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The menace behind the U.S. attack on Syria

Published Nov 8, 2008 7:04 AM

Four U.S. Black Hawk helicopters swept across the Iraqi-Syrian border Oct. 26 to the al-Sukkariah family farm in the town of Abu Kama. U.S. Special Forces landed and killed eight civilians, including three children, according to the Syrian government. It was the first attack of this scale by U.S. military forces against Syria.

Washington first refused to admit its role in the attack, and then U.S. officials defended Washington’s “right” to violate Syrian sovereignty as part of a provocative strategy to cross the border of any country to attack “terrorists.” (McClatchy Newspapers, Oct. 27)

Regardless of any Pentagon justification, such an attack is considered an “act of war.”

It is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, and U.S. law, specifically the War Powers Act.

Tens of thousands of Syrians responded on Oct. 30 with a massive demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Damascus that condemned the attack as an act of aggression, a flagrant violation of international laws and a form of systematic terrorism exercised by the Bush administration on the Arab region. A favorite slogan: “No to American terrorism.” (Agence France-Presse, Oct. 30) The Arab Youth Organization at the 5th General Conference of Arab Youth Union taking place in Damascus condemned the attack.

Syria demanded a formal apology in the United Nations, cut off diplomatic ties with Iraq and suspended the work of the joint security committee to draw down the number of Syrian troops deployed on their common borders.

Throughout the world people and governments have greeted this U.S. war doctrine with the hostility it deserves. Russia, China and Iran condemned the attack for violating Syrian sovereignty. Even U.S. client states and allies had to dissociate themselves from the attack. This included the pro-U.S. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora of Lebanon, the U.S. client regime in Egypt, the Arab League and the rightist French government of Sarkozy. Even the puppet Iraqi regime criticized the attack.

According to Washington, Syria is “not doing enough” to secure its porous, 300-mile border with Iraq. Washington claims that Syria has allowed “foreign forces” to sneak into Iraq. (Guardian, Oct. 30)

But the U.S. has no right to be on either side of the border—in Iraq or in Syria.

The U.S. invasion and its five-year occupation of Iraq are both criminal and illegal. The real foreign terrorists in the region are the 160,000 U.S. troops and the more than 100,000 U.S.-paid mercenaries.

Syria–long a U.S. target

As an Arab state attempting to keep free of imperialist domination, Syria has been a target of both Israel and the U.S. for decades. Washington has spent years calling for “regime change” in Damascus.

The Bush regime branded Syria a “terrorist” state for its historic support for the Palestinian struggle, its early opposition to the invasion of Iraq and its role in Lebanon in opposition to Israeli occupation, invasion and continuing threats.

Israel still occupies a significant piece of Syria–the Golan. Last year Israel bombed a site that Israel and the U.S. claimed was a potential nuclear plant, even though Syria should have the right that every other country has of developing nuclear energy. In 2004 Bush imposed harsh economic sanctions on Syria claiming that Syria was “destabilizing” U.S. efforts to “stabilize” Iraq.

Syria has absorbed more than 1.5 million Iraqi refugees since 2003, more than any of Iraq’s other neighbors. Providing essential housing, food and education to this large destitute refugee population is an enormous expenditure for a developing country. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has uprooted almost a fifth of Iraq’s population of 28 million, including 2.4 million who sought refuge in surrounding countries.

U.S. puppets fearful

The raid complicated negotiations on a Status of Forces Agreement with U.S. puppet Iraqi authorities, which Washington protects in the Green Zone. But even this regime fears signing a SOFA agreement that allows U.S. forces to keep operating in Iraq after the United Nations mandate expires at the end of 2008.

The talks on the SOFA have been bogged down, and a persistent Iraqi demand has been that Iraqi soil not be used as a launching pad for attacks on other countries.

The government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tried to distance itself from the attack by claiming that it would open an investigation into the incident. A government spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, said on Oct. 28, “Iraq’s constitution does not allow its land to be a base for launching attacks on neighboring countries.” (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 29)

Some commentators have asked if the U.S. raid on the Syrian village is aimed at setting a very dangerous precedent for the entire Middle East, and could be followed by the oft-predicted attack on Iran?

Regardless of the reasons for the U.S. attack, it cannot reverse U.S. fortunes in the region. The deteriorating U.S. military position in both Iraq and Afghanistan is obvious to all.

It is essential that international opponents of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raise their voices against imperialist efforts to widen the war.

Flounders is a co-director of the International Action Center, which is promoting a petition protesting the U.S. attack on Syria (iacenter.org).