Homs Rebels Retreat as Evidence of US Intervention Withers

The breaking news right now is that Syrian opposition fighters in Homs have withdrawn from the city, saying their decision was based on “worsening humanitarian conditions, lack of food and medicine and water, electricity and communication cuts as well as shortages in weapons.”

There has been some disagreement in antiwar circles about Syria. Many observers have recognized the unstable situation, the armed revolt, Western propaganda, etc. and become convinced that the U.S. and its allies are deeply involved in Syria, fomenting a civil war by aiding the opposition fighters. I’ve never been convinced this was true, although as far back as early June I warned about the possibility of a direct intervention by the U.S., and advocated strongly against it. Today’s news that the opposition factions in Homs – the main theater of the insurrection – are retreating due to lack of aid and supplies tends to puncture the argument that they’ve been receiving any considerable Western support.

Furthermore, if we look at official statements just in the past few days, we see Washington and its allies strongly against direct military intervention. Secretary of State Clinton on Thursday of last week told CBS News that “We have made no decisions” about arming the opposition (read the full transcript here). She made the argument that such an intervention may escalate the violence, that the logistics of arming the opposition are too difficult, and that we know too little of the non-cohesive fighting groups, pointing out that “al-Qaida” and “Zawahiri is supporting the opposition in Syria. Are we supporting al-Qaida in Syria? Hamas is now supporting the opposition. Are we supporting Hamas in Syria?”

Josh Rogin reports today that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told him in an interview that “NATO assets won’t be used to deliver any military, humanitarian, or medical assistance” in Syria. “We haven’t had any discussions in NATO about a NATO role in Syria and I don’t envision such a role for the alliance,” he said, adding “The guiding question should be: Would it bring a sustainable solution to the problem if we decided to intervene, if we had the legal basis, if we had support from the region?” and answering that question in the negative.

I’m not one to take state officials at their word, but balancing them with available evidence is still important. There is some minor intervention from some of our allies in the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And Turkey is sheltering defectors and has possibly let weapons come through the border, along with Lebanon. Some arms have also come into Syria through Iraq. But none of this has amounted to much at all and none of it is sufficient evidence of U.S. support for the Syrian opposition. There have been reports claiming NATO and Western secret agencies were covertly harboring and indirectly giving arms to Syrian rebels, reports that I never found to have been corroborated and which have been denied by reporters like Nir Rosen, who has been on the ground with the Syrian opposition. I’ve recognized and written extensively about the push by numerous influential voices in the U.S. to intervene on the rebels’ behalf, and I don’t deny the possibility that something is going on behind the scenes that the public isn’t privy to, but the evidence simply isn’t there.

Unfortunately, some but certainly not all within these aforementioned antiwar circles choose to equate the recognition that the U.S. has not intervened with being a supporter of proxy terrorism or U.S. imperialism. Of course, it’s possible to have a different opinion on what actual overt and covert U.S. policy towards Syria is, and not actually support foreign intervention or the imperialists in Washington.

20 thoughts on “Homs Rebels Retreat as Evidence of US Intervention Withers”

  1. Actually, we gave a lot of money to "democracy" activists from the state Department. (Some of this was even included in the State Department cables released by Wikileaks.) We helped start the ball rolling and we definitely have CIA contractors on the ground. I do believe the US has peeled back on their commitment when they realized that anti-American insurgents started flooding into the country in recent weeks.

    It is really a case of the typical idiots at State and DOD jumping in while not really understanding the the playing field. Now they're hanging the democracy activists they funded out to dry which is another long standing US play. There is also a lot of evidence that Turkey had cold feet when it came to arming the FSA even though they set up camps for them at the beginning, in conjunction with the US.

    The is big problem her,e though, is that the Free Syrian Army is now an admittedly armed group trying to overthrow their government. This means the government has a legitimate right to oppose them. At least that is what the US argued in Bahrain when the Saudis invaded.

    The bigger question now is what is the US going to do now that it looks like Assad will survive? This means Russia and China will grow more powerful and more able to stand up to the US. The Saudis will more likely move quicker to arm their proxy clients in the region using arms purchased from the US.

