Washington's 'Plan B' in Syria

The US has launched a new scheme to dismember the country -- Damascus and its allies must act

Syria is facing a renewed and reinvented US-Israeli scheme to dismember the country, utilising members of minority groups 'the regime' did much to protect: notably in the south (Suweida) and the northeast (the 'Eastern Euphrates' Kurds). It has become imperative for this scheme to be confronted. The burden for that should not only rest on the shoulders of Syria and its army but also the states and paramilitary components of the Axis of Resistance. The threat endangers them all without exception. And they must always keep in mind that Syria has been fighting to shield them, and because of them.

When the US and its clients in neighboring countries felt no pushback, they became bolder. They turned on Syria, both through deadly starvation sanctions, and the ploy of bringing Syria back into the Arab fold and welcoming President Bashar al-Asad to some Arab capitals. That turned out to be part of a ruse to sell illusions, divert attention, and gain time to implement this scheme.

It is not only some Druze citizens in Suweida who are going hungry, for that to justify destroying the state's institutions and rising up against it. The entire Syrian people face harsh living conditions more devastating than those in sanctions-hit Iraq under Saddam Hussein. There are shortages of water, fuel, electricity, and bread. The US takeover of the vast oil-and-gas and agricultural wealth east of the Euphrates, with the collusion of the Syrian Democratic Forces (FCS), was intended to 'revolutionise' sections of the Syrian people that fought for 12 years to preserve the state and its unity and prompt them to demand the downfall of the regime out of despair and hopelessness and in search of salvation.

Saddam Hussein's Iraq was subjected to a similar starvation campaign, but in Syria's case, it was more severe. In the later years of the embargo against Iraq, after growing international pressure, it was partially eased through the 'oil-for-food' arrangement. But nothing like this has been or will be applied to Syria. That is because most Arab governments are subservient to the US, which has seized Syria's oil and gas wells, stolen their output, and prevented the provision of the food supplies that used to amply meet the Syrian people's needs.

They failed to partition Syria and topple the regime by employing armed political Islam and pumping tens of billions of dollars into the endeavor. Now they are resorting to 'Plan B', the creation of separate politically and administratively autonomous zones on Syria's fringes: Suweida and Deraa in the south (as a protective barrier for Israel), in the northeast under Kurdish leadership, and in the northwest under Turkish auspices.

These autonomous enclaves, imposed by force and starvation, are intended to develop into independent states, with the support of the US forces stationed in special bases east of the Euphrates, and to serve as protective buffers for Israel. We could see similar bases set up in southern Syria at Suweida and Deraa, to complement those in Jordan and al-Tanaf on the Iraq-Syria-Jordan border intersection, and isolate Damascus and its army completely from the Golan front.

The protests led by Druze separatist groups against worsening living conditions and corruption, in which Syrian flags were torched and government buildings sacked, were the tip of the iceberg of the reinvented US-Israeli scheme. Legitimate grievances are exploited to achieve pernicious aims. The same can be said of events east of Deir az-Zour and in rural Idlib and Aleppo.

The tribal uprising in the northeast against the US base and its SDF protectors was a positive move. But it was belated and insufficient. It needs to have the full and open backing of the Syrian army, whatever the cost. Keeping silent about these conspiracies in line with the theory of 'strategic patience' is what led to this situation in the first place. It had the opposite of the intended effect.

It must be reiterated that responsibility for confronting this conspiracy does not rest solely with Syria and its hard-pressed army, which has been fighting to defend the country for the past 12 years and lost tens of thousands of martyrs. It is shared by all members of the Axis of Resistance, above all Iran. Syria is paying the price for its alliance with Iran. It is being starved, impoverished, and dismembered because it refuses to abandon that alliance. The same applies to its Russian allies. Syria protected them economically by refusing to transit Qatari gas to Europe. Yet they refuse to provide it with the air cover or defences to repel Israeli air raids. There have been more than 300 so far, most recently targeting the outskirts of Syria's capital and its civilian airports.

I can only urge our Syria brothers and sisters to be steadfast and forbearing. But I more strongly urge the Syrian authorities and their state and paramilitary allies to act quickly to confound this conspiracy by all available ways and means, before it is too late.