Syria: Qusair victory puts imperialism on the spot

With the success of the Syrian forces in sweeping the rebels out of Qusair, thereby simultaneously severing the terrorists’ lifeline to their fellow sectarians in the north east of Lebanon and re-enforcing the government’s links to those in Lebanon who offer neighbourly support, the West can no longer be left in any doubt how the land lies. After two years and more of relentless subversion, supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar acting as proxies for imperialism, Syria has continued to stand firm, and is now able to reassert her sovereignty throughout the national territory. The same cannot be said for the forces ranged against her, which at every level are falling out like the thieves they are. As rebel fortunes decay, cracks multiply in the imperialist front.

Splits in the imperialist camp

As if to prove that the ruling class in Britain is no more immune to these debilitating splits than the rest of the pack, the root and branch Tory paper, the Telegraph, sported a headline on 5 June with the challenge: “Can David Cameron explain why he has put us on al-Qaeda’s side?” The journalist, Peter Oborne, noted that “over the past decade the Middle East, and to some extent the Islamic world, has broken down into two armed camps. On the one side are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, backed by the United States and (quietly) Israel. To everyone’s enormous embarrassment, al-Qaeda is very firmly in this camp. On the other side are Iran, Hizbollah and post-bellum Iraq, strongly backed by Russia and China. Viewed from this wider perspective, Mr Cameron’s claim to be on the side of democracy and human rights, and against dictatorship, is not merely fraudulent – it is patently ridiculous.”

Such devastating criticism from within the British imperialist camp itself has done nothing to moderate Cameron’s zeal to join with the French in putting pressure on the White House to deliver on the “red line” bluster of last summer, claiming that investigations by France and the UK had confirmed the occurrence of a chemical attack by Damascus. For weeks this orchestrated hysteria jarred oddly with the much more cautious noises emanating from Washington, muttering about “more proof” being required.

The stunning success represented by the recapture of Qusair, demonstrating that without open and direct imperialist support the rebellion is heading for oblivion, has finally brought Obama into line with the gung ho pipsqueaks in London and Paris, with US intelligence now claiming to possess ” definitive” evidence of the Syrian government using sarin, so justifying military intervention. In point of fact, the only fully accredited evidence the world has yet been vouchsafed of the use of chemical weapons remains that furnished by the UN’s Carla del Ponte, who went on Swiss television to announce that “This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.” By the time the final report was issued in June, the investigators were sufficiently cowed to soften this assessment, concluding that they had failed “to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator”. Whilst this agnostic retreat let the rebels off the hook, it was hardly the “dodgy dossier” that imperialism required to justify direct intervention, and the report was quietly shelved. Meanwhile, media reports of sarin use by the terrorists continued to multiply, both in Syria and in Turkey. For example, Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas when they searched the homes of Al-Nusra terrorists they had previously arrested. It was claimed that the gas was to have been used for an attack in the southern Turkish city of Adana. A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the Turkish find, noted that ” the chemical weapons issue becomes a basis of speculation and provocation. I would not exclude that someone wants to use it and claim that the ‘red line’ has been crossed and the military intervention from abroad is necessary.

Obama steps closer to the abyss

What has pushed the White House finally to join forces with Hollande and Cameron in promulgating this latest edition of the Big Lie has absolutely nothing to do with evidence about chemical weapons and everything to do with the overwhelming evidence that the Syria armed forces, assisted in part by Syria’s neighbour Iran and by the resistance forces of Hezbollah, are making clear their confident intent to re-establish sovereign control over the entire homeland, not excluding the occupied Golan Heights. The crucial recapture of Qusair confronted Washington with a stark choice. Either it could recognise the real facts on the ground, get serious about talks in Geneva, abandon its goal of regime change and face down those at home and abroad who resisted adjusting to the new reality. Or it could take its own “red line” nonsense seriously, and plunge into the next, uncharted phase of this criminal warmongering, staking everything on regime change.

On 13 June, it appeared that the choice had been made, though even then it was not immediately clear whether the stated intention to supply direct military aid to the opposition amounted to a declaration of open war in all but name, or was more an exercise in diplomatic brinkmanship aimed at strengthening the West’s hand at Geneva. It was left to administration officials to brief journalists about the detail. “Military support” would be given to the grandiosely titled “Supreme Military Council” and “Syrian Opposition Coalition“, including anti-tank weapons as well as small arms and ammunition. The military were thinking about imposing a “no fly” zone for up to 25 miles into Syrian territory, the Wall Street Journal was told, with a view to training and equipping rebel forces. Other options were said to include the arming and training of rebels in Jordan. Whilst many of these proposals are in any case already being covertly implemented, their public announcement in this manner takes US imperialism one more fatal step towards the brink. And that step is being taken at the very moment when the splits within the forces of subversion are at their most open and irreconcilable.

