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Syria is Now the Key to Mid-East Stability, But Bashar is the Impediment

“At the same time, while most Iranian opposition leaders are falling by the wayside through lack of credibility, at least one, the nationalist leader of the overarching Azadegan movement, Dr Assad Homayoun, has retained respect by refusing to accept financial support by anyone other than Iranians, and by supporting the approach that the tribal and regional groups should work toward a secular state, and has also worked toward the theory that the Iranian Armed Forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC: Pasdaran) should remove support for the clerics and support a popular movement aimed at introducing secular governance, even if temporarily under military leadership."

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The Western world is focused on – and always reacts to – current events in the Middle East. Today it is preoccupied with the ongoing turmoil in Iraq and the prospect of either peace or war with Iran, and with developments in Israel-Palestinian affairs. But one of the most important keys to determining whether there will be any long-term stability in the Middle East, and particularly in the Eastern Mediterranean, is being determined in Damascus. And Washington is paying little or no attention to the developments.

Syria now determines the degree of flexibility and opportunism available to the Iranian clerics. Syria, under Iran’s captive, Bashar al-Assad, determines how the Iraq turmoil will play out.

The Iranian clerics have only a couple of interrelated strategic options to break out from their strategic isolation and to win protection from an uprising of their own people: the first is to sell their soul and their country to Moscow and Beijing by embracing the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a means of ducking under the mutual defense clauses of the SCO. The second is to use the clerics’ longstanding control of the Syrian leadership to break out of the physical containment by using Syrian assets to stimulate the civil war in Iraq, and to open the prospect that Iran – after the US and Coalition have withdrawn from Iraq – can literally dominate the land from Iran to the Mediterranean.

Syria is essentially controlled by the Iranian clerics, for reasons outlined below. But Syria is now critical to the survival of the ruling Iranian mullahs’, as much as Bashar owes his political survival to Tehran. Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad, had a comfortable arrangement with Tehran’s mullahs, but Bashar, who lacks any kind of independent power base, is now virtually in office at the sufferance of Tehran. And, as a result, Syria’s economy and social base continues to decline. Frustrations abound, and Bashar’s only option is to support the Iranian plan to move toward regional war as a means of distracting and suppressing the Syrian people.

High-blown rhetoric from Damascus and Tehran implies that a major rift exists between the Syrian and Iranian peoples and the US and Israel. The reality is that the rhetoric is designed to literally create a crisis as the only means the Syrian and Iranian leaders have to stop their own populations maneuvering against them.

Significantly, the Western media and foreign policy “experts” keep taking at face value what Bashar and his cohorts, and what the clerics in Tehran, are saying. And Washington is divided, when it comes to Iran, between whether to bomb or to talk. The answer, from the people in Syria and Iran, is that they should do neither. They should neither legitimize the clerics or Bashar by doing deals which are meaningless and which only serve to perpetuate their unrepresentative rule. And they should not bomb, because this would merely force the Syrian and Iranian peoples – essentially pro-Western and awaiting their liberty – to reluctantly rally around the leaders they despise in the face of foreign threats to their homeland.

What, then, is the answer?

It is the more challenging, and yet least damaging, option: to maneuver politically; to use indirect support for the populations of Syria and Iran to achieve a better life. Asian martial arts use the term “give in to win” to describe the tactic of using the inherent momentum of an adversary to defeat him, rather than attacking with one’s own thrust. For the West to win in Syria and Iran, it must use the inherent momentum of the local populations and true leaderships, which have long been suppressed.

Levant Solutions has been given access by concerned officials to a series of special reports which had been distributed to US Government and officials of other governments by the Global Information System (GIS), highlighting the situation with regard to Syria. They highlight the reality which we on the ground in the country already know: that Bashar al-Assad is maneuvering not to achieve peace, or the betterment of Syria, but to actively join with Iran in a war against Israel and the West, so that he can attempt to win the support of the Syrian people, as his father, Hafez al-Assad, did in earlier wars.

