Deal or no deal, Syria still burns

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BITTER TRUTH: Sceptics are not convinced about the Russia-US accord to avert war

THE Americans and the Russians have worked out a deal to avert war, they say. Really?   What do we then make of the statement from the leader of Free Syria Army (FSA), Selim Idriss, who promised another ending for the Syrian state?

"We in the FSA are unconcerned by the implementation of any part of the initiative... I and my brothers in arms will continue to fight until the regime falls," he said.

To compound scepticism about averting war, Britain, France and the United States agreed in another meeting in Paris to step up their backing for Idriss' rebels fighting to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Truth be told, the war is already in full flow. Rebels and the Syrian army have been at it for more than two years with millions suffering and thousands fleeing to other countries.

What do we make of the so-called deal that has averted war? The issue of who was responsible for the chemical arms attack on Aug 21 in Damascus remains contentious after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tabled his investigators' findings recently.

The grin and handshake between US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, seemed to accept things "as they are" but does not entirely rule out what the warmongers want.

Just listen to some of the remarks made after the deal, and maybe we can understand that deal or no deal, the war will continue.

President Barack Obama himself said much remained to be done and warned Damascus to comply with the accord. If the regime does not live up to the deal, "the United States remains prepared to act", he warned.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird described Syria's offer to begin providing information on its chemical arsenal 30 days after signing an international convention banning such weapons as "ridiculous and absurd".

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also welcomed the diplomatic initiative, but said it's still incumbent on the international community to bring the Syrian officials responsible for the chemical attack to justice.

For Syria's charge d'affairs in Kuala Lumpur, Mohamad Khafif, the real questions are about who profits from the Syrian conflict, and unsurprisingly he pointed to Israel.

Need more convincing? Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren said on Sept 17: "The initial message about the Syrian issue was that we always wanted Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren't backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran."

With Syria burning, when it comes to who profits, Khafif has two words: economy and money.

In any conflict, weapons manufacturers reap huge profits. One Tomahawk missile sells for about US$1 million (RM3 million).

Any military intervention against Assad would surely involve multiple Tomahawk strikes, which means a company like Raytheon stands to make tens of millions of dollars. Also, unsurprisingly, US lawmakers have been reported to be "rewarded" for their pro-war stance against Syria.

MapLight, a non-profit research organisation that tracks money in politics, highlighted a Sept 5 vote of 10-7 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that gave approval to the proposal of military attacks on Syria.

A "yes" voting senator on average received 83 per cent more money from defence contractors than one who voted "no", according to data collected by the Centre for Responsive Politics and analysed by MapLight.

Committee members who voted to support the proposal collected an average of US$72,850 (RM218,550) in defence campaign financing between 2007 and last year, Wired magazine reported.

Even those who dissented in the committee vote averaged US$39,770 (RM119,310).

The phenomenon crossed party lines with Arizona Senator John McCain, one of three Republicans to vote "yes", collecting the largest amount -- US$176,300 (RM528,900).

The second largest belonged to Democrats -- US$127,350 (RM382,050) given to Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and US$101,025 (RM303,075) to Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.

Four senators, including three Republicans and one Democrat, who voted "no", received the least amount of financing, ranging from US$14,000 to US$19,250 (RM42,000 to RM57,750).

I agree with Dan Simpson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who believed that the Syrian conflict has diverted US focus from the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

He also warned there would be countermeasures against US and Israeli interests from Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, the region's Shia and who knows who else would wander in from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen.

Perhaps, we don't have to look far after the latest shooting incident at the Washington Navy Yard by a former soldier, Aaron Alexis, that resulted in 13 deaths, including the gunman himself.

Alexis served full time in the US navy reserve from May 2007 to January 2011, becoming an aviation electrician, and received the National Defence Service medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service medal.

The attack came four years after army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan killed 13 people at Fort Hood in what he said was an effort to save the lives of Muslims overseas. He was convicted last month and sentenced to death.

So far, there is no motive as to why Alexis decided to shoot. Things, however, don't just happen in isolation.

Much of the Western world might be worried about developments in Syria and other such conflicts but incidents, like the one involving Alexis, show the war zone can also extend to the home-front.


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