‘US hoisted on its own petard over its Assad stance’ - Col. L. Wilkerson

Defeating ISIS should be the first priority for everyone and only once it’s solidly accomplished, should work on a more representative Syrian government begin, says Lawrence Wilkerson, retired US Army Colonel, ex-chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell.

RT:What do you think about the western media’s reaction to Russian airstrikes in Syria? Would Russia’s involvement, as western media claims, “actively destabilize the country?”

Lawrence Wilkerson: That is not my assessment. I hope, I wish, I pray that Moscow, Washington, Ankara, Teheran, perhaps others are talking right now about how they coordinate their efforts to accomplish what should be all of our first priority, and that is to defeat these forces called DAESH/ISIS/ISIL, and to put everything else aside as it were until that is accomplished. That is going to take some time too. We’ve now got the possibility for this to spread majorly in Afghanistan - with the Taliban having taken Kunduz – that critical area. The Chinese are already looking at it because [Islamic State is] already doing things in Xinjiang province to disturb their state stability with the Uyghurs, the revolutionary movement that exists there. It’s also doing things to destabilize Afghanistan and the surrounding area. It’s concerning Moscow, I’m sure, because that’s their soft underbelly there, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and so forth…

We need to stop it, like you stop cancer at the point of origin. And the point of origin right now most prominently is Syria. All hands should be working on this. I welcome Russia’s assistance.

RT:The stance of the US is that we have to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from office and drive ISIS from the region at the same time. In your opinion, can Assad be removed and will little stability be maintained in Syria without recreating the same quagmire that we saw in countries like Libya, Iraq, etc?

LW: …My first priority would be to defeat ISIS. I would bring in those who are fighting ISIS and coordinate those actions in order to defeat them. Once that’s accomplished, and very solidly accomplished, mind you – not like we did in Libya, where we unveil the largest arms depots in North Africa without leaving anybody to take care of them to include shoulder-fired missiles and other sophisticated arms. No, in Syria we should make sure the enemy is thoroughly defeated, and then, and only then, should we work on an interim government, probably including President Assad, and a more representative government of the Syrian people, which will probably mean that Assad has to go at some point. But let’s prioritize this properly and let’s take care of priorities in order.

© Russian Defence Ministry

RT:Why is the US so obsessed with Assad and his regime? Why is it in US’ best interest to be involved in the conflict?

LW: We walked ourselves into this corner with human rights interest, with people like Samantha Power and others in the White House telling President [Barack] Obama at the time that the Syrian civil war started, and it started over water more than anything else. Second year in a row ‒ Syrian farmers – over 200, 000 have not been having any water. People like Samantha Power and others are seeing this as an opportunity to unseat Assad, whom they saw as a brutal dictator. And there is some proof of that. But Assad was not Mubarak – that was the template they were using. Mubarak was detested and he had to go, he was going to go - no matter what the US did. But Assad is not that. He has got quite a power base in the military, in the Alawite community in general, and in the business class in Syria, particularly in Damascus. So he is not going anywhere any time soon. I said that long ago. We [US] made these stupid statements about him being unacceptable, about his not staying in power and everything, and now we’re hoisted on our own petard. We should be big enough to back up and say “No, we were wrong. Let’s do that differently, let’s defeat ISIS and then we will work on a more representative Syrian government.”

Russia's Su-24 aircraft takes off from Syria's Hmeimim airbase. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

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