In order to do this, Bashar has sold Syria to the Iranian clerics, who use Damascus as a means of furthering their wars in Iraq, and against Syria, and in Lebanon. And through all of this, they hope to build their landbridge to the Mediterranean, which would make them a global power. And this, coupled with the new alliance which the Iranian mullahs have created with Moscow and Beijing, would make the next Cold War far more dangerous for the West than the last. In it all, the peoples of the Levant and the Middle East generally would be unable to achieve the peace they want.

On June 30, 2007, in a Special Report, GIS advised senior US Government officials, in a report entitled Iran, Syria Make Strenuous Preparations for Combat-Readiness, Partly Reflecting Major Internal Leadership Schisms, that a pattern of Iranian and Syrian cooperation was emerging which indicated intensive preparations for imminent hostilities, even in the face of — and perhaps even because of — growing public unrest within their societies. The report went on:

“The June 26-27, 2007, gasoline rationing riots which struck Tehran and other major Iranian cities were perceived by Western media analysts to highlight the weakness of the Iranian clerical Government of Pres. Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad. In fact, more detailed intelligence shows that the clerical leadership not only anticipated the Iranian public unrest over petroleum rationing; that it had adequate reserves of refined petroleum and chose not only not to release these reserves to the public but rather to further ration normal supply; and then to deal strenuously and confidently with the protestors.

“The Iranian Government has, in recent weeks and months, been acquiring refined petroleum on the international market at an unprecedented rate, and has paid cash for the oil, rather than its traditional approach of offering crude oil in barter for refined oil.

“The Associated Press said on June 27, 2007, that “[t]he rationing is part of a Government attempt to reduce the $10-billion it spends each year to import fuel that is then sold to Iranian drivers at less than cost, to keep prices low.” Intelligence sources, however, indicate that this is not so: the Iranian Government has been increasing its spending on refined petroleum imports, particularly in recent months, but has been stockpiling the fuel for military use. Indeed, the fuel rationing now seems to be part of the process of ensuring that adequate stocks of refined petroleum are available for military purposes.

“The Iranian Government moves on stockpiling refined petroleum products parallel a variety of other indicators which show that Tehran is preparing for a worsening of the current international embargoes against the country to the point of war. It is also working extensively to overcome the international embargo on the provision of weapons to Iran through major deals being conducted via Syria, and pushing Syria itself — Iran’s principal regional ally, or surrogate — into preparation for conflict as well.

“Significantly, however, rifts in the Syrian leadership structure are also cause for concern in Tehran, but may, in fact, be contributory to the Syrian-Iranian preparations for external conflict as a means of bolstering support for the respective governments by their communities.
Quite apart from the divisions in the Iranian leadership (discussed below), and the division between the clerical ruling lite and the population itself, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad leadership ‘Alawite leadership group is itself becoming divided and rudderless in some respects, and is also facing a need to galvanize its population around a common cause.

“There seems to be a major breakdown within the ruling elements of the Assad family in Damascus. Essentially, the President, Dr Bashar al-Assad, and his brother-in-law, Assaf Shawqat, the Director of Military Intelligence, were, according to highly-placed sources, inclined to spark the region in order to “rally the troops behind the flag”. This accords with Tehran’s need to develop a united front to simultaneously confront the US and Israel.

“Significantly, however, even if Bashar was not inclined to work in concert with Tehran, his leadership is to a substantial extent predicted upon Tehran’s ability to blackmail the ‘Alawite leadership over the “legitimacy” of the ‘Alawites as a Shia sect. The April 1973 fatwa issued by the late (officially only “missing”) Imam Mussa Sadr certifying the ‘Alawites as Ja'afari Shi’ites. Because Sadr “disappeared” (killed by Libyan intelligence officers on the orders of Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi), no replacement could be nominated (because of the Shi’ite obsession with occultation) and his legal archive was moved to the High Court in Qom, Iran. Hence, the certification of the ‘Alawites as Muslims is now beholden to the goodwill of the mullahs in Tehran, making the Assads of Damascus effectively hostages to this goodwill. Thus, talk in Washington about convincing Damascus to de-link from Tehran is wishful thinking.

“Moreover, the Bashar al-Assad Government is facing the increasing effectiveness and appeal of the leadership of the exiled uncle of the President, Rifaat al-Assad, who is seen as perhaps the only ‘Alawite leader who could have the strength to govern Syria without Iranian support, and even without the blessing and affirmation of the Shia leadership in Qom. He is, in other words, a national Syrian leader in his own right.

“But in order for the existing Syrian and Iranian leadership attempts to bolster and protect their rule against internal opposition, by promoting the idea of international threats to the countries, both Damascus and Tehran are building defense readiness. From June 18-21, 2007, Syrianair cancelled most of its scheduled air services and diverted aircraft into an airlift of weapons from Tehran to Damascus, with some of those weapons shipments going on to HizbAllah in Lebanon. As well, Iran Air and, reportedly, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) aircraft were pressed into service to airlift military supplies from Tehran to Damascus (again, with some shipments moved by surface transport on to Lebanon for HizbAllah).

“At the same time, Syria reportedly took delivery in June 2007 of five MiG-31E advanced combat aircraft, and may have already begun accepting delivery of further MiG-29 variants — reportedly MiG-29M/M2s — for possible on-shipment to the IRIAF. The IIRAF already had some 25 Mikoyan MiG-29 and 15 two-seat MiG-29UB Fulcrum fighters in its inventory. The Syrian Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Arabiya as Souriya) had appr. 42 MiG-29A Fulcrum fighters, 14 MiG-29SMT Fulcrum air defense and air superiority aircraft, and six Mikoyan MiG-29UB Fulcrum operational trainers in its inventory. The MiG-31 is a development of the MiG-25 series, and it is reported that the MiG-29M/M2 is, in fact, similar in its subsystems and capabilities to the model being offered as the MiG-35 for the Indian Air Force. It is probable that Russia took back some of Syria’s older MiG-25 Foxbat high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft as trade-ins for the MiG-31Es. The MiG-31E is the export version of basic MiG-31 prototype (“903”), which was first noted in 1997; it has simplified systems over the MiG-35, with no active jammer, downgraded IFF, as well as downgraded radar and DASS. The Syrian Air Force has less than 15 Mikoyan MiG-25PD Foxbat air defense aircraft in its inventory; eight Mikoyan MiG-25RB reconnaissance; and two MiG-25RU Foxbat operational trainers.

“It is possible that Tehran and Damascus have been awaiting delivery of the advanced models of the MiG-25 and MiG-29 series before declaring readiness for a major, coordinated upsurge in confrontation with the US and Israel. Certainly, Syrian and Iranian aircrew and technicians have been undergoing training in Russia on the new systems.

“The use of Syria as a front for the purchase of advanced systems for Iran is not new. Even as recently as April-May 2007, it was reported that some of Syria’s 36 new Pantsir-S1E air defense systems were on-shipped to Iran.

“Meanwhile, it will be of key importance to note when the DPRK (North Korea) also begins steps to upgrade its confrontation, or return to a confrontational mode, with the US. This would indicate that the alliance of Iran, Syria, and the DPRK is ready to make moves, with the DPRK providing strategic diversion to an escalation in the Middle East.

“At the same time, however, the rifts within the clerical leadership are also coming to a head. There is a significant movement by former Pres. Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who has found common cause with the “Supreme Leader”, “Ayatollah” Ali Hoseini-Khamene‘i, to attempt to work against Pres. Ahmadi-Nejad, who Rafsanjani is convinced is moving Iran too close to an unwinnable war with the US. Some Tehran sources indicate that Rafsanjani has already hinted to Saudi and US officials that he would, if he and Khamene‘i could remove Ahmadi-Nejad, begin a rapprochement with the US.

