US trying to maintain grip over Syrian conflict by cutting off aid to opposition
After the seizure of Free Syrian Army bases by Islamic militants, the US halted non-lethal aid to the opposition fighting against Bashar Assad’s regime. This signaled an attempt for control amid a complex Syrian civil war, analyst Eugene Puryear says.
Puryear, of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, told RT in an interview that the suspension of aid is an acknowledgement by the US of a war within a war, and that Washington and its allies think they can still bring things back under their control, in order to reassert total hegemony over the opposition.
RT: How would you explain Washington’s decision to halt non-lethal aid to opposition fighters?
Eugene Puryear: The Obama administration is right now seeing their original plans, which was to - along with the Gulf states and the EU - foment a civil war which would overthrow the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime. They’ve seen that plan really completely collapse, and they’re obviously starting to lose control of the different elements of the opposition. I think this attempt to cut off aid, which I think we’ll see will be most likely temporary...is to send a message: ‘If you want to continue receiving all of these goods - which even though they’re called non-lethal, they allow the rebels to continue to fight - if you want these goods, if you want money from us and our allies, then you’re going to have to play by our rules.’ So this is a message to the different factions that may not want to be controlled by the United States.
RT: Are the so-called non-lethal goods really non-lethal?
EP: It’s communications equipment, it’s food, it’s trucks, it’s cars, it’s all of the different things you need to fight. We know that when we see the US military, the largest part of the US military isn’t infantry troops or soldiers who fight, it’s actually the different support staff and other parts of the military that help get the tanks to the front, help get the bullets to the guns and all these different sorts of elements. Even though it’s called non-lethal aid, it’s critical war-fighting aid without which the opposition would have been completely crushed by the Assad government right now. It may be non-lethal but it’s still pro-war.
RT: What is happening now with the opposition? Is this a sure sign now that a war within a war is actually taking place, and it is being recognized by those originally supporting the opposition?
EP: We’re certainly seeing that. I think this attempt at cutting off aid, since it’s a unilateral thing, is a sign that the United States and other nations most likely think they can still bring things back under their control. They have a real, total control over the opposition more broadly, but we’re seeing forces, certainly those linked to Al-Qaeda, particularly, become more assertive and seek to gain poll position, if you will, inside the opposition coalition. So I think we’re starting to see some serious fraying around the edges. But we know that even these Islamist groups are heavily funded by the Gulf states, which are very much aligned with the US in this. So right now we see the United States trying to reassert its total control and hegemony over the opposition and against those trying to keep their own counsel. I don’t know if it will completely fall apart, but I definitely think we’re starting to see a fraying around the edges.
RT: If there’s no success in putting pressure on the opposition, as it stands, what can Washington do in order to get a conclusion to this crisis that it wants to see?
EP: I think what we’re seeing with their push for Geneva 2, and I think the Russian move we’re seeing to make sure Iran is included in Geneva 2, is that the United States is thinking, now that their civil war strategy - which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions - has not worked, perhaps they can come to the table with the Assad regime. And it won’t be the ultimate outcome that they would have loved to have had, which is the fall of the Assad regime, but it could be akin perhaps to what they were seeking earlier in this decade, when John Kerry was saying in 2007 that they could come to some sort of deal on all the different geo-strategic issues - whether it’s Lebanon or inside of Syria and elsewhere in the region. So that even though they won’t have full control over the Assad regime, they will have maintained their ultimate goal, which is to continue to maintain control and direction over politics and economics inside of the Middle East.