It’s been almost a fortnight since Syrian government forces won a major victory at al-Qusayr. As Franklin Lamb’s analysis makes clear, the victory was a ‘game-changer’.
Unfortunately for the Syrian people, it seems that this battle does not herald the end of the violence but rather an increase. The result has been that the US has now effectively declared war on Syria by promising direct provision of ‘lethal aid’ to the rebels.
US and Israel Lobby reel from Hezbollah al-Qusayr victory
Beirut — Although al-Qusayr may not be the decisive battle for Syria, it is irrefutably an important turning point in the crisis which has given the regime much sought military momentum. Plenty of adjectives and some clichés are being bandied about from Washington to Beirut to describe the al-Qusayr battle results and significance. Among them are “game-changer,” “mother of all battles,” “altered balance of power,” critical “turning point in the civil war,” and so on.
It does appear that the victory of the Syrian government forces at al-Qusayr
is a strategic achievement, if also a humanitarian disaster for the civilian
population still waiting for the ICRC and SARCS, (Syrian Arab Red Crescent
Society) emergency help. Al Qusayr is located in Homs province, an area
central to the success of the Syrian government’s military strategy. It is
situated just west of the shortest route from Damascus to the coast, at a
juncture where regime forces have struggled to maintain control. Rebel
control of al-Qusayr had disrupted the regime’s supply lines from the port of
Tartus and was open for the cross-border movement of Gulf arms to rebels
via Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Government control of al-Qusayr also provides a ground base for the Assad
government to move to retake control of the north and east of Syria. This
cross-roads city just 6 miles from the Lebanese border has many strategic
ramifications: breaking the opposition’s 18 month control of much of Homs
province, facilitating government forces momentum generally across Syria,
and psychological, by raising the morale of exhausted Syrian forces while
energizing the Assad government and its allies to finish the conflict and focus
on long-promised reforms and try to relieve Syria from the nearly 27 months
of hell for its people.
Perhaps less appreciated here in Beirut are al-Qusayr’s effects on the Zionist
occupiers of Palestine and their currently traumatized US lobby.
From conversations and emails with former colleagues at the Democratic
National Committee (on which this observer served during the Carter
administration) as well as with Congressional insiders, a picture emerges of
nearly debilitating angst among those committed to propping up the
apartheid state in the face of truly historic changes in this region that have
only just begun to re-shape the region.
The reactions from various elements of the pro-Israel lobby range from the
Arabphobic Daniel Pipes’ fantasy essay in the Washington Times this week
entitled “Happy Israel” to Netanyahu’s increased threats issued from Tel
Aviv about what Israel might do if his three cartoon “red lines” are breached,
to more pressure on the White House by Israel’s agents in Congress who are
demanding that Obama act immediately to undo “the major damage done
Several aspects of “the Qusayr rules and results” are being discussed at the
HQ of the racist anti-Defamation League (ADL) which has summoned an
emergency gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations to craft a solution to the problem. The tentative agenda
reportedly includes for discussion and action the following:
The twin defeats at al-Qusayr and at Burgas, Bulgaria — the latter should not
be underestimated, according to one AIPAC activist who works on the House
Foreign Affairs Committee, given that it substantially knocks out the props
from the lobby’s project to get the European Union to list Hezbollah as a
terrorist organization, thus interfering with the Islamist party’s fundraising.
Bulgaria is claiming there is not probative evidence to conclude that Hezbollah was involved in the attack on Israelis last year.
The lobby is also reacting angrily to Austria’s Chancellor Werner Faymann and
Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger’s statement about that country’s
decision to withdraw its 380 peacekeeping troops, more than one-third of the
1000 United Nations Disengagement Observer Force, (UNDOF) contingent,
from the Golan Heights.
The lobby is claiming that Austrian move constituents an existential threat
to Israel because it opens the Quneitra crossing, the door to the Golan, for the
Syrian civil war to spill over the border into Israel. At the same time it is
being argued that al Qusayr lifts pressure off Hezbollah, Iran and Syria as
well as the Palestinian resistance and gain all more fighters who sense victory
for the current regime and major gains for all in the political dynamics of
The Israel embassy in Washington has chimed in with a statement that the
Austrian withdrawal threatened the role of the UN Security Council in any
future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, while at the same
time encouraging Hezbollah to move into the Golan.
