by Martin Iqbal.

With Hillary Clinton, William Hague, and Alain Juppé due at the UN security council in New York tomorrow to press for regime change in Syria,today’s State Department press briefing exposes the sheer desperation of the American position.

In a psychotic display, State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland blames sectarian violence committed by US-Israeli backed terrorists on Assad’s security forces, while regurgitating baseless Free Syrian Army propaganda implicating Iran.

As Russia and Syria discuss the prospect of talks being held in Moscow, Nuland demonstrates that the United States has absolutely no interest in a peaceful resolution, but rather exclusively regime change. Nuland makes clear that the United States will attempt to stonewall any prospect of Assad staying in power, regardless of the will of the Syrian people:

QUESTION: You think there is still a path out?

MS. NULAND: Well –

QUESTION: For the regime.

MS. NULAND: — that’s obviously still on the table. It requires Assad to step aside.

Scott. Still on Syria?

QUESTION: Yes. What are your thoughts on Russia saying it will organize talks in Moscow and that Damascus has agreed to send a delegation? Would you support that process?

MS. NULAND: Again, what we think needs to happen first and foremost is that the violence needs to end and a process of dialogue needs to begin inside Syria. There needs to be peace and security there so that the country can move forward.

QUESTION: So talks outside Syria – not something you support?

MS. NULAND: Again, there have been plenty of talks outside Syria over the last few months. It’s very difficult to see how you address the real dangers and the real concerns unless and until the violence comes to an end.

In the following exchanges the questioner is refreshingly tenacious, pressing Nuland who gives foolhardy and shoddy responses that illustrate how desperate the position of the United States has become.

Sectarian violence – a staple and central pillar of the Zionist destabilisation campaign being waged on Syria – has been unleashed on Syria’s Christian community in the absence of government protection. This is particularly notable keeping in mind the fact that the Zionist war on Iraq has been characterised by Mossad-orchestrated sectarian violence, resulting in the dispossession of a disproportionately high number of Iraqi Christians. Though it is known that the recent anti-Christian violence in Syria was perpetrated by anti-regime forces aligned with the U.S, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel, Nuland inexplicably tries to blame it on Assad’s security forces.

Secondly, Nuland totes an unverified Free Syrian Army propaganda video that apparently implicates five Iranian nationals in firing at Syrian civilians. When pushed by the questioner, she claims to have verification from independent sources, but refuses to reveal them:

QUESTION: A quick follow-up: When the Arab monitors were in Homs, for instance, and there was a call for the Syrian regime to pull out its mechanized units and whatever they’re calling them – militant appearances like half-tracks or whatever – they pulled out. There were actually some militants that attacked very old Christian communities that are in Homs for centuries, and now they are forced to flee because they feel that the government forces are not there to protect them.

Will this – issues like this be raised or discussed?

MS. NULAND: Absolutely, and this is the kind of thing – I mean, the session, as I understand it, will begin with a report from senior Arab League representatives on what the mission showed and their view of the situation in Syria and their strong support for the resolution under the – on the table under Moroccan sponsorship, and then there will be a discussion among ministers.

But as you said, Said, and as the Secretary makes clear in the statement that she issued about half an hour ago, we are gravely concerned that as these Arab League monitors have pulled out, the Syrian regime has taken this as an excuse to just let loose in horrific ways against innocents. I mean, we’ve seen a sharp increase in violence, just in recent days. There have been disgusting statements like that of the interior minister announcing plans to cleanse the country. Local coordinating committees and our other contacts report that some 2,000 Syrian military troops carried out operations throughout the Damascus suburbs beginning on Friday, and at least 66 people have died at the hands of the regime yesterday, and estimated a hundred over the weekend in total.

We’re also hearing reports, interestingly, of large-scale defections of Syrian military officers over the weekend, and it is these Syrian – including taking some of their equipment and their heavy equipment – and it’s these defections that are most rattling the government.

QUESTION: Well, my concern is – or everybody’s concerns is that these minority groups – in particular, Christian communities that’s probably the oldest anywhere in the world – is being actually dislodged from Homs that it has occupied for a millennium or longer. So what kind of provision will it have to protect minorities?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, this is of grave concern, that this is a regime composed of a small minority that is now attacking the majority of Syrians, and they are attacking Christians, they’re attacking Druze, they’re attacking Sunnis, they’re even attacking Allawi communities. And –

QUESTION: But (inaudible) Victoria, it’s regime opponents that are attacking these Christian communities.

MS. NULAND: Said, it is the regime that bears responsibility for the violence. There have been efforts by some Syrians to defend themselves from these attacks, but it is Assad and his cronies who started this, and it is Assad and his cronies who are responsible for the vast majority of the violence.

And the blood is on their hands fundamentally. But you are absolutely right – the goal of the Arab League – the goal, frankly, of the Syrian opposition, whether you’re talking about the SNC outside of the country, whether you’re talking about the local coordinating committees, in all of their statements, in all of the work they’ve been doing, is to try to create a chance to have a Syria for all Syrians. And we have been gratified and encouraging that in the opposition statements, they talk explicitly about protecting the rights of all Syrians, including all minorities. And you’ll hear the Secretary speak about this tomorrow as well. It’s been a reoccurring theme of hers in all of her meetings on this subject, that it has become very, very dangerous.

One more point – or two more points on the side – on this subject with regard to the concerns that we have: We are also seeing increasing reports of Iran playing a nefarious role inside Syria. You may have seen some video that circulated of the Free Syrian Army having captured five senior Iranian nationals who admitted that they were firing on Syrian civilians. We are also seeing that the international sanctions that some of the nations – United States, European Union, Jordan, other countries – have begun to put on Syria are having an effect. They’re beginning to pinch. So you now see an Assad regime that increasingly cannot sell its petroleum. It can’t – its banks can’t access the international financial system. Its currency is in freefall.

So what is Assad doing now? He is funding his violence and paying his military off of the nation’s reserves, using the reserves of the Syrian people to fuel the violence against them. So the Security Council has got to act, and that’s the message that the Secretary will take in strongest terms tomorrow.

QUESTION: Have you seen reports that the Syrian opposition prevented Assad’s wife, the first lady, from leaving Damascus?

MS. NULAND: I’ve seen those reports. We don’t have any way to confirm that, Justin.

QUESTION: Can I ask why you bring up a propaganda video shot by – are you confirming the authenticity of what these people say? It seems very easy in situations like this – Qadhafi’s people were doing it themselves in Libya – for them to get some video of some people that they say have been captured, that they have captured, claiming to be al-Qaida. In this case, you say they’re Iranians. Are you confirming the accuracy of this video that you talk about?

MS. NULAND: We are not in a position to confirm –

QUESTION: Why raise it?

MS. NULAND: — confirm the accuracy. Because it tracks with some of our own reporting about the presence of Iranians in Syria, the efforts that they are making to help the regime in it – with its military tactics, including with equipment.

QUESTION: It doesn’t strike you as at all unusual that five people would admit to being Iranians and say yes, we’re Iranians and we were told to come here and fire on Syrian civilians? That doesn’t strike you at all as suspicious?

MS. NULAND: Suffice it to say that we have our own concerns about Iranian behavior in Syria.

QUESTION: Can you talk about your own concerns and your own evidence and not some propaganda that’s put out by a group that I don’t think that you’ve – you’re not even really supporting them (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: Our concerns include support for training and equipping of Syrian forces. Our concerns include the fact that some of the tactics being used by the Syrian regime mirror tactics used in Iran against their own population and about increasing evidence of numbers of Iranians in and around Syria.

QUESTION: Well, can you talk about what that evidence is?

MS. NULAND: I think I will not go any further than I’ve already gone. Thanks.

QUESTION: Well, then – okay, so Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, too. We all believed that one. I don’t understand how you can just – what’s the evidence, other than a Free Syrian Army propaganda video which you have no way of knowing whether it’s accurate or not or whether these people were tortured or whatever into saying that they were Iranian-sent?

MS. NULAND: We have –

QUESTION: What’s the evidence?

MS. NULAND: Evidence includes reporting from a number of our Syrian contacts, plus our own information from a variety of sources that I will not get into here.




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