Syria: Imperialism sinks deeper into the quagmire


Frustrated again and again in its efforts to topple the Syrian leadership and replace it with a puppet government, US imperialism is looking increasingly rudderless. Everything short of open and direct military intervention has already been tried and found wanting: funding the rebels, imposing devastating sanctions, inflicting proxy war on the country (both covert and open), seeking (in vain) a UNSC resolution to sanitise blitzkrieg, trying to undermine every genuine attempt to secure a diplomatic solution to the crisis which imperialism engineered in the first place, and (last but not least) turning every media outlet in the West into a vehicle for a black propaganda exercise of such vaulting mendacity as would bring a blush even to Goebbels’ cheek.

All of this has so far proved of no avail. The traitors, mercenaries and imported jihadis of the misnamed Free Syrian Army are discovering to their cost that it is one thing to inflict atrocities, but quite another to secure a decisive victory in this war of subversion. Whilst these heroes are in their element when it comes to kidnapping Iranian pilgrims, murdering POWs in cold blood, blowing up the innocent citizens of Damascus and Aleppo as they go about their business and trashing irreplaceable World Heritage sites like the Aleppo Souk, they are proving incapable of making any appreciable dent in the national resistance forces under the authority of President Assad and the progressive national coalition over which he presides. Like the rats in Benghazi, these rebels would long since have scattered like chaff in the wind were it not for outside assistance.

The destructive thuggery of the rebels, stinking so badly now that some of the worst outrages are creeping into the media and drawing muted UN criticism, is proving counter-productive. The sectarian hatred of these fanatics is not alone directed against those holding to the Alawite faith, but is no less fervent against other religious and ethnic minorities. Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, mother superior of an ancient Carmelite monastery in Syria, was forced to flee to Lebanon under threat of abduction by foreign Islamist mercenaries. She had attracted their hatred by speaking out about the fate of some 80,000 Christians who had been forced out of Homs. It is perhaps significant that her own father had himself been forced from his home in Palestine by the Zionists in 1948. Now in exile herself, she recounted how both Alawites and Christians living in Homs were herded into a building and dynamited, in an act which was then falsely attributed to the regular army. As the rebellion got under way, she reported having noticed growing numbers of “aggressive, armed gangs which wished to paralyse community life, abducting people, beheading, bringing terror even to schools.” Some were al-Qaeda, some Muslim Brotherhood, and only one in twenty was actually Syrian. As she put it, “Now their cause is being recycled to kill Syrians.”  (Rowan Callick, ‘Christians emptied from Middle East’, The Australian, 6 October)

An Asia Times report notes that “other communities beyond the Kurds and the Alawites … are coming under increasing pressure to pick sides in the escalating civil war. The Druze (another minority offshoot of Islam) are reportedly some of the latest to feel the heat in places such as Damascus and Idlib province, while the Christians are waiting nervously at the sidelines.” (Victor Kotsev, ‘New offensive escalates Syrian civil war’, Asia Times, 3 October)

And if they had not already manufactured enemies enough, these fanatics are also succeeding in alienating another rather large minority, the Kurds, seeking to win Ottoman approval by subjecting them to threats and attacks, including a bombing in Qamishli which killed eight. Reuters quoted a rebel leader in Aleppo as warning Kurds: “Whoever carries arms in the face of the opposition battalions will find themselves under fire.” (ibid)

Given such a talent for winning hearts and minds, it is not surprising that the rebellion is haemorrhaging support within Syria and is itself riven with ever more demoralising splits. 

Erdogan dances to Uncle Sam’s tune

Ankara, clearly acting at Washington’s prompting, has now raised the stakes. Having long provided aid, succour and sanctuary to the armed rebellion against the Syrian leadership, turning the common border into a rat run for the export of terror, the Turkish government has not only violated the sovereignty of its neighbour but has also routinely exposed its own citizens to the perils of living in what has effectively become a battle zone. Unsurprisingly, this results in injury and death, including the tragic loss of a Turkish family of five in the border town of Akcakale. According to the Turkish newspaper Yurt (‘Misfire: NATO mortar ‘gift’ from Turkey to Syrian rebels’, RT, 9 October) the mortar shell in question was fired by the rebels, presumably in the hope of bouncing Turkey into open war. Either way, however, it is clear that the responsibility for all such tragic loss of life lies exclusively at the door of Turkey and its US imperialist masters. It is imperialism which has pitchforked Syria into civil war and set former close neighbours at odds one with the other.

