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Parry writes: "The solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy - letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders - but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni 'allies,' including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don't want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of 'regime change.'"

Secretary of State John Kerry. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Reuters)
Secretary of State John Kerry. (photo: Mandel Ngan/Reuters)

Blocking Democracy as Syria's Solution

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

20 December 15


The long-cherished neocon dream of “regime change” in Syria is blocking a possible route out of the crisis – a ceasefire followed by elections in which President Assad could compete. The problem is there’s no guarantee that Assad would lose and thus the dream might go unfulfilled, writes Robert Parry.

he solution to the crisis in Syria could be democracy – letting the people of Syria decide who they want as their leaders – but it is the Obama administration and its regional Sunni “allies,” including U.S.-armed militants and jihadists, that don’t want to risk a democratic solution because it might not achieve the long-held goal of “regime change.”

Some Syrian opposition forces, which were brought together under the auspices of the Saudi monarchy in Riyadh this past week, didn’t even want the word “democracy” included in their joint statement. The New York Times reported on Friday, “Islamist delegates objected to using the word ‘democracy’ in the final statement, so the term ‘democratic mechanism’ was used instead, according to a member of one such group who attended the meeting.”

Even that was too much for Ahrar al-Sham, one of the principal jihadist groups fighting side-by-side with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, the two key elements inside the Saudi-created Army of Conquest, which uses sophisticated U.S.-supplied TOW missiles to kill Syrian government troops.

Ahrar al-Sham announced its withdrawal from the Riyadh conference because the meeting didn’t “confirm the Muslim identity of our people.” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sought to maintain a secular government that protects the rights of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities, but Sunni militants have been fighting to overthrow him since 2011.

Despite Ahrar al-Sham’s rejection of the Saudi-organized conference, all the opposition participants, including one from Ahrar al-Sham who apparently wasn’t aware of his group’s announcement, signed the agreement, the Times reported.

“All parties signed a final statement that called for maintaining the unity of Syria and building a civil, representative government that would take charge after a transitional period, at the start of which Mr. Assad and his associates would step down,” wrote Times’ correspondent Ben Hubbard.

But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders.

Although President Barack Obama insists Assad is hated by most Syrians – and if that’s true, he would presumably lose any fair election – the U.S. position is to bar Assad from the ballot, thus ensuring “regime change” in Syria, a long-held goal of Official Washington’s neoconservatives.

In other words, to fulfill the neocons’ dream of Syrian “regime change,” the Obama administration is continuing the bloody Syrian conflict which has killed a quarter million people, has created an opening for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, and has driven millions of refugees into and through nearby countries, now destabilizing Europe and feeding xenophobia in the United States.

For his part, Assad called participants in the Saudi conference “terrorists” and rejected the idea of negotiating with them. “They want the Syrian government to negotiate with the terrorists, something I don’t think anyone would accept in any country,” Assad told Spanish journalists, as he repeated his position that many of the terrorists were backed by foreign governments and that he would only “deal with the real, patriotic national opposition.”

Kinks in the Process

Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters on Friday that he was in contact with senior Saudi officials and noted, “there are some questions and obviously a couple of – in our judgment – kinks to be worked out” though expressing confidence that the problems could be resolved.

A key problem appears to be that the Obama administration has so demonized Assad and so bought into the neocon goal of “regime change” that Obama doesn’t feel that he can back down on his “Assad must go!” mantra. Yet, to force Assad out and bar him from running in an election means escalating the war by either further arming the Sunni jihadists or mounting a larger-scale invasion of Syria with the U.S. military confronting Syrian and now Russian forces to establish what is euphemistically called “a safe zone” inside Syria. A related “no-fly zone” would require destroying Syrian air defenses, now supplied by the Russians.

Obama has largely followed the first course of action, allowing Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni “allies” to funnel U.S. weapons to jihadists, including Ahrar al-Sham which fights alongside Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two seek to transform Syria into a Islamic fundamentalist state, a goal shared by Al Qaeda’s spinoff (and now rival), the Islamic State.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, has termed Obama’s choice of aiding the jihadists a “willful decision,” even in the face of DIA warnings about the likely rise of the Islamic State and other extremists.

In August 2012, DIA described the danger in a classified report, which noted that “The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISI or ISIS and then the Islamic State] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” The report also said that “If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared salafist principality in eastern Syria” and that “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”

Despite these risks, Obama continued to insist that “Assad must go!” and let his administration whip up a propaganda campaign around claims that Assad’s forces launched a sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Though many of the U.S. claims about that attack have since been discredited – and later evidence implicated radical jihadists (possibly collaborating with Turkish intelligence) trying to trick the U.S. military into intervening on their side – the Obama administration did not retract or clarify its initial claims.

