The Anglo-American imperialists are attacking Syria, as they attack all independent and progressive nations in the Middle East and the wider world, precisely to shore up their failing system of world domination.
The crisis of overproduction being experienced by monopoly capitalism is more profound that it has ever known. US and their ‘allied’ NATO capitalist economic power is slumping, and their answer is a policy of ever-increasing diplomatic, financial and military stranglehold on the the nations and peoples of the world. This attempt to maintain their faltering monopoly on the worlds productive wealth, although ultimately futile, is of the greatest danger to humanity, and is really driving the entire world into a conflagration of horrific proportions. Truly the imperialists are our implacable enemies – if we don’t finish them first, they threaten to destroy human civilisation itself!
A meeting was held on Thursday 24 May in central Birmingham to address some of the key imperialist lies which are being spread within the anti-war movement with regards to Syria. The meeting was Chaired in a personal capacity by local NUJ activist and photographer Stalingrad O’Neill. Contributions from the Indian Workers Association (GB), AIWAA (Against imperialist wars in Africa and Asia) and the CPGB-ML will be posted shortly. We urge all anti-war activists and peace campaigners to host similar meetings and ensure that the truth about imperialist intervention in Syria is spread.
Make a start in finding out the truth by reading this excellent article from the latest Lalkar:
The steadfastness of the Syrian people in the face of every effort to divide and undermine them, coupled with the refusal of Russia and China to endorse the economic, diplomatic and military campaigns of aggression, continue to frustrate imperialist plans of conquest in the Middle East.
Whilst it cannot be doubted that Washington will carry on doing all possible to subvert the Annan plan, striving to transform an opportunity for reconciliation and dialogue into just one more cover for bullying and coercion, there is no disguising the humiliating reverse which has already been inflicted upon imperialist pretensions in the region.
What opened up the possibility of a negotiated solution in the beginning of April was the success with which the attempted putsch efforts in Homs, Idlib and elsewhere were faced down by Damascus, exposing for all to see the minimal support from within the country for the armed rebellion and its growing demoralisation. The refusal of China and Russia to allow the UN Security Council to impose sanctions had already created difficulties for the warmongers. Now, with the rebellion clearly on the back foot and even the Arab League growing dubious about the ability of the US to control events, Russia was able to initiate the diplomatic process which was taken under the wing of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
For Syria, and for all who respect her sovereignty and desire a peaceful resolution of the conflict so maliciously cultivated by the West, this initiative was most welcome. However, for those who would wish to demolish her sovereignty, end her support for Palestine and Lebanon, loot her resources and reduce her to a pawn on the geopolitical chessboard, the threat of such an untimely outbreak of peace set alarm bells ringing. Such a peaceful outcome would not only cheat Washington out of its pretext for aggression, but would also redound enormously to the credit of Russia and China, the hostile encirclement of which countries is the strategic aim of imperialism. Such a fillip for the growing diplomatic influence of the BRICS countries, such a slap in the face for imperialist domination, is a nightmare for the West.
The West tries to sabotage the Annan Plan
The obvious solution to the West’s dilemma was to try and subvert the Russian initiative and subsequent Annan plan, transforming the genuine search for a peaceful resolution of the crisis into another stick for imperialism to wield against Syria’s national dignity. Imperialism tried to pull much the same stunt earlier in the year with the farce which played out over the Arab League’s observer mission. That mission had been pushed enthusiastically inside the League by the House of Saud, the King of Bahrain and other such “democratic” friends of America, all eager to send in the monitors. Their real agenda was twofold: to find or manufacture pretexts to justify further imperialist meddling, and to give the hard-pressed rebels a breathing space to consolidate their ragtag forces.
The propaganda end of the mission turned out to be a disaster for imperialism, with the mission’s official report producing damning evidence of rebel atrocities and giving a broadly positive account of the government’s compliance with the provisional requirement to withdraw heavy weaponry from major population centres. Needless to say, the contents of the report received scant coverage in the imperialist media, with all attention lavished instead upon the tantrums of Saudi Arabia and the other US satellites who denounced the report, slandered the Sudanese mission chief who authored it, submitted a fabricated report of their own and sabotaged the continuing mission by unilaterally withdrawing their monitors.
However, although the intended propaganda coup misfired so badly for the West, the mission’s second purpose, to interrupt the momentum of the government’s efforts to defend the country’s sovereignty and give the scattered rebels a chance to regroup, had more success, tragically extending this period of internecine strife and claiming yet more Syrian lives. Now, with the rebellion increasingly revealed to be a spent force within the country, its leadership riven by endless factions and its sole hope of salvation resting upon the West and its proxies (notably Turkey), imperialism sought to turn the Annan plan down the same blind alley. Washington paid lip service to the plan’s peaceful intentions, whilst in practice using it as a cover for the imposition of a series of impossible and ever-shiftingultimata upon the Syrian government.
The agreement to which the parties signed up required both sides to stop fighting, with the anticipation that international efforts would be made to ensure that the process goes forward on the basis of reciprocity. Yet it has throughout been clear from the belligerent tone of US leaders that imperialism is interested in only one outcome: the unilateral disarming of the country’s security forces. Under these circumstances, it would have been suicide for Damascus to completely stand down its forces on 10th April (as was ludicrously demanded) without at the very least guarantees in writing from the rebel bands that they plan to reciprocate. Syria’s entirely reasonable request for such written guarantees to be furnished was, predictably, trumpeted by Washington as a spoiling tactic, as if it were President Assad who sought to derail the process.
On 9 April, on the eve of the 10 April deadline, skirmishes were reported on the border between Syria and Turkey. BBC news that afternoon and evening headlined this skirmish as spectacular breaking news. Government forces, we were told, had opened fire on a refugee camp across the border in Turkey, slaughtering a number of refugees and wounding many others. In the context-free environment of BBC journalism, this was clearly intended to stack up as proof positive of the supposed bad faith and bloodthirsty disposition of the Syrian government, and ample reason for a Turkish government spokesman to strangle the Annan process at birth, declaring it “void”.
Yet even the BBC report could not avoid letting slip a “rumour” that armed rebels had somehow been involved. The RT news service was more forthcoming, reporting how armed Free Syrian Army thugs cross to and fro across the border without impediment from Turkish border guards. And it fell to Reuters to report on the account given by local Turkish officials on the ground, presumably before the official Ankara line had been handed down. Yusuf Odabas, the governor of Kilis province where the camp is situated, said simply that“The injuries are a result of clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebels. The bullets reached the camp.” Reuters reported that the stray bullets which hit the camp originated“from clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebel fighters”, and that the “gun battles occurred just inside Syria.” (9 April, ‘Fire from Syria border clashes hits refugee camp in Turkey, report says.’)
As one report followed another, often mutually contradictory (Three died, or two? They died in the camp or running to the border? They were refugees or armed rebels?), it became possible to piece together a much more plausible sequence of events. Imperialism, by doing its best to plunge Syria into civil war, has created a humanitarian nightmare on the country’s borders, with panicked civilians mistakenly crediting Turkish promises of a “safe haven” from the fighting. Instead of enjoying safety, they have found themselves used as pawns in a cynical game concocted by imperialism and played out by its Ottoman stooges. Reports suggesting that the gun battle was sparked as FSA thugs “helped refugees escape to Turkey” reinforce the suspicion that what was really at issue was the hot pursuit of terrorists towards the border, and the tragic consequences of the FSA using the refugees as camouflage for the continued subversion of the country.
Less well reported was the surrender to government forces in Idlib of at least 227 armed men at around the same time. With great magnanimity these terrorists were allowed to go free once they had given up their weapons and promised not to attack the government or their fellow citizens, hardly the action of the bloodthirsty tyranny portrayed in the West. Nor was this a one-off incident: back in November last year Syria offered amnesty to those who gave up their weapons. Victoria Nuland of the State Department then demonstrated her commitment to the cause of peace by encouraging the gangs to hang on to their guns and spurn the amnesty (Press TV: ‘Hundreds of armed men surrender to Syrian army in Idlib’, 9 April). From this we may judge who are the real peace lovers and whose hands are stained with the blood of innocents.
The West tries to torpedo the Annan Plan
Despite the worst efforts of the West, the Annan plan was not strangled at birth in mid-April, thanks in very large measure to the refusal of Damascus to abandon the ceasefire although under enormous provocation.
Whilst the imperialist media put itself entirely at the disposal of the rebels, maintaining a constant barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against the security forces, the routine counter-revolutionary violence on the ground was ramped up, supplemented now by a dirty war of assassinations of leading patriots, all with the clear intention of torpedoing the Annan plan. In the eastern province of Deir al-Zour assassins murdered Lieutenant Colonel Youssef Saqqe; in the central province of Hama terrorists slew Major Moussa Youssef and kidnapped Colonel Mohammad Eid. To demonstrate their respect for religion, the rebels shot Sayyed Nasser al-Allawi, the imam and preacher of al-Hossayniya Scientific Hawza on his own doorstep, in a suburb of Damascus. It seems that his “crime” was to have helped in relief efforts to help refugees uprooted from their homes by civil strife. And to demonstrate their respect for democracy, the self-styled “battalions of Mohammed” went onto YouTube to broadcast their intention to kill anybody who stands for office in the 7 May parliamentary elections (to be held in accord with the overwhelming mandate delivered in the February referendum). That such threats are to be taken seriously was underlined by the fate of one such candidate, Mohammad Ismail al-Ahmed, whose home in Idlib was stormed by an armed gang which dragged him off to an unknown destination. Even on the very day that the ceasefire was due to kick in, as if deliberately to sharpen the provocation and induce Damascus to walk away from the Annan plan, officials including a brigadier general in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, a first lieutenant in the northern province of Aleppo, and the secretary of al-Baath Party’s office in al-Mazareeb town of the southern Daraa province were killed, and dozens of officers were wounded.
Thieves fall out as Syria stands firm
As frustration mounted in the West at the failure of all its stage-managed provocations to abort the peace process, the headlines screamed ever more incontinently about Syria’s “monstrous” government. Yet for the overwhelming majority of Syrians, including those raising legitimate demands for reform, the attempted demonization of President Assad and the progressive, secular coalition which he leads simply beggars belief.
Even in the West, despite all the efforts to downplay the thousands-strong pro-Assad demonstrations (all held at the point of a gun, we are assured), reality has a habit of breaking through from time to time. Thus it was that no less than The Telegraph ran a piece on 9 March by Matthew Schofield, gloomily entitled “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt” in which it is revealed that “Months after the United States sided with rebels against Syrian President Bashar Assad, senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged Friday that not only could Assad survive the uprising, but also that they couldn’t say with confidence that the opposition represents a majority of the Syrian people.” The officials gave the lie to the repeated assertion that the governing coalition is driven by Alawite sectarianism, not only identifying support for President Assad amongst Christians, Kurds and Druze, but also admitting with puzzlement that, whilst most Syrian soldiers are from the Sunni majority, “Yet the military remains cohesive”. One official speaks truer than he knows when he says of the Syrian military, “This was an army built for a ground war with Israel. They have approached that level of commitment.” An army consisting of mercenaries rented by Doha and Riyadh is no match for the army of a progressive and independent nation committed to fighting Zionism and imperialism.
And whilst the Syrian military holds firm and the Syrian masses continue to rally behind the government, the rebel forces continue to split and buckle under the weight of their own treachery. The Telegraph quotes one member of the West-backed Syrian National Council bemoaning the fact that “There are internal divisions within the SNC… The main problem is SNC has gotten … bigger each and every day. We started with 80 people, now we are 340 people, and every high-ranking official defecting from the Syrian regime wants to have a big role” (Matthew Schofield, “U.S. officials: Assad could survive Syria revolt”, 9 March).
Whilst Syria’s strength and cohesion may remain a mystery to Telegraph readers, they pose no such conundrum to the millions of Syrian patriots for whom national pride, and pride in the nation’s anti-imperialist tradition, loom larger than any confessional or ethnic divisions.
