From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:
Exclusive: With new negotiations starting in Vienna – and with Iran now allowed to participate – there is finally a glimmer of hope that the Syrian slaughter might end. But that will require concessions from all sides and President Obama standing up to the neocons who put “regime change” ahead of peace, writes Robert Parry.
Despite all the ranting from armchair-warriors across Official Washington – urging attacks on the Syrian military and even Russian warplanes inside Syria – cooler heads may have finally prevailed with Secretary of State John Kerry agreeing to a formula that will let Iran participate in Syrian peace talks set to begin Friday in Geneva.
The point here is that Iran and Russia, as allies of the Syrian government, are in a strong position to urge concessions from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, much as Russian President Vladimir Putin did in 2013 when he pressured Assad to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. Also, in late 2013, Putin helped wrest concessions from Iran over its nuclear program.
Assuming Kerry shows corresponding flexibility by relenting on the U.S. demand that “Assad must go” as a precondition to negotiations – and puts pressure on the U.S.-backed Syrian opposition to accept some compromise with Assad – perhaps this humanitarian catastrophe can be brought under some measure of control.
It is way past time for sanity and realism to replace the endless “tough guy/gal” posturing that has consumed Official Washington since 2011 as a quarter million Syrians have been killed and millions have fled as refugees across the Mideast and into Europe.
The only narrative that’s been allowed in the mainstream U.S. press is that Assad is responsible for nearly every bad thing that’s happened, ignoring the support that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and even Israel have provided to jihadist fighters, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh).
President Barack Obama has been part of the problem, too, as he has bent to the “regime change” demands of “liberal interventionists” and their close cousins, the neoconservatives.
To appease those political/media voices, Obama has “covertly” intervened in the Syrian conflict by arming and training some rebel forces. Though the administration insists that it has armed and trained only “moderate” rebels, the reality is that such a “moderate” force is largely mythical, with many of the CIA’s recruits later joining Islamist armies and surrendering U.S.-supplied weapons to these extremists.
How U.S. officials have defined “moderate” is also in question. A source briefed on this strategy told me that the CIA supplied 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to Ahrah ash-Sham, an Islamist force founded, in part, by Al Qaeda veterans. Ahrah ash-Sham collaborates with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front as the two leading militias in the Saudi-backed Army of Conquest.
The sophisticated TOW missiles have been “credited” with enabling the Army of Conquest to make major advances around the city of Idlib and block counter-offenses by the Syrian army. In other words, U.S. support for “moderate” rebels has strengthened the military position of Al Qaeda, even if the administration can technically argue that it isn’t giving weapons to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
To continue reading: A Glimmer of Hope for Syria