Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Dangerous Games in Syria

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Dangerous Games in Syria

Article excerpt

America's most vital national security concern is to maintain calm, productive relations with Russia.

The reason is obvious: Russia and the United States have thousands of nuclear warheads targeted on each other. Many are ready to launch in minutes. Compared to this threat, all of America's other security issues are minor.

Avoiding confrontations with a major nuclear power is obvious. Yet the United States and Russia are ignoring such common sense in their increasingly heated war of words over Syria's civil war.

The U.S. and its allies have been actively trying to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria for over a year. They have been pouring arms, money, communications gear and fighters into Syria to take advantage of a popular Sunni uprising against the Alawite-dominated regime.

Washington's intervention in Syria is driven by its obsession to undermine Iran by bringing down its most important Arab ally. Israel, which exerts enormous political pressure over U.S. Mideast policy in an election year, sees destabilizing Syria as a triple win: a blow to its arch enemy Iran; a blow to Syria's efforts to regain its strategic Golan Heights that Israel captured in 1967, then annexed; and wrecking the key backer of Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinians.

In June, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose presidential ambitions are increasingly evident, accused Russia of selling MI-24 helicopter gunships to Syria. Russia angrily denied the charge and asserted that U.S. anti-riot gear was being used against demonstrators across the Mideast.

Washington scourged Syria for attacking civilian targets. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The same week, the U.S.-installed president of Afghanistan pleaded with Washington to stop its air strikes that are killing many civilians. Pakistan's feeble government begged Washington to halt its drone attacks.

The angry Russians could have added that the U.S. has been buying rocket-armed Russian-made MI-17 combat helicopters from them for use by Afghan government forces, and using helicopter and AC-130 gunships in Afghanistan. Or citing U.S. sales of advanced Apache attack helicopters to Israel that were used to attack civilian targets in Gaza. …

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