By demonizing Assad – much like the demonization of Russian President Putin – Obama may feel that he is deploying “soft power” propaganda to put foreign adversaries on the defensive while also solidifying his political support inside hawkish U.S. opinion circles, but false narratives can take on a life of their own and make rational settlements difficult if not impossible.

Now, even though the Syrian crisis has become a tsunami threatening to engulf Europe with a refugee crisis and the United States with anti-Muslim hysteria, Obama can’t accept the most obvious solution: compel all reasonable sides to accept a ceasefire and hold an internationally supervised election in which anyone who wants to lead the country can stand before the voters.

If Obama is right about the widespread hatred of Assad, then there should be nothing to worry about. The Syrian people will dictate “regime change” through the ballot box.

Democracy – supposedly one of the U.S. government’s goals for Middle East countries – can be the answer to the problem. However, since democracy can be an unpredictable process, it might not guarantee “regime change” which apparently makes democracy an unsuitable solution for Syria.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here. your social media marketing partner


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+42 # polfrosch 2015-12-20 18:16
States, governments, elections, lives - who cares?

Only a former KGB villain and dictator like Putin could come up with the idea that
- first the war in Syria has to be stopped and then
- second the Syrian population has to decide in elections who will rule the country in the future.

That´s a communist plan to undermine freedom and democracy by elections!

As Kissinger once noticed, if a population votes irresponsible, the USA needs to correct them. That´s what democracy is all about, didn´t you know? The people vote, the CIA decides.

Meanwhile the USA will continue to collaborate with enlightened nations like Saudi Arabia, providing terrorists attacking the USA, destabilizing the region, aiding IS and Al Kaida and Al Nusrah and delivering chrystal meth to IS fighters for enhanced -hm- efficiency in throat cutting? Saudi Arabia, masters of beheading and other medieval punishments next to IS, or really masters of anything medieval.

Astonishing all polls worldwide show the USA is considered the biggest threat to world peace. "Why do they hate us? Because of our freedom!" - Right! The freedom to topple any government the CIA dislikes, to spy on anybody worldwide
- so the US intel apparatus can prevent political movements which could become dangerous to the US financial elite,
- so they can allow the "right" and "useful" terror-attacks to happen. The freedom to start any war using any lie as pretext for any geostrategic need the US elite has.
+16 # Douglas Jack 2015-12-20 19:43
USA = Kerry = Obama = AIPAC = Mossad = Hasbara = Israel oligarch Rothschild = Federal-Reserve . alCIAda's part of Israel's Oded-Yinon-Plan OYP & its US daughters Project-for-a-N ew-America-Cent ury PNAC & New-World-Order NWO, long established espionage about financing, arming & supplying foreign mercenaries for destabilizing (via Arab-Spring) all Islamic Middle-eastern nations. "From the "Yinon Plan" to the "Ya’alon Strategy" by Alfredo Jalife-Rahme .

Why doesn't Rothschild send its representatives directly to Riyadh? They're already there!
US desperate to disrupt Russian push in Syria: Analyst,
Israeli Colonel Leading ISIL Terrorists Captured in Iraq, Yusi Oulen Shahak, ranked colonel in Golani Brigade of the Zionist regime's army

Mohandas Gandhi, "I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice. But true non-violence is an impossibility without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness." Force or weapons as individuals, police or soldiers, reflects cowardice when formal debate hasn't been offered to every member of society. Offer Dialectic-Right s to challenge authority in debate, then all come forward voluntarily.
+14 # RMDC 2015-12-21 06:39
You have captured the exact irony of US foreign politics -- the communists are far more democratic than the US is, the US is far more in support of dictatorships than any nation, the world's policeman is really the world's great criminal.

Skull and Bones Kerry is one death dealing mother fucker. I guess that is why they call it "skull and bones." The whole world will be skulls and bones when these mother fuckers get finished with it.
+22 # MidwestTom 2015-12-20 19:38
We are soon going to have young trained American men and women killed fighting to replace Assad following Obama's orders, which he is receiving from the Saudi royal family.
+2 # Radscal 2015-12-21 13:11
Obama is surely "just following orders," but it is highly unlikely those orders are coming from the US/UK vassal state of Saudi Arabia.
+13 # Anonymot 2015-12-20 19:45
What we really know is that Obama knows little or nothing about foreign matters. When he adopted the anti-Assad position, Clinton ran State and she knew about as much as Obama about anything foreign except how to get photo ops for her future presidential run by spending a million miles of airplane fuel.

So who really started the Assad regime change movement? The CIA talked about it back in 1991 in the 5 Arab-state dump described by General Clark:

The CIA in 2009 was clearly in control of Obama & Clinton's minds (and still is) but how and why? Papa Bush installed them as official handlers of foreign policy - if it can be called that. No one could contradict or contravene that situation since then, because they have all of the files on all of the skeletons in the nation, including the Bill Clinton ones about a blue dress and the as yet unused one on his wife (which will keep her in control, but she is really only interested in her own agenda: $$$$ and power that keep her young & sexy in some minds, mostly hers!)

Let's have your well-researched opinion on the who and why of the anti-Assad and anti-Putin.
+8 # RMDC 2015-12-21 06:41
"The CIA in 2009 was clearly in control of Obama & Clinton's minds "

Yes, the CIA controls the foreign policy of all presidents. That is where policy is made. Presidents are just there to sell these policies to the mass of stupid Americans and to take the blame when things go wrong -- except in the case of Bush and he did not have to take any blame.
+14 # lfeuille 2015-12-20 20:33
Time for Obama to just take his lumps for his disastrous discussion to follow Hillary and the neocons in spite of what some think was his better judgement. It is just totally unacceptable to prolong this war to save his pride.
+1 # Shades of gray matter 2015-12-20 20:40
Israel & Saudi Arabia , along with US, wanted Assad out, until ISIS became so ominous. Now, as Kurds & Co. weaken ISIS in battlefield, Sunnis will rally against Assad & Iraqi Shiites in yet another incarnation. Election in middle of war? Like the Muslim Brotherhood election? Among warring ethnic groups? Kinda silly? All outside parties must come to fear a broken Syria more than a functioning Syria that is not a Sunni stooge for Saudi Arabia & US. A mixed ethnic and ideological Coalition that can actually rule seems almost impossible. A coalition that can stall until a Strong Man emerges acceptable to US and Russia may be the ONLY hope.
+8 # Douglas Jack 2015-12-20 20:58
Shades, The divisions in Syria aren't internal, they are externally imposed. Some 150,000 foreign armed mercenaries or 85% of those fighting are not Syrians. Get rid Israeli Oded-Yinon-Plan for a greater Israel through destabilization of all Islamic neighbours, Israeli ownership of the colonial US Congress, Federal Reserve & World-Bank aka Rothschild & there is no more fighting. The Middle-east as desert has few rivers, no industrial infrastructure, no armament industry & therefore no inherent war-making capacity. Israel is the Middle-east & Africa's #1 arms supplier as well as instigator of mercenary destabilization . Israel has never planned on being a good neighbour therefore must destroy its neighbours. This is some kind of religious belief. In the last elections in Syria some 80% supported Bashar al-Assad. If colonial USA, Canada, NATO, Saudi & Israel don't stop the next election through heightened war, then Assad will be elected by an overwhelming majority again.
-1 # economagic 2015-12-20 20:52
I just adore all these counterfactual "musts."
0 # Shades of gray matter 2015-12-20 23:35
I agree that Syria's divisions get externally exacerbated, to say the least. But I doubt Assad is loved by Sunnis, others. I agree that Israel and Saudi Arabia are up to no good, but I don't know about mythical Rothschild Reign. The Greater Israel thing always seemed nuttier than Christmas fruitcake to me. The map seemed to cover the globe.
+4 # Douglas Jack 2015-12-21 09:21
Shades, Do you believe there is no planned deliberate extreme concentration of wealth, which financed colonialism & effectively has control of the Bank of England, Federal Reserve & World Bank? This is simply a self-imposed ignorance with web links all provided to you. In order to understand the Rothschild as trillionaires, you need to understand the above as privately owned corporations not public institutions. This film ‘Money Trail’ Rothschild Conspiracy International Banking Cartel & The Federal Reserve is one of a few available. Once you've looked at this, I'll provide you with more links. You are only at the very beginning of understanding who rules our world.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq was bombed back to the stone age because of their adoption of the Euro for all oil trades. Muammar Gaddafi's Libya was bombed back to the stone age because of their adoption of the African Dinar for oil trades. read the links I have provided above to the Oded-Yinon-Plan & its birth of PNAC & NWO. 1st watch Anonymot's link to General Westley Clark's statement about the PNAC's plan for the Pentagon to bomb 7 countries. PNAC-NWO is simply a neocon translation & implementation of OYP.

