US-NATO Sponsored Death Squads Integrate "Opposition Forces"
By Michel Chossudovsky
Modelled on US covert ops in Central America, the Pentagon's "Salvador Option for Iraq" initiated in 2004 was carried out under the helm of the US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte (2004-2005) together with Robert Stephen Ford, who was appointed US Ambassador to Syria in January 2011, less than two months before the beginning of the armed insurgency directed against the government of Bashar Al Assad.
"The Salvador Option" is a "terrorist model" of mass killings by US sponsored death squads. It was first applied in El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths.
John Negroponte had served as US ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. As Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, he played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contra mercenaries who were based in Honduras. The cross border Contra attacks into Nicaragua claimed some 50 000 civilian lives.
In 2004, John Negroponte was appointed US ambassador to Iraq, with a very specific mandate.
The Salvador Option for Syria": The Central Role of US Ambassador Robert S. Ford
The US Ambassador to Syria (appointed in January 2011), Robert Stephen Ford had been part of Negroponte's team at the US Embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005). In this regard, "The Salvador Option" for Iraq laid the groundwork for the launching of the insurgency in Syria in March 2011, which commenced in the Southern border city of Daraa.
In relation to recent events, the killings and atrocities committed in the border city of Houla on May 27 were, in all likelihood, carried out under what may be described as a "Salvador Option for Syria".
The Russian government has called for an investigation:
"As information trickles out of Houla, Syria, near the city of Homs and the Lebanese-Syrian border, it is becoming clear that the Syrian government was not responsible for shelling to deaths some 32 children and their parents, as periodically claimed and denied by Western media and even the UN itself. It appears that instead, it was death squads at close quarters - accused by anti-government "activists" as being "pro-regime thugs" or "militias," and by the Syrian government as the work of Al Qaeda terrorists linked to foreign meddlers." (See Tony Cartalucci, Syrian Government Blamed for Atrocities Committed by US Sponsored Deaths Squads, Global Research, May 28, 2012)
US Ambassador Robert S. Ford was dispatched to Damascus in late January 2011 at the height of the protest movement in Egypt. (The author was in Damascus on January 27, 2011 when Washington's Envoy presented his credentials to the Al Assad government).
At the outset of my visit to Syria in January 2011, I reflected on the significance of this diplomatic appointment and the role it might play in a covert process of political destabilization. I did not, however, foresee that this destabilization agenda would be implemented within less than two months following the instatement of Robert S. Ford as US Ambassador to Syria.
The reinstatement of a US ambassador in Damascus, but more specifically the choice of Robert S. Ford as US ambassador, bears a direct relationship to the onset of the insurgency integrated by death squads in mid-March 2011 against the government of Bashar al Assad.
Robert S. Ford was the man for the job. As "Number Two" at the US embassy in Baghdad (2004-2005) under the helm of Ambassador John D. Negroponte, he played a key role in implementing the Pentagon's "Iraq Salvador Option". The latter consisted in supporting Iraqi death squads and paramilitary forces modelled on the experience of Central America.
Since his arrival in Damascus in late January 2011 until he was recalled by Washington in October 2011, Ambassador Robert S. Ford played a central role in laying the groundwork within Syria as well as establishing contacts with opposition groups. The US embassy was subsequently closed down in February. Ford also played a role in the recruitment of Mujahideen mercenaries from neighboring Arab countries and their integration into Syrian "opposition forces". Since his departure from Damascus, Ford continues to oversee the Syria project out of the US State Department:
"As the United States’ Ambassador to Syria—a position that the Secretary of State and President are keeping me in —I will work with colleagues in Washington to support a peaceful transition for the Syrian people. We and our international partners hope to see a transition that reaches out and includes all of Syria's communities and that gives all Syrians hope for a better future. My year in Syria tells me such a transition is possible, but not when one side constantly initiates attacks against people taking shelter in their homes". (US Embassy in Syria Facebook page)
"Peaceful transition for the Syrian people"? Ambassador Robert S., Ford is no ordinary diplomat. He was U.S. representative in January 2004 to the Shiite city of Najaf in Iraq. Najaf was the stronghold of the Mahdi army. A few months later he was appointed "Number Two Man" (Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs), at the US embassy in Baghdad at the outset of John Negroponte's tenure as US Ambassador to Iraq (June 2004- April 2005). Ford subsequently served under Negroponte's successor Zalmay Khalilzad prior to his appointment as Ambassador to Algeria in 2006.
Robert S. Ford's mandate as "Number Two" (Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs) under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte was to coordinate out of the US embassy, the covert support to death squads and paramilitary groups in Iraq with a view to fomenting sectarian violence and weakening the resistance movement.
John Negroponte and Robert S. Ford at the US Embassy worked closely together on the Pentagon's project. Two other embassy officials, namely Henry Ensher (Ford's Deputy) and a younger official in the political section, Jeffrey Beals, played an important role in the team "talking to a range of Iraqis, including extremists". (See The New Yorker, March 26, 2007). Another key individual in Negroponte's team was James Franklin Jeffrey, America's ambassador to Albania (2002-2004).
It is worth noting that Obama's newly appointed CIA head, General David Petraeus played a key role the organization of covert support to Syria's rebel forces, the infiltration of Syrian intelligence and armed forces, etc.
Petraeus played a key role in Iraq's Salvador Option. He led the Multi-National Security Transition Command (MNSTC) "Counterinsurgency" program in Baghdad in 2004 in coordination with John Negroponte and Robert S Ford at the US Embassy in Baghdad.
The CIA is overseeing covert ops in Syria. In mid-March, General David Petraeus met with his intelligence counterparts in Ankara, to discuss Turkish support for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) ( CIA Chief Discusses Syria, Iraq With Turkish PM, RTT News, March 14, 2012)
David Petraeus, the CIA chief, held meetings with top Turkish officials both yesterday and on March 12, the Hürriyet Daily News learned. Petraeus met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), the previous day.
An official from the U.S. Embassy said that Turkish and American officials discussed “more fruitful cooperation on the region’s most pressing issues in the coming months.” Turkish officials said Erdoğan and Petraeus exchanged views on the Syrian crisis and anti-terror fight. (CIA chief visits Turkey to discuss Syria and counter-terrorism | Atlantic Council, March 14, 2012)
* Ambassador Ford in Hama in July 2011
This this article was first published at Global Research
Copyright © Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 2012