Washington experiencing ‘mutiny’ over Syrian conflict

The White House is pictured shortly after sunrise in Washington. © Jason Reed
The US Defense Department effectively rebelled against the president’s authority when it said it may or we may not comply with the ceasefire, says former MI6 agent and founder of the Conflicts Forum Alastair Crooke.

While US-Russia cooperation in Syria has been in the spotlight, culminating in a heated exchange at a UN Security Council meeting, Syria's president dismissed the accusations that his army attacked a UN aid convoy near Aleppo.

Bashar Assad suggests the US airstrike which killed 62 Syrian soldiers was not a mistake, as Washington claims. At the same time, Washington is increasingly torn between how to move forward in the Syria conflict.

RT: What do you make of General Dunford's comments that only coalition aircraft should be permitted to fly in Syria? Doesn't that remind us of the Libyan situation and how that turned out? Is such a situation tenable?

Alastair Crooke: No, not really. It makes very little sense. Unless you want to shift the balance in favor of the jihadist forces on the ground, which may be partly the purpose of that. The ‘no-fly zone’ is really very much one-sided because, of course, the US is not capable of controlling the jihadis in Syria. I mean, they may think they have some sort of control but in practice it is not. All of the groups have already denied the ceasefire from the outset; they won’t participate, they are not part of it. They’ve recently been rearmed, regrouped and had more forces added to them. So, what we can expect from a ‘no-fly’ zone is renewed ground fighting. And it is an asymmetrical disadvantage for Damascus. Why? Because most of the troops there protect the urban civilian population. Where the insurgents can move, they can regroup, they can mass, they can deploy and they can attack. And then that will leave Damascus with no means of defending its army on the ground. They would be defenseless without the air force.

RT: President Assad says Syria's situation could be dramatically improved within months if there was no outside influence. But is that even possible at this stage?

AC: Of course it is, from the very beginning, and I’ve been visiting Syria throughout this conflict. Clearly, there have been outside players who are deeply involved including Western players, Gulf States. It is a geopolitical war. It is not a war about Syria or in Syria; this has become a geopolitical conflict between two opposing sides.

RT: Even if there was no outside influence, would it really be solved in months?

AC: I think quite clearly there is very little prospect of a ceasefire coming out of these talks. Firstly, because the Defense Department effectively rebelled against the president’s authority who said “we may or we may not comply with the ceasefire”. First of all, there is a mutiny in Washington. Secondly, they don’t control the forces on the ground. So, how could they implement a ceasefire… in these terms? I think we will have a turbulent time through the American elections and then we will have to see after the American elections whether it is possible. At the same time we will probably see Ukraine heating up because these are really paired conflicts in a sense. An outcome that is satisfactory in Syria could make a big impact in resolving the Ukraine problem, too. But more than likely we’ll see both heat up.

“At this point, the world, the UN and America should be doing a credibility judgment of what is being said both by John Kerry and the US military. We have a track record now: Kerry was firmly on board for regime change and war against Syria. He has been trying for a regime change in Syria, keep the Russians out of the way, ever since we started trying to provoke the war most recently… We’ve been subverting the Syrian government going back to 2005 by financially supporting their opponents. So, we had this policy, even General Wesley Clark talked about how the US planned to take the Syrian government right after 9/11 but then we got interrupted with the Iraq war.” - Todd Pierce, former US army judge advocate commented on the issue

RT: The trust between US and Russia took a major blow over the past week with American coalition planes hitting the Syrian army and the Humanitarian Aid convoy being hit. Do you think there's still a chance for cooperation?

AC: I think it is very clear that the attempt to have a détente, and after all this is not the first president to try and attempt a détente with Russia. Eisenhower was the first and that was sunk by the CIA and the Gary Powers incident [The incident occurred in 1960 when an American U-2 spy plane, flown by CIA pilot Gary Powers. Powers parachuted to safety and was released by Soviet officials after two years imprisonment- Ed]. What we are seeing now is the sinking of President Obama’s attempt at a détente with Russia. He is facing a concerted opposition of the Department of Defense, the CIA, the New York Times, Washington Post and the Democratic candidate. Can he prevail against that? I don’t think so. From what we’ve just seen, it is not likely. So, all this noise and accusations are basically about America trying to get advantage back out of an unpromising situation. Just as we saw during the MH17 incident in Ukraine, immediately going and accusing Russia of being behind it before the facts were known, before any investigation was made. We see the same thing here, going straight online saying, of course, Russia is responsible for everything that has happened. This is just the war of narratives that the West is very good at because it controls completely the mainstream media.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.