  2. Self-appointed revolutionaries shooting people in the streets – Homs eyewitness
    Published: 01 March, 2012, 23:08

    Members of the Free Syrian Army patrol an area in Qusayr, 15 kms (nine miles) from Homs (AFP Photo / STR)
    People have been left without water or electricity as rebels destroy water pumps and power converters. Civilians are forced to stay inside as snipers shoot from the rooftops.
    RT in Damascus managed to contact an eyewitness in Homs, who says self-proclaimed revolutionaries are killing civilians in the streets. Galina says leaving home is out of the question, as snipers “can shoot you in the back.”
    “They kill both young and old. They steal people from their homes and chop them into pieces, put them in plastic bags and throw them out!”
    She claims rumors are spreading of gunmen from France, Lebanon and Tunisia killing Syrians.
    “They mostly kill Christians here,” she says.
    Galina says people in Homs support the Assad government and want “the revolution” to be over.
    Earlier reports said rebels left Homs under pressure from Assad’s forces, but threatened to retaliate.

  3. I agree with John that talk of western intervention in Syria has cooled the past several days. With the rebels now facing defeat in their home-base of Homs, it does seem like the Assad regime will survive and that the Chinese and Russians will feel vindicated. The referendum was voted on with a huge turnout a few days ago (how much of it is actually implemented remains to be seen), which is something the Russians also pushed for. I'm sure many in Washington will view this as a defeat, especailly considering the amount of phony outrageand scorn that was heaped on Russia and China when they vetoed intervention at the UN.

  4. I'll repeat myself again…

    The purpose of the Syria crisis is to weaken Syria militarily so that Israel can take out Hizballah without having to engage Syrian military forces directly without US/NATO support. The ultimate purpose is to enable an Iran war.

    All those claiming Obama doesn't want an Iran war are idiots. He does. His handlers (the Crown and Pritzker families) do, so he does. It's that simple. He may not want an Iran war THIS year during the elections and he may not want Israel to start it without telling him, but he wants an Iran war, regardless of all the naysayers.

    Israel wants an Iran war, too, but they would prefer a "cheap" war – one where they aren't blamed for starting it, and one where they don't have to deal with Iranian, Syrian AND Hizballah missiles all at once.

    To get that, Hizballah has to go. To get THAT, Syria has to go.

    So nothing strategically has changed. The US and NATO will somehow get to an air campaign against Syria at some point, and during that campaign Israel will attack Hizballah again.

    And even if that should not happen, the Iran war will still be on at some point, probably next year.

    1. Do not kid yourself Richard, everybody is weary of war and I seriously doubt Obama wants a war with even Congo now.

      We are witnessing battle lines being redrawn, we are witnessing the beginning of the destruction of the state of Israel as we know it now, I am not saying there will be a lot of blood there, but the Israel will have to play nice and make real peace or be gone.
      Everybody is weary and sick of wars started by the US for Israel, I see only a very small minority of nut jobs in the US and Israel that want war, Zionists and Evangelicals.

  5. I'll also point out that just because the insurgents are running out of ammo doesn't mean they're going to stop fighting. It just means their logistics aren't very good yet and they've overrun their capabilities.

    And there's really been no "cooling down" of intervention rhetoric. Clinton has been vague which is not the same thing.

    I think all this means is that the plans for intervention aren't finalized. We just heard the other day that plans were being drawn up in the Pentagon. Give them time to get their intervention act together. They probably overestimated the capability of the FSA and the internal insurgents. We know the internal insurgents are limited in arms from ground reports there. But the FSA is being supplied by SOMEONE from Libya, and likely from both Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

    And the foreign insurgents have decided to set up a "military arm", so things aren't going to cool down at all for long.

  6. i'd refer John to the recently leaked stratfor glossary.
    "Black Op – If you heard even a hint of it, it ain’t black."
    Are we really this willing to believe what our government tells us? I'd advise both you and Jason Ditz to be a bit more skeptical, perhaps even cynical, about the actions of the USG (although when I began reading Antiwar, I'd have thought this unnecessary). Simply because no one in the "media of record" has corroborated a story, we discount it? Have we forgotten about media collusion with the powers that be?.