NATO was quick to vow to “defend” Turkey, and Washington used the occasion to try yet again a resolution that would stand up as a mandate for Western intervention and regime change. As it turned out, all that could get past Russian and Chinese objections was a UNSC statement noting that the mortar incident “highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace and stability.  The members of the Council demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated.  The members of the Security Council called on the Syrian Government to fully respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours”. Whilst shamefully “even-handed” (as between aggressor and victim), this diluted statement lacks any credibility as an excuse for intervention, thus failing in its purpose. Worse for imperialism, at the request of the Syria’s ambassador to the UN the Security Council issued a statement condemning “in the strongest terms” four suicide bombing attacks in the city of Aleppo, thought to be carried out by a group called al-Nusra, a jihadist faction with ties to al-Qaeda. (It will be remembered what similar dirty services were earlier rendered to imperialism by the similarly al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.) The fact that even this tiny fraction of the rebels’ war crimes saw the light of day at the UN shows how badly Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv are faring, both in their proxy wars and in their diplomatic credibility. The West’s discomfiture on both fronts is well documented by Global Research contributor Thierry Meyssan. (http://www.globalresearch.ca/towards-a-western-retreat-from-syria/)

On the military front, imperialism is on the back foot:

On July 18th, an explosion killed the leadership of the Council of National Security, signalling the beginning of a vast offensive during which tens of thousands of mercenaries descended on the Syrian capital from Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. After several days of pitched battles, Damascus was saved when the fraction of the population hostile to the government chose out of patriotism to assist the National Army rather than bid welcome to the forces of the FSA.

“On September 26, al-Qaeda jihadists were able to penetrate the interior of the Defence Ministry, disguised as Syrian soldiers and carrying false papers. They intended to detonate their explosive vests in the office of the joint chiefs of the military but did not get close enough to their target and were killed. A second team attempted to take over the national TV station to broadcast an ultimatum to the President but were not able to reach the building as access was blocked moments after the first attack. A third team targeted government headquarters and a fourth was aimed at the airport.

“In both cases, NATO coordinated the operations from its Turkish base in Incirlik, seeking to provoke a schism at the core of the Syrian Arab Army and rely on certain generals for the purpose of overthrowing the regime. But the generals in question had long been identified as traitors and marginalized from effective command. In the aftermath of the two failed attacks, Syrian power was reinforced, giving it the internal legitimacy necessary to go on the offensive and crush the FSA.”

And as on the battlefield, so too in the field of diplomacy imperialism is losing the initiative.  Russia has “obtained the creation of a Syrian Ministry of National Reconciliation; supervised and protected the meeting in Damascus of national opposition parties; organized contacts between the U.S. and Syrian general staff; and prepared the deployment of a peace force.” Wrong footing Washington’s pretence that its troops are on the Jordan border purely in order to keep chemical weapons out of “the wrong hands” (!), Russia has “verified that these were stored in locations sufficiently secure not to fall into the hands of the FSA, be seized by jihadists and used by them indiscriminately.” Most ominous of all for Washington’s diplomatic prestige, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which unites Russia with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan and Tajikistan, has signed an agreement with the UN Peacekeeping Department under which CSTO troops, projected to number 50,000, would be available to serve in conflict zones under UNSC mandate.

No sooner had the hue and cry over the missile incident been raised than Ankara took the opportunity to push through a law authorizing cross-border operations into Syria. So unpopular was this step that some 5,000 protestors joined an anti-war rally in Istanbul, chanting “No to war! Peace now! We won’t be soldiers of imperialists!”

