Portal Geneva: A New Track for US Regional Policy?

In the face of huge challenges on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts the US appeared to agree to the convening of the Geneva II Conference on Syria. Observers wondered why that was the case. They thought that the main reason was the Syrian regime’s tenacity, reinforced by military gains on the ground against Islamist terrorists, aided and abetted primarily by regional players with US blessings. Analysts thought that the road to resolving the Syrian conflict was determined by an agreement between the US and Russia through the Syrian chemical weapons deal. In this view, the US scored a victory against the Syrians and, as a consequence, an agreement on multiple regional issues between the two big powers would be the result and that pro-US regional states would toe the line. The seeming rapprochement between Iran and the US after president Rohani’s charm offensive and the political change in Qatar, buttressed this view.

Those expectations, however, rested on a misreading of the nature of the US imperial project, its resilience and capacity to adapt in the face of multiple defeats, based on its huge economic and military power. No indications currently point out that Geneva II would be held on November 23, 2013 as had been floated in the media. In fact, the US foreign policy establishment is not unified on the timing of Geneva II and Syria does not think that the conditions for convening the Conference are ripe, even though it would be ready to attend without any preconditions. For its part, Saudi Arabia is opposed to convening the Conference, while Turkey and Qatar, have given mixed signals regarding their participation in it.

Netanyahu’s seven-hour Rome meeting with Kerry was another proof that Israeli concerns are central to US interests. Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are opposed to Geneva II as it has been thus far envisioned and are opposed to the Iran-US rapprochement. While al-Qaeda in Syria has become a real threat to regional states and the West, the fact of the matter is that Saudi Arabia has been sending terrorists to fight in Syria and materially supporting them with US knowledge. This fact is a clear indication that the US would have clamped down hard on Saudi Arabia and neighboring states to cease all support to terrorists if it really wanted to.

What does the US want? One wonders. Answer: It seeks to regain its regional dominance. In pursuit of its strategic goal, it figures that it has succeeded in creating chaos, destroyed countries and the social fabric of their societies. Libya, Iraq, and Syria are examples. Furthermore, it disturbed the social and political balance in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan. All those «accomplishments” serve Israel’s interests. If one adds to the mix the pressure the US has been exerting on Iran through the nuclear issue and sanctions, it would appear that the US, despite its multiple defeats (Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Egypt, etc.), has laid the ground for a smart power offensive to counter the Russian influence and defeat the anti-imperialist forces in the region.

It is interesting to note that peoples’ movements across much of the region have mobilized against imperialist, including Israeli, interests. Witness, for instance, the defeat of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt, the tenacity of the Syrian regime and its military successes, the popular pressure against the MBs (an-Nahda) in Tunisia that constitute the main component in the current government. All those events have disrupted US plans for the region, despite the death and destruction that the US has caused thus far.

A most perturbing development concerns Turkey, where it is no secret that al-Qaeda is now a potential threat to stability and, by implication, to the diverse social fabric of the country. It might be prudent for regional states to reconsider their strategies for the sake of domestic and regional stability. Ultimately, the US would not relinquish its strategic ties with Israel and any rivals to the latter, would, at the proper moment, be thrown under the wheels of a moving train.

Imperialist machinations can only go so far, given the growing resistance of the peoples of the region. In those circumstances, states and peoples will have to ask: on which side should we be?

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