Even the BBC on 6 June felt constrained to admit that the hammer blow delivered against the rebels at Qusair has “highlighted not just the fragmented nature of the rebel fighters on the ground, but also the total disarray of the Istanbul-based political opposition,” confessing that “While that contrasts with the regime’s singleness of purpose, there is a similarly glaring discrepancy between the focused commitment Damascus has been able to count on from its key allies, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, and the discordant, hesitant and ineffective backing provided to the opposition by its motley array of regional and Western supporters. If an international peace conference does indeed emerge from the American and Russian proposal, Qusair leaves the opposition in disastrous shape in terms of confronting a tough, cohesive regime team.”

Damascus has made it clear from the outset that it is happy to enter talks with whoever does not hold a gun to Syria’s head, and has declared that any proposed new constitutional arrangement will be put to a referendum of the whole population. By contrast, the fragmented and panicking opposition keep dreaming up new reasons not to attend the proposed conference, all variations on a theme of “Assad must go, then we can talk“.

Russia faces down the warmongers

Syria’s consistent stance, combining openness to all genuine peace proposals with the firmest defence of its national sovereignty, has served to expose and isolate the real warmongers, those who would undermine diplomacy with the crudest falsifications. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, took Washington to task for pretending Russia had agreed that the Syrian authorities should simply pass their power to a transitional government. ” In particular, the State Department representative stated that Russia, the United States and the United Nations agree that the goal of the new conference in Geneva must be the forming of a new transitional government in Syria. This really matches with what was written down last year. But, if the reports that I have received are true, the State Department went on to add that this should be a transitional government to which the current authorities in Damascus would hand over all their powers. If this was really said by the State Department, this is a very strong distortion of what the talks were about ,” Lavrov told reporters at the press conference on the occasion of the Baltic States’ conference of foreign ministers. Lavrov patiently explained that the “forming of a government on the basis of consent between the authorities and the opposition is one thing and forming it through handing over the power from the government to the opposition – is something completely different. Therefore, I expect that the US negotiators will observe what we have agreed upon with John Kerry.” (RT 6 June, ‘Russia refutes US reports on Syria power handover agreement’)

Russia has also made it clear that the purpose of following through with its contract to supply advanced missiles to the Syrian army is to counter the unlawful and destabilising decision to lift the EU embargo on weapons supply to the rebels. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov explained that the S-300 missiles would “play a stabilising role. We believe that such steps will largely help stop certain hotheads from turning it into a possible international conflict, from considering a scenario that would make this conflict international, with the involvement of external forces that are not averse to such ideas. We are speaking about deliveries of defensive weapons to the government of this country with the aim of protecting facilities and contingents of soldiers.” (FT, 28 May, ‘Russia to send more missiles to Syrian regime’)

The future does not belong to imperialism

It is probable that the victory in Qusair will come to be seen as a major turning point in Syria’s long and agonising struggle. Where only yesterday rival rebel factions and their regional and imperialist backers were eagerly contesting whose influence should dominate a supposed “post-Assad Syria“, with for example Saudi Arabia and Qatar striving to outdo each other in bankrolling competing terror gangs, a different tune is starting to be heard as monopoly capitalists in the West begin to grow nervous that the warmongering, far from securing their stranglehold on the Middle East, seems more likely to erode their influence over resources and markets in the region. This mood, easily detectable in The Telegraph piece mentioned earlier, is also picked up on the Arab Today website on 12 June which relays the contents of a report from the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper, as follows:

“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ‘turned down’ a $21 billion loan offer from the World Bank, Jordanian officials have claimed. According to Jordanian newspaper al-Akhbar, President Assad told delegates in Damascus that the Western countries are competing to satisfy him to ensure their quotas in rebuilding Syria. During the meeting, President Assad reportedly said that he had given a Russian company permission to explore Syrian coastal oil. The Syrian president also reiterated his confidence in the Russian government and their current position on the conflict in Syria. Assad asserted that his Russian allies are keen to protect their national and security interests. In relation to the rebuilding of Syria, Assad told delegates that several Chinese companies have expressed an interest in helping Syria, adding that talks had taken place with these companies. Jordanian sources say President Assad is keen to revive Syria’s economy and believes the public sector has a key role to play. However, the head of state knows that armed groups are working to undermine the state through targeting the public sector in a systematic way.” (Arab Today, George Alshami, ‘Syrian president ‘turned down’ $21bn World Bank loan’, 12 June)

We are proud to send a red salute to the patriotic forces which are pushing the rebellion back down the throats of the West whence it originated. It is by such courageous anti-imperialist struggle that the post-Obama, post-Netanyahu, post-Cameron, post-Hollande future of the Middle East will in the end be written, however great the firepower that the warmongers put into the hands of their terrorist proxies.

All hail the victors of Qusair!

Victory to President Assad and the Syrian nation!