Imperialism limbering up for a predatory war against Syria

Fundamentalist Jihadists unleashed by US imperialism and its junior partners, notably Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Gulf Arab stooges, to topple the secular and popular Syrian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad, have been wreaking havoc and committing one outrage after another for two years now. In the process, they have committed countless massacres of innocent people, destroyed city centres, attacked places of worship, educational institutions (1,500 schools have been destroyed) and hospitals, and murdered Syrian army personnel, of whom 15,000 have perished at the hands of these blood thirsty mercenary agents of imperialism. Here are just three examples of the latest outrages perpetrated by these beasts in human frame.

On Monday, 4 March, 40 Syrian soldiers, who had crossed into Iraq’s Nineveh province at the Yaarubiyeh border crossing to escape terrorists of the Syrian opposition, were murdered in cold blood as they were being returned by the Iraqi military in a bus heading for a different border post in Anbar province – partly to avoid the kind of hostilities the Syrians had fled. Obviously, there is close coordination between the Jihadists on both sides of the border; the Iraqi Jihadists seem to have known the timing and the precise location of the returning Syrian soldiers.

On Thursday, 21 March, a mosque bombing in Damascus claimed the lives of 49 people, including the highly-respected Sunni cleric Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan al-Buti, for his courageous support for the Syrian government and armed forces and his unrelenting opposition to the various Jihadist outfits engaged by imperialism for the violent overthrow of the Syrian government. In an all too obvious attempt to spark sectarian strife along confessional lines, these hired guns attacked the resting place of Sayedda Zeinab bint-Ali, the 7th century Heroine of Karbala and the grand-daughter of Prophet Mohammad, near the village of Zoa, south of Damascus. Her shrine is visited each year by tens of thousands of pilgrims – not just Shias but also Sunnis and Christians.

But for all the mayhem, death and destruction visited by the bandist fraternity, acting at the behest of imperialism, on the Syrian people, it has got nowhere in its nefarious task of overthrowing the Syrian government, for the simple reason that President Assad’s government continues to enjoy the support of the majority of the Syrian people and command the loyalty of the Syrian armed forces, who are determined to do their patriotic duty in defence of the sovereignty of the Syrian state and the honour, dignity and self-respect of the Syrian people, and thus frustrate the attempts by imperialism and its flunkeys to subjugate the Syrian people as a stepping stone to waging war against the anti-imperialist Iranian regime and the Lebanese resistance movement headed by Hizbollah.

The realisation of this grim truth is forcing imperialism to increasingly switch from a covert and proxy war against the Syrian people to open and direct warfare and military intervention against Syria. The Washington Post of 26 February reported that the Obama administration was ” moving towards major policy shift on Syria that could provide the rebels with equipment such as body armor, armored vehicles and possible military training and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition “.

The US has already sent communications equipment and night-vision goggles to its obscurantist hod-carriers busy attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad’s government.

We are examining and developing ways to accelerate the political transition that the Syrian people want and deserve“, said the allegedly dovish new US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 13 February.

Simultaneously with US efforts to bring down the Syrian government, Britain and France have renewed calls for arming the Syrian opposition. On 22 March, William Hague, the execrable British Foreign Secretary, and his equally loathsome French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, called for lifting the EU arms embargo against Syria ahead of a EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Dublin – a move not favoured by Germany, Austria and Sweden. Since then the EU has gone on to amend its arms ban policy and opened the door to supplying the opposition with armoured vehicles and other ‘non-lethal’ equipment.

These open imperialist moves are the latest instalment of its support for its Syrian opposition surrogates, which supplement the war by proxy that has been going on for two years. There is a division of labour between imperialism and its revolting Gulf autocratic stooges, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. While the former maintains, for reasons of public consumption, the hypocrisy of furnishing only ‘non-lethal’ and ‘humanitarian’ aid to its paid Syrian rebels, the latter get on with the business of supplying lethal aid to their Jihadist favourites. According to the New York Times, Saudi Arabia has started funnelling heavy weapons purchased from Croatia to the rebels through Jordan. Such an operation could obviously not have taken place without Washington’s consent, given the close relations between the US, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Croatia.

Besides, the US has had more than 150 military planners along the Jordanian-Syrian border since the summer of 2012 – precisely the location where the Croatian weaponry is supposed to have been handed over to the rebels. Simultaneously, the CIA is overseeing the transfer of weapons to the Syrian rebels from within Turkey.

Since the start of this imperialist-inspired and imperialist-organised strife in Syria, the US has channelled at least $365million to the opposition. On 28 February, the US administration announced its plan to provide food rations and medical supplies to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), its first public commitment of direct ‘non-lethal’ support for the armed banditry in Syria. This decision was announced by Secretary Kerry at a meeting in Rome of the ‘Friends of Syria’, a counter-revolutionary tool of imperialism and its Arab minions, with the US promising $110 million worth of aid.

Even if the US assistance to the Syrian opposition is genuinely ‘humanitarian’ and ‘non-lethal’, which it most certainly is not, it is nevertheless of great assistance to the armed depredations of this banditry, for it frees resources for the purchase of weapons, which are in any case being supplied by its Gulf lickspittles from Saudi Arabia and Qatar through Turkey and Jordan.

