By Dr. Bassam Abu Abdullah
More and more pieces of evidence emerge every day showing theunprecedented scale of conspiracies concocted against Syria. Not long ago, the former Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem hasadmitted that over 137 billion US dollars have been spent to overthrow the Syrian state. Had we been in a fairly balanced world with a minimal rule of law, these conspirators would have landed in international courts to face trial for their war crimes. Such an admission, besides many other similar ones, provides enough legal grounds to bring all those involved in the war of aggression against Syria to trial at international courts as war criminals. What is yet more revealing and damning is the testimony given by the former US Ambassador to Damascus Robert Ford. In a testimony he gave at the Congressional Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing on February 6, 2018, Ford provided yet another proof revealing how hell-bent Washington has been and still is to overthrow the national Syrian state. By the way, this testimony is written and well-documented, just as the plethora of many other similar damning testimoniesgiven by other experts on the Syrian affairs, such as Joshua Landis and Charles Lister.
The testimony of Ford and the other experts was made at the request of the Chairperson of the Congressional Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is a hawkish Neo-Conservative.
In her opening statement, she said that many people were encouraged by the latest statement made by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who called for a “post-Assad Syrian Leadership”. She has been obviously referring to Tillerson’s statement made last January, when he asserted that US troops would stay in Syria even after the defeat of DAESH (ISIS). Back then, he had also reiterated Trump Administration’s commitment to what he termed “regime-change”. He had also urged the international community to undermine Syria economically by refusing to finance reconstruction efforts.
Both Ford and the Congressional Sub-Committee Chair have praised Tillerson’s statements and the goals set by the incumbent US Administration, claiming that more “action” should be done to accomplish these overtly subversive “goals”. However, this is not the issue. The hostility of Trump Administration towards Syria and allies has been quite explicit and the Administration officials spare no effort to implement these hostile policies. The recently-revealed “Group of Five paper” clearly exposes such a hostile attitude and intentions. This (non-paper) paper has been carried by the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to Vienna. Shortly afterwards, another equally disturbing document was leaked. This time it was a British document. As published by the Lebanese al-Akhbar newspaper, this leaked document embodies almost all the points of the plan of action advocated by Ford and other anti-Syrian politicians. It reveals the on-going attempts to partition Syria by enforcing an inconvenient staus quo situation. It calls for undermining the Sochi national dialogue outcomes. It calls for a new Syrian constitution to be drafted by the UN and under the auspices of de Mistura, to prepare grounds for forthcoming Presidential elections in which President Assad would not be allowed the right to candidacy to run for the elections. This is what their leaked documents say and this is what their delusional plans show. Everything has become quite clear and fully exposed, as their sinister plans and actions are now in the open.
What is curious about all of this is how the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates as well as Turkey and their fronts disguised as “Syrian Opposition” have been whining day and night about a so-called “lack of action” from the part of the Obama Administration. They have been ceaselessly complaining that the former Obama Administration was not serious enough about its pronounced goal of enacting a regime-change in Syria. Such a rhetoric was widely-promoted through a frenzy media campaign spear-headed by the Petro-dollar mercenaries. They have repeatedly propagandized such a nonsense as if it were true. Listening to them, one would get the illusion that Obama had been somehow colluding with the Syrian state, as if he were a Russian or Iranian agent recruited by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to play this role!! What a sheer nonsense. Syrian “opposition” bullhorns would claim that Obama Administration had not extended enough support for their “blessed revolution”. Had Obama Administration provided enough support to them, the “regime” would not have endured one single day, they would falsely claim. This is what they used to propagandize for years now. This what they used to say when hosted by leading TV channels or by their own writings. Never mind that what has been spent on their “delusional revolution” would have been enough to teach even cows how to dance and play Piano, as humorously put by a satirist Lebanese artist.
The dilemma of these delusional “revolutionaries” is the fact that they are being exposed not by their enemies but by their own patrons and masters. Their own Godfather, Robert Ford, is explicitly stating in his own written testimony that the United States has spent between 2014 and 2017 some 12 billion US dollars.
Besides this amount, one would add the billions upon billions being squandered since 2011 by Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, Al Thani of Qatar, Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates and many more to exact “regime-change” in Syria.