Egged on by the avowal from NATO chief Anders Rasmussen “We have all the necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary,” Erdogan ploughed on with the next provocation, first sending 25 more F16 fighter planes to the border and then employing them to buzz a civilian airliner en route from Moscow to Damascus, risking the lives of all on board and forcing it to land in Ankara. Syria’s transport minister pointed out that these actions “amounted to air piracy which contradicts civil aviation treaties”. Ankara’s attempt to justify this brigandage on the pretence that the Syrian Airlines passenger jet was carrying rockets or missile parts was a plain lie which Erdogan did not even try to back up with evidence, content to hide behind the skirts of the US State Department whose spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced “We strongly support the government of Turkey’s decision to inspect the plane”. Responding to the criminal seizure of part of the plane’s cargo, Syria’s Information Ministry asked Erdogan to offer any shred of proof that it included missile parts, pointing out that “The plane did not carry ammunition or military equipment and Erdogan’s comments lack credibility and he must show the equipment and ammunition at least to his people.”

Turkish workers will not need much prompting to recall another act of piracy, the Zionist slaughter of nine peace activists on board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara when she was intercepted on her courageous mission to break the criminal Israeli blockade of Gaza. What shame Erdogan now brings upon Turkey when he puts his nation’s armed forces at the disposal of the best friends of Israel!

As the plane was plunged into darkness and waited for hours on the tarmac, long after permission to depart had ostensibly been granted, panic spread amongst both crew and passengers. A stewardess on board the plane told Russia Today (11 October, ‘Turks force Syrian crew to sign ‘emergency landing, no F-16s’ statement’) that “Four people onboard have been beaten up, two crew and two passengers, as they tried to force them to sign documents.  We don’t know what these papers are about. We are scared for the fate of the captain. He was taken away and threatened with arrest if he does not sign an emergency landing paper.” One passenger, a mother of three, said on the phone that the captain was being forced to sign a release stating that military planes were not involved and the plane just made an emergency landing! She added that “If we do not agree to these terms, they will take the captain kind of hostage.  They are threatening us. The captain has now returned and said that ‘either I sign the document that I made an emergency landing or they are taking me hostage.’”

The fact that this provocation is not a one-off Erdogan blunder, but rather fits a blueprint concocted by imperialism, was confirmed by a further act of air piracy which followed a few days later, this time against an Armenian plane en route for Aleppo but forced to land in Erzurum on a similarly flimsy pretext.

Imperialism: Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

Whilst the puppets dance more or less to order, the masters stumble one step closer to direct intervention, with the revelation by US defence officials that over the past six months about 150 US military personnel have been quietly posted to Jordan, supposedly to plan for “when” President Assad is removed. The White House press secretary insisted that “it’s not an escalation” (Julian Barnes, Stephen Fidler, Joe Parkinson: ‘Syrian Conflict Grows on Two Fronts’, Wall Street Journal, 11 October). Echoing him nervously, an army spokesman walked on eggshells: “These guys are not door-kickers or shooters. They are planners.” How reassuring.

Western qualms about emerging from the shadows and supplementing the efforts of its hired proxies with its own open military involvement are well-founded. One commentator neatly sums up the quandary facing imperialism should it decide to press on with its war plans: “The military situation in Syria is turning against those in Washington and Brussels who hoped to change the regime there by force. Two successive attempts to take Damascus have failed and it has become clear that that objective cannot be achieved… The question is no longer how much time the ‘Assad regime’ will hold out but whether it costs the U.S. more to continue the war than to stop it. Continuing it would entail the collapse of the Jordanian economy, losing allies in Lebanon, risking civil war in Turkey, in addition to having to protect Israel from the chaos. Stopping the war would mean allowing the Russians to regain foothold in the Middle East and strengthening the Axis of Resistance to the detriment of the expansionist dreams of the Likud”. (Thierry Meyssan, ‘Towards a Western Retreat from Syria’, Global Research, 9 October) In a nutshell, imperialism is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

Victory to Assad!

Death to imperialism!