Geneva (GPA) – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has changed his position on Syria (again).
Rex Tillerson has decided, once again, that Syrian President Bashar Assad has “no role” in Syria’s future. The timing of the announcement also happened to line up perfectly with the release of a UN report blaming the Syrian government for the April chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun.
Tillerson’s Statement in Geneva
For those who may not remember, Tillerson is closely tied to the story of the incident in Khan Sheikhoun. This connection started the day before the incident when Tillerson told reporters that removing Assad was no longer priority for the US mission in Syria.
Now, it seems Tillerson has changed his mind back to the original position of the Trump regime, telling reporters in Geneva that the Assad family has “no role” in the future of Syria. Tillerson delivered the message as several nations begin meeting in Geneva for the next round of Syrian peace talks.
Despite the fact that the US has yet to play any significant role in any of the rounds of Syria talks, this didn’t stop Tillerson from thinking it’s the place of the US to dictate the future of Syria. The arrogance of this interpretation of the reality shows in Tillerson’s remarks, especially when he told reporters “The United States wants a whole and unified Syria with no role for Bashar al-Assad in the government.”
This statement clearly illustrates the US position, fueled by the idea of ‘exceptionalism’ and western arrogance. It also completely whitewashes Russia’s current massive reconciliation campaign which has seen agreements signed between Damascus and 2,500 cities, towns and settlements.
There was also more revealing information in Tillerson’s later comments on Syria, showing what the war in Syria is actually about: curbing the dreaded “Russian and Iranian influence.”
For starters, Tillerson attempted to downplay the numerous victories and miraculous turnaround of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Tillerson attributed the entire shift in this popular war against jihadists to “air support [Syria has] received from Russia.”
Tillerson also attacked Iran in his comments. According to Tillerson, the Iranian funding of militias that have been fighting terrorists in both Iraq and Syria is a just an example of Iran taking “advantage of the situation.” In Tillerson’s opinion (despite the facts), the Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) have only taken advantage of Syria’s crisis and that Iran shouldn’t “be given credit for the defeat of ISIS (Islamic State) In Syria.”
The good news is that even the US government doesn’t really believe the US will be capable of removing Assad. As one diplomatic staffer explained it to Reuters: “My reading is that Assad is here to stay for as long as the Russians and the Iranians have no alternative to him.”
The diplomatic staffer also implied Russia and Iran would one day stab Assad in the back, saying “The date of his departure will depend on the Russians more than anyone else. Once – or if – they find someone better, he may go.” What that staffer is leaving out, however, is the explanation as to why Russia would want to remove Assad, which is where the UN and diplomatic pressuring comes in.
United Nations Report on Khan Sheikhoun
One way for the ‘global community’ to apply the pressure needed to attempt to turn Russia on Syria is with their usual charges of “human rights violations.” With Syria, this usual trope has been embodied perfectly in the multiple debunked claims of “Syrian chemical weapons.”
This brings us back to Khan Sheikhoun, which, again, was the attack that happened the day after Tillerson said Bashar Assad could remain the leader of Syria. Despite this alleged unbelievably lousy timing on Assad’s part, the US immediately accused Damascus of using chemical weapons.
This US version of events that was created in the hours after the Khan Sheikhoun incident immediately became the UN narrative which later resulted in the Trump regime violating international law by unilaterally bombing a Syrian airfield. All of this occurred before any global agency even had a chance to evaluate the incident, which they then didn’t even do once Damascus offered access to the site where the chemicals were allegedly used.
Now it seems Tillerson is working on the latest “hard evidence” which comes in the form of the joint report of the United Nations and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
According to the UN report released Thursday states their official verdict, which is that “the Syrian government [is] responsible for that sarin gas attack,” according to diplomats who spoke to Al Jazeera. However, the report also noted the investigators from the joint task force still haven’t actually investigated anything, including the actual site of the “attack.”
Even worse than that is the fact that one half of this ‘investigation’ team, the OPCW, was responsible for helping remove chemical weapons from government-controlled areas of Syria earlier in the war. According to past reports by the OPCW, and Obama’s state department, Syria was in full compliance in the removal of these weapons, claiming Assad is responsible for the event in Khan Sheikhoun even more ridiculous.
Unfortunately, it seems Tillerson is now relying on the short attention span of western audiences to return to the policies that continuously failed under the Obama regime. This is the Empire’s ’plan A’ repackaged as a new strategy by a new regime that will likely end just as severely for Syrians and Americans alike. If Tillerson and the US were serious about reconciliation in Syria, they would be wise to join the forces already making this a reality.
Also published on Medium.