“This kind of leakage could, however, also be designed to cause the US to pull back from military confrontation with Iran, given the predilection in the US State Department to follow the recommendations of former Secretary of State James Baker to “normalize” US-Iranian relations, regardless of the fact that this would work against US long-term interests by perpetuating a radical clerical Administration in office in Iran. As one Tehran source said: “These so-called ayatollahs may all hate each other and scheme against each other, but the ‘reformers’ are now different from the hard-liners when it comes to power issues; they are both the same side of the same coin. The ‘reformers’ only allow women to have a less strict dress code, and may — as Rafsanjani is hinting — make the nuclear program less visible. But they still will foment terrorist activities; they will still work to use HizbAllah to destroy Israel. They are all the same.”

A second GIS report leaked to Levant Solutions, and dated July 31, 2007, was entitled Moving Toward a Confluence of Disruptive Events in the Middle East. That report noted:

“A diverse range of intelligence sources have highlighted a pattern of imminent upheaval across a wide area of the Middle East, expected to culminate during, and following, September 2007, involving (a) possible military action within Iraq to change the Government; and (b) renewed provocations against Israel by proxy forces in Lebanon (HizbAllah) and Gaza (HAMAS). The two issues are intrinsically related, but are being coordinated separately to some extent.

“The great strategic substance, however, is that these two events and others are coming together in a confluence of disruptive trends which will profoundly affect the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean, and possibly also exacerbate the already worsening US-Russian relationship, given Moscow’s commitment to strong relations with Tehran (and, by default, Damascus) to help stabilize Russia’s southern flank.

“The upheavals could also give the Turkish General Staff the opportunity or casus belli it needs to openly intervene militarily in northern Turkey, ostensibly to protect its interests and to suppress activities there by the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). But the chain of events was also likely to lead to a planned – and well-prepared – escalation by Iran and Syria to engage in activities both against Israel and to expand or preserve their access to and through Iraq.

“A move by some Iraqi military officials to change the Shi’a-dominated Government of Nouri Maliki – which is now cooperating closely and openly with the clerical Government of Iran, and deliberately resisting cooperation (insofar as possible) with the US – would not, ultimately, be viewed askance in Washington, which essentially now feels that the original US route to “democracy” in Iraq cannot be achieved rapidly enough to forestall an effective Iranian victory in Iraq. The comparisons with the November 1, 1963, coup against then-South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem are apparent, and have probably been considered in Washington, but the alternative – the continued slide of a Maliki-dominated Government toward Tehran – is clearly inimical to US interests.

“Significantly, and not surprisingly, Washington is not of one mind as to the possible moves against Prime Minister Maliki, and many in official Washington (including some of those who view Maliki with alarm) regarded the revelation by the Saudi Arabian Government in mid-July 2007 of evidence of Mr Maliki’s covert relationship with Tehran as merely evidence that Saudi Arabia wanted to supplant the Shi’a-dominated Iraqi Government with a Sunni-dominated one. But GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs sources within a variety of Iraqi Government structures confirm that, whatever Riyadh’s motivations for revealing the intelligence documents showing the links between Maliki and Tehran, Prime Minister Maliki has indeed committed himself and his Administration to follow the Iranian clerics’ instructions.

“At the same time, as noted in late June by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs, the Iranian and Syrian governments now appear to have completed their preparations for resumed open conflict against Israel,1 initiating through HizbAllah and HAMAS as fairly transparent proxies, in a process designed to lead to an escalation into more direct Syrian (and, perhaps, eventually Iranian) military involvement in conflict against Israel, while Iran attempts to use its present asset base in Iraq to stop an Iraqi nationalist military backlash designed to replace Maliki. The entire process presages an escalation of conflict in Iraq at the same time that the pressure resumes against Israel. Indeed, the resumption of activities against Israel – seen as a primary goal by HizbAllah and HAMAS, and the Syrian leadership around Bashar al-Assad – is almost viewed as a cover operation by Tehran.

