200 Israeli air strikes on Syrian govt. units: ‘Palace coup’ in the White House? | Sunday Observer

200 Israeli air strikes on Syrian govt. units: ‘Palace coup’ in the White House?

Is the current United States presidency secretly run by a shadowy second tier of officials who circumvent their erratic and wilful President’s orders and, surreptitiously push through their own agendas? Even as Washington is freshly convulsed by a revelatory ‘anonymous’ essay in a major American newspaper, Russian air force bombing began in Syria’s Idlib province as the government offensive got under way.

And, in Israel last Tuesday, defence officials revealed that the Israeli air force had carried out as much as 200 air strikes against Syrian government military positions since the beginning of 2017.

In this first formal acknowledgment of this extensive aggression against Syria, the worst since hostilities ended in the 1970s, Israeli officials claimed they had only targeted military positions used by the Iranian ‘Al Quds Brigade’ commando troops currently helping the Syrian government counter the insurgency.

Meanwhile, in the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza last week, yet another teenage boy was killed during a protest.

Several other Palestinian civilians were wounded by Israeli military firing on demonstrators as the months-long anti-Occupation protests continued in that refugee-filled, impoverished and war-battered, tiny strip of land.

In Hebron and elsewhere in the West Bank Palestinian territory, more Palestinian homes were bulldozed and their occupants evicted to make way for more illegal Israeli settlements in what remains of ‘Palestine’ after the Israeli military expansion in 1967.

While Iran had acknowledged its military role in Syria quite early in the civil war, Israel on the other hand has long expressed its discomfiture over the presence of Iranian forces in a neighbouring state. Iran, currently the most stable state in the entire West Asian region (even Turkey has its small Kurdish insurgency), is designated as a major ‘threat’ by Tel Aviv.

As Russian planes and drones struck at the outlying areas of Idlib province, on Friday the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran, which are the guiding powers in the ‘Astana Peace Process’ on the Syrian conflict, met in Ankara, the Turkish capital.

This continuing diplomacy between these three major regional actors is aimed at managing the counter-insurgency waged by Damascus against the multifarious Syrian rebel groups, the most powerful of which comprise fascistic Sunni-based war bands affiliated to Al-Qaeda and the now largely defeated ‘Islamic State’.

While there are fears that an all-out government offensive against the rebel dominated Idlib province would wreak more devastation, cause heavy civilian casualties and another refugee flood (mainly towards Europe), many West Asia analysts are downplaying the possibility of that kind of military onslaught.

Instead, a more gradual process of creeping minor offensive operations backed by constant aerial bombardment by the Syrian and Russian air forces is expected.

Turkey is known to prefer such a strategy and may cooperate by helping to disarm and repatriate out of the province those Syrian rebels ready to end their campaign.

Given the Syrian army’s lack of manpower, Damascus itself – despite its propaganda claims – is reluctant to attempt to regain control of the entire province in a single offensive.

Neither does Ankara want such an offensive which would drive both large civilian populations as well as radical Islamist armed groups across the border into Turkey. Russia, like the Syrian government, is also reluctant because the large scale destruction and high civilian casualties would then make a subsequent peace process even more difficult.

The United States, however, is again distracted by domestic political turmoil with the NYT article being the latest spark.

President Donald Trump did say last week, backed by State Department statements, that Washington would militarily retaliate - with punitive airstrikes, presumably – if Damascus carried out any poison gas attacks.

The air strikes carried out by the US earlier failed to more than just annoy Damascus which has since pursued its counter-insurgency operations with continued vigour (and violence).

The New York Times article, published prominently in that much respected liberal newspaper in its ‘Op-Ed’ pages, claims that many White House officials are busy trying to contain the damage being done by Donald Trump by his constantly wilful and unwise decisions and directives on the entire range of subjects of governance.

The anonymous writer claims that these un-named officials would actually remove documents to be signed by the President from his desk to avoid drastic errors of policy that would go against the general orientation of current Republican governmental policy.

The opposition Democratic Party and the liberal news media (which dominated the US media-scape) have been quick to paint the article as one that describes chaos, uncertainty and even bureaucratic duplicity in the heart of the American state.

This, they claim, reveals a ‘palace coup’ situation for which the governing Republicans are at fault for not moving to un-seat Trump.

At the same time, Trump’s own hard-core voter base is infuriated by what they see as evidence of the ‘swamp’ and the so-called ‘deep state’ working to undermine their hero.

But the NYT article clearly indicates that the writer’s intentions are to reassure the world, and especially, the overall Republican Party voter base (of which the Trump constituency is only a part), that while Trump may rant and rave and disrupt ‘good governance’, the rest of the Administration is striving to contain the damage and push ahead with the Party agenda – which is the main concern of the various conservative constituencies that generally vote Republican.

In that sense, the Democrats may be crowing too soon since this article is clearly aimed at retaining the loyalty of that wider Republican voter base many of whom might otherwise vote Democrat (or, refrain from voting) in the forthcoming November mid-term congressional general elections.

The opinion polls and several recent by-elections have indicated that that heavy swing away from the Democrats shown in the 2016 presidential elections has now been minimised – mainly due to Trump’s misbehaviour and socially damaging Administration policies.

Trump seems to be drowning in the very ‘Washington swamp’ he promised to ‘drain’ when campaigning for the presidency.

Those who knew him (or, had heard of him from afar, like this writer) had long known that his kind of sleazy, ruthless, business dealings and, crude, decadent personal lifestyle, actually epitomises that kind of ‘swampy’ semi-underworld of American capitalism.

Such is the nature of modern political culture in America and the peculiarities of its capitalist democracy that it is possible for the US electoral system to spew up a real ‘swamp creature’ as head of state. The ability of the people to freely elect their choice of leaders into power can only mean that the calibre of the state leadership will reflect the whims of the electorate at any given moment.

Adolf Hitler, probably the most destructive and inhuman dictator in human history (our species has had many cruel potentates) was freely elected to power by the German people. In our own country we have seen more mediocre but still corrupt and cruel autocrats put in power by popular vote.

The NYT anonymous opinion essay attempts to make precisely that point: despite Trump’s depredations, loyal Republicans around him are busy ensuring that things do not get too disruptive and party agendas are fulfilled.

But will that anonymous White House writer convince wide swathes of conservative Americans to remain loyal to a Republican Party that shamelessly keeps such a ‘moron’ and ‘f…ing idiot’ (words reportedly used by Trump’s Cabinet colleagues) in power?