By Cameron Orr
On December 8th, Tulsi Gabbard, a Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, and former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, submitted the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, a bill to “prohibit the federal government from using taxpayer dollars to arm and support groups cooperating with or affiliated with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.” A petition is circulating the internet to support the bill.
A piece published by the US Peace Council in March of 2013 illuminates how terrorist organizations are used to accomplish regime change in Syria and why overthrowing the Syrian government is necessary to the aims of big military and oil corporations. Syria, as one of the last remaining secular states in the region, is a pocket of resistance against attempts on the part of Big Oil and Big Guns to secure control of the global production of oil.
As Gabbard has pointed out, regime change in the Middle East is being brought about through the agency of right-wing client states of the U.S. such as Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, a member of NATO.
The aims of regime change were very clearly outlined over 16 years ago in the document, “Building America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century.” Published by the right-wing think tank Project for a New American Century, it was adopted by the Bush administration in 2000. This think tank was formed as an immediate response to the fall of the Soviet Union in order to create policies that ensure that the U.S. oil and military corporations enjoy permanent control over world affairs, unopposed by any government, and supported by our own.
These goals contradict the existence or construction of independent sovereign states or any genuine democracy in the Middle East. One result is that a series of sweeping democratic reforms initiated by Syrian President Bashar al Assad from February 26 through August 28 in 2011 in response to popular demands failed to change attitudes of U.S. corporations or government towards Syria. These reforms set up multi-party parliamentary elections, ensured there would be at least two candidates for each presidential election, provided citizenship to many Kurdish people, ended the emergency rules that had restricted public gatherings and other civil liberties, abolished security courts that had targeted dissidents, granted amnesty to all political movements, provided greater freedoms to local government, and approved a new media law that upholds freedom of expression and bans the arrest of journalists. The Syrian government already provided free healthcare and near-free university education for its citizens. On June 3rd, 2014, 74% of Syrians turned out to the polls for the latest Presidential election in Syria. Assad won more than 88% of the votes cast. Nonetheless, the U.S. military under the Obama administration continues to seek his ouster in the name of democracy.
Independent journalists Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley, as well as other members of the Hands Off Syria Coalition, have reported from the ground in Syria the strong unity of the Syrian people in resisting the right-wing terrorists threat to Syrian democracy and a nonsectarian Syria. The Syrian people’s support for their government is the main reason the mercenary war on Syria has failed after nearly 6 murderous years. Upon request from the Syrian government, Russia began assisting to drive out the U.S. backed terrorists only in September of 2015.
In the year 2000, Qatar, a close ally of the U.S. oil companies which hosts two large U.S. military bases, proposed a $10 billion pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. The pipeline would connect the “world’s richest natural gas repository” to European energy markets, and Turkey and the other transit countries would pocket rich transit fees. Had this proposal been accepted the world’s energy supply would be much more securely controlled by oil companies in the U.S. and Europe, which currently relies on Russia for 30% of its oil supply. In 2009, Assad refused to sign this pipeline agreement and instead supported a pipeline running from his ally Iran, through Syria, to Lebanon. Such a deal would greatly rebalance global power against U.S. oil interests. By 2011, Wikileaks cables indicate the CIA was already on the ground in Syria, manipulating the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring to topple the Syrian government.
U.S. generated attacks on Syria are not new, but ever since “the CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949 – barely a year after the agency’s creation” the motivations have been largely the same, as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., lays out in his piece, Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria. Past coup plots in Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Egypt are “all common knowledge on the Arab street, but virtually unknown to the [U.S.] people.”
Syria is not the only country to be targeted by the vicious policies of regime change. As Rebuilding America’s Defenses states, none of its initiatives could be implemented “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.” The Bush administration used the disastrous September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and the “war on terror,” along with fictitious accusations that Iraq held “weapons of mass destruction,” as the excuse to invade that country in 2003. Other countries listed as necessary targets to “deter the rise of a new great-power competitor” and “defend key regions of Europe, East Asia and the Middle East,” include Libya, Iran, North Korea, and China.
The official policies of the government and oil corporations spelled out in Rebuilding America’s Defenses go a long way towards explaining both the U.S. invasion of Libya in 2011 which left the country in a state of chaos and Trump’s proposals to reverse the Iran Nuclear Deal negotiated by the Obama administration. More recently, they also illuminate the so-called “pivot to China” and attempts to push through the highly unpopular Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP, which a BBC article described as a “thinly disguised plan to contain China’s growing might.” They help to explain the aggressive positions promoted by the foreign policy elites against Russia as well.
In addition to their efforts to dominate oil reserves in the Middle East, oil and military corporations are currently pressing to convince the U.S. people that China represents a grave danger to our national security. They speak as representatives of a dying industry. China, led by its Communist Party, is one of the few countries in the world that continues to make massive infrastructural investments and has now made solar the cheapest form of energy production, threatening the economic basis for oil extraction and wars to control oil.
The world’s supply of oil is already in decline while global energy demands are rising. Oil industry aggressiveness can be expected to intensify as it seeks to squeeze every last drop of profit from the ground – and out of its existing investments, and with the competition from cheaper alternative energy sources. As popular resistance to oil production and its poisoning of basic resources like air and water grows, armed intervention is used, as in Syria and Standing Rock. Weapons manufacturers are only too happy to supply the oil producing states the means to suppress that resistance.
Clearly, people’s movements fighting for environmental justice are important not only because they aim to preserve our planet. On an economic level, these movements have the potential to resolve an impending energy crisis and destroy an important incentive for war. On a political level, they also separate the interests of military producers and energy producers.
The violence of oil and military corporations have demonstrated a racist edge. Energy Transfer Partners targeted Native communities at Standing Rock. The militarization of policing has highlighted the targeting of communities of color. Muslim- and Arab-Americans have been targeted to whip up popular support for an interventionist policy in the Middle East. The extreme cynicism and hypocrisy of this corporate agenda is demonstrated when the corporate-controlled government funds the formation of extremist groups, intentionally distorting a peaceful religion and destroying the democratic impulses and institutions of all people, including those of our Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, and Jewish friends. And corporate candidates, like Trump, then demonize all Muslim people.
In addition to joining local struggles against the expansion of poisonous fracking and pipeline projects and efforts to stop the wars for control of oil, signing and sharing the petition to support The Stop Arming Terrorists Act proposed by Tulsi Gabbard will help reduce the control of Big Oil and Big Guns over our own government and turn back the racist tides of violence in the Middle East and at home.