Will the US let the Syrian people determine their future?

On Tuesday, as reported by AFP, the US accused Iran of setting up a pro-regime militia in Syria. The accusations were voiced during a press conference of US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

"There's now an indication that they're trying to develop - or trying to train a militia within Syria to be able to fight on behalf of the regime," said Leon Panetta. "We are seeing a growing presence by Iran and that is of deep concern to us that that's taking place."

"We do not think that Iran ought to play that role at this moment in time, that's dangerous..." Panetta went on saying and urged Tehran to stay out of the conflict: "Our hope is that Iran thinks better about how much they do want to get involved. The Syrian people ought to determine their future, not Iran."

Echoing these words, General Dempsey added that "The Syrian army has been fighting now for about 18 months or so. And any army would be taxed with that kind of pace… That's why Iran is stepping in to form this militia, to take some of the pressure off of the Syrian military."

Sounds assuring - the Iranian culprits training militants that constitute the last hope for the doomed regime of Bashar al-Assad. And the conclusion the public is forced to come to is the only one possible - the US should interfere and stop any foreign (Iranian) involvement in Syrian affairs.

But this is only how it sounds. For anyone who has a minimal knowledge of what is going on in and around Syria, the Pentagon's top brass' accusations addressed to Iran only once again underline the notorious double standard policy so common of the US establishment.

It is no secret that Iran and Syria are closest allies. And there is absolutely nothing wrong in cooperation between the two. Why should not such cooperation include assistance in military training when such training is being rendered to scores of countries the world over, including those that are as far from the standards of "democracy" and "human rights" as the countries in question?

More so, such accusations could pass as reasonable IF the US and its allies were not already deeply involved in Syrian affairs. While the US itself is allegedly rendering only "non-lethal" support to Syrian rebels (including communication equipment), there have been numerous reports that its allies - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey - have been supporting the rebels in a much more substantial way, including shipments of armament. Isn't it a direct violation of Leon Panetta's wish that "the Syrian people ought to determine their future" themselves? Of course if by "Syrian people" he understands rebels only, refusing to grant similar status to Bashar Assad and his supporters?

Looking back at previous instances when the US let other peoples to "determine their future", we can clearly see the examples of Iraq, Libya and the ongoing "determination of future" in Afghanistan. In none of those cases the future was (or is going to be) determined by the free will of the people without outside intervention. But "Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi"("What is legitimate for Jove (Jupiter), is not legitimate for oxen"), so the US will fight to its last resorts to preserve the right to determine what is good or bad for others, and never let other nations (least of all, Iran) to do the same. In the case of Syria, the US line is obvious - as Leon Panetta himself said during the same briefing, Bashar Assad's "regime... ultimately is going to come down." So, the limits for the Syrian people's determination are already set.

In fact, Iranian cooperation with Syria is totally legitimate state-to-state interaction, while all the overt and covert assistance rendered to the so called "rebel" means only direct instigation of throat-cutting thugs and Al Qaeda-like terrorists. Maybe the US Defense Secretary means exactly this? But even then, should he have thought twice before opening the Pandora box and giving Syrian radicals a carte blanche?

[Source: By Boris Volkhonsky, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 15Aug12]

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