We were wrong to think that the Syrians were out of danger after their victory over the jihadists. They are not. Israël and the United States have not abandoned their war objective of the destruction of state structures. They are preparing a new war, this time financial, in order to prevent the reconstruction of the country and condemn the Syrian people to rot in the ruins.
In Washington, the struggle between the Jacksonians (represented by Donald Trump’s team) and the Imperialists (in other words the traditional political class) may well seduce the 116th Congress into not only harassing the President, but also playing a much greater role in foreign affairs.
This Congress has just elected James Risch (Republican, Idaho) to the presidency of the Senatorial Committee for Foreign Affairs, and Eliot Engel (Democrat, New York) to the presidency of the equivalent Commitee for the House of Representatives. The two men agree on nothing apart from their stubborn support for the Pentagon and Israël, and their hatred of Syria.
While James Risch is an old-school Republican, Eliot Engel (New York) is what we call in France a « bobo » (Bourgeois-Bohemian). The positions he takes are inconsistent with one another, but manage to satisfy all the ethnic communities in his constituency. Above all, it was Engel who tabled the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act in 2003, the US declaration of war against Syria.
At the opening of the new session and even before they were elected as presidents of the Committee, on 3 January 2019, Risch and Engel both presented to their respective assemblies a draft for law (S.1 and H.R. 31) which included an almost identical passage aimed at preventing the reconstruction of Syria. The two men are pretending to believe that the photographs from the Caesar Report show bodies tortured by « Bachar’s régime » (in other words the Syrian Arab Republic) and not by the jihadists (alias the « moderate rebels »). They therefore agree to punish the Syrian People for having supported those qualified as « torturers» against the authentic torturers .
By doing so, they are pursuing the strategy implemented by Jeffrey Feltman when he was US ambassador to Lebanon. In 2005, he created a « Special Tribunal » to try President Bachar el-Assad, who was guilty, according to Feltman and certain false witnesses, of having commandeered the assassination of Rafic Hariri. Yesterday, el-Assad was an « assassin », today he’s a « torturer ».
It is clear to everyone that beyond the rhetorical pretexts, these drafts, according to US law, apply the strategy defined by the same Jeffrey Feltman when he directed the political department of the UNO. In a secret note , drawn up in October 2017, this ex-assistant of Hillary Clinton instructed all UN agencies to come to the help of Syrian civilians only in cases of emergency and in the short term. The note forbade all aid in the medium or long term which could enable the reconstruction of the country. This directive exceeded his powers, and was applied behind the backs of state-members of the UN, and without the knowledge of the Security Council. Its existence was revealed ten months later by Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergueï Lavrov, on 20 August 2018 .
This strategy clearly aims at pursuing the same objective as that of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the seven years of war against Syria – not by military means, since Russia is present, but by financial means. It is still not a question of overthrowing President Bachar el-Assad (which was only the war objective of Saudi Arabia), nor the Syrian Arab Republic (the war objective of certain old colonial powers), but to weaken the Syrian state to the extreme in application of the Rumsfeld-Cebrowski doctrine.
What Senator James Risch and Representative Eliot Engel are preparing against Syria has already been implemented by the European Union, a further sign that this policy was not conceived by US politicians. Thus on 21 January 2019, the EU Council of Ministers for Foreign Affairs sanctioned the persons and companies responsible for the Mariota City project, a new town which is to be built in the suburbs of Damascus . Only one of these people was involved in any way in the combats, and even less in the accusations of torture. They are all civilians engaged in a flagship project for reconstruction.
The Pentagon and the Treasury
Since 2001, the United States Treasury has become a political power working in tandem with the Pentagon. This administration has availed itself of astounding powers, notably by creating a jurisprudence which allows it to extra-territorialise US laws under the pretence that certain international transactions have been made in dollars. It is not a law, but an interpretation which today is accepted by US courts. Simultaneously, the Treasury has set up financial tools which enable it to sanction persons, companies and states with a severity that has never been equaled. The most frightening example is that of the series of sanctions progressively enacted against Iran since 2005.
Contrary to what it claims, when the Treasury sanctions a state, it does not condemn either the state or its leaders, but deprives its population of all economic contact with the West. Paradoxically, the victims of these sanctions have learned to avoid them with the help of certain US allies. Thus, in the Iranian example, the United Arab Emirates, and in particular the port of Dubaï, have become organs of the laundering of forbidden commerce. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad managed to create thousands of intermediaries throughout the world in order to camouflage his nation’s commerce. They were closed by his successor, Hassan Rohani, then re-opened in a panic after the US withdrawal from the 5+1 agreement and the return of sanctions. These sanctions can be of extreme cruelty, like those implemented against the Houthis in Yemen, which maintained conditions of murderous famine.
Let’s remember that these political sanctions often have nothing to do with those implemented by the UN Security Council, which, in this case, are illegal in international law. They are acts of war comparable to the sieges of the Middle Ages . Today, the US Treasury is applying political sanctions against Belarus, Burundi, North Korea, Cuba, Iran, Libya, Nicaragua, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela and Zimbabwe, to which we must add the Donetsk People’s Republic Ukraine), Hezbollah (Iran), the Houthis (Yemen), and many others.