"I think my government wins the contest for whose country's politicians use double standards the most. US leaders turn a blind eye to the violent repression of protesters by the Al Khalifa regime because Manama, Bahrain hosts the headquarters to the US Fifth Naval Fleet and US Naval Forces Central Command. As long as the American agenda is being served, American leaders have no concerns with human rights violations," she said in an interview with Fars News Agency.
Dr. Wasfi spent part of her early childhood in Iraq while the former dictator Saddam Hussein was ruling the country. She returned to the US when she was 5, earned her B.A. in Biology from Swarthmore College in 1993 and her medical degree from University of Pennsylvania in 1997.
What follows is the text of Fars News Agency's interview with Dahlia Wasfi about the 23-month-long crisis in Syria, US support for the Al-Qaeda mercenaries in Syria and the regional countries' plans for fragmenting and breaking apart Syria and Iraq.
Q: It seems that the United States and its regional allies are after Balkanizing Syria and Iraq as two Shiite nations that are close to Iran and have firmly stood up against Israel and its policy of colonizing Palestine. Why such regional countries as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have joined this vicious campaign of undermining Syria and Iraq? Is their final objective delivering a heavy blow to Iran after eliminating its two major allies?
A: I believe that the goal for the U.S. is to maintain political control over the region of Western Asia, usually called the Middle East by Westerners, in order to establish control over its precious resources, primarily oil. Israel is also seeking domination of countries in the region in order to continue to expand its borders; to expand its power in the region; and to expand its power in the world. The Zionist agenda was described by Israeli Oded Yinon in his document "A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties." Yinon projected the rise of Israel's power in the region by way of the fracturing of neighboring Arab nations along ethnic and/or religious lines. He envisioned that this splintering, as observed in Lebanon, could be repeated in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan to weaken them. I see our 21st century destruction of Iraq, destruction of Libya, and ongoing destruction of Syria as part of the effort to reinforce Western hegemony in the region.
While global superpowers like the US are acting in their own interests, so are regional countries, in order to maximize their own power. I think it is a reasonable expectation for survival in a region targeted by superpowers. I regret that I am too ignorant of the individual histories of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to fully address their complicity with the Western agenda. But each government has something to gain from that collaboration. Turkey represses its Kurdish population without question from its Western allies. Compare America's silence with Turkey to its belligerence with Saddam Hussein concerning his regime's repression of Iraqi Kurds. Saudi Arabia is a long-time ally of the US. The 1991 [Persian] Gulf War was launched from massive military bases in the Kingdom. The Saudi monarchy is a repressive regime, exceedingly wealthy while many Saudis live in poverty. But political and military support from the United States has been a critical factor in the survival of the regime. Qatar has strong economic ties to the US, particularly in dealings of oil and natural gas. The tiny nation is host to the overseas headquarters of US CENTCOM (US Central Command), the Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defense.
To address the question, "Is their final objective delivering a heavy blow to Iran after eliminating its two major allies?" I cannot say specifically what the US government's plan is; I can only say that in general, the US seeks control of the region's resources. However, in an interview with Democracy Now on March 2, 2007, Retired General Wesley Clark alluded to a grand US governmental plan to attack seven countries in the region over five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finally, Iran. This plan was developed by October 2001, within weeks of the events of September 11, 2001. If this is accurate, then perhaps the US is still saving Iran for last.
Q: What do you think about the involvement of Al-Qaeda mercenaries in the war against the Syrian government? It was on the reports that hundreds of Al-Qaeda members have infiltrated into the Syrian soil and are taking part in terrorist operations against the civilians and officials. But it seems that the United States is not discontent with the presence of Al-Qaeda in Syria. What's your take on that?
A: This is a good example of the hypocrisy of United States policy. We do not stand by one set of values or morals; rather, we stand by a quest for political and economic global supremacy. And I suppose that for my government, the end justifies the means. Regarding Syria, concern has been raised about the possibility of The Nusra Front-a group that evolved out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq-taking control of Syria if Bashar Al-Assad is removed from power. Yet, for the Obama administration, the benefits of deposing Bashar Al-Assad, as if we have the right to meddle in a sovereign nation's affairs, apparently outweigh the negative consequences-for Syrians and everyone else. The US is covertly supplying the Syrian insurgency with heavy weapons. In similar hypocritical fashion, the US supports aspirations for independence for Iraqi Kurds, but backs Turkey's repression of Turkish Kurds. The Kurdish population is divided primarily between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The divisions were effected when the empirical powers carved up the region following World War I. Though their ancestry and ethnicity is constant, each national Kurdish group is treated differently by the US based on what suits our economic agenda.
Q: On December 16, 2012 the Iranian foreign ministry presented the outlines of a six-step plan for resolving the crisis in Syria, which included terms such as a comprehensive ceasefire, the cessation of the arms smuggling and the complete withdrawal of the foreign-backed mercenaries and troops from Syria. How much can this plan be practically effective in bringing to an end the 22-month-long unrest in the country?
A: That's very interesting news! I heard nothing about this plan in the Western press, and unfortunately, I am limited to the English language. The American corporate media is making an effort to depict Iran as a threatening, rogue state. President Ahmadinejad is characterized as a dangerous, untrustworthy leader. The idea that Iran is putting forth a plan for negotiation and diplomacy to bring resolution to the crisis in Syria goes against our media's demonization of the Iranian leadership. I wonder if this is why I didn't hear any news about it.
