September 2012        


Syria: America’s next puppet

In last month’s Socialist Voice a very valuable and thought-provoking quotation adorned the front page, from the retired American general and former presidential candidate Wesley Clark. It arises from a chat Clark had with senior brass in the US military a month after the attacks on New York in 2001. The prophetic statement by the senior official to Clark talked about a five-year mission involving seven countries.
     The chat occurred in the Pentagon, from the bowels of which all major US military strategy is conceived and then vigorously expelled into the world without any thought for consequence or destruction.
     The timing, of course, was out, the number of countries perhaps varied, and some countries at the time went unmentioned; however, the bulk of this prophesy has been chillingly executed.
     In the decade since these words were uttered in the Pentagon the United States has orchestrated a violent foreign policy aimed at enforcing its own interests upon the globe. Officially it is involved in a handful of wars. Iraq and Afghanistan are mentioned. To pay attention only to these two “official” wars is to neglect countless other countries where the United States has used other methods to achieve its own ends, regardless of what the means or the ends involve for any other party.
     The civil war in Syria is no different from Iraq or Afghanistan. In Syria the United States desires—and has done for some time—complete “regime change.” Its desire to bring down the Assad leadership is long-standing, and it is now using whatever means necessary to bring this about and give weight to Clark’s discussion with the senior military man mentioned earlier.
     To secure this illegal regime change they have opted to support “rebels.” The term “rebel” is quite loosely applied in this situation. Technically they are rebels, because of the fact that they are rebelling. Unlike the word’s more common use, these rebels are not representative of the majority of Syrians, they do not want to unite the nation for their good: they simply want to enforce their own radical theocracy in Syria.
     This war, then, is a struggle between extremists who would enforce shariah law in Syria and a government that offers its people the most progressive lifestyle in the Middle East. The imperial west has strategic reason for supporting these terrorists who are backed by Al-Qa‘ida, just as the United States had strategic reasons for backing the murderous mujahidin in Afghanistan in the late 80s and early 90s.
     Syria has a highly nationalised economy, and it has fairly healthy stocks of oil. Although its oil reserves are not as sizable as those of Iraq or Saudi Arabia, Syria controls enormously important energy trade routes. The United States could use Syria to expand its imperialist goals in the region by gaining access to these routes and by opening up Syria’s economy.
     Syria is also positioned centrally relative to many US allies in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Turkey (a country that holds stocks of US nuclear weapons). The United States would have a direct base from which to trade with, and “defend,” all these states if it had a say in Syrian affairs.
     Syria is also a weak link in America’s foreign policy regarding Israel. The Arab states, for financial reasons, have bowed before US pressure on Israel. Syria presents a challenge to this policy of appeasement and is therefore a thorn in Uncle Sam’s side.
     NATO has a collective plan for Syria and is happy to support terrorists to see it realised. The radical tendencies of the Syrian opposition are clear to see. Their suicide and sectarian bombings mimic perfectly those being carried out in other parts of the world by Al-Qa‘ida. The link, though, is not just in image: there is substantial evidence to back up the claims of direct terrorist involvement in the uprising. The Syrian Sunnis have been at war with the progressive government in Syria for decades, with the intention of creating an Islamic state.
     The Iraqi deputy minister of the interior warned the United States months ago of vast numbers of Iraqi terrorists crossing the border into Syria with arms. It’s also believed there are up to ten thousand Jordanians in Syria, and more are expected to follow.
     The truth is that the vast majority of Syrians support Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian opposition, like the perpetrators of all illegal coups, has had to resort to intimidation, murder and terrorism in order to scare people into submission. They have no mass support and are protected only by the imperial actions of France, Britain, and the United States. This lethal gang of vigilante states has shown off their regime-change skill in Iraq and Libya so effectively. In Libya, as they hope in Syria, not a single soldier has had to hit the ground. The hopes of peace that were supported by both Russia and China have been shot down by the imperial western states and their minions in the United Nations.
     It must be the duty now of all those who support democracy, of all those who stand against colonialism and imperialism, and all those who so vehemently opposed the Iraq war, to stand up and resist this illegal invasion of Syria. It is regrettable that so many on the extreme left have endorsed the United States and the other imperialist states in an opportunist stance. This type of opportunism tends to be a characteristic of the far left.
     In Iraq and Afghanistan, to take just two states where NATO has got its way, the cost of NATO’s “victory” has been immense. Half of all Iraqis live in slums; there are 4½ million orphans in Iraq today, and almost half a million civilians died in that illegal conflict. In Afghanistan more than 80 per cent of people have no access to clean drinking water and more than 70 per cent of women are illiterate.
     This effort to change leadership in Syria is not a battle for democracy; it’s not a war to protect human rights: this battle is an effort on behalf of NATO and the imperialist states to enshrine their own interests in the region, even if that means Syrian civilians looking directly into the abyss. This brutality must be resisted, and all people who consider themselves anti-imperial, and anti-war, must rise up and defend the Syrian working class against this economic and religious slavery. The terrorists will get their way if the world does not realise the heavy cost of the outcome of this civil war.
     One must not be blind on this issue. Syria is at war, and its people are at war on two fronts: they face terrorism on one flank and imperialism on the other. We must all face this war as such. Support a president who has made Syria one of the most progressive states in the region, or back the western-supported invasion of Syria. What side are you on?

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