Meanwhile, Canada sings on demand for its US-Israeli sponsors. The Canadian government solemnly announced this week it is ready -- if asked by NATO -- to deploy the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit, which handles chemical, biological and radioactive attacks. Canada will also send a Disaster Assistance Response Team to provide clean water in Syrians, as well as engineers and staff who can help set up a field hospital. A friendly navy frigate is already offshore.
Once again Prime Minister Stephen Harper plays his supporting role in the NATO-scripted drama unfolding in the Middle East. He takes "the threat of chemical weapons in Syria very seriously", but demurs on whether Canada will send CF-18 fighter jets over Syria, as it did in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone, or put combat troops on the ground. He has not yet given the current opposition coalition, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), his blessing, although US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton formally recognized the opposition at a Friends of Syria summit in Morocco on Wednesday, joining the Euro crowd.
The Canadian government has no foreign policy anymore, doing exactly as it is told by its Israeli advisers, so the reason for Harper's coyness must be found there. Israel itself is in a quandary about Syria.
In Syria, that even meant quietly supporting the Muslim Brotherhood during its ill-fated uprising in 1981, not because Israel wanted an Islamist Syria, but to keep the Syrian government off-balance. The secular and nationalist Baathist regime, together with Egypt, fought a war with Israel in 1967. These secular governments were the big threat, and it was only natural to try and cripple the regimes of Egypt and Syria, even if that meant working with Islamists.
Today, the West is eagerly arming the SNC, where Islamists predominate, even as Israel and Canada dawdle. How can this be?
Ha, ha. Only joking. What about the chemical weapons threat? Syria is one of the few countries that has not signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). (Israel has signed but not ratified it.) But Assad has made it clear he will not approve their use on civilians. Saddam Hussein's example is proof enough of the madness of that. The real worry over WMDs is that whatever supplies the Syrian government has could soon fall into the hands of the western-backed rebels, in particular, al-Nusrah Front (aka, al-Qaeda in Iraq).
However, who can blame Assad if he drops a few on invading Brits, French, and yes Americans? It would be a perfect way to "celebrate' the centenary of WWI, where holier-than-thou Germany, Britain and France pioneered their use, despite having signed the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 banning them. Britain used chlorine against the Germans in 1915 but the wind blew back on the British trenches -- a case of "friendly gas'. The US took their use to new heights in Vietnam with Agent Orange. Only the one-time US ally Saddam Hussein was ever brought to justice for using them. The US and Russia still have stockpiles (not to mention nuclear and biological weapons), despite their obligation under the CWC to destroy them all.
The Syrians would get special satisfaction from gassing the French, who carved up and invaded Syria in 1920. Syria was promised France by Britain as its reward for the 1.7 million French who died in the WWI bloodbath that killed 16 million (Britain lost "less than' a million). The only "positive' outcome for the Allies was the destruction and occupation of the Ottoman Caliphate and the creation of a Jewish state there.
This was an outrageous betrayal of the Arabs, who had arguably tipped the balance in WWI -- at great loss -- in Britain's favor, on the promise of post-war independence. But, as the Spanish say, "You don't dance with the devil; he dances with you." Britain wanted Iraq for its oil and Palestine for a Jewish state, "the hill citadel of Jerusalem" according to geopolitical theorist Halford Mackinder -- the last link in the British empire. With a wink and a nod from Britain, France invaded Syria in 1920 and crushed a heroic uprising in 1925--1927, killing thousands. Greater Syria was divided into southern Turkey, French-occupied Lebanon/ Syria, and British-occupied Jordan/ Palestine.
It was not till 1946 that the French were finally booted out -- kicking and screaming. Post-WWII Syrian politics is a litany of coups, egged on by the US, until the army and socialist Baathists finally settled on Hafiz al-Assad in 1971. Trying to pick up the pieces after the brutal French occupation and living next door to permanent nightmare Israel are not conducive to the charade of western-style pluralism, so the subsequent harsh dictatorship of Assad I and the new-improved Assad II are not surprising. The SNC alternative has no prospects for ruling a united Syria. Syria's future under the SNC is already being played out in Iraq, though Assad is far more popular and sensible than Saddam Hussein, and his demise will take down much of the Syria social order with him.
When France was colonizing Syria a century ago, Canada was already the great colonial success story as a "white dominion', and was allowed to join the ranks of the imperial rich, unlike Syria et al. (Lawrence "of Arabia' lobbied Churchill to create a united Arab British mandate as the first "brown dominion', with no success.)
As a former colony of both France and Britain, the loyal "white dominion' of yesteryear, Canada may look like the perfect intermediary today: "Be nice and you too can graduate from colony to dominion.' However, the flip side of white dominion status is that, like Israel or South Africa, you have built your society on the bones of the "brown' natives. So it is not surprising that this week, even as Harper was toying with recognizing the SNC (who cares?), he faces ongoing protests over government neglect of Canada's First Nations.