But a non-violent diplomatic resolution is not what the US is seeking in Syria. The US wants Bashar Al-Assad removed from power. As long as the insurgency in Syria and its various groups are backed by the United States, they will not have to work for compromise. It was a similar situation following the August 2, 1990 occupation of Kuwait by Iraq. The government in Baghdad set forth numerous proposals for negotiations with the United States. They were all refused as "non-starters." In Syria as in Iraq, the US is pursuing its own political and economic agenda which does not include negotiations.
Q: The United States and its European allies justify their political pressures and proxy war on Syria as part of their efforts to promote democracy in the country and prevent President Assad from "killing his own citizens." However, they have brazenly turned a blind eye to the killing of protesters and imprisonment of political and peace activists in Bahrain and the repressive measures taken by the Al Khalifa regime against the Bahraini people. Isn't it some kind of resorting to double standards?
A: Yes! I think my government wins the contest for whose country's politicians use double standards the most. US leaders turn a blind eye to the violent repression of protesters by the Al Khalifa regime because Manama, Bahrain hosts the headquarters to the US Fifth Naval Fleet and US Naval Forces Central Command. As long as the American agenda is being served, American leaders have no concerns with human rights violations. Actually, my government has not turned a blind eye to the Bahraini regime's oppression; the Obama administration recently resumed arms sales to the regime as violent attacks on "their own people" continue.
The situation was similar with US support of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq during the 1980s. US government leaders knew very well of his repressive rule. However, because an alliance with Iraq served our agenda to keep the new theocracy of Iran in check after 1979, then-President Ronald Reagan armed and financed the Iraqi Army during the eight-year war with Iran. The US government turned a blind eye to the regime's human rights violations for the sake of our geopolitical gain. At the same time, though officially the US government condemned Ayatollah Khomeini's government, certain US political and military leaders secretly dealt arms with Iran and used the earnings to fund paramilitary terror groups (the Contras) in Nicaragua. This long conflict that weakened both countries-and cost a total of around one million casualties and great suffering for everyone involved-supported the US agenda of controlling the region's resources, as well as enhancing Israeli national security.
And speaking of hypocrisy, compare the US response to Iraq's occupation of Kuwait and the US responses (or lack thereof) to serial invasions of Palestinian territory and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. My government invokes human rights in order to garner public support for its policies; it overlooks human rights violations and atrocities when it suits our economic and political purposes. Certainly, the CIA-led coup of Mohammad Mossadegh is another prime example of our double standards. The democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, who won on a platform of nationalizing Iran's oil and oil profits, was removed from power to protect the interests of Western oil companies, namely British Petroleum (BP). So much for democracy!
One of the true reasons for removing Saddam Hussein from power in 2003 was to protect the US dollar. Hussein was committed to changing the currency of the UN's Oil-for-Food Program from the American dollar to the Euro, which would have devalued the dollar. We had no interest in freedom and liberty for the Iraqi people, as is confirmed by the severe repression in Iraq today. What we are concerned with is supreme economic and political power.
Q: You have written and spoken extensively on the plight of the Palestinian nation. Let's touch upon that issue as well. Israelis have just taken part in the legislative elections and the extremist right-wing party of Benjamin Netanyahu has won the majority of the seats in the parliament. Will this victory empower Netanyahu and the Likudniks to ratchet up their aggressive measures against the innocent Palestinian civilians? Had the Israeli Occupation Forces launched the Operation Pillar of Defense to solidify their position in the Israeli public and attract more votes?
A: There is a saying from (I think) Mark Twain which states that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If this is true, then I think we can expect the continuation of the Zionist plan for the complete ethnic cleansing of Palestine; continued Israeli construction of illegal settlements; continued expansion of the borders of the Jewish state; and continued collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza by siege and military assault. It is certainly possible that the launch of Operation Pillar of Defense just prior to the Israeli elections was a calculated show of strength to garner more votes. However, I'm not sure that the Israeli government was able to carry out its plans to their full extent. For the first time, the resistance in Gaza used long-range Fajr-5 missiles, which have the capacity to hit major Israeli city centers, including Tel Aviv. I believe that this development caused the Israeli military to limit the duration of its assault (to eight days); I expected the attack to last at least as long as the three weeks of Operation Cast Lead. Nevertheless, Netanyahu's Likud-Beitenu electoral alliance won the January 22, 2013 vote.
Q: And finally, what's your viewpoint regarding the future of the Middle East? Can the United States succeed in putting in power puppet regimes which take its orders and are reluctant to resist the Israeli occupation and American imperialism and finally shape the Greater Middle East which Washington had envisioned? Haven't the popular uprisings of the Middle East also known as Arab Spring throw a spanner in the works of the United States and render its plots futile?
A: Oil and natural gas are the life-blood of most developed nations. Whoever controls the flow of oil can control the world's economies. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once said, "Oil is much too important a commodity to be left in the hands of the Arabs," and I think this racist attitude persists in Washington, DC today. This Western quest to control the resources of this region has brought-and continues to bring-so much suffering to the indigenous populations. The US and its ally Israel have picked up where the British and French (among others) Empires left off.
As we see today in Mali, the French are still fighting to hold onto their old colonies. Colonialism is alive and well in the region today, but so is the people's resistance and struggle for autonomy. The grassroots actions of the so-called "Arab Spring" are trying to establish real self-determination in the region. In response, the US is making efforts to co-opt such movements. I think that this is what happened in Syria, for example, where the movement for change born within the Syrian population became hijacked by foreign interests and foreign mercenaries. But as long as there is life, there is hope. The masses survive and endure the most difficult and traumatic situations. They do not give up their struggle for justice. And so, neither can I.
Interview by Kourosh Ziabari