By Bassam Abu Abdullah
On May 3, 2003, the then US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that the Secretary of State Colin Powell was embarking on a tour of the Middle East to usher in a new era of a much deeper US intervention in the region to build what she called “a New and Broader Middle East with Israel at its epicenter.” She also considered that ‘Israel’s security’ was key not only to regional but also to international security.
Upon arrival in Damascus on May 2, 2003 at the outset of this Mideast tour, Collin Powel told reporters that he would clearly explain to President Bashar al-Assad how the US views the changing situation in the Middle East following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, noting that he has a road map to table. This road map was the same road map of President George Bush Jr. for the settlement to the Palestine question. Back then, Powell warned Syria that it will find herself on the “wrong side of the history” if she failed to adapt to the US vision of the post-Saddam Middle East. Powell, later, told an Israeli TV channel: “I have made it perfectly clear to him (to President Assad) that there are things we believe he has to do if he wants to have better relations with the United States of America and if he wants to play a useful role in resolving the crisis in the region.”
Washington said that it keep an eye on Syria and would regularly evaluate her performance to see if Syria was (now) prepared to move in a new and different direction under these changing circumstances.
According to some media sources, Powell placed 33 demands for Syria to meet. Some of them had to do with internal Syrian affairs. However, the three key demands relating to Iraq that have surfaced were the following: To stop supporting the resistance, to hand over former Iraqi officials and scientists, and not to interfere in the Iraqi affairs. Regarding Lebanon, the demands were: to stop supporting Hizbollah. And with regard to Palestine, the demand was mainly to shut down offices of the Palestinian factions.
A little reminder for those with short memory: Back then, those who call themselves “opposition” began to dance to the US tunes. Burhan Ghalyion for instance, said on October 2, 2003: “The Syrian regime, just like all other totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, has lost all historical prerequisites of survival, especially the international polarization. It is now in a dead-end.” This Burhan Ghalyion was the first one to chair the so-called Opposition “National Syrian Council” set up by known powers at the early days of the war on Syria in 2011.
Riad al-Turk, who is known for his extremist leftist leanings and suspicious alliances with the Muslim Brotherhoods and others, has invented the so-called “Zero” theory. In an interview with the Lebanese An-Nahar newspaper on September 28, 2003 upon his release from prison and a subsequent US and European tour, he claimed that the US occupation has taken the Iraqi society from minus to Zero.
And he foresaw some western winds blowing over Damascus, maintaining that (we) should meet these winds with an appropriate political program.
Few months later, on October 15, 2003, the US Congress passed the “Syria Accountability Act and Restoration of the Lebanese Sovereignty”. The move was meant to penalize Syria for her opposition to the Iraq invasion. On April 26, 2005, the Syrian Arab Army withdrew from Lebanon.
Another reminder: The so-called “Damascus Declaration” was made public by the opposition on October 16, 2005.
Could all of this be just unintentional coincidences, just for fun? Surely not. This tells that a lot about the underlying plotting and planning that have been going on for years. Just have a look at the chronology of events following the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri (former Lebanese Prime Minister) on February 14, 2005, starting with Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon, to the setting up of an international fact-finding mission and then a subsequent Special Tribunal for Lebanon, going through the infamous reports of its Chair DetlevMehlis, one would not doubt as to why and how exactly during this turbulent period the so-called Beirut-Damascus Declaration was issued on May 12, 2006. This “Declaration” has been drafted in Beirut and sent to Damascus for the so-called “Syrian Opposition” figures to sign and endorse.
By the way, this Declaration was almost the same text of the UN Security Council resolution 1680, worked out by the then US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, who placed a list of demands for Syrian-Lebanese relations.
The war of aggression waged against Lebanon in July, 2006 was meant to break the first joint of the Resistance Axis. But this attempt has failed. Several other French, Turkish and Qatari attempts were made later on to lure President Assad into submission to the US-charted Middle East, as spelled out by Colin Powell in 2003, but these attempts have equally failed. Upon the failure of these attempts, the conspirators moved to the next phase, namely the work to bring down the Syrian State. These attempts were pushed into actual action as from 2011. The main objective was to isolate and subsequently hit Hizbollah as a step along the way of hitting Iran and then to besiege Russia and China.
This historical background is meant to show the similarities between Colin Powell’s list of demands placed to Syria in 2033 and Mike Pompeo’s demands to Iran in 2018. For all these 15 years, three demands remained intact and unchanged, namely:
To stop supporting resistance movements, primarily Hizbollah and Palestinian factions. Only today, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization forces and the Yemeni resistance were added to the old list.
Israel’s security, which Condoleezza Rice considered as essential not only to the security of the region but to the security of the world, at large.
Iraq and what Pompeo deemed as the need to respect “the sovereignty of nations”, as if the US has ever respected the sovereignty of nations !! The focal point of all of this is their prime objective of liquidating the Palestine question phase by phase proceeding from the Road Map proposed by George Bush Jr. in 2003 up to the “Deal of the Century” propsed by Donald Trump in 2018.
To the above list, one may add a host of relevant dossiers:
Afghanistan and the demands to stop supporting anyone who might the US invaders
What the US calls “Iran’s subversive behavior” allegedly threatening its neighbors, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Iran’s withdrawal from Syria
The Iranian Ballistic Missiles program
And surely anything relating to Iran’s nuclear program to be dismantled at the wish of Israel.
What has changed over the past decade and a half, i.e. since the invasion of Iraq, the July war on Lebanon in 2006 and the on-going war on Syria from 2011 through 2018 and now it is obviously Iran’s turn?
The US and its allies obviously believe they can apply the “domino effect” theory in the same way they did it following the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989, which led to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The ultimate objective behind the current attack on Iran is in fact meant to hit the rising powers of both Russia and China. Consequently, the counter options to be taken by Iran and allies should combine diplomatic flexibility and master use of cards, especially regional and international alliances and interests.
The US publicly states that its plan is meant to pressure Iran economically. However, this would not force Tehran into submission. As an Israeli analyst has put it: The demands made by the Trump Administration are mere wishful thinking rather than a well-prepared strategy.
He even warned that Iran, which experienced a lot of difficulties, enjoys a lot of national pride that helped her survive eight years of war with Iraq and six harsh years of strict international sanctions imposed on the backdrop of its nuclear program. Iran is unlikely to submit to Trump’s threats. Syria has rejected Powell’s demands and Iran would most probably reject Pompeo’s demands.
The axis of resistance has grown stronger, tighter and broader, thanks to the dear sacrifices and the multiple martyrs who offered their lives for the sake of a better world, a better future, and a safer and more secure region. The world has changed and it is still constantly changing, except for Washington which refuses to learn from the lessons of the past or the present. Washington continues to act as a political and economic global policeman.
It continues to reproduce its proxy extremists with different packages and different colors, unaware that a new world is being silently born. This world would not lean to the language of threats and warnings.
Follow with me the real hysteria with which Washington is behaving towards Syria, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China and many others. Changes in international relations take some time to develop and become visible on the international landscape. So let us wait and see….
Translated from Arabic by Syrianfacts. The article above was written on Thursday, May 24, 2018