The United States and Britain appear to be moving closer to direct intervention against the Bashar al-Assad government of Syria. With support inside Syria declining for the puppet “rebel” forces, the imperialist powers are being driven to even more desperate military measures to fulfill their goal of “regime change.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan last week, called on Britain and the U.S. to do more “to hasten the end of this regime.” RT news headlined Cameron’s push for an end to the European Union arms embargo enacted in 2011 (Nov. 9), which would free Western powers to send a greater quantity and more sophisticated weapons to the “Free Syrian Army.” These weapons would be in addition to arms now being funneled through Saudi Arabia and other proxies.
Turkey has publicly called for the U.S. and NATO to place batteries of Patriot missiles along its border with Syria. The New York Times, citing a Turkish newspaper, revealed Nov. 7 that “Turkey had agreed with the United States on a plan to use the missiles in an offensive capacity to create safe zones in Syria.” An expanded version of this plan would see Patriot missiles also placed along the Jordan-Syria border.
The reach of these Patriot missiles could give the Syrian so-called “rebels” — who are really counterrevolutionaries or contras — the chance to seize what they haven’t been able to on their own: control of a major city. Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, lies within the potential no-fly zone. If the contra-rebels were successful in seizing Aleppo, the West could then “recognize” them as the “legitimate government of Syria” and “accept” their invitation to directly intervene militarily. This is precisely the imperialist playbook that was followed in Libya with the takeover of Benghazi.
Major problems still hinder these U.S.-British plans. The Syrian opposition is plagued by internal division, jealousies and competing ideologies. A meeting convened at the demand of the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 8, has been trying to hammer together these disparate Syrian elements for four days. Reuters claims that an agreement was signed for a new government-in-exile and military body. (Nov. 11) Yet in the same report it states that the talks “appeared to fall through” after marathon bargaining that lasted until 3 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Agence France-Presse states that the fractious parties “agreed in principle … on a plan to unite against President Bashar al-Assad” after intense pressure from the U.S. and other backers. (Nov. 11) But then AFP reports that “details” were holding up the signing and that the parties needed “time to study the internal rules.”
In any case, it is clear that all the factions are creatures of the Western powers, bending to the will of the U.S., Britain, France and their allies.
Waning support inside Syria for the counterrevolutionary forces is also driving the U.S. toward direct military intervention. A lead article in the Nov. 8 New York Times describes how they “are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.” The fighting has, by all estimates, killed around 40,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands into refugee camps.
The Times report includes many details of criminal actions by armed individuals and groups of contras. In the town of Saraqib, contras drove Syrian government troops from a milk factory and then proceeded to destroy it, depriving the population of this crucial product.
Of greater importance is the emphasis the Times gives to the failure of the contras to capture and hold Aleppo in their September offensive: “The fighting failed to achieve the turning point the rebels had promised. … The Aleppo battle catalyzed simmering frustrations among civilian activists who feel dominated by gunmen.”
Many Syrians are concerned with the rising influence of extremist sectarian contra groups that have similarities to al-Qaida — an additional reason the U.S. government has been pressing for a new and centralized opposition at the Doha conference.
In Damascus, President al-Assad made it clear that he had no intention of leaving Syria to any neocolonial group. In an interview with Russia Today he stated: “I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country. I am Syrian. I was made in Syria. I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.” (Nov. 8)
The West is also being hindered by the support given so far to the al-Assad government by China and Russia, especially these countries’ vetoes in the United Nations Security Council to proposals for a U.N. cover for imperialist intervention.