WikiLeaks founder reveals fostering Shia, Sunni tension from plan’s ‘most serious part’

MOSCOW – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has opened up about his new book, ‘The WikiLeaks Files’, saying that Washington had plans to overthrow Syria’s government long before the 2011 uprising began, the Russia Today channel reported on Thursday.

Assange referred to the chapter on Syria, which goes back to 2006. In that chapter is a cable from US Ambassador William Roebuck – who was stationed in Damascus – which apparently discusses a plan for the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria.

“That plan was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup…so in theory it says ‘We have a problem with extremists crossing over the border with Iraq, and we’re taking actions against them to take this information and make the Syrian government look weak, the fact that it is dealing with extremists at all,’” he said.

He added that the most serious part of the plan was to “foster tensions between Shiites and Sunnis. In particular, to take rumors that are known to be false…or exaggerations and promote them – that Iran is trying to convert poor Sunnis, and to work with Saudi and Egypt to foster that perception in order to make it harder for Iran to have influence, and also harder for the government to have influence in the population”.

Assange stressed that this particular cable was “quite concerning”, adding that while you often have to read between the lines in cables, “it’s all hanging out” in that one. “To understand what is happening in and around Syria, one must look at regional alliances,” he said.

“Part of the problem in Syria is that you have a number of US allies surrounding it, principally Saudi and Qatar, who are funneling in weapons. Turkey as well [is] a very serious actor! [They] each have their own hegemonic ambitions in the region. Israel also, no doubt, if Syria sufficiently destabilised, it might be in a position where it can keep the Golan Heights forever, or even advance that territory. So you’ve got a number of players around Syria, who are looking to bite off pieces,” he added.

– ‘US is an empire’ – 

Assange said that when the US wants something, it brings together the various arms of American power – including military, intelligence, financial, and commercial, as well as its informational and diplomatic power, in order to “push” on a country.

But Washington’s habits don’t pay off so easily in South America, according to Assange. He said the US empire’s influence was harder to achieve there, because those nations were surrounded by relatively supportive states.

One cable in Assange’s book details an instance when the US went to Brazil, telling the country that it wanted to reign in Venezuela. Brazil responded with a resounding “no”. But while Assange maintains that the US is indeed an empire, he says it’s not one in the classical sense. Instead, its imperialism lies in over 1,400 US military bases in more than 120 countries, as well in its trade deals.

“It uses these mechanisms of its embassies, of its military bases, of its presence in organisations like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund, in order to secure advantageous deals and structures for the largest American companies,” he said.

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