Originally Published 2012-07-07 00:00:00 Published on Jul 07, 2012
Hillary Clinton has for the past year been exhorting "Assad to get out of the way". But Assad won't listen. He sits on a system quite as durable as the one Saddam Hussain supervised in neighbouring Iraq. Without the US commitment as in Iraq, Assad cannot be pushed out.
Is a Mid East war on the cards?
Is a war in the Middle East on the cards? What is happening at the moment is something of a paradox: a war is not being planned but there is frenetic contingency planning all around. It is precisely in these kinds of situations that "accidents" take place which lead to war.

In other words there is no conflict as such, except inside Arab societies, notably Syria and Bahrain, but there is sufficient tension in the region which can be amplified by the willing electronic media. Washington’s ability to give suitable "spin" to events in the region, particularly, Syria and Iran, will from now on be determined by the requirements of Barack Obama’s re election strategy.

If, for instance, his campaign managers divine that he will be hugely helped by war drums without war actually breaking out, the propaganda war will be ratcheted up and he will go into the election looking like a President at war.

War drums, sans war, will also keep public and Congressional attention riveted on the Middle East. This will have the additional advantage of keeping focus away from the "war of choice", Afghanistan, which Obama has been promising to wind down ever since he assumed office.

There is no credible script available in the public domain which gives the slightest indication that the Americans are about to leave Afghanistan. Terms like "draw down" and "cutback" have been used but even these terms have a caveat attached to them. "The date of inauguration of the drawdown is not cast in stone; it will depend on the situation on the ground, on how many of 3,200,000 Afghan troops are in readiness"…..and so on.

However degrading a bargain Pakistan may have struck with the Americans on the Karachi-Balochistan supply route to Afghanistan, it will convince itself that it has resumed having some leverage on the Americans.

From the American point of view, resumption of supply routes eases a burden, ofcourse, but it also provides them with another opportunity to have more secure relations with a country they have penetrated so deeply over six decades. It is that much more important to watch it up close and from neighbouring Afghanistan because it is the only Islamic country with nuclear weapons.

A case is made out that the Americans, indeed the International Community, is extremely anxious the Pakistan nuclear weapons may fall into "militant", "extremist", "fundamentalist", "terrorist" hands.

If this be a genuine anxiety, surely the effort should be to contain terrorism. To the contrary, the manner in which the war on terror has been fought has only swelled the ranks of terrorists and enlarged their area of operation.

It is universally acknowledged that terrorism has grown in North West Pakistan, Punjab, Karachi and large swathes of Afghanistan.

Al Qaeda, trained in Yemen by the Saudis at the same time that the Mujahideen were being trained in Afghanistan to expel the Soviets, are rampaging through Yemen under an inexplicable label AIAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).

Daily suicide bombings in Iraq must also be placed at the door of those who occupied the country for a decade.

There was a procession of Tripoli bound Western leaders after Qaddaffi shed his nuclear programmes, until some West supported regimes in the Middle East fell. How can those who have stood by the West fall and those in opposition allowed to survive?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proceeded to parody Julius Caesar. She rephrased Vini, Vidi, Vici, to match her style: "I came, I saw and he died". From her statement the video cuts to a trapped Qaddaffi, sodomized by a knife!

Clinton has for the past year been exhorting "Assad to get out of the way". But Assad won’t listen. He sits on a system quite as durable as the one Saddam Hussain supervised in neighbouring Iraq. The US had to occupy that country for a full decade. Without that kind of commitment, Assad cannot be pushed out. Yes, US, France, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey can help the disparate groups some of which have Ayman Zawahiri’s support, to create conditions for civil war.

Is the West, not averse to Zawahiri’s company, left with any credit to mobilize the world against those who destroyed the Bamyan Buddhas and are now, like a wandering malignancy, turning upon heritage sites in remote Timbaktu?

(The writer is a Distinguished Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)

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