Bahrain: a different story
A mystery that the capitalist media never does seem able to fully account for is why Hillary Clinton and David Cameron are not pestering the UN to pass resolutions imposing sanctions and threats of military intervention against the unelected feudal relics ruling over the population of Bahrain with teargas, sound bombs, birdshot and worse, calling in the Saudi army to murder demonstrators last year and celebrating the return of Formula One by shooting a protestor dead. Where are the diatribes against the bloodthirsty dictator killing his own people? Where is the international community’s outburst of moral indignation as Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, serving a life sentence for saying Bahrain should be a republic, slowly starves to death on hunger strike?
Yet the difference is not hard to grasp. Syria is a progressive, anti-imperialist country, and therefore deserving of the same campaign of calumny previously lavished upon other such countries, most recently Libya. Bahrain is an oil well with a flag, franchised out by imperialism to unelected local comprador stooges to run as a private fiefdom. In exchange, the US gets to park its Fifth Fleet there, ready to challenge any perceived threat to its exploitation interests. So really it is no mystery that the “Arab Spring”, invented and promoted by the West in Libya and Syria, must carve for itself in Bahrain. It will prosper the better without such “friends”.
Even the Mail on Sunday, in a rare burst of candour on 8 April, felt moved to comment as follows on the company which British imperialism’s own entirely bourgeoisified reigning monarch likes to keep (Katie Nicholl and Jonathan Petre, ‘Ruler of Bahrain’s bloody regime set for Windsor Castle’):
“The Queen has risked an international outcry by inviting the King of Bahrain to a Diamond Jubilee banquet despite widespread criticism of his bloody and repressive regime… He is also thought to be among those invited to a champagne dinner given by Prince Charles the same evening at Buckingham Palace… The king’s son, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, was last year invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton but pulled out at the last minute… In January, the Countess of Wessex came under pressure to return lavish jewels given to her by the Bahrain royal family… The crown prince gave her a silver and pearl cup and her husband, the Earl of Wessex, received a silk rug…”
For good measure the Mail on Sunday recalls that in 2011, “At the height of the killings, David Cameron greeted the crown prince at No 10, and between July and September 2011 the Coalition reportedly authorised the sale of £2.2million of arms to the regime.”
Vain hopes that bringing Formula One back to Bahrain would help convince the world that everything had blown over were spectacularly dashed. Instead, two things were demonstrated: that the fascistic character of the state repression had in no wise abated; and that the revolt which began over a year ago is not over by a long chalk.
Syria is a working class issue
Trotskyites and revisionists of course will have no such trouble supporting in words the popular revolt in Bahrain – but only in order then to muddle up the anti-imperialist essence of the Bahraini revolt with the pro-imperialist essence of the armed Islamic rebellion in Syria. Such muddle must be uprooted in the labour movement.
Without a doubt Washington and its stooges will continue to take every opportunity to sabotage the Annan plan and regain the warmongering initiative, and we cannot underestimate the threat to Syria’s sovereignty that still exists.
Crucially, workers need to understand that it is the anti-imperialist steadfastness of the Syrian nation and its leadership which has opened up the possibility of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. By contrast, those on the “left” who have joined in with the demonization of Assad and the progressive coalition government which he leads, however much they may protest their opposition to military intervention in Syria’s affairs, have done more than most to grease the wheels for precisely such an outcome. Now more than ever it is time for workers to give heartfelt support to the Syrian nation in its struggle against imperialist meddling.
In response to the irresponsible, hypocritical and reactionary behaviour of the Birmingham Amnesty International group and their plans to push war propaganda on the streets of Birmingham, local comrades from Red Youth, CPGB-ML, AIWAA, IWA(GB) and others prepare a counter-demonstration on 12 April in Birmingham. It is the firm conviction of these comrades and other anti-imperialists that we cannot allow what happened in Libya to be repeated in Syria. It is also their firm conviction that if Stop the War Coalition is incapable of opposing this warmongering then it is up to communists and revolutionaries to get on with the task alone.
The following statement is communicated to the Amnesty dupes:
We have no doubt that Amnesty International contains a number of well-meaning supporters, people with genuine compassion. It is from this belief that we are outraged by the continual stream of lies, hypocrisy and war propaganda that emanates from Amnesty International, hood-winking its members, volunteers and the general public alike into supporting acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing and regime change.
It was precisely the above which was the outcome, indirectly and not so indirectly, of the position adopted by Amnesty International in relation to the war against Libya. Amnesty always seems quick to make claims of rights abuses when it serves the interests of imperialism, echo-ing the lies and misinformation of the corporate western media machine. But it is strangely slow to learn the awful lessons that echoing such lies enables real atrocities to be committed by imperialist forces – and on an incomparably larger scale than the often non-existent ‘abuses’ they claim to be ‘reporting’ in the first place.
Having made a host of inflammatory and ultimately false statements in the French media alleging the use by Colo-nel Gaddafi of ‘mercenaries’ during last year’s predatory war of aggression by Nato, Amnesty International Presi-dent Genevieve Garrigos was forced to admit five months later that there had been no evidence to support any of her claims.
An investigation by Donatella Rivera exposed Garrigos who had peddled inaccurate information and lies. Garri-gos eventually admitted in an interview: “Donatella was right to verify if we actually found mercenaries. And we didn’t.”
As a result of the spurious information, lies and falsifica-tions she and her team put out, Garrigos helped stoke the fires of war. She helped to cause the unnecessary suffering and death of tens of thousands of Libyans, including untold numbers of black Libyans. It is now widely known and reported by the UN Human Rights Council and by Human Rights Watch that the Libyan ‘rebels’ whom Amnesty was so quick to champion were in fact the ones committing ethnic cleansing of black Libyans in Tawergha and beyond.
It is therefore out of a genuine concern for those honest supporters and champions of human rights who may reside inside Amnesty that we protest against the ongoing use of slander, innuendo, half-truths, untruths, rumour and damned falsification presented to the world as fact.
