Joshua Landis of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oklahoma sees our efforts to Make a Better Syria failing, again:
Hillary Clinton is having a last go a putting together a "secularish," upper-class leadership for the Syrian rebel effort…..
Washington's Plan A, which was to create the SNC, went down in dust. By all accounts, Clinton cannot even stand to hear the name, SNC, uttered any longer.
Plan B was to set up the US office in Istanbul to meet and take the measure of Syrian militia leaders and local coordinating committee directors. The militia leaders scared Washington and the CIA. The word got out that they were "penetrated" by al-Qaida and Salafi types.
Plan C is now in the making….Clinton is reconstituting some sort of US-friendly leadership drawn from elements of the old SNC with generous add-mixtures of Coordinating Committee types, some government defectors, and others who will join…
The object of this exercise seems to be to glue some sort of US-friendly educated elite onto the military effort that looks too Islamist for Washington's taste and not very human-rights observant.
Syria has a past, Landis remembers:
This effort is almost identical to US and British efforts of the 1950s to stop Syria from slipping into the hands of the USSR, Nasser and the leftist Baathists.
Eisenhower and Anthony Eden did everything they could in 1956 to force Syria's urban elites to cooperate in a pro-Western coup, but to no avail. The two largest parties in parliament – the People's Party of Aleppo and the National Party of Damascus refused to cooperate among themselves in order to avoid revolution….
When the coup failed, many of Syria's leading pro-Western notables were accused of treason and fled the country. In 1957, the US sought to carry out another putsch, this time on its own. The "American coup", as it was named, was no more successful…. Destabilized by Washington's failed coup making, Syria announced the creation of the United Arab Republic only months later….
Today, Washington is again trying to rally the pro-Western elites of Syria into putting their shoulders to a common wheel with America. In 1957, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq cooperated in Washington's efforts for regime change. Today Qatar replaces Iraq, but the line up of states helping the US in its "struggle for Syria" has hardly changed. Other aspects that have not changed are the infighting among Syria's elites and the general resentment and distrust that Syrians share toward the US. It is hard to be optimistic.
Hat tip: John Glaser of Antiwar.com.
I discussed the problems with U.S. lack of historical memory, and lack of understanding that today's actions create tomorrow's problems, in the context of the hit film Argo last week.
Obligatory Election Day comment: Both major party presidential candidates are going to continue the mistake of thinking it's the United States' duty to manage the future of Syria.