The gas attack on the inhabitants of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday April 4 is another horrific event in the merciless war that the Syrian regime has been waging on its own population since 2011. The war has killed 500,000 people. Roughly half the population—that is, 10 million people—have been displaced and four million of them have had to leave the country.
When the war began the great powers which initially supported Bashar al-Assad started betting on his downfall. The United States backed Islamic militia who were financed by its Saudi or Qatari allies. Then in 2014 when the war against Daesh became a priority, the Western states bet on Assad remaining in power. They made diplomatic protests when Russia intervened in the war, but let it ride. “Better Bashar than Daesh”, they said—a position that Trump himself mentioned approvingly a few weeks ago.
Now, the US accuses the Syrian regime of bombing Khan Sheikhoun and attacks an air base. Trump claims this helps the Syrian people. That’s pretty hypocritical coming from someone who has denied Syrian refugees the possibility of entering the US–even in very limited numbers! He doesn’t care about protecting Syrians but about defending US interests and showing that he is the master of the game.
American missiles won’t stop this atrocious war. They won’t put an end to al-Assad’s regime. That’s not even their purpose. These missiles, like the Syrian regime’s bombs, are the weapons of state terrorism which in turn encourages the terrorism of Islamist groups.
This bombing is another item to add to the long list of imperialist crimes in the area. During World War I, the great powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire, sharing out its oil resources and for more than a century now, they have pillaged and devastated the region.
European leaders, including Hollande, were critical of Trump yesterday and are congratulating him today—all in the name of the Syrian people. But like Trump they don’t want to take in more refugees. The European Union today hosts fewer Syrian refugees than Lebanon, a country that has only four million inhabitants! The gates of Europe are closed to them and that’s why, every day, so many of them risk their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean. The governments who claim they want to help the Syrians could start by letting them in when they try to get away from hell!
No one knows how far things could escalate because of American intervention in a region where Russia, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and France are already involved.
We are told that we are at peace. But armament sales have never been higher on the planet. The French government prides itself on the sale of Rafales, submarines, guns, etc. Arms build-up is preparation for war not peace. What will come out of the US decision to send an American aircraft carrier to North Korea? Nobody knows. In fact, war is already at our gates in Ukraine, a country that belongs to allegedly “peaceful” Europe.
Jean Jaurès once said: “Capitalism carries war within itself just as the cloud carries a storm”. It is time to put an end to the causes of war: rivalry between great powers and the search for profit by the privileged minority that dominates society.
The workers must not allow capitalists to control society. First and foremost, we have to defend our living conditions. But we must also assert the need to put an end to capitalism, an absurd system which produces war on top of unemployment and abject poverty.
This is the meaning of Nathalie Arthaud’s candidacy in the presidential election. She wants to make the demands of the workers heard and also say that it’s time to put a stop this unjust social order in which the cupidity of the wealthy and the greed of their states lead to war and all its horrors.
Voting for Nathalie Arthaud, a Communist candidate, is the way to show that a fraction of the working class, however small, is conscious that society needs to be changed and that the powers that be are driving us deeper into crisis and closer to war. Workers can change the world, but no savior from on high will do it for them.