It is therefore out of a genuine concern for the many honest supporters and champions of human rights who undoubtedly reside within Amnesty that we protest against the campaign’s persistent use of slander, innuendo, half-truths, untruths, rumour and damned falsification – all presented to the world as fact.
It is with this knowledge, and with a real love for freedom, democracy and liberty, that we call on Amnesty’s anti-Assad protesters to correct their position on the question of Syria and oppose the dirty war propaganda that emanates from the Birmingham group of Amnesty.
Amnesty calls for ‘defiance’
A leaflet advertising a demonstration in Birmingham on 12 April 2012, and seemingly produced by Amnesty International’s Birmingham group, calls for people to “Stand for Syria, in solidarity – in defiance”. This piece of war propaganda claims that there have been five decades of human-rights abuses in Syria, that there has been a 14-month ‘brutal crackdown’, and that hundreds have been mistreated and tortured. The intention of the leaflet is to create the impression that there exists in Syria a most despotic and cruel regime; a regime that tortures, punishes and imprisons hundreds, nay thousands, of its own citizens, including children.
Whilst Amnesty claims that there have been five decades of repression in Syria, the truth is rather different. The Syrian people enjoy a standard of living envied by many in the Middle East. The country’s long-standing commitment to secularism has ensured a relatively peaceful and prosperous half-century for its people, who come from many different nationalities, cultures and religions. Which other country in the Middle East provided safety and refuge to millions of families who fled Iraq during the last Iraq war? What other country has done so much to assist the Palestinian struggle for national liberation?
Since the outbreak of the imperialist supported violence last year, regular demonstrations have been held across Syria, with tens of thousands of people from all sections of this diverse society showing their support for the president and government, and not for the anti-government militias.
It is with this in mind that we must ask ourselves what role Amnesty is playing in calling demonstrations that imply tacit support for the gang of terrorist mercenaries calling themselves the ‘Free Syrian Amy’. Not least as the FSA are assembled, supplied, supported and sheltered by such standard-bearers of freedom and democracy as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, the United States and Turkey.
Once again, Amnesty International is doing the dirty work of imperialism. It is providing whatever pretext can be found for the overthrow of a legitimate government, a legitimate president, and the murder, torture and butchery of soldiers who comprise the regular standing army of the Syrian republic.
But who the hell are the directors of Amnesty to interfere, in complete violation of international law, with the internal business of a sovereign state?
Whilst Israel pushes ahead with its policy of ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Amnesty turns a blind eye and (in Birmingham at least) organises no protest. Whilst Israel is gripped by the heroic struggle of Palestinian hunger strikers and freedom fighters, Amnesty has chosen this moment to talk about Syrian prisoners.
Whilst Saudi troops commit acts of ferocious barbarity in Bahrain, Amnesty Birmingham wants us to “push for an end to the bloodshed in Syria”!
Whilst black Libyans are butchered every day by racist, terroristic ‘rebels’ as a direct result of the horrendous and catastrophic war, allegedly waged for ‘humanitarian assistance’ and delivered by the F16s, stealth bombers and tomahawk missiles of the imperialist armies, Amnesty International wants to provide a pretext for further carnage in Syria!
The truth about Syria is that it is a thorn in the side of imperialism in the Middle East. Its long-standing commitment to independence and national sovereignty has incurred the wrath of the United States, who long ago marked the country out as a part of the ‘axis of evil’.
Learn the lessons of history
In campaigning for a return to the Russian presidency, outgoing prime minister Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would not allow a replay of the events in Libya: “Learning from that bitter experience, we are against any UN Security Council resolutions that could be interpreted as a signal for military interference in domestic processes in Syria.”
In seeking to overthrow the patriotic and progressive government in Damascus, imperialism also seeks to deliver a knockout blow to Hizbollah, thereby strengthening Israel. Above all, in seeking to destroy its most significant regional military ally, the attack on Syria is a vital step-ping stone to yet another war of aggression, this time against Iran, beyond which lies the global conflagration that confrontation with China and Russia would entail.
We must not fall for the war propaganda used to ‘justify’ imperialist aggression, and certainly should take no part in spreading these lies and falsifications.
In a very real sense, Syria today stands in the same place, as did the Spanish Republic in 1936. British work-ers and progressive people need to stand in their place, demanding: Hands off Syria! Victory to Assad!
Maddened by its own crisis, imperialism is being driven ever deeper into war. The targets currently singled out for aggression, in particular by Washington, London and Tel Aviv, are the independent and anti-imperialist nations of Syria and Iran.
From “peaceful protesters” to “freedom fighters”
Ever since Syria’s first stirrings of unrest began in the spring, the imperialist media bust a gut trying to convince us all that what was at issue was a spontaneous popular democratic revolt on Cairo lines, pitting unarmed peaceful protestors against a homicidal response from the state’s armed forces. All the information to the contrary that leaked in round the edge via PressTV, Russia Today and elsewhere was studiously ignored. No matter what such sources revealed about the smuggling of weapons into rebel hands, the manipulation of protest marches by armed fundamentalist gangs or the sighting of terrorist snipers on the rooftops, none of this sufficed to shake the media hounds from their dogged allegiance to the imperialist mantra: the opposition was peaceful, the government alone employed force.
However, when in October the US and Europe tried to push through a UN Security Council resolution of the type so recently employed as a pretext for massacring Libya, China and Russia vetoed the proposal. Thus deprived of a diplomatic pretext for direct intervention, and with the fiction about universal peaceful protest versus armed tyranny wearing ever thinner, the propaganda line abruptly changed gear. Instead of persisting with denials about the violent character of the “democratic opposition”, a new spate of attacks on the security forces was now admitted, celebrated and given out as supposed evidence of imminent mass defections from the army.
So it was that we came to be told that on 16 November the Air Force Intelligence HQ in a suburb of Damascus had been bombed. The self-styled “Syrian National Council” (SNC), from its haven in Turkey, claimed this terror attack on behalf of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA). Then on 20 November the same terrorists were “credited” with having launched an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) attack on the Ba’ath Socialist Party’s offices in the centre of Damascus.