Learn about humanity's 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') economy to see how proper accounting & structural organization balances work in the whole section on Relational E.
+3 # RMDC 2015-12-21 10:28
Shades -- there were no sectarian divisions in Syria or Iraq or Libya before the US started its wars in 2001. There was not even any dispute between Arabs and Kurds. There was and still is a major dispute between Turks and Kurds.

There were and are some CIA sponsored Kurdish terrorist organizations like the Kurdish Patriotic Union and the Pesh Merga. But most Kurds don't support these. They remain in power in Iraqi Kurdistan because of CIA money and weapons. And Israeli support, too.

The US practicds the tried and true colonialist programs of "divide and conquer." That is the main tactic that the CIA practices. It has done it inside the US as well, along with its co-conspirator, the FBI.

In the last election some 3 years ago, Assad got about 80% of the vote. He'd get the same now. But the US is counting on Syrians knowing that a vote for Assad is a vote to keep the war going. A vote for the US backed ISIS candidate will be a vote to end the war. Let's see how Syrians choose.
+3 # Douglas Jack 2015-12-21 13:06
RMDC, Thankfully Russia & Putin can see through western trillionaire oligarch lies & US, Canadian, NATO, Israel & Saudi genocidal policies.
Russia's whipping western fat asses. Mikhail Gorbachev to RT: America wanted to rule the world but lost its way. 10Aug’15
The following weblink connects with a total of 5 Youtube videos by Sibel Edmonds FBI whistle blower. Sibel lays out the whole sordid history & names of the key western Turkish connection in creating hell in the Middle-east. Sibel lays out every detail about how corrupt US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, Belgium & especially Turkey are. Sibel is half Turkish. National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
Pt 1 – Sibel Edmonds: NATO, Terrorism, 9/11 & Drug Running 108m
Resolution is to be found in humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generatin g') not 'exogenous' (L 'other-generate d') colonial heritage.
'Odhalená agresia', a cartoon published in popular Czechoslovakian satirical magazine 'Roháč' in 1958 following the 'Syrian Crisis of 1957', in which Soviet Russia prevented a joint US-Turkish military operation to overthrow the Syrian government
+7 # Archie1954 2015-12-20 23:42
Democracy "unsuitable" for Syria? That should not be a question left to the abominable American foreign policy to answer! There is no way that might makes right and this is a prime example of that. The US should butt out, the sooner the better. It has already made the Middle East into a disaster area and is continually stoking the fire. Unfortunately for Americans, the bill is coming due and the price is going to be horrendous.
-5 # Shades of gray matter 2015-12-20 23:53
I don't think authentic democracy is REALISTICALLY to be expected in Syria. Too many barrel bomb throwers, Sarin tossers. They tend to vote with monstrous firepower. I wouldn't presume to get involved if I were not worried that in vacuums, extremists would get WMDs, REAL WMDs. Not to mention stimulating nutcase attacks.
+5 # Radscal 2015-12-21 02:56
History repeats. First as tragedy, and then as farce.

The reunification elections set as a prerequisite of the 1954 Geneva Accords that ended the French war against Vietnam were canceled by the US/CIA.

“If the scheduled national elections are held in July 1956, and if the Viet Minh does not prejudice its political prospects, the Viet Minh will almost certainly win, the CIA notes." [KOLKO, 1985, PP. 84]

US President Dwight Eisenhower admitted, “I have never talked or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indochinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held as of the time of the fighting, a possible 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader.”
+7 # RMDC 2015-12-21 06:48
In Syria the US is playing the game it always plays -- don't allow elections until the people are so bombed into submission that they will vote for the US/Israeli/Saud i puppet.

This is what happened in Yugoslavia, or what was left of it. The US bombed Servia for 71 days and agreed to stop bombing if there was an election, with the very clear proviso that if Milosevic was re-elected the bombing would continue.

In Vietnam, the US would never allow the elections that it promised in 1953 because it knew perfectly well that the communists would win.

In El Salvador, the US made it known that the death squads would continue until the people voted for the US candidate for president -- the leader of the death squads, Roberto D'Aubisson and his chief operation David Patraeus and John Negroponte.

In NIcaaragua, the US agreed to stop the terror war if the people elected the anti-Sandinista candidate.

The US never stands for democracy or any form of democratic solution. For the CIA war and the killing of millions of civilians are just a "campaign strategy" for their puppet dictator.