Israel stalwart, Eric Cantor (R-Va) told a “brown bag” lunch gathering in
the House Rayburn Building cafeteria late this week that the “fall of al
Qusayr, will facilitate the Assad regimes advance on areas north of Homs
province and will likely return to Damascus control of important rebel-held
areas in the north and the east. Cantor claims that the Assad regime victory
effectively cuts off an important supply route to the rebels which will leave
the armed opposition even more weakened and scattered. Israel is
demanding an immediate US supported counter-offensive consistent with
the demands made by US Senators John McClain and Lindsay Graham.
The apartheid state also is demanding that the White House scrap Geneva II,
claiming that Assad is now too strong for the US/Israel to benefit from such
a dialogue. “If the international community is serious about seeking to enforce
a negotiated settlement, they will first have to do something to decisively
change the balance of power on the ground ahead of any serious negotiations,”
When asked about giving US aid to Lebanon, Cantor reportedly sneered,
as he expressed his shock that Hezbollah had so many troops and, without
US boots on the ground, would be very difficult for Israel to defeat, he
reportedly replied, “Forget about Lebanon, it never was a real country
anyway, just call the whole place over there Hezbollah and let’s send in the
marines to finish the job.”
One congressional staffer who attended the meeting winced at the thought of
US marines again being sent to Lebanon given their previous experience there
nearly 30 years ago.
The Lobby is also concerned about the fact that the Arab League and the Gulf
countries might be softening in their ardor to confront Syria and Hezbollah,
who they view as now being full partners in this crisis. A media source at
the Saudi Embassy in Washington has complained that the six member Gulf
Cooperation Council (GCC) has spent more than a billion dollars on the
opposition and have, to date, little to show for their “investment.” Nor does
Israel have much to show to date for its deepening role in the crisis given that
its air strikes are widely viewed in Washington and internationally as being
counterproductive and helping to unite Muslims and Arabs in the face of
their common global enemy.
The ADL reportedly wants the White House to act fast “to do something”
in light of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Wednesday,
the day of the Syrian government’s victory at al Qusayr, showing that only
15% of Americans polled advocated taking military action, and only 11%
supported providing the rebels with arms. A quarter of respondents, 24%,
favored taking no action, similar to the White House current position.
Abe Foxman, ADL’s President for Life, and inveterate anti-Semite tracker,
myopically sees anti-Semitism, and surely not Israel’s decades of crimes
against humanity as the cause for other “anti-Semitic” polls released this
week. Those included the recent one commissioned by the BBC which
confirmed that Israel is not only ranked second from the bottom of 197
favorably viewed countries, including as a danger to world peace, and just
about the world’s most negatively viewed country, but its support globally
continues to evaporate. Views of Israel in Canada and in Australia remain
very negative with 57 and 69 per cent of their citizens holding unfavorable
views. In the EU countries surveyed, views of Israeli influence are all
strongly negative with the UK topping the list with 72 per cent of the
population viewing Israel negatively.
As Ali Abunimah noted this week, “The persistent association of Israel with
the world’s most negatively viewed countries will come as a disappointment
to Israeli government and other hasbara officials who have invested millions
of dollars in recent years to greenwash and pinkwash Israel as an
enlightened, democratic and technological ‘Western’ country.”*
With Wednesday’s National Lebanese Resistance (Hezbollah) victory at
al-Qusayr, coming as it does 97 years to the month after the Triple Entente’s
(UK, France & Russia) May 1916 secret Asia Minor Agreement, generally
known as Sykes-Picot, the scheme to control the Middle East following the
defeat of the Ottoman Empire has furthered crumbled. Its “Rosemary’s
Baby” progeny, the colonial Zionist occupation of Palestine, is increasingly
being condemned by history to an identical fate.
According to a growing number of US and European officials and Middle
East analysts as well as public opinion polls, it is solely a matter of time until,
like al-Qusayr, Palestine is returned to her rightful, indigenous inhabitants.