The day after this act of terror, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague met opposition leaders in London and declared that regime change would be “the best thing for the future of Syria”. Meanwhile the economic blackmail went up another notch, as on 27 November the reactionaries controlling the Arab League imposed a new swathe of sanctions intended to starve Syria of trade and investment and a few days later Turkey froze (i.e. stole) the financial assets held by the Damascus government and blocked all transactions with the country’s central bank.
On 2 December terrorist gangs attacked a military intelligence base in Idlib, in the north west of the country, reportedly slaughtering at least eight soldiers. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also claimed and that thirteen people had suffered injuries in the course of an attack on an air force intelligence centre in the port city of Latakia. Then, suitably geed up by talks between the opposition and Hillary Clinton in Geneva on 6 December, two days later armed gangs blew up a pipeline bearing oil from the east of the country to a Homs refinery in the west.
As this article is written, the rebels continue to feed the media with new tales of murderous derring-do, here gloating over the claimed slaughter of at least eight soldiers in the ambush of an army convoy on the outskirts of Hama, there exulting over another 7 soldiers slain by so-called “defectors”. Whatever the truth of these bloodcurdling assertions, it is true indeed that over 2,000 members of the security forces have already sacrificed their lives for the cause of Syria’s unity and independence. 13 December alone saw another 17 military funerals, and doubtless there will be more such victims of western backed terror by the time this goes to press.
Lacking support in Syria, the rebellion is weak and divided
However, the problem for the SNC quislings-in-waiting and their snipers and bombers in the supposed “Free Syria Army” is that, when they step out of the shadows, they cut a less than convincing figure. They clamour for the UN to impose a “no fly zone”, conspire with France and Turkey to establish “buffer zones” and “humanitarian corridors”, all transparently aimed at securing the kind of “humanitarian intervention” which resulted in Libya getting bombed for eight months and seeing her people delivered into the hands of western-backed lynch mobs and terror gangs. But the harder they clamour for assistance from the West (and from reactionaries in the Arab League, Turkey and Israel), the clearer it becomes just how minimal is the support which these RPG-toting “democrats” actually enjoy in the country to which they lay claim.
Contrary to the media pretence that the root of the troubles is sectarian antagonism between a minority Shi’ite Alawite government and a majority Sunni population, the Ba’athist-led National Progressive Front coalition governs the country on a secular basis. It is precisely this secular policy which broadens Assad’s appeal across confessional boundaries, in a country which includes Sunni, Alawite, Christian and Druze citizens. It is a telling feature of Syria’s progressive character that the majority of her people identify themselves first of all as Syrians, and only secondarily by considerations of religious background. Conversely, it is those who seek to undermine Syria’s anti-imperialist tradition, promoting the most obscurantist and reactionary religious forms as a cloak for imperialist meddling, who seek to undermine national unity and stir up sectarianism – just as in Iraq and Libya.
Happily, the rebels themselves, just like the Libyan rebels before them, are disunited to a degree which severely embarrasses their benefactors in the West. Foreign Secretary Hague, meeting with SNC contras in November, begged his protégés to botch together at least an appearance of unity, piously intoning that, “At an extreme moment in their nation’s history, it is important for opposition groups to be able to put aside their own differences and come to a united view of the way forward.” To assist in this exercise in stitching together damp blotting paper, Hague has reportedly appointed an “ambassador-designate” to lead liaison efforts.
Claims that the FSA are composed primarily of Syrian army defectors (as opposed to mercenaries released by the US from jails in Iraq and armed by the West) seem dubious, even judging from some capitalist press reports. In a story published on the Guardian website on 11 December (‘Inside Syria: the rebel calls for arms and ammunition’), Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports on his encounters with rebel fighters in the mountainous north of the country. What they have to tell him is revealing. The people outside Syria (i.e. the Turkish-based SNC) “have no weight on the ground”, whilst those fighting inside Syria “don’t have a Benghazi” (i.e. a solid base of support for counterrevolution). The fighter gestures to his fellows, telling the journalist, “Look at all these men in this room. I didn’t know any of them before March and they didn’t know me. I don’t trust them and they don’t trust me.” As for defections, he tells Abdul-Ahad, “I don’t count on major defections in the army” – the only way you’d get that, he says, would be to have a no fly zone where people could hide from the security forces. Another fighter tells him that “There is no such thing as a Free Syria Army. It’s a joke. The real revolutionaries are here in Syria in the mountains.” However this “real revolutionary” confesses that his own morale is below zero, claiming “people are getting killed – yet still there are no defections in the army”. Interestingly, he ascribes this state of affairs to the “ideological” cohesion of the army, controlled by the political officers of the Ba’ath. He concludes despairingly that “Even if a general did defect, he wouldn’t defect with his tanks and soldiers, he would defect on his own.” The message is clear: these “patriots” would sell their country to the West in exchange for assistance in overthrowing Assad. Without such assistance, they would stand as little a chance of success as their toy soldier counterparts in Libya had stood – before NATO was transformed into their own private Luftwaffe.
Assad stands firm
Meanwhile, beyond all the media ballyhoo about the rebels, ordinary Syrians have been getting on with business as usual. The four-yearly local government elections kicked off in mid-December, with 42,000 candidates standing for 17,000 seats. The successful candidates will be responsible for implementing the reforms which the government has announced over recent months in response to legitimate public criticism. Just how little the West-backed opposition really cares about such reforms, other than as an arbitrary pretext for undermining the stability of the anti-imperialist state, is shown by the fact that they have chosen to boycott these elections. Damascus has long since committed to these reforms, and from the outset has welcomed even the Arab League proposal to send observers into Syria – so long as this is not accompanied by the enforcement of sanctions against the Syrian people. The League’s stubborn refusal to take yes for an answer shows how dishonestly intended was the original proposal.