“This follows the essential failure of, and the lessons learned from, the Israeli-HizbAllah conflict which began on July 12, 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect on August 14, 2006. While that conflict was – correctly in some respects – perceived as an Israeli military and diplomatic failure, it was also insufficiently successful from an Iranian/Syrian perspective to be escalated into a more general conflict.

“And while Bashar al-Assad and his key advisors are pressing for a more “heroic” Syrian war with Israel, in order to consolidate the otherwise weakening position of Bashar in Damascus2, the Turkish military leadership is itself is viewing how best it might reverse what it considers to be an undesirable outcome to the July 22, 2007, Parliamentary election which confirmed the Islamist dominance of the Grand National Assembly (Trkiye Byk Millet Meclisi).
[Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s election win was a landslide for AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi: Justice and Development Party), giving the incumbent party 46.6 percent of the national vote and 340 seats in the Turkish Assembly. It was the first time in half a century that an incumbent party increased its vote.]

“The Turkish General Staff (Genelkurmay Başkanları: TAF) had given the impression that it would have liked to have escalated the military situation with regard to northern Iraq before the Parliamentary election, possibly in the hope of being able to forestall the election through the creation of a “national emergency”: constitutional grounds for election deferment. Now it may still seek to redress the political situation inside Turkey by availing itself of an increasingly unstable situation in the northern parts of Iraq – in which not only are the Iraqi Turkmen now under direct and sustained pressure from the major Kurdish tribes, the Talibani and Barzani, but there is, in any event, growing sectarian conflict – to act. This may have the added benefit of forestalling – or acting as a cautionary note on – the next major Turkish vote: for the Presidency.

“The Grand National Assembly was due to meet on August 4, 2007, with its principal mission to choose a successor for the strongly secular outgoing President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who has been a fierce critic of the AKP. The AKP now has the strength to guarantee that its nominee for the Presidency, outgoing Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, a committed Islamist, can win the Presidency. Unless the TAF moves soon to regain control, its authority and power will continue to be eroded, and yet Turkey’s position on entry into the European Union (EU) will still essentially be unattainable.

“But in many respects a possible Turkish intervention in northern Iraq – which would have significant, long-lasting effects, and which the US Government is anxious to avoid – is the smaller part of the equation. A nationalist military coup in Iraq – which could only be conducted by the Turkish Army Special Forces; the Army as a whole is too Shi’a and too difficult to weld into an anti-Maliki force – is something which the Iranian clerics in Tehran fear and are prepared to oppose. Indeed, the key figure ostensibly involved in the potential coup is a general who has not been seen for at least two years, so concerned are the anti-Maliki figures with ensuring the safety of the proposed event.

“This is not the first time rumors of a possible coup against the Maliki Government have surfaced. But Baghdad sources cite a significant number of indicators that this might be the time – if it was ever to occur – that it would have a chance of success. If not now, then the Iranian-sponsored groups, supported inside Iraq by actual Iranian special forces personnel, would grow sufficiently strong to prevent such an occurrence.

“Moreover, the Iranian Government is certainly better-equipped to understand what is going on inside the Iraqi Army and Government than is the US Government. Virtually none of the massive US Embassy staff in Baghdad speaks Arabic; most State Department and military personnel – and even Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) personnel – turn over too rapidly to acquire any real historical knowledge or deep contacts, and yet they dismiss any attempts to provide input, presumably for fear of being misled. Meanwhile, the Iranian intelligence service, an element of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (Vezarat-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Keshvar: VEVAK), has been directly observed by GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs field operatives to control at least one key brothel (and almost certainly many more) in Baghdad, frequented by US officials based in the city. Moreover, all of the women working in the facility speak only Farsi, not Arabic, and stay in situ only a few days before being “rotated out” with their intelligence take, to be replaced by fresh girls.

