When I wrote The Syrian, events in the region, circa 2006, were relatively straight forward. Syria was the link to Iran. Both Israel and the U.S. thought Iran was trying to undermine Sunni dominance and stir up Arab nationalism; so did Saudi Arabia and Qatar who sought to destabilize Iran through Syria. If Syria collapsed, so the thinking went, Iran would implode, making it easier for Israel to attack Hezbollah, its mortal enemy, and for Saudi Arabia and Qatar to attack Iran.
But this is the Middle East where things are never that simple.
In Damascus Street, the as-yet-unfinished sequel to The Syrian, events spiral out of control in the lead-up to the Syrian war which begins in 2011. As the story unfolds we discover a new plan that is even more dangerous than the ones that led to both the Iraq War and Israel’s war with Hezbollah in July 2006. This one calls for the U.S. government to commit a gross violation of international law by supporting a major military assault on the government of Syria and escalating tension with nuclear-armed Russia, with Al-Qaeda and its affiliates playing the lead role and Saudi Arabia and Qatar financing them.
In a scene from the sequel, Fouad, who is part of Lebanese intelligence, is speaking with the newly named U.S. Ambassador to Syria. Up to this point the American has been in Iraq, organizing Al Qaeda-linked death squads which he will use in Syria to ignite the uprising.
“I’ve just been named US Ambassador to Syria,” he tells Fouad. “The appointment will have to go through Congressional hearings, of course, but once it becomes official I’ll be able to direct the insurgency from our embassy in Damascus.”
“Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador, well done. And now that I’m part of your team, can I ask a few questions?”
“Generally, there’s something that triggers an uprising. In Lebanon it was the Hariri assassination. People demonstrated and demanded the expulsion of Syrian troops. How will you start the one in Syria?”
“For our luck we really won’t have to do too much. Nature’s done most of the work for us. Syria’s experiencing its worst drought in 900 years.”
“I didn’t realize it was that serious.”
“Without doing any recruiting locally we already have about 1.5 million angry, unemployed men, many of them farmers, who are ready to blame Assad for their misfortune. One little push from us and they’ll trigger the revolution for us.”
“So the goal is regime change with Assad completely out of the picture?”
“Our objective is to undermine Assad’s ability to govern the country without physically removing him from office.”
“Why not just remove him?”
“The Syrian people support him. And it isn’t just the Alawites. He also protects the interests of Christians and Druze. His army supports him, too. So, the idea is to make him irrelevant. We deploy jihadists to capture and hold large sections of the country and make it impossible for the central government to control the state.”
“That’s a tall order.”
“Not really, our plan breaks the country into disconnected enclaves, each ruled by an al Qaida affiliate.”
“And you expect this to be done by a bunch of crazed jihadists?”
“They’re just the fodder who’ll lead the charge. We’ll send in our Special Forces to do the heavy work and then initiate a country-wide no-fly zone.”
Because my story is historical fiction, it allows me to recount current events as fiction and reveal the plans not only for regime change but the usual selective, dubious and false information we saw in the frenzied war fever leading up to the Iraq War. More importantly, as with the WMD in Iraq, there are two key facts about Syria that Americans are not being told: one, the U.S. regional “allies” have been funding and arming radical jihadists groups, including Al Qaeda terrorists and two, the claim about “moderate” Syrian rebels is a fraud. The so-called “moderates,” have served as public relations cut-outs for the U.S. and its “allies” to supply Al Qaeda and its allies with sophisticated weapons while pretending they aren’t jihadists.
While the idea that the U.S. government was supporting Al Qaeda may be hard to believe, we should remember that the U.S. and Saudi Arabic jointly, each contributing billions of dollars, financed the jihadist mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s to defeat Russian troops who were defending the leftist secular regime then governing Kabul. This exercise in U.S.-Saudi realpolitik gave birth to the current jihadist movement.
Though the U.S. has come to fear the Frankenstein monster they helped create, they are inextricably tied to Saudi Arabic and its crusade to punish Saudi enemies from Iran to Syria and Iraq. To make matters worse, the Saudis have begun collaborating with Israel which shares Riyad’s view that Iran and the Shiite Crescent represent a strategic threat. Between Saudi money and Israeli political clout, especially with the US Congress, the two countries are able to fend off occasional U.S. anger, even to the point of getting the U.S. government to hide a 20-page chapter about Saudi financing for the hijackers from the Congressional 9/11 report for a dozen years.
For the past five years, the principal target of this powerful coalition has been Syria, with President Obama occasionally joining in—as he did in authorizing CIA and Pentagon programs to arm “moderate” rebels/jihadists—and occasionally bowing out—as he did in resisting pressure to bomb the Syrian military after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus in 2013.
By insisting on regime change and collaborating with our “allies in the region,” we have contributed to the deaths of between 375,000 and 450,000 Syrians, helped create 6.6 million internally displaced persons and sent 4.8 million refugees fleeing to neighboring countries.
The Syrian is available for purchase here: