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    Civil defense members inspect the damage at a site hit by airstrikes on Tuesday, in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib, Syria April 5, 2017

    The Operation to Liberate Idlib: Syria's Last Battle

    © REUTERS / Ammar Abdullah
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    John Wight
    6410

    If the struggle to liberate Aleppo was Syria's Stalingrad, the operation to liberate Idlib, just begun, is its Battle of Berlin.

    At stake in what promises to be the last major military operation undertaken by government forces and its allies is the complete extirpation of Salafi-jihadi groups and sundry rebel factions from Syrian territory. As such, when it has been accomplished it will be a cause of rejoicing everywhere — everywhere, that is, except Western capitals, where the attempt to draw a moral equivalence between those fighting to destroy Syria and those fighting to save it over the course of this brutal conflict will forever stand as an indictment of Western foreign policy and its conceits.

    The Syrian army servicemen, broke the three-year siege of Deir ez-Zor, in the area of the 137th mechanized brigade in Syria
    © Photo : Press Service of the President of Syria

    To arrive at an accurate rendering of the mendacity of this foreign policy, the footage of Hillary Clinton celebrating the murder of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi at the hands of NATO-backed 'democrats' in 2011 is required viewing. Upon receiving the news, Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, proclaimed, "We came, we saw, he died," while laughing and clapping her hands. Given the fate that befell Libya afterwards — a country that boasted the highest Human Development Index in Africa in 2010, what Clinton should have said was, "We came, we saw, Libya died."

    Libya, it should borne in mind, is a country in which the slave trade not democracy exists in 2017.

    And Libya's fate, let there be no doubt, would have been Syria's fate if Washington and its allies had succeeded in effecting the overthrow of the Assad government in Damascus, funding, arming and supporting various proxies over the course of the struggle with this objective in mind.

    This is not to suggest that there was unanimity in Washington over this objective. Indeed we know that Obama played a decisive role in resisting the clamour for regime change in Syria, a clamour emanating from within the State Department and the CIA during his tenure in the White House. As mentioned, it was the State Department headed by Clinton which pushed for NATO intervention in Libya, responsible for the country being pitched into an abyss from which it is yet to emerge six years on.

    Clinton left her role as Obama's Secretary of State at the beginning of 2013. A few months later, in August of that year, Obama stepped back from the brink when it came to unleashing airstrikes against Syrian government targets in response to allegations — denied by the Syrian government and disputed by MIT professor Theodore Postol and former UN weapons inspector Richard Lloyd in a report they co-authored — that Syrian government forces mounted an attack against rebel positions outside Damascus using chemical weapons, during which civilians were killed.

    The U-turn on the part of the Obama administration came in the wake of the vote in the UK Parliament a few days before, opposing British participation in any such military intervention. It was a seismic and, as events proved, fateful event in the trajectory of the conflict; especially as there is no doubt that if US-led military intervention had taken place it would have galvanised the various opposition factions, dominated by Salafi-jihadists, and their backers in the region.

    Obama, to his credit, understood this. He was also influenced by the "shit-show", as he pointedly described it, that the US had helped to create in Libya. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton, to her eternal discredit, remained a champion of regime change in Syria, regardless of the disaster she helped to author in Libya in 2011. 

    In 2014, while promoting her book, Hard Choices, recounting her years as Secretary of States, she took the opportunity to lambast Obama's stance on Syria, asserting that the "failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad-there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle-the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."

    It is impossible to ponder such breathtaking insanity without wondering just what it would take to wake Mrs Clinton and her co-thinkers up to the chaos, mayhem, and devastation this intoxication with destroying Middle East countries has wrought in recent years? Weren't we assured by the Bush administration that US troops would be met by multitudes of celebrating Iraqis, greeting them as liberators, back in 2003? And were we not assured by Clinton, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy et al., that the so-called Libyan revolution of 2011 was being waged by Jeffersonian democrats rather than terrorists with a penchant for murder and torture?

    Yes, we were told those things, and in both cases sectarian violence, terrorism and societal collapse was the result.

    Lest anybody forget, it has only been due to the courage, tenacity, and determination of the Syrian people, expressed through the resistance put up by the Syrian Arab Army — made up of soldiers drawn from every part of the mosaic that is Syrian society — that Syria did not go as Iraq and Libya went before it. Key also in ensuring it did not has been Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah, which together forged a de facto axis of anti US and Western imperialism of requisite strength to upend Washington's hegemony in the region.

    The cost has been inordinately high, though, and with the operation to liberate Idlib underway, it is set to increase further before the struggle to liberate the country is over.

    This does not mean, of course, that Syria will then be completely safe and secure. How can it be when the threat of Israeli aggression remains ever present, when the region is home to a Saudi establishment that grows evermore reckless and desperate in its desire to confront Iran, and when sitting in the White House we have the most capricious and unpredictable US president of any in modern history?

    "In wartime the truth is so precious that she must always be attended by a bodyguard of lies," said Britain's Winston Churchill. When it comes to the Middle East the truth is that a Western hegemonic agenda lies at the root of the crisis that has plagued this region for far too long, an agenda justified on the basis of the lie that destroying countries in order to save them is coterminous with human progress in the 21st century.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.  

    Check out John's Sputnik radio show, Hard Facts.

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    battle, liberation, foreign policy, Bashar al-Assad, Hillary Clinton, Idlib, Syria, Damascus
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