Source: Mint Press News
Anti-Assad protesters burn a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with ‘Corruption’ written across his face. (AP/Kostas Tsironis)
SYRIA — While the nearly seven-year-long sectarian “civil war” in Syria is widely believed to have started in 2011, revelations in recent years have shown that the sectarian war that has sunk Syria into chaos actually precedes the “official” start of the conflict.
In 2010, Wikileaks published hundreds of thousands of classified State Department cables, including a 2006 cable showing that destabilizing the Syrian government was a primary goal of U.S. policy in the Middle East. The ultimate intention was to topple Iran, one of Syria’s closest allies. The cable revealed that the U.S.’ goal at the time was to undermine the Syrian government by any means available.
In addition, retired United States Army General Wesley Clark’s bombshell interview with Democracy Now exposed the existence of plans for regime change in Syria that date as far back as 2001. Now, a newly declassified document from the Central Intelligence Agency has shown that these regime change efforts date back even further to the late 1980s – and potentially even earlier.
The declassified document was written in July, 1986 by the Foreign Subversion and Instability Center, a part of the CIA’sMission Center for Global Issues, and is titled “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change.” As the document itself states, its purpose is to analyze – in a “purposely provocative” manner – “a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad [Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez] or other dramatic change in Syria.”
The report’s meager distribution list suggest it was considered by top officials in the Reagan administration, specifically because it was distributed to national security chiefs, not entire agencies. It was also distributed to a handful of key players in U.S.-Syria relations, such as former Ambassador to Syria William Eagleton.
Though the document itself officially predates the current Syrian conflict by nearly 25 years, much of its analysis brings to mind recent events in Syria, particularly those that led to the outbreak of war in 2011. Chief among these is the rise of factionalism between Sunni Muslim elements against the ruling Alawi minority (a Shi’ite sect), as well as the potential to counter Russian influence in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. These similarities suggest that U.S. regime change efforts in Syria date back to well over 30 years ago – proof of the persistent imperialist elements that consistently guide U.S. foreign policy.
The Rise of Factionalism and Sectarian Conflict in Syria
A Free Syrian Army fighter from the Al-Faruk brigade steps on a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Sept. 22, 2012 (AP/Hussein Malla)
Of all the named “individuals and groups that might impel or impede takeover attempts” that are recognized by the CIA, Syria’s Sunni population ranks highest among them. The CIA notes that “factionalism plagues the political and military elite” as the ruling Alawi minority “is deeply resented by the Sunni majority it dislodged from power two decades ago.” The document also states that “a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime.” . . .