The grim realisation of the truth that the Syrian rebels, being a creation of imperialism and lacking a meaningful social base among the Syrian people, will never on their own be able to bring the downfall of the Syrian regime, is forcing imperialism to resort to open foreign military intervention along the lines of the NATO-backed, Turkey-led military coalition invited by the Arab League to enter Syria and overthrow its legitimate government.. Such a plan, according to the thinking prevalent in the imperialist circles, would likely spur Russia into not opposing regime change in Damascus, as a preliminary to war against Iran and the Lebanese Hizbollah, for the greater glory of US imperialism and its chief client state in the region – Israel.

In this context, certain developments are worthy of note. US president Obama’s recently concluded visit to Israel coincided with the intensification of diplomatic efforts, and CIA operations to arm the opposition, for the purpose of ousting the Syrian regime. Clearly as a result of US diplomatic heft and through its mediation, Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called Turkish Prime Minister, Erdogan, and announced the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with Turkey. He apologised for the death of Turkish activists during the Israeli raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010.

Imperialism is also working furiously behind the scenes to effect a reconciliation between the Turkish government and the PKK, which has led the Turkish Kurds for three decades in armed struggle against the Turkish state. Such a reconciliation is aimed, on the one hand, at getting the Syrian Kurds to fight on the side of the Syrian opposition and, on the other hand, to put pressure on the Iraqi government to distance itself from the Syrian and Iranian governments.

At the recent Arab League meeting in Qatar, Syria’s seat in this stooge organisation was allowed to be occupied by Moaz al-Khatib, the ‘leader’ of the Syrian opposition coalition cobbled together by imperialism, while at the same time Qatar handed over the Syrian Embassy in Doha to the opposition.

It can clearly be seen that the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel, two of the most powerful Middle Eastern allies of Washington, reconciliation between Turkey and the Kurds, and securing a semblance of legal legitimacy for the Syrian opposition, are the essential requirements for a possible imperialist predatory war against Syria, to begin with, before embarking on the much more dangerous war against Iran.

In connection with the preparations for a possible war, Secretary Kerry made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Sunday, 24 March, in order to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to block flights from Iran to Syria – flights which doubtless constitute an important measure of support for the Syrian government.

While all this goes on, imperialist attempts to destabilise Syria, and the flames of sectarianism set in train by imperialism’s hitherto proxy war against Syria, are spilling over into Lebanon, a country still recovering from the scars of the fifteen-year long civil war from 1975 to 1990. On 22 March, Najib Mitaki stepped down as Lebanese Prime Minister, and on 23 March, the Lebanese government stood down, with Mitaki calling for a “national salvation” government to rule the deeply divided country. Mitaki’s decision came in the wake of heavy fighting between the Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jamal Mohsen neighbourhoods in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city. While the former Sunni majority neighbourhood supports the opposition in Syria, the latter, dominated by Lebanese Alawites, is a firm supporter of Hizbollah as well as the regime of President Assad of Syria.

Presently a fierce debate is taking place in the camp of imperialism in general, and within factions of the US ruling class in particular. While Britain and France are gung-ho about intervening more directly in the Syrian conflict, US imperialism is not so keen, at least for the moment, partly because it would, by bogging the US in the mire of the Syrian conflict, constitute a serious obstacle to its anti-China policy of pivot to Asia, not to speak of the serious damage that another costly war would do to the already rickety US economy and fiscal position.

However, the extremely hawkish right-wing sections of the US ruling class are busy trying to push the Obama administration into direct involvement in Syria. Their latest pretext for waging war against Syria is the alleged use of chemical weapons in Aleppo and Homs by the Syrian military, a case which, according to Obama, would be a “red line” and a “game changer” for the US. That, he said last August, ” would change my calculus, that would change my equation“.

The British, French and Israeli establishments along with the most fascistic elements of the US establishment, are shouting themselves hoarse on this question – all in an effort to force the hand of the Obama administration into waging war against Syria. We shall shortly know which side comes out on top.

Be that as it may, in its war against Syria, imperialism has reached a point where it faces this dilemma: without direct military intervention, it has no hope of effecting regime change in Syria, whereas military intervention, as has been all too clearly revealed by imperialism’s wars against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, has limits and could result in yet another exceptionally costly war, and humiliating defeat, for imperialism. Such a war, extremely destabilising, destructive and devastating in its extent and effects, may very well end up in wiping off the face of the earth the very regimes which today are the darlings of imperialism. The coming weeks and months alone will reveal whether imperialism will take this dangerous plunge. One thing is certain, however, the incurable crisis engulfing imperialism is making it more and more desperate and driving it to war as the only hoped for way out of it. Imperialism is doomed if it intervenes militarily, and it is doomed if it does not.

It is sad to have to remark, but it would be a crime against the proletariat not to admit, that while imperialism is busy making furious preparations for yet another major war in the Middle East, the so-called anti-war movement in Britain in the form of the ‘Stop the War Coalition’ is characterised by a total lack of activity on this front. Far from organising and mobilising public opposition to the war against Syria, it has maintained a deadly and deafening silence. And this for the sole reason that its leadership, being subservient to the Labour Party, the chief agent of the British bourgeoisie in the working-class movement, finds itself paralysed to do anything beyond that permitted by social democracy. Consequent upon this subservience to social democracy, the tiny clique of ‘left social democrats and their cretinous flunkeys – the revisionists and Trotskyites – that has usurped the leadership of the Stop the War Coalition, has effectively tied the anti-war movement to the war chariot of imperialism. The exposure, and removal, of this clique is the most important necessary precondition for building a genuinely anti-imperialist movement against war – a movement which extends proletarian internationalist solidarity to the victims of predatory wars waged by our ‘own’ imperialist bourgeoisie.

Death to imperialism!

Victory to the Syrian people, headed by President Assad!