“This confirms the obvious: that Tehran is engaged in a massive intelligence operation inside Iraq, and has the tools to do it well. The lack of even a basic language capability in the US Embassy in Baghdad confirms that the few US Army intelligence officers engaged “at the coal face”, working with Iraqi police and military units, are being pressed too hard to deliver intelligence and, at the same time, are not believed – or are ignored – at higher levels of the US policy structure. This, in essence, confirms what was said in a speech to a US Army Command & General Staff College course on May 27, 2007:

“The speech noted: “[W]ith Washington in the mode of thinking that all that matters is ‘how the war plays in Washington’ or the media, it is not surprising that the bureaucracies have failed to sense that what is underway in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars in which survival is at stake. Not only the long-term survival of the West, which can be rationalized away as a long-term thing, and not immediately pressing, but also the survival of those who fight against the Coalition, who have a far greater sense of urgency than does Washington about how they fight the wars. And they are fighting for survival, which means that they [Iran and Syria] are taking the war more seriously than the Western public.”3

“The trends toward pivotal action in the region by any of the key players – the Iraqi coup planners, the Iranian clerical leadership, the increasingly isolated Syrian President, and the Turkish General Staff – will depend on how much will they have. The Turkish General Staff, for example, failed to forestall the re-election of the Islamist Government on July 22, 2007, and may be unable to prevent the election to the Presidency of Foreign Minister Gul. Syria and Iran, both, have demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting proxy war against Israel and the US in the past, but have almost prayed that Israel or the US would start direct conflict against them. Will Tehran and Damascus have the will now to do what they have prepared so long to do?

“The US, essentially, is doing nothing. It has not used well the time which continuing the conflict has bought, and the gradual successes on the ground under the generalship of Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I), is insufficient to meet US strategic needs, which are essentially driven by the timetable of Washington, and particularly the 2008 US Presidential election. The US, then, has no option but to hope that its increasingly fractious relationship with Prime Minister al-Maliki is ended by Maliki’s ouster. Certainly, the US is doing nothing to support the Iranian population in removing the Iranian leadership through a psychological strategy campaign, and nor is it doing anything to effectively, and carefully, replace Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and put in place a leader who would break with Tehran (and make peace with Israel), such as Rifa’at al-Assad.

“GIS/Defense & Foreign Affairs Senior Editor Yossef Bodansky, writing in a prescient March 20, 2006, Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis report entitled As Syrian Government-in-Exile About to Form, the Battle is Joined Between Utopianism and Islamism on the One Hand, and Strategic Interests on the Other, noted:

“The only viable alternative to the sustenance of Bashar’s reign or the Khaddam-Bayanouni alliance4 is the resurrection of the traditional alliance of the minorities and the urban lite blocs on the basis of economic liberalization in, and modernization of, Syria. This has long been the position of Dr Rifa’at al-Assad and the traditional elements of the minorities bloc leadership he represents. The ascent to power in Damascus of a Rifa’at-led alliance would also further the strategic interests of the US as he has repeatedly promised to stop the Syrian sponsorship of terrorism and insurgencies against all of Syria’s neighbors. Presently, Rifa’at al-Assad is besieged by representatives of both leading minority and urban lite families to continue to challenge Bashar and return to power in Damascus.

“But the US seems to have no coherent policy toward Syria, urging simply “democracy” in Syria.
Meanwhile, the US’ only option seems, on the one hand, to be to threaten direct military action against Iran by deploying two highly-vulnerable carrier battle groups (and possibly now a third) into the Arabian Sea, or, on the other hand, to promote the prospect of bilateral negotiations with the Iranian clerics (the plan by US former Secretary of State James Baker, seen in Tehran as a sign of surrender by the US). This begs the question, then, as to whether the US has a coherent strategy with regard to Iraq. Certainly, Tehran and Damascus do.

