Half of Americans want their Prez impeached: Idlib battle could end Syria’s war | Sunday Observer

Half of Americans want their Prez impeached: Idlib battle could end Syria’s war

It is not just the people of Idlib province and its major urban areas that are bracing for the Syrian government military offensive expected soon. The whole of West Asia and the world’s big powers know that the battle could be pivotal to the whole Syrian conflict, as Idlib is the last rebel-dominated region of that embattled country.

In Canada, however, people, especially industrial and agricultural producers, are more worried about the future of US-Canada trade with the summary ending of the NAFTA free trade pact by Washington. And, in Ukraine’s eastern separatist Donetsk ‘Republic’, people were mourning the mysterious assassination of their popularly elected leader. In Palestine’s battered and almost starving Gaza Strip, casualties due to Israeli military fire continued to pile up among civilians last week in the months-long sustained protests against the half-century-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Not that US President Donald Trump, so-called “leader of the free world”, is thinking about Syria or Canada or Palestine or Ukraine or Afghanistan or any other world hotspot, many of which are partly his own country’s fault. The US President is busy (as usual) with early morning internet tweets attacking his own senior officials in his constant effort to push back on multiple probes and prosecutions that could end his presidency.

The latest opinion poll done jointly for the ABC TV channel and The Washington Post newspaper now shows that a good 60 per cent of Americans think that their President is not doing his job properly and a whopping 49 per cent think that he should actually be impeached and removed from his post.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that, in the run-up to November’s US congressional mid-term elections which will decide whether the opposition Democratic Party re-takes control of Congress, the poll finds that a majority of Americans has turned against Trump and “..is on guard against his efforts to influence the Justice Department and special investigator Robert S. Mueller’s on-going probe”. The Post pointed out that “clear majorities of Americans support the special counsel’s Russia investigation and say the president should not fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions”.

US commentators find it significant that after public opinion supporting the investigations declined to the low 30s percentage points in mid-summer, in the past week, public opinion had reversed against the President.

The swing in opinion is attributed to recent dramatic developments in the federal probes and prosecutions of top Trump aides. In the past fortnight there have been sensational ‘guilty’ pleas by indicted senior Trump political campaign staff and, the announced ‘co-operation’ by close Trump friends and corporate aides with the FBI probes.

If the opposition Democratic Party regains control of the House of Representatives, that could result in a Congress bid to impeach the President based on the findings of the FBI and other judicial probes and prosecutions.

Most pundits argue that current interpretations of the US constitution shield the President from actual criminal prosecution while in office, thereby blocking the legal and judicial removal of Trump from the White House. Thus, as in the past, it is up to the US legislature, the House and the Senate, to ‘impeach’ the President as being unfit for the office.

Adding to the boastful Trump’s woes was last week’s humiliating shutting out of the President from the funeral of American Vietnam War hero and long-serving Senator John McCain who died of cancer. McCain, a popular Republican Party senator for Arizona state, was known for his hawkish foreign policy stances and once stood, unsuccessfully, for the presidency.

McCain became one of the most prominent US politicians to criticise and oppose the Trump presidency. At McCain’s own request, his family did not invite the President to attend his funeral. Vice President Mike Pence had to represent the American government.

If the future of American politics might hang in the balance in the coming months, the same can be said of Syria, a victim country of American (and other) geo-political meddling. Syrian government forces, backed by long-time military ally Russia and militia and advisors sent by Iran, are now poised for a major offensive against the motley collection of Syrian rebel groups who are boxed in to the northern Idlib province.

The Sunni majority province was a key stronghold of the revolt against the dictatorial Basher Al Assad regime. The Assad regime has survived on the basis of a governing coalition led by the Baathist Party of Syrian whose secularist and social welfare policies had established a stable and modern society that enabled the Alawite (Shia), Druze, Christian and other religio-ethnic minorities to live peacefully with the Sunni Syrians who make up almost half of the population.

Thus, the Assad regime still has the support of over half of the population that comprises these minority communities who fear that a regime change would usher in a fascistic Sunni Islamist rule that would dominate and even attempt to eliminate the many non-Sunni and non-Muslim minorities. While the most powerful anti-government insurgent forces belong to Sunni Islamist movements that are Al Quaeda and Islamic State affiliates (e.g. the Al Nusra Front), there are also several smaller secularist pro-democracy movements that are also in the fray against Damascus.

While the US and other Western powers have rushed to the aid of the Syrian insurgency on the pretext that they were helping a pro-democracy movement against a dictatorship, it is well known that much of the arms and ammunition and other equipment delivered to the rebels have inevitably ended up in the hands of the bigger insurgent groups, namely, the Sunni fascistic groups.

These Sunni extremist groups, such as Al Quaeda and Islamic State (IS), that now have affiliated groups leading insurgencies in many countries across West Asia and northern and sub-Saharan Africa (and also in Indonesia and The Philippines), have long practised genocidal and fascistic polices against all non-Sunni and non-Muslim people in the regions that they operate. Thus, from Mali and Nigeria to Iraq, Afganistan and even Pakistan, these Sunni-based fascistic militia have wantonly slaughtered civilians of other sects and religions. Barely a week goes by without shooting rampages and bombings against Shia, Christian, Yazidi, Druze, Ahmadiya shrines and communities by Sunni rebel militia in these countries.

However, none of the Western powers, after their bitter experience in Afghanistan and Iraq (and elsewhere), have the stomach to involve their own troops in Syria and thus have had to concede ground to Russia and Iran. Russia always had troops in post-colonial Syria since Soviet Russia (USSR) built a strong military alliance with the Left-leaning Baathist regime in Damascus and set up military bases on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. The Russian naval facilities in Syria are the biggest facilities held by Moscow outside Russia.

Thus Moscow has a legitimate reason to lend its troops and air force and naval assets based in Syria for the counter-insurgency by Damascus. And since the bulk of the Syrian anti-government forces are those of the Sunni extremist groups linked to Al Quaeda and the IS, Moscow always claims that it is helping combat these “terrorist” groups for the benefit of the whole world.

While there is no doubt the complete elimination or weakening of these pseudo religious, fascistic war bands is, indeed, good for the whole world, it is also true that Moscow has, by this intervention, successfully retained its geo-political outreach in the Mediterranean Sea and West Asia.

Iran – the world’s sole Shia state and currently the most stable Gulf society - also has good reason to sustain its ties with those few societies in the region that are non-Sunni and this is why Tehran maintains close links with the Druze and Shia political movements in Lebanon and, with the Shia-led regimes in Iraq and Syria.

In any case, an ending of Syria’s chaotic rebellion could, hopefully, return that once-prospering country to the stable and modern society it once was – even with the Assad dictatorship remaining in Damascus. Whether the West will allow this or whether it continues to help rebel remnants in order to keep this key Russian and Iranian ally in West Asia unstable, remains to be seen.