The experience of Libya demonstrates that whenever conditions permit, the anti-democratic Western oligarchies will always destroy independent countries whose governments try to compromise or negotiate. Like Libya, Iran and Syria have long historical experience of imperialist perfidy by the major Western imperial powers, the United States, Britain and France.
The Iranians took back control of their country after their Islamic revolution in 1979. In Syria, that fierce nationalism took a secular form under a socialist government. Iran and Syria have both sought to promote strong economic development while managing complex religious, cultural and ethnic diversity.
SYRIA ~ HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Syria, now with a population of over 23 million, became independent from France in 1946. The first two decades of independence for the new republic were marked by a succession of unstable governments. An experimental political union with Egypt in the late 1950s proved unsuccessful. In the end, the socialist Ba'ath party took power in 1963. Later, in 1970, Hafez al Assad became President, after an internal power struggle within the government.
Under the government of Hafez al Assad, Syria consolidated its transformation through strong economic growth based mainly on agriculture and oil. After 2000, when his son Bashar al Assad, became President, Syria continued to sustain strong economic performance. But recent attempts to implement liberal reforms in response to both internal opposition criticism and foreign pressure have had limited success. The United States and its allies have sought to exploit aggressively the very opportunities created by the Syrian government's attempts at reform.
Syria has constantly been menaced by Zionist military aggression since Israel was founded in 1948 and has suffered air strikes from Israel at various times over the last decade. Israel's invasion and occupation of neighbouring Lebanon in 1982, seriously threatened Syria's interests. The Syrian government countered with a military intervention of its own.
Parallel with the threat posed by Israel's occupation of Lebanon, Syria has also constantly been threatened by Israel's continued occupation of the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory captured by Israel in 1967 and held illegally ever since. That occupation was condemned in UN Resolution 497, one of numerous UN Resolutions contemptuously violated by Israel's Zionist government under the protection of its main military allies, the United States, France and Britain. For all practical purposes, Israel has long been a de facto member of NATO. It was in this historical context that Syria maintained a significant military presence in Lebanon until 2005.
In February of that year a massive car bomb was used to murder leading Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri, a noted critic of Syria. The Western powers on the UN Security Council pushed for a Special Tribunal to investigate the murder. Hariri's assassination was exploited by the NATO countries' political allies in Lebanon and in the region to force Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.
The UN Special Tribunal, after initially leveling suspicion against Syria, has recently shifted its aim to target Hezbollah.
This behaviour by the UN Special Tribunal on Lebanon parallels very closely what happened with the dishonest politically motivated manipulation of the Lockerbie terrorist bombing investigation in the case of Libya.
China's position is less clear-cut, given its heavy dependence on reliable oil supplies. Persistent US and allied country provocations may lead Iran to retaliate against sanctions by closing the strategically important Hormuz Strait. In this way, the NATO powers create uncertainty about the security of China's oil supply and the stability of the oil price in international markets. What happens in Syria is directly relevant in terms of how it may affect Iran's policy.
The recent visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to Saudi Arabia, Qatar y the Arab Emirates was directly related to that dilemma.
Clearly, it is the NATO powers and these local NATO allies who are provoking serious instability in the international oil markets.That instability may well hurt the US and Europe as much as their Asian rivals should Iran itself retaliate economically.
The Israeli 2010 attack on the Mavi Marmara vessel carrying peace activists to Palestine seemed to exacerbate Turkey's differences with its NATO partners. But during the current crisis in Syria, Turkey has decisively supported NATO's aggression against its neighbour. The government of Prime Minister Erdogan has permitted the establishment of terrorist groups attacking Syria from Turkish territory.
The Turkish government has also advocated and implemented damaging sanctions against Syria and its people as part of the increasingly sinister campaign to bring down the Syrian Ba'ath party government led by Bashar al Assad. But Turkey also has a strong interest in a stable relationship with Iran. Its complicated regional interests may ultimately force Prime Minister Erdogan to moderate Turkey's current policy on Syria.
THE SYRIAN CRISIS NOW
Disturbances began in Syria in January 2011 as part of a region-wide attempt by the NATO powers and their local allies to exploit popular pressure for political change. In March of that same year, events in the city of Deraa provoked dubious allegations of government forces shooting on unarmed protestors, just as happened in Libya.
Terrorists encouraged, trained and supplied by Saudi Arabia and allies like Qatar and protected by Turkey, have attacked government security forces in Baniyas, Homs, and Hama, among other cities.
The pattern of their intervention is similar to that used to destroy Libya. They have encouraged, trained and supplied subversive terrorist groups, using a comprehensive psy-warfare campaign to both conceal and justify the extent of their aggressive intervention.
The crisis in Syria results mainly not from popular calls for reform but from foreign pressure and intervention. The techniques used against Syria by the Western powers and their regional allies are far from new. They have been used over the last fifty years to brutalize and dehumanize the Palestinians, to demonize Cuba and North Korea and to justify an interminable programme of aggression around the world.
Now the NATO powers, with their long and shameful history of colonial conquest, have updated and refined that tool kit of imperial repression. Prior to Syria, they have used it against Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Haiti, Honduras, Ivory Coast and, most recently, Libya.
The propaganda war always consists of exaggerated and distorted accusations of human rights violations, corruption and lack of democracy.
After that phase of economic warfare, the next stage is one of armed subversion through local proxies. The loss of life provoked by that terrorist subversion can then be used to activate measures through the international legal system, if possible via the International Criminal Court, self-evidently a tool of Western imperialism.