No less an authority than the Jewish Chronicle gives a flavour of just how dismal would be the prospects of the much-vaunted rebellion were it obliged to rely upon support from the broad masses of Syrian society, rather than hiding behind the skirts of imperialist backers. In an article penned by John R. Bradley (‘Syrian revolt faces secular opposition’, 1 December 2011), the author notes that “when it comes to the Assad regime, greatly exaggerated reports of its imminent demise have been a steady staple of the Western media for nine months and counting”, whereas the “truth is that, in and of themselves, economic sanctions by the Arab League will make no difference to Assad’s chances of survival in the medium term, which are far higher than most Western commentators believe…”
Bradley continues, “If a popular uprising against Assad had ever been on the cards, it would have already happened. In fact, all the evidence suggests that he still enjoys massive support among the mostly secular Syrian population, who rightly fear that the only alternative to their long-faced president is an extraordinarily vicious and prolonged civil war… the West and its regional allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey appear determined to orchestrate an armed revolutionary uprising, with the Arab League sanctions aimed at deepening the divide between Assad and his people. If that comes to pass, Assad and his military backers will fight to the death, and the resulting civil war in religiously and ethnically complex Syria would make the Libyan revolution look like a high-school prom. But with the same eventual outcome: the triumph of Wahhabi-funded and controlled Islamist militias.”
UPDATE: 30 December:
When the Arab League finally sent its monitors, those who had clamoured hardest for the observer mission to be sent then promptly began to rubbish the mission’s findings – because the monitors took one look at Homs and reported that, contrary to the horror stories retailed by anonymous “activists”, the overall situation was “reassuring”, with a few armoured cars on the street but none of the myriad tanks alleged by the rebels! This was not at all what the rebels and their puppet-masters had expected. In an attempt at damage-limitation they claimed that (a) all the tanks must have been cunningly withdrawn, and that in any case (b) the leader of the mission was connected with the Sudanese government so was bound to be lying. As we go to press, the rebels are doing their best to turn the mission’s visits back into the pro-Western propaganda opportunity that was intended. It will take an awful lot of manufactured photo opportunities to undo the damage, however.
Meanwhile the same toxic mix of black propaganda, diplomatic arm-twisting, economic blackmail, covert war and threat of direct attack being brought to bear upon Syria is likewise being endured by Iran. A fresh round in the diplomatic harassment of Iran was signalled by the publication on 8 November of a new report from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), the UN body responsible for ensuring that countries signed up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) comply with treaty requirements. Iran is a willing signatory; Israel has consistently refused to sign. Yet the Zionists have “proliferated” without let or hindrance from the “international community”, and have long since been in possession of the nuclear bomb – an estimated 200 fully operational bombs to be precise. When one of its own scientists, Mordecai Vanunu, had the courage to blow the whistle on Israel’s WMD, he was kidnapped abroad and slammed into solitary for years whilst that same “international community” sat on its hands. By contrast Iran, a willing signatory to the NPT, has been hounded for years by imperialist powers hell-bent on abusing the IAEA’s compliance procedures as a means of violating Iran’s sovereignty and impeding her work in the fields of nuclear energy and medical science.
For years, attempts to force the IAEA to lend its authority to Washington’s unproven allegations about Tehran’s supposed pursuit of a Persian nuclear bomb were frustrated by an IAEA which was not disposed to be so entirely under the US thumb as the White House desired. Whilst IAEA investigations on Iranian soil were no less intrusive than those to which Iraq was subjected in the farcical quest for non-existent WMD, that body’s former chief, Mohammed ElBaradei, steadfastly drew the line at lending credence to Washington’s baseless claims against Iran.
Over a lengthy period, Washington left no stone unturned in its single-minded quest for non-existent evidence. Veteran journalist Seymour Hersh details this frantic search in Democracy Now! “Cheney kept on having the Joint Special Operations Force Command, JSOC — they would send teams inside Iran. They would work with various dissident groups – the Azeris, the Kurds, even Jundallah, which is a very fanatic Sunni opposition group – and they would do everything they could to try and find evidence of an undeclared underground facility. We monitored everything. We have incredible surveillance. In those days, what we did then, we can even do better now. And some of the stuff is very technical, very classified, but I can tell you, there’s not much you can do in Iran right now without us finding out something about it. They found nothing. Nothing. No evidence of any weaponization. In other words, no evidence of a facility to build the bomb. They have facilities to enrich, but not separate facilities for building a bomb. This is simply a fact. We haven’t found it, if it does exist. It’s still a fantasy.” (cited by Media Lens, 24 November)
In the absence of evidence, Washington desperately needed the second-best outcome: a lying testimonial from the IAEA carrying the cachet of UN legitimacy. When ElBaradei ended his stint at the IAEA in 2009, Washington saw its chance. The US went into overdrive to get somebody more pliable into place, lobbying frantically to shoehorn a rank outsider, Yukiya Amano, into the top post. Amano’s chief qualification for the job is simple to spot: an overweening eagerness to please his masters in Washington. A secret cable from the US Embassy in Vienna, released by WikiLeaks, gloated that Amano accounted himself “solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.” Another US cable speaks of a revealing encounter with the new boy. “This meeting, Amano’s first bilateral review since his election, illustrates the very high degree of convergence between his priorities and our own agenda at the IAEA. The coming transition period provides a further window for us to shape Amano’s thinking before his agenda collides with the IAEA Secretariat bureaucracy.” (For “bureaucracy”, read, anyone at IAEA still possessed of a shred of integrity.)
Hersh cites the views of Robert Kelley, a retired IAEA director, on the supposed “credible” evidence referenced in the 8 November report. Kelley “noted that hundreds of pages of material appear to come from a single source: a laptop computer, allegedly supplied to the IAEA by a Western intelligence agency, whose provenance could not be established. Those materials, and others, ‘were old news,’ Kelley said, and known to many journalists. ‘I wonder why this same stuff is now considered ‘new information’ by the same reporters.’” No such obvious questions troubled the authors of the IAEA report, who claimed that it now had “credible” evidence that “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
With the 8 November IAEA report, Washington won at best a Pyrrhic victory, having effectively destroyed the credibility of the very body whose endorsement it so relied upon. Pocketing the IAEA report, on 18 November Washington managed to steam-roller through the IAEA’s Board of Governors a resolution expressing “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions.”
