1. Professor Chomsky says that the Americans/Israelis do not want Assad to fall. I object. They do want Assad to fall if it is replaced by the opposition they like. However, since this is not materialising, they prefer Assad to be bogged down in civil war. Chomsky’s formulation paints it thus: that Assad is the better option, as far as US/Israel is concerned. On the contrary, I hold that, as far as US/Israel is concerned, Assad fighting for his life is the better option. There’s a subtle difference, which if taken into account, doesn’t mislead one into thinking that the US are not involved in a campaign of undermining Assad.
This brings me to point 2.
2. Professor Chomsky says that the US is not involved in a conspiracy against Syria. I object. To analyse this, the best method is to first ask, What does US/it’s-ally-Israel fear? and then ask, What role does Assad play with regards to US/it’s-ally-Israel’s fears?
In this case, the answer to both is pretty similar, with some variation. The US and Israel fear their hegemony being threatened. At the moment, especially in the context of the MiddleEast, the main threat comes from the Islamic Republic of Iran, and its influence across the region. The Islamic Republic has a solid relationship with the Iraqi leadership, and more importantly, a deep connexion with a large portion of the Iraqi population. The Islamic Republic has friends within the populations of Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, and to King Abdullah’s eternal horror, Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Republic has an alliance with Syria, a profound brotherhood with Hezbollah, and a at best good, at worst decent relationship with the Palestinian resistance. This has been termed by Iran and Hezbollah as the Axis of Resistance, i.e. a cloud of power that resists foreign hegemony, with Israel perceived as a foreign entity occupying Palestinian land.
The second question was, what role does Assad play here? The Islamic Republic and Hezbollah have been quite clear that Assad has bridged a gap for the Resistance, a bridge which hasn’t only irked Israel, it has threatened it. Assad, viewed alone, may not be a threat to Israel, but viewed as the middleman, as the bridge, as the road from Tehran to Bint Jbeil, is a dangerous individual. This is why US-Israeli interests require Assad to leave.
The opportunity has come, fully funded by Saudis who equally fear the Islamic Republic, and Qataris who want to buy their way into hegemony. Extremist, sectarian mercenaries from across the world have gathered in Syria to join a Syrian rebellion. This is no longer about fighting autocracy, anymore than the Egypt’s Tamarrod movement was about fighting autocracy.
Many of the Tamarrod Protestors in Egypt did not want military rule, but they became unwitting pawns to much higher powers with their grander designs. I do not respect pawns, however noble their intentions. The rebels in Syria are pawns (and their intentions are, by and large, far from noble.) One should see through the illusion.
Of course, I know Professor Chomsky knows this, but I will still emphasise, that being anti-rebels is not to be pro-Assad – but it is to prefer Assad’s Syria to what is looming, and it is to prefer Assad’s Syria than Saudi and Qatari and ‘Western’ mercenaries taking control.