Imperialist frustