Syria resisting economic and military attacks

Less dramatic but no less intense than military battles is the economic war being conducted against the Syrian people and Syrian government by the Western powers, led by the United States.

Economic sanctions imposed by the imperialist drive for “regime change” have taken a heavy toll on the Syrian people. A sustained attack on the Syrian pound by international financial institutions has caused a drop in Syrian currency against the dollar and euro.

To offset this drop in the value of their currency, the Syrian government ordered double-digit increases in salaries for public employees and retirees. (New York Times, June 28) Aid from Russia, China and Iran totaling $500 million a month is what is allowing the Syrian government to weather these attacks. (Financial Times, June 27) Kadri Jamil, deputy prime minister for the economy, described the aid as a “counteroffensive” against this economic warfare.

Syrian troops, meanwhile, have been following up their dramatic victory over reactionary rebel forces in the city of Qusair. Rebels were driven out of the town of Tel Kalakh, just two miles from the Lebanese border “used by the rebels … as a transit point for weapons and fighters smuggled into Syria.” (Reuters, June 26)

But the Syrian government’s military victories are driving the U.S. and its European and Mideast monarchist allies toward greater intervention. The military commander of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” announced recently that his forces were receiving anti-aircraft missiles. This was confirmed by the Reuters’ report of June 26, which reported that Saudi Arabia was “supplying anti-aircraft missiles among other weapons.”

Washington is also escalating its role in the war against Syria. The BBC reported on June 25 that 800 U.S. troops “are now stationed in Jordan, many remaining on after a joint military exercise” ended recently. Demonstrations in Jordan’s capital, Amman, protested this imperialist occupation and threat against neighboring Syria. Jordanian Army Brigadier General Ali Habashna expressed his fears, saying, “We all know that when the U.S. puts its troops somewhere, in a country, they become part of the crisis, they worsen it.” (BBC, June 25)

Tensions related to the war against Syria spilled over into the Lebanese port city of Sidon on June 18 when followers of Sheik Ahmad al-Assir fought members of the Hezbollah militia. Sheik Assir strongly opposes the government of President al-Assad of Syria. By Sunday, June 23, Lebanese Army forces had come under attack by the right-wing cleric’s forces. After major fighting, it was reported that 14 Lebanese government troops had been killed and the Sheik was in hiding.

Perhaps in retaliation for their defeats on the battlefield, rebel terrorists attacked the Christian Old City of Damascus. Suicide bombers and other explosives went off at a medical treatment center, a restaurant and a Greek Orthodox church, killing several civilians.

The talk of an international peace conference for Syria has not moved forward. Plans for talks in Geneva first put forward by both the U.S. and Russia have stalled. The two powers have not even been able to agree on who should attend the gathering.

Washington had hoped that its proxy rebel forces would have been strong enough after two years of fighting — aided by massive weapons shipments coordinated by the CIA — to force President Assad to step down. However, recent military and political defeats for the U.S.-backed rebels have strengthened the Syrian government, making a peace conference unlikely to achieve the neocolonial goal of “regime change.”

Inside the U.S., anti-war groups have united in a call for coordinated national demonstrations against U.S. aid to the reactionary rebels, demanding that the billions spent for war be diverted to provide much-needed jobs and social services right here at home.