The Arab League served that purpose against Libya and is being used now in the NATO countries' efforts to destroy Syria. It will almost certainly be used to complete preparations for the developing aggression against Iran.
Iran's history in the last century, common to most of the region, was one of colonial oppression and foreign exploitation. After the anti-democratic coup in 1953, the country endured over 25 years of neocolonial dependency, abetted by the dictatorship of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Pahlavi was an unconditional NATO country ally in the mould of dictators like Anastasio Somoza, Sese Mobutu or Ferdinand Marcos.
Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega often refers to the twin revolutions of 1979 to recall that both the Iranian and the Nicaraguan peoples liberated their countries from cruel dictatorship that same year.
NATO's regional allies, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf tyrannies, all fear Iran because it has a powerful government committed to regional change based on the ideals of its own Islamic revolution.
Iran has sought to develop nuclear power since the 1950s. But the United States and Israel first began to exploit Iran's nuclear power programme as pretext for aggressive sanctions in 2003, the same year as the NATO powers and their allies invaded Iraq on the false pretext that they feared Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
The current IAEA Director General is Yukiya Amano, regarded as even more susceptible to pressure from the NATO country governments than his predecessor Mohamed al Baradei.
The notorious extreme hypocrisy of NATO country governments is has reached unprecedented extremes in the case of Iran.
They and their allies wage blatant terrorist war against Iran using terrorist organizations they themselves condemn such as the Mojahedin-e Khalq, just as they have used Al Qaeda in Lebanon, Libya and now Syria.
In the 1930s, similar behaviour by Germany and Italy was called by its true name ~ fascism.
Over 30% of international oil supplies pass through the Hormuz Strait, controlled by Iran.
Iran's missile technology and capability is formidable. Its mastery of electronic warfare was evident in the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. There, Iran's ally Hezbollah effectively neutralized Israeli electronic warfare and constantly monitored Israeli military communications.
For all these reasons, any attack on Iran will certainly be far more complex in its planning and execution and far more costly in financial terms and in terms of casualties for the aggressors than the wars against Afghanistan,Iraq or Libya.
All these countries, in particular Russia and China understand very well that the aggression against Syria and Iran is how the Western powers of North America and Europe hope to arrest their relative decline in global power and influence, especially in relation to Asia.
India would be unlikely to take sides in any potential armed conflict between Iran and the NATO countries and their local allies.
This is emphatic confirmation that Iran is far from the caricature isolated pariah presented in the Western corporate media.
It is easy to forget that Iran is a likely candidate to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.Iran is engaged in major railway construction projects with SCO members Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
LESSONS FROM LIBYA
For their part, Iran and Syria may well be regretting the support they gave to NATO's counter-revolutionary putsch and colonial war of aggression in Libya.
NATO's puppet NTC regime in Libya repaid Iran and Syria by closing the Syrian government embassy in Tripoli and recognizing Syria's own opposition SNC as Syria's legitimate government.
Libya's recent experience has reinforced the long standing lesson that the North American and European oligarchs will always destroy independent countries that resist their will.
The Libyan war also demonstrated that, paradoxically, Iran shares the NATO powers' abandonment of the UN's basic principles of non-aggression and self-determination of peoples.
It led directly to the destruction of Libya, the current aggression against Syria and the developing military assault on Iran.Like Russia and China, Iran is now in part suffering the fallout from its support for the destruction of Libya.It is fair to argue that if Russia, China and Iran had defended the principle of non-aggression in the case of Libya, the NATO powers would never have been able to destabilize Syria so readily.
Figures as diverse as Noam Chomsky, Ignacio Ramonet, Gilbert Achcar, Ramsy Baroud and Al Giordano, among many others, supported the pretext for the war against the Libyan government even though it clearly enjoyed majority support in the country.
Their deep intellectual inauthenticity was matched by the international Left's utter moral collapse in failing to defend Libya and its people against vicious colonial military aggression.
No serious effort was made to support peaceful negotiations as proposed by the African Union and the ALBA countries. In North America, the Black Left's support for the Libyan government was ignored. In Europe, prestigious left-wing media outlets like Rebelión censored opinion arguing against the Libyan CNT counter-revolutionary putsch.
The demonization of Muammar Ghaddafi and censorship by omission on the Left was indistinguishable from that in the corporate media.
They accepted false information totally in line with imperialist propaganda. They collaborated in the abandonment of the founding principles of the UN. They effectively accepted the aggressive introduction of the imperialist principle of Responsibility to Protect. Arguments about NATO's conquest of Libya demonstrated that in North America and Europe. The international Left is essentially an agglomeration of fictions of varying effectiveness and relevance.
The utility of the fictions purveyed by the networks around individuals like Ramonet, Chomsky and the rest is that they serve as intermediaries with liberal progressive networks loyal to corporate capitalism and with the centres of imperial power itself.
What has been and remains so striking is the extent of the international Left's identification with the false rhetoric of the very structures they purport to criticize.
IMPLICATIONS FOR LATIN AMERICA
Those prejudices have made it impossible for most of what passes for the Left in North America and Europe to remake themselves convincingly enough to win majority support despite the chronic economic crisis in their countries.
Such a volatile international context presents enormous challenges to the peoples of Latin America and to their leaders.
The United States and their allies supported the successful coups in Haiti and Honduras and were active in the attempted coups in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.