“And the al-Maliki Government also seems to have made a firm commitment toward joining the Tehran-Damascus alliance. Senior al-Maliki advisors have made a point of visiting Damascus recently, and taking large cases of cash with them. Beneath the ideology, this is something which the key leaders in Damascus, Tehran, and Baghdad understand: cash, and the retention of power and privilege. Those in power in both Damascus and Tehran know that their support bases are shaky, which is why both require conflict to galvanize public support around the “state” (ie: the leadership).

“That the Iranian clerics are unrepresentative of the Iranian population has long been evident, which is why most critics of the Iraq Study Group recommendations, led by former US Secretary of State James Baker, believe that Washington-Tehran negotiations merely strengthen the anti-Western clerics and undermine the position of the essentially pro-Western Iranian population.

“The US-based blog-site, Anti-Mullah5, run by experienced, Farsi-speaking security expert Alan Peters, noted on July 29, 2007: “Recent polls from inside and outside Iran indicate that 92 percent of the Iranian population is against this regime[,] but for whom should they rise up? For whom should they overthrow the Mullahs? And get what in exchange?”

“Peters went on to note:

“Having examined all aspects of the situation on the ground to the extent to which I am privy, the West has to have two main goals:

“1. To put their backing behind two or more of Iran's major tribes, like the Qashghai and Bakhtiari, perhaps in combination with the Boyer-Ahmadi, which all have tribal borders with each other. And oil rich Khuzestan.

“2. To constitutionally establish a separation of church and state (the tribes will not object as they hate the Mullahs so badly they will enjoy poking the secular stick into their eye).
Reason? The Mullahs wanted and tried and pushed to replace the traditional tribal leaders (Khans) with a Mullah appointed by Tehran. To the extent of executing some of those same leaders, notably from the Qashghai tribe.

“At the same time, while most Iranian opposition leaders are falling by the wayside through lack of credibility, at least one, the nationalist leader of the overarching Azadegan movement, Dr Assad Homayoun, has retained respect by refusing to accept financial support by anyone other than Iranians, and by supporting the approach that the tribal and regional groups should work toward a secular state, and has also worked toward the theory that the Iranian Armed Forces and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC: Pasdaran) should remove support for the clerics and support a popular movement aimed at introducing secular governance, even if temporarily under military leadership.

“Meanwhile, reinforcing the reports that the situation inside Iraq is transforming toward a possible nationalist military coup, reliable Baghdad sources noted that, on July 31, 2007, nine senior Iraqi Army generals collectively submitted their resignations to the Iraqi General Staff, ostensibly protesting both the al-Maliki Iraqi Government and the US Government, citing “the conduct of the state by the US occupiers and the Iraqi Government”. The complex chain of events and their strategic ramifications thus appeared, as at July 31, 2007, to be well in motion.


1. See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, June 30, 2007: Iran, Syria Make Strenuous Preparations for Combat-Readiness, Partly Reflecting Major Internal Leadership Schisms.

2. See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, July 3, 2007: Syria’s Inner Circle Fractures.

3. Toward Victory in the New Cold War. An Address by Gregory R. Copley to the US Army Command & General Staff College, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, May 21, 2007. See Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, May 21, 2007.

4. Ali Saad-al-din Bayanouni is the secretary-general of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan), now in exile in London. Abdel-Halim Khaddam, a Sunni Shamari from Abu-Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border area, was Vice-President of Syria under Bashar al-Assad. As Bodansky noted in the March 20, 2006, report: “The majority rule which Khaddam and Bayanouni are offering, and Arab governments support, is an alliance of the two Sunni blocs — the urban lite and predominantly Islamist-jihadist rural blocs — against the minorities bloc. Khaddam can keep Bayanouni and the Ikhwani on his side only if he promises to ensure the Islamic character of the government, something which is not conducive to development of real democracy or economic empowerment, and, most important, out-perform Bashar in providing support for the Islamist-jihadist insurrection in Iraq and against Israel (which gains the Syrian Government Tehran’s support and all-important free oil); hardly a contribution to the US strategic interests in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.”









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