After a series of meetings in Washington, the Obama administration escalated the war against Syria by announcing that the United States would ship weapons directly to their proxy rebels in Syria. The New York Times described this materiel as “small arms and ammunition,” but added that the transfers may include anti-tank weapons as well. (New York Times, June 14)
Reports that the deliveries will exclude anti-aircraft missiles should not be taken for good coin. The excuse that the Syrian government used sarin nerve gas has been exposed as unsubstantiated by chemical weapons experts and even by United Nations officials.
Pressure has been building for more direct intervention among both hawkish Republicans and leading Democrats, such as former President Bill Clinton. The imperialist establishment during the past two years and more has worked toward toppling the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad without risking direct intervention. They have been supplying weapons and political support to factions inside Syria and encouraging foreign mercenaries to flood into Syria during that period.
The imperialist-backed rebels, however, have never coalesced politically or militarily and suffered a shattering defeat when they lost the battle for control of Qusair, a town near the Lebanese border, at the beginning of June. The Times reports that “large parts of the rebellion could be on the verge of collapse.” (June 14)
The rebels have been getting large shipments of weapons from the reactionary monarchies of Qatar and Saudi Arabia funneled into Syria from NATO ally Turkey and the Kingdom of Jordan. The CIA has been exposed as directing this operation and running the anti-Assad rebel training camps. Direct shipments from the U.S. will require more U.S. troops in supply operations and for training.
According to reports, the Syrian government has been moving troops and supplies into Aleppo in the north, the largest city in that country, following their victory in Qusair. Aleppo has been the scene of fighting between rebels and government forces neighborhood by neighborhood for the past year. BBC.com reports an offensive by the government to retake this important city, called Operation Northern Storm.
U.S. troops in war exercises
Thousands of U.S. troops, along with soldiers from 16 other countries, have been engaged in “war exercises” in Jordan, just south of the Syrian border. “The U.S. will keep Patriot missiles and F-16 fighter jets in Jordan” when the war games end next week. These advanced weapons require hundreds of U.S. troops to operate and maintain them. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that “any attempt to use the F-16s to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law.” (BBC.com, June 16)
Russia has supported and supplied arms to the Syrian government since the Western imperialist powers began their drive for regime change.
Short of a massive bombing campaign to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, the Pentagon has drawn up plans to create a protected “buffer zone” on Syrian soil north of the border with Jordan. The June 15 New York Times reports that this safe haven for rebels would be “enforced by Jordanian troops … and supported politically by the United States.”
The new expanded weapons shipments from the U.S. are also expected to flow through Jordan. Should Syria retaliate, U.S. missiles, fighter planes and troops are already stationed in Jordan, ready to attack the Syrians.
Jordan has become the nation of choice for U.S. escalation of the war since the Turkish regime has been facing massive rebellions across that country. Using Turkey at this time might trigger larger and more political uprisings, undermining U.S. plans.
Washington has also dragged the government of Egypt into the deepening regional crisis. President Muhammad Morsi of Egypt announced on June 15 that he was breaking diplomatic relations with Syria.
The Obama administration along with the entire U.S. ruling class is pushing forward into greater military adventures in the Middle East while the people of the U.S. are more and more opposed. A June 7 New York Times/CBS News poll found that 61 percent oppose U.S. intervention. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of June 12 reported that only 11 percent support arming the Syrian rebels.