However, Washington had failed to get Iran reported to the Security Council or to impose a deadline for Tehran to comply with the latest hectoring demands. Clearly the need was felt to ratchet up the campaign of intimidation another notch. To this end, on 21 November, the US, Britain and Canada announced unilateral sanctions against Iran’s banking and energy sectors. France put in a sly kick too, urging world powers to boycott Iranian oil and freeze (i.e. steal) her financial assets. China and Russia have joined Iran in denouncing these new sanctions.
The Dirty War
Meanwhile, behind all this fabrication of evidence and diplomatic bullying, imperialism has long been engaging in a brutal campaign of espionage, terrorism, assassination and sabotage against Iran, culminating most recently in mysterious explosions at a key defence installation and a uranium reprocessing facility.
Leading Iranian scientists have long been targeted for assassination. Recent examples include the car bombs that claimed the lives of two university professors, Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi, and the booby-trapped motorcycle that slew another professor, Masoud Ali-Mohammadi. Now, with rival Republican contenders for the US presidency striving to outdo each other in fascist zeal, the “secret” war against Iran is the best advertised in history. According to AFP (8 December 2011), Newt Gingrich “proposed at a November 12 debate that Washington kill Iranian scientists and disrupt Tehran’s suspect nuclear program – ‘all of it covertly, all of it deniable’. In that same forum, Santorum said the United States must do ‘whatever it takes to make sure’ Iran does not develop a nuclear program — then wondered whether Washington may already be heavily involved in doing just that. ‘There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. I hope that the United States has been involved with that,’ he said. ‘I hope that we have been doing everything we can, covertly, to make sure that that program doesn’t proceed.’”
There can be no doubt that Washington, London and Tel Aviv are already up to the neck in dirty tricks without the need for further prompting from the Tea Baggers. The “computer viruses” to which Santorum referred clearly has in mind the Stuxnet cyber assault on Iran’s nuclear programme launched last year. Nor are the attacks confined to cyberspace. In mid November a missile testing base near Tehran suffered a blast which reportedly killed over 30 members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps, including a leader of Iran’s missile programme, Major General Hassan Moqqadam. Time Magazine, on 13 November 2011, said this was the work of Mossad. Then at the end of November there was a further blast, this time at a uranium processing plant in Isfahan. Israel’s former director of national security, Major-General Giora Eiland, bragged that the explosion was no accident, adding that “There aren’t many coincidences, and when there are so many events there is probably some sort of guiding hand, though perhaps it’s the hand of God.” (cited in ‘Shadow War Heating Up. War with Iran: A Provocation Away?’ by Tom Burghardt, 7 December: www. projectworldawareness.com) Curiously, none of the dirty tricks practiced by Washington and Tel Aviv excites anything like the manufactured outrage which greeted the B-movie fiction spun around a non-existent Iranian government plot to bump off the Saudi ambassador to the US.
29 November demonstration against British Embassy
The self-appointed guardians of democratic western values send saboteurs and death squads into other people’s countries at will, safe in the knowledge that the “international community” will not raise a finger to stop them. But just let some enraged Iranian students lob a few bricks at the British Embassy and pitch a portrait of the Queen out of the window and the UN Security Council cannot restrain its righteous indignation, condemning the demo “in the strongest terms”. William Hague whinged that Iran had “committed a grave breach” of the Vienna convention.
Obama declared himself “deeply disturbed” by what had happened, the German foreign minister fulminated against this “violation of international law”, whilst his French counterpart agreed that “the Iranian regime has shown what little consideration it has for international law”.
When we consider the continuous and flagrant breaches of international law being committed by imperialism in relation to Iran, with or without the cloak of UN “legitimacy”, it is not hard to comprehend the rage which this arouses in the patriotic youth. So far from acting as the simple agents of the government, as the western media pretend, the demonstrators in the end could only be restrained by the government’s own security forces using teargas to clear the embassy compound, such is the depth of popular revulsion at what is being attempted against the country’s sovereignty. (Need we add that, had the demonstrators instead got themselves tear-gassed protesting against Ahmadi-Nejad, they would at once have been hailed by the bourgeois media as peaceful democrats cruelly repressed by a tyrannical regime.)
Iran stands firm
Imperialist aggression against both Syria and Iran is driven not only by the desire to humble an anti-imperialist force and strengthen and extend the stranglehold on resources and markets in the middle east, but also by the strategic goal of containing Russia and China. China in particular, whose socialist foundations have permitted a rapid return to steady growth after an initial blip occasioned by a degree of exposure to the crisis-ridden world market, is well placed to engage in mutually beneficial trade relations with third world countries anxious to escape domination by crisis-stricken imperialism. China champions Iran’s right to develop its civil nuclear industry, and neither China nor Russia has any interest in collaborating with the West’s sanctions campaign. These realities constitute an unwelcome stumbling block for the warmongers.
Such considerations, taken together with the courageous anti-colonial resistance being mounted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, all add to the perils awaiting the warmongers should they persist. Nor would it be wise for imperialism to dismiss lightly Iran’s own ability to defend herself, even without the bomb she is accused of coveting. The recent successful downing of an advanced US RQ-170 drone over the eastern part of the country, one of many drones in routine violation of Iranian airspace, not only exposes US covert operations and demonstrates Tehran’s vigilance but also delivers sensitive military intelligence into anti-imperialist hands. Already back in the summer the Iranians not only showed visiting Russian experts a number of other drones which had previously been shot down, but also displayed some model drones which they had contrived to design through reverse engineering! Obama’s risible plea for the return of his spy plane deserves, and has been accorded, nothing but contempt.
The struggle of the Syrian and the Iranian people to defend themselves, by contrast, deserves the warmest support from all those in the anti-imperialist movement, not least those resisting imperialism within the belly of the beast itself. After all, who better upholds the anti-capitalist aims of the Occupy Movement than those brave students who dared to occupy the British Embassy in Tehran? Their own letter to the press, relayed by the Fars news agency, makes the case admirably.