And why not. Obama is a puppet dictator. bush was a puppet dictator. Clinton was a puppet dictator. These are the only kinds of leaders the CIA knows.

I sure hope the Russians, Syrian, Iranians, and Iraqis hold on and beat the fuck out of the Americans and their terrorist forces in ISIS, FSA, al Qaeda. They have them now on the run.
+1 # Radscal 2015-12-21 12:49
Yes indeed.

I note that in Yugoslavia, the goal was not just to install a "friendly" dictator, but to destroy Yugoslavia's infrastructure and dissolve the country, resulting in a new verb, "to Balkanize."

In Yugoslavia, that goal was apparently because, it was a relatively prosperous, industrialized country with a highly educated population.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the West didn't want another Italy. They loved the cheap labor and psychologically cowed populations of Eastern Europe that they'd begun exploiting to great profit.

So, they fomented civil war, creating a failed state, destroyed the industrial backbone and left the people relieved to just be vassals.

And that worked out so well, it's been the US policy throughout the Muslim world ever since.
+3 # Bruce Gruber 2015-12-21 07:42
Why not just pursue Climate related solutions. Leave the gunk underground, reduce its commercial profit value to ZERO, undermine the oligarchs' control of energy and commerce, leave nothing for armchair warriors to pursue and let competing god-whisperers with no commodity to affect purchase of weapons to fight righteously for control and power?

Sand doesn't represent power to Semite cults any more than "green, forested" hillsides in Appalachia give comfort and happiness to mountaineers.

Future WARS will be fought over water and arable land, not oil and coal. The Middle East will no longer be synthetically divided by Western commercial interest.
+5 # David Starr 2015-12-21 09:21
It looks like empire doesn't want a diplomatic solution in Syria. "Regime change" is its imperial slogan.
+4 # RMDC 2015-12-21 09:50
David -- yes, and Skull and Bones Kerry is leading the offensive, as he was trained at Yale to do. "John Kerry, reporting for duty sir."

By what right does the US claim regime change. UN conventions are clearly against regime change. It is illegal under international law. Too bad the International Criminal Court has become a tool of US imperialism, aggression, and regime change. The US has tried to get Assad indicted at the ICC. The truth is Obama and Bush need to be indicted, convicted, and sentenced to prison for life.
+3 # Radscal 2015-12-21 13:27
The US has refused to sign on to the ICC. What does that tell us?
-3 # Shades of gray matter 2015-12-21 10:40
The deadly sectarian differences in the Mideast predate colonialism. That is how the colonizers knew how to rule, draw boundaries. The election of the Muslim Brotherhood kind of quenched my thirst for elections among ethnic/tribal nutcases. Especially where people believe the state exists to serve Sharia interests.
+1 # Radscal 2015-12-21 13:40
Deadly sectarian differences predate colonialism IN Europe, too.

There can be no doubt that CIA/MI6/Mossad drive wedges between people to create bloody violence. Sure there were pre-existing differences in the Muslim world, just as there are in the West. And just as Catholic vs. Protestant animosity was manipulated to lower wages in the 19th and early 20th century US, these differences are used to divide and rule over the Middle East.

The Saudi Royal family has used the barely century-old sect of Salafist Wahhabism to enforce their brutal tyranny over the people of Arabia, and then spread it around the Muslim world to further the goals of the Western Empire.

And that's the reality that the propagandists seek to ignore. The alleged source of this "sectarian violence" is a recent invention, not some ancient, inherent and inevitable failing of primitive tribal nutcases.

In fact, Islam is a quite multi-racial, multi-ethnic religion. But there is a brutal, primitive, nutcase tribal group in the Middle East, and it too can be traced back to a late 19th century invention: Political Zionism.
-1 # rcdawson 2015-12-22 12:40
I agree that the United States has no business imposing regime change on Syria, or any other country for that matter, but elections seem unlikely to succeed and bring peace to the country.

Parry states, "But the prospects of Assad and his government just agreeing to cede power to the opposition remains highly unlikely. An obvious alternative – favored by Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin – is to achieve a ceasefire and then have internationally supervised elections in which the Syrian people could choose their own leaders"

Given the violent measures that we have seen employed by both Assad and the opposition, it seems to me somewhat naive to expect Assad or the opposition to accept the results of an election that goes against their desires and to peacefully yield power.

On the other hand, I don't think the United States and its Allies dropping bombs in Syria is doing anyone in Syria any good either; it probably just prolongs the suffering and creates more enemies for the non-Islamic countries.

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