Hands off Syria! Enough of the west's lethal interference!

17 June 2013

After months of huffing and puffing, president Obama finally announced last week that the US would now arm the Syrian opposition. Not to be left behind, Cameron followed in the footsteps of both the US and other European countries, by making the same promise. As to Blair, he came out of his dusty cupboard calling for the US and other countries to enforce a "no-fly zone" over Syria!

This is justified by the alleged "discovery" that the Syrian regime has been using a nerve gas - "sarin" - which is classified by the UN as a "weapon of mass destruction".

Whether this "discovery" is real or not, the fact is that sarin is very similar to many gases used by all main Western powers during World War I and by some, since then. Nor is sarin much more lethal than so-called "Agent Orange" with which the US killed so many people in Vietnam. But never mind, according to the world imperialist leaders, only their own armies are allowed to use such weapons!

The stench of past imperialist wars

No-one can tell at this stage what these public statements really mean. Is this just political posturing designed to allow the major powers to claim that they are still able, somehow, to shape events in the Middle East? Are these statements merely designed to put pressure on the Syrian regime to agree to some form of negotiations with the opposition? Or, on the contrary, do they actually reflect what the rich countries really intend to do over the coming weeks and months?

Only the future can tell. Nevertheless, such rhetorical escalation always has a logic of its own. Once the issue of intervention is put on the agenda, it's unlikely to go away. Then, it is only a matter of time before it is translated into action, with the catastrophic consequences this has always meant in the past.

So what will it be this time? Will it be a re-enactment of the "weapons of mass destruction" saga in Iraq, which led to its invasion, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the destruction of its infrastructure - only to find that there were no "weapons of mass destruction"?

Or will it be a re-enactment of the intervention in Libya, where, under the pretext of stopping Gaddafi from bombing his own people, Western air forces bombed Libyan civilians themselves and disabled vital public infrastructure - including the extensive canal system which brings water to the desert?

Or will this lead to another endless war, like the present one in Afghanistan - one of the world's poorest countries, where, after over a decade of occupation, the West's most powerful armies have proved unable to contain the Afghan insurgent forces?

An unacceptable price for the populations

So far, the imperialist leaders have been reluctant to take sides in Syria. After all, Assad's dictatorship was a stable regime in one of the most unstable parts of the world. Moreover, this regime had not only been willing to endorse the US "war on terrorism", but was a key player in maintaining the fragile stability in nearby Lebanon - and it was a possible go-between in normalising relations with Iran. So much so, that no Western government was willing to dump it.

What has changed since then, is that Syria's 27-month civil war has been spilling over into neighbouring countries: armed confrontations have taken place in the Lebanon between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime, while a growing refugee crisis is affecting the Turkish and Jordanian border areas. These factors alone could destabilise the region, which would be bad news for Western shareholders.

But what would a Western intervention achieve in Syria? Judging from past experience, it would necessarily imply "regime change". But what has this meant in the other killing fields of the West?

In Afghanistan, it meant bringing to power a corrupt administration which is so despised by the population, that the insurgents do not seem to have any difficulty in finding recruits among its ranks.

In Iraq, "regime change" caused bloody mayhem, with rival factions whipping up religious tensions. And, while the occupation is officially over, the killing is not, judging from the record 1,000 who died in terrorist attacks last month.

And in Libya, Gaddafi's dictatorship was merely replaced with the brutal rule of rival militias, each exercising its own law, with its own barracks and prisons. Earlier this month, 31 protesters were mowed down by bullets fired by one of these militias in Benghazi!

Each time, the populations have been caught in the cross-fire and were made to pay an unacceptable price. This must be stopped - and it is in the interests of the working class of this country to do what it can, so that it is stopped!