Ford literally admitted that the cost of US military operations in Syria between the fiscal year of 2014 to fiscal year 2017 was put at about 3 to 4 billion dollars. In addition to the cost of those military operations, the fiscal year 2017 budget request included US dollars 430 million to build local security forces and the fiscal year 2018 request was for US dollars 500 million, he admitted.
In his testimony, Ford admits that the United States has also spent between the fiscal years of 2014 to 2018 about US dollars 7.7 Billion in what he termed “non-lethal humanitarian aid.” Such huge amounts of money spent to exact regime-change can not be overlooked because it exposes the real hidden agenda of the United States and lays bare its crocodile tears for “humanitarian issues” in Syria.
He explicitly states that the US Development Agency known as “USAID” and other governmental agencies provide humanitarian assistance only to the areas under the control of what they call as “rebels”, including the areas run by the Al-Qaeda Branch in Syria, i.e. al-Nusra Front. This is a clear and unequivocal admission that the so-called US humanitarian assistance to Syria is politicized beyond imaginable boundaries.
This politicized funding is being falsely termed as “humanitarian”, while in fact it is meant to underline the authority of the legitimate Syrian state on its own territories. Such an endeavor includes the establishment of independent political councils, local governance, NGOs, health-care enterprises, infrastructure and other de facto local authorities fully dependent and subsidized by the US funding!
In other words, they are creating lackey arms as well as civil and military mercenaries to serve the US agenda of regime-change. The pattern we see in northern-eastern Syria is a glaring example.
In conclusion, Ford says: “If we add all these numbers up, US military and civilian costs in Syria over the past 4 years are at least US dollars 12 billion. That is a lot of money. And it is not clear when those outlays will stop.”
The academic specialized in the Syrian affairs went yet further. In his testimony, he noted that this amount (i.e. the US dollars 12 billion) does not include the costs of the CIA special operations in Syria, which means that the amounts spent are yet greater.
This fact was exposed by more than one American newspaper. New York Times, for instance, said that the cost of the CIA program in Syria was the highest ever since the CIA-run program to fund the Jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s of last century.
In June, 2015, The Washington Post said that the costs of the covert CIA operations in Syria are put at about one billion per annum.
This amount has nothing to do with the amounts being spent by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to support what they call “Syrian Opposition”. In August, 2017, New York Times has once again noted that the cost of the CIA operations program in Syria is the highest in the history of the CIA.
Charles Lister, who is a senior researcher at the Washington-based Middle East Studies Institute and who has been rallying for regime-change in Syria for years, admitted in his testimony before the Congressional Sub-Committee that the regime-change program in Syria has failed. However, he suggests some other ways to ‘overthrow President Assad’. Such testimonies should be documented. Some legal and governmental authorities should document these testimonies, especially the audio and video taped ones. An audio-tape recording of these testimonies is available on the US Congress Foreign Relations Committee website. Visual media outlets should also bring these admissions to light so that the public opinion would be aware of how do they overtly conspire against Syria. There are thousands of other self-indicting documents and testimonies which provide ample evidence to the direct US involvement in a subversive endeavor to overthrow the national Syrian state and its institutions, in violation of the UN charter. Yet, the US is still a Permanent Member of the United Nations and is still a major power supposedly responsible for maintaining international peace and security.
The important fact to note is that there is little, if any, difference between the Obama Administration and the Trump Administration in terms of their hostility towards Syria. Both have one and the same hostile objective. They may differ with one another in terms of the means applied to attain such an objective.
Anyway, Ford has been correct when he said that “everyone wants us to get out of Syria.” This is true. And this is what will eventually transpires. The Syrian people will surely get the occupation forces out of the country. They will not allow murderers and criminals to desecrate their holy land. Ford should recall the scenes of the US troops escaping from Vietnam, Beirut and Iraq. This will surely recur in Syria too. He, his stooges and mercenaries will be remembering Syria for a very long time. Syria will go down the chronicles of world history as a legend of steadfastness, resilience, patience and ability to defeat invaders and their most vicious criminal and murderer proxies.
Syria would be a greater complex for the US than Vietnam was. The Syrian legend is being written by the Syrians every day. With their patience and with the support of their allies and friends, the Syrians are writing immortal chapters of history. Their victory would be a victory for all civilized, free-minded and true freedom-fighters around the world.
Translated from Arabic by Syrianfacts. The article was first published in Arabic on Thursday, March 1, 2018.