Vol. XLII No. 16 April 22, 2018

Editorial: Aggression on Syria

THE missile strike on Syria by the armed forces of the United States, France and the United Kingdom is the latest instance of imperialist aggression. It is this sort of imperialist intervention that has resulted in the prolonged civil war for the past seven years.

Over a hundred missiles were launched from ships and planes targeting three facilities in Damascus and Homs. Last year too, President Trump had ordered missile strikes on a Syrian airbase accusing the government forces of using poison gas.

 The NATO trio arrogated to themselves the right to attack a sovereign country on the pretext that it was to curb the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. The military action had no sanction from the UN Security Council. These same powers had vetoed a Russian proposal in the Security Council to send an international team of experts to investigate the allegations of use of chemical weapons in Douma on the outskirts of Damascus.

It is also noteworthy that the strikes took place when a team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was already in Damascus to inspect the alleged affected site. They were to visit the site on April 15 and the strike took place a day before. Why were the US and its allies unwilling to wait for an investigation before taking action?

The reality is that the US and its Western allies are desperately trying to stall the advance of the Syrian army in the rebel held enclaves. Douma is in eastern Ghouta which was being retaken by the Syrian troops.  It would have been self-defeating for the government troops to have used poison gas when they were poised to recapture the area.

The charge of use of chemical weapons by the Assad government troops was not verified in the past too. In the years since 2014, when the Syrian government gave up its chemical weapons under UN supervision, there were gas attacks in rebel held areas. Evidence had surfaced that sarin gas was available with the extremist Al Nusra forces. Involvement of Saudi intelligence having given certain rebel groups access to chemical agents for producing poison gas had also emerged.

The US and France had financed and equipped the Islamist extremist groups through Saudi Arabia and Qatar to facilitate regime change in Syria.  Thus the US and its allies were responsible for the ferocious civil war which has claimed the lives of four million civilians and for the rise of ISIS. Russia extended military assistance and air support to the Syrian troops which helped the Assad government to successfully fight back the rebel attacks. Today, only the Idlib province in north-west Syria is in rebel hands.

Having failed in their quest to oust the Assad government, the imperialists are trying to maintain a foothold in Syria and to divide the country. They are driven by the fear that Iran will expand its sphere of influence in Syria. Israel and Saudi Arabia are egging them on.

The US still has 2000 troops in Syria. President Trump had declared he wants the troops back home, just days before the missile strike was decided upon. Trump’s instincts were right for once. He should act and get the Americans out of Syria.

(April 16, 2018)