Sunday, 1 September 2013

Syria : The USA's Coercive Diplomacy on Syria.

'Obama's draft resolution has a short paragraph on the need for a political settlement in Syria and even calls on the Geneva talks process to be resumed urgently. Is it cynical or just naive? Syrian rebels' intransigence and their unwillingness to attend without preconditions are the main reason for the failure of Geneva so far.' ( Jonathan Steele, Syria: the US public faces a grim reality TV choice  Guardian September 1 2013 )

Washington never wanted a political settlement on any other terms other than that of the US and the Syrian opposition it supported along with the Friends of Syria group. It continually made Assad's removal or agreement to 'go' the precondition of any negotiations. The foreign policy was and remains 'Assad must go'

That has been the aim of of US and its strategic partners in the Middle east such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The US and Britain does not want any Iranian influence in Syria because there are fears it was using that to plan a pipeline to the Eastern Mediterranean in rivalry to Qatar's proposed one to Turkey.

Syria is geopolitically the cockpit for rival energy interests. The US, France and UK support Saudi Arabia and Qatar because they rely on these countries for oil or gas. France has become increasingly reliant on Qatar for LNG and Total has a stake in it. Britain likewise in order to diversify supplies away from Russia.

Iran is seen as a threat because it is a rival to both these countries and feared as a source of sponsorship for disgruntled Shia populations in Saudi Arabia who live near the main oil producing zones of Saudi Arabia not to mention backing Assad's Alawite regime in Syria.

Engaging with Iran is the most sensible diplomatic option to bring about a political settlement but the US and Britain have continually rejected that because of the energy interests at stake and because Qatar and Saudi Arabia are going to pursue their interests no matter what the Wests wants.

The problem comes down to the fact that though US foreign policy on Syria is one of choice it is also dictated by the necessity of it depending on Saudi Arabia for 12% of its oil still and the more general overarching strategy of containing Iran and getting 'regime change' there.

Obama started talking more straightforwardly of 'national security interests' after the British Parliament decided the UK would not take military action alongside the US. These interests are crucially interconnected with energy interests and energy security no less than they were with Britain and more so France.

Evidently, Obama is attempting to drum up wider support for a missile strike against Syria designed to add greater pressure along with Kerry's statement that there would be assistance to 'the rebels'. The UN security council is dismissed as 'completely paralysed'. In reality, the US is asserting coercive diplomacy.

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