardcore Wahhabis and Salafi-jihadis now infesting Syria. Even if that is manifest nonsense, one juicy point is clear; Israel is in bed with al-Qaeda-style Islamists.
What this means is that the Not Exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA), crammed with Muslim Brotherhood diehards and infiltrated by Salafi-jihadis, is following the agenda not only of their financiers and weaponizers – the House of Saud and Qatar – but also Tel Aviv, alongside Washington and its trademark poodles London and Paris. So this is not just a proxy war – it’s a multiple, concentric proxy war.
Meet the triangle of death
Tel Aviv’s agenda is clear; a weakened Syrian government, an overextended army in disarray, sectarian hatred all around and a relentless slouching towards balkanization. The ultimate goal; not only the Lebanonization, but the Somalization of Syria and environs.
Turkey’s agenda remains incredibly murky – apart from the wishful thinking of post-Assad Syria becoming a mild, civilized version of the AKP reign in Ankara (it won’t happen).
As reported by ATol for months now, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) until a while ago was running a command and control center in Iskenderun, in Hathay province. Recently, it was finally leaked to Reuters the news of a joint Turkey-Qatar-Saudi Arabia “secret” base in Adana, 100 kilometers from the Syrian border. Adana happens to be the home of Incirlik, the immense NATO base. A local ATol source for weeks has been reporting of frantic cargo movements at Incirlik.
It was Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud who requested, in person, for the base to be set up, to Ankara’s delight.
Ankara-Riyadh-Doha; talk about a triangle of death. Yet the spin from Qatar is once again of the “leading from behind” variety. Turkey is doing the military heavy lifting; the CIA is “hands off”; and Qatar is just taking pictures like an innocent tourist (while directing operations via its military intelligence). The heavy-duty guys are all unspecified “middlemen”.
Obama has not authorized a drone war – yet – and the CIA may not be weaponizing the “rebels”; that’s the “triangle of death’s” business. An inflation of Russian rocket-propelled grenades bought in the black market has been responsible for recent “rebel” surges in Damascus and Aleppo. Now an inflation of shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles and surface-to-air missiles is to be expected; NBC News has already reported about a “gift” of nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles to the FSA – delivered via, where else, Turkey.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia are taking no prisoners. No one in Washington seems to be looking back to post-jihad Afghanistan before making a decision. By the way, this is the 1980s Afghan jihad all over again – with Saudi Arabia and Qatar playing the role of Pakistan, the FSA as the glorious mujahideen “freedom fighters” and Obama as Ronald Reagan; the only element missing is Obama approving a “memorandum of notification” to his initial intelligence finding, authorizing Washington to weaponize the freedom fighters and introducing a swarm of drones.
Now that’s the recipe for a certified 2013 Hollywood blockbuster.
Riyadh, for its part, is forcing Jordan’s King Playstation to install a buffer zone in his territory for the over 100 gangs that comprise the FSA – as revealed by the Saudi-financed al-Quds al-Arabi. And guess who was the henchman forcing the deal? No less than vanishing Saudi intel chief Prince Bandar, who may or may not have been killed in a bomb attack two weeks ago (see Where is Prince Bandar?, Asia Times Online, August 2, 2012).
The Grim Reaper wins It’s worth repeating till the Grim Reaper comes to collect; spectacular blowback looms large.
The prolonged siege of Aleppo is at hand. The NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council “secret base” in Turkey, plus free-for-all weaponizing, are empowering an extremely nasty mix of unemployed, semi-illiterate young Sunni Syrians, sectarian born to kill army defectors, assorted criminals and multinational Salafi-jihadis. This video(WARNING! Not for the squeamish!)  shows everything one needs to know about the FSA. And this  shows what kind of “democracy” they are aiming for.
Saudi Wahhabis want a hardcore Sunni Islamist Syria – complete with Christians, Allawites, Druzes and Kurds as third-rate citizens (or prime candidates for beheading). Qataris want a Muslim Brotherhood protectorate.
The Obama administration’s foreign policy makers must be on (lousy) crack. Just because they are engaged on an all-out war against not only Iran, but also Shi’ites all around, how could they possibly bet on a Somalization of Syria profiting Wahhabi intolerance? A grinning Grim Reaper awaits in the wings.
1. Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret US support for Syrian rebels, Reuters, August 1, 2012
2.Looking for a Syrian endgame, Washington Post, July 19, 2012
3. See here.
4. Free Syrian Army issues military-led transition plan, AFP, July 30, 2012
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at email@example.com
(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)