    I continue to read antiwar.com, but no longer for news, now merely to see what one sector of the establishment finds "worthy of print". I find your wholehearted acceptance of what government officials say as truth incredibly off-putting.

    1. "I find your wholehearted acceptance of what government officials say as truth incredibly off-putting."

      Um, no. In order for you to "find" something, it must be there for you to find. The next time Antiwar.com "wholeheartedly accept[s] what government officials say as truth" will be the first.

      1. i refer you to ''yes minister" –
        "never believe something until it's been officially denied"

        it is hard to find evidence (or even allegations, i'll admit) of intervention in reliable sources. that said it's not impossible by any means. i've found if you want to find out truths about one's occupying polity (a term i'm using to avoid country, one does try to avoid the groupthink), it's helpful to go to an oppositional polity's propaganda arm (ex. Russia Today [i know they used to be the commies, but come now, let's get with the times, we're at least as fascistic nowadays]), or at a bare minimum to avoid known propaganda arms of said former polity (WaPo, CNN, et al.). I'd hope that a news organization dedicated to opposing imperialistic wars would do more of the same

    2. Agree; looks like antiwar is a sell-out. To consider for the smallest part of a pico-sec that anything that the inveterate liars US&/Zs say is in anyway 'believable' is an indication of outright idiocy. Having said that, what are we to make of this from Clinton: "There will be increasingly capable opposition forces. They will from somewhere, somehow, find the means to defend themselves as well as begin offensive measures…" This looks like a faux pas; she knows something and is dying to say it – but has been told to shut up (at least for the moment). That 'something' is an advanced plan to smash Syria (as they just did to Libya), Syria being a next step on their road to smashing Iran. The 'name of the game' for truth + justice = equity seekers should be to actively oppose war; antiwar.com has long ago lost the plot, seemingly content to document the US+Zs' depravity – or as in this story, to actually 'carry water' for the ghastly perpetrators of horror.

  7. Guys, I am amazed by this article and thread.

    Does "Plausible Deniability" mean anything?

    "It should not be obvious, but if it becomes obvious there should be plausible deniability"
    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    That this is a Black Op. or Covert Op. has been repeatedly stated both in the US.and in Britain, and that incredibly fundamentalist Sunni and Wahabist networks have been recruited as allies, and training and arms supplied.

    Consequently the is a school of thought both here and in America that this is a policy of insanity and it has been said you have to understand how policy gets made some people think thye can get risd of them afterwards, others have a grudge against a particular government and haven't even thought about it..

    Unless you want an end to the secular state the movement is not home grown.

    You have already accepted what government officials say is true, namely the incredible belief Intervention has not yet taken place.

    Coloured Revolutionsare not spontaneous but organised in Washington..

    1. no kidding. To outright state that US intervention is unlikely just because Hillary Clinton says so? My god, how can you take at face value anything this government says anymore? and don't tell me you're not putting faith in Government statements when you use public statements from DOS as evidence denying the possibility of US intervention. You think the CIA and military intelligence announce their operations tos end in thugs to sow chaos and terror within a targeted regime? given me a break. Just because the so-called "rebels" – crowded as their ranks are with foreign fighters – are incompetent and are anti-american DIDNT stop them from backing the same crowd in Libya. Anyone on the staff at antiwar remember the illegal French airdrops of weapons for the "rebels" in Libya? It is patently obvious that the US and its hangers on have committed to regime change in Syria – just because they might be having 2nd thoughts about the current insurrection crowd in Syria doesn't mean they won't arm them or try again with some other group. I'm tired of the credulity of official government narratives at antiwar.com.

  8. The death squads retreating from Syria most likely were never intended to actually topple Assad, but to generate enough bloodshed and mayhem to create a pretext for NATO and SIXTH Fleet bombing that would topple Assad.

    But that's not the real driver behind the seemingly helter skelter destabilization policy of the Clintonistas. They are ironing out the kinks and honing their tactics for the big destabilizations they intend to eventually play on the big time stages in Moscow and Beijing.

    The "Humanitarian" Medicine Show rolls on nonetheless.

  9. It’s not from the benevolence in the butcher, the brewer, or even the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.
    I’m not really a driven businessman, but a driven artist. I never consider money. Beautiful things earn money.

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