“‘We have occupied the British embassy to voice support for the 99 percenters of the world and in opposition to the policies of the world arrogance,’ the letter said on Saturday. ‘We as the students who have occupied the British embassy in Tehran announce explicitly that we are standing for our historical decision and will humiliate Britain and make it regret,’ it added. The Iranian students called on … people across the world to attack the interests of Britain in their region and stop London from looting their countries and nations any further.” (Fars, 3 December, ‘British Embassy Occupation Meant to Voice Support for World 99 Percenters’)
By giving active solidarity to those who stand in defence of Iran, Syria and other anti-imperialist countries under attack, we will strengthen our hand against the same imperialist enemy which is currently demolishing welfare, looting jobs and driving us into poverty and war. The national democratic struggle against imperialist oppression that is being waged by these nations enormously strengthens the world struggle for proletarian revolution.
Victory to anti-imperialist Syria!
Victory to anti-imperialist Iran!
Death to imperialism!
You get more anti-imperialist analysis with cpgb-ml and red youth!
On Monday 5 December, Stop the War Coalition held a rally at Conway Hall headlined Don’t Attack Iran. Everyone in the hall (apart from the usual smattering of MI5 agents) was in agreement: none of us wanted to see Iran attacked.
From the platform, a very frail looking Tony Benn spoke first, confiding to us that when he was minister for energy (years ago when even I was young), some unidentified bloke in his ministerial office had helped Israel to “British” nuclear secrets. If that wasn’t bad enough, Benn also found out and all the “waste” plutonium from “our” civil nuclear industry had been secretly shipped off to America to make nuclear bombs.
Benn said he hadn’t found out about either of these outrages until after he left office. Which says it all about the effectiveness of Stop the War Coalition’s brand of ‘anti-imperialism’.
Not one of the speakers, including George Galloway, who (despite a terrible chest infection) headlined at his tub-thumping and fiery best, had any suggestions about what to do apart from march about with our banners and protest.
We were told to go back to our workplaces and trade unions and “expose” the media lies about Iran; but the speakers’ only stated aim was to bring more people out on the streets of London to wave banners and protest at some undeclared date in the future.
Most depressing of all was the quick mention of Syria in passing. No question of any ‘Don’t Attack Syria’ campaign. We were just told to watch our email inboxes as Stop the War Coalition planned to call us all out – you guessed it … to wave banners and protest at Downing Street at 5.00pm on the day Syria was attacked (or maybe the day after, the speaker wasn’t too sure).
Syria did better than Pakistan, as while all the speakers agreed that Pakistan was under threat, there was not even a suggestion of going to Downing Street with banners to protest over any attack on that benighted country.
So what is to be done? Well, when Stop the War Coalition does call us out, we will (as always) troop along with our banners and protest, but that by itself will do nothing. Two million of us waved banners and protested to stop the war in Iraq, and the imperialists laughed.
We have to do much more and something else. We have to go to the Stop the War national conference and demand something more than mere banner waving and protesting and wondering why these naughty imperialists won’t listen to reason.
The imperialists are listening to reason, they are listening to their own warmongering superprofits-seeking, anti-people reason. And they will never listen to our reason; they will only ‘listen’ to our actions.
This is where CPGB-ML conflicts with the present leadership of Stop the War Coalition. We understand that the one and only way to stop these continual bloody wars is the Jolly George way. The working class has to stop cooperating with imperialism.
We have to fight, not merely wring our hands, beat our breasts and plead with the imperialists to sit on the naughty step. This is big; it’s the future of the world.
The following is an excerpt from a report which appeared today courtesy of Reuters:
“Tens of thousands of Syrians demonstrated in central Damascus on Wednesday in show of support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is battling a six-month uprising against his rule in which the United Nations says 2,900 people have been killed.
“America, out, out, Syria will stay free,” chanted the crowd, many of them carrying pictures of Assad and Syrian flags. They also shouted slogans warning the European Union not to intervene in their country.”God, Syria and Bashar,” they sang.
State television described the government-backed rally as a “million-strong march … supporting national independence and rejecting foreign intervention.”
At the start of the demonstration a man holding the flags of Russia and China — which both vetoed a European-drafted resolution against Syria at the United Nations last week — flew over the crowd, suspended from a helicopter by rope.”
The time has come for those of us in the anti-imperialist movement to make sure that the lackey’s who lead the anti-war movement here in Britain are not allowed “to do a Libya”. The Syrian opposition has now formed a National Council, based in Istanbul. This body, together with the British-promoted Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is now, in the wake of events in Libya, calling more stridently for NATO military intervention. Just as with the Benghazi contras in their first days, they had initially, and hypocritically, claimed to be opposed to foreign intervention, just long enough to suck in a few gullible people, and allow some of the pieces of the imperialist jigsaw to be fitted together. Now these traitors to their nation and people are loudly calling for the imposition of a ‘no fly zone’, the very mechanism that was cynically abused to launch a genocidal war against the people of Libya.
Clearly the threat to Syria is now grave. However, the Syrian government retains strong and broad support from the popular masses. It also has powerful regional support, for example from Iran, from Hizbullah in Lebanon and from the forces led by Muqtada al-Sadr in Iraq. As for NATO, any celebrations are premature, as the fire of Libyan resistance will, without doubt, shortly be burning beneath their feet more fiercely than ever.
Regrettably, one place from which neither the Syrian nor the Libyan people can expect any support is from the so-called leaders of Britain’s Stop the War Coalition, whose antics have long since passed from the cowardly to the treacherous. The main page of Stop the War’s website contains not a single reference to Syria. Perhaps, given their role over Libya, it is just as well. A new anti-imperialist and anti-war movement needs to be built in Britain, one that stands foursquare for the defeat of imperialism and for the victory of all those forces fighting against it.
Red Youth and the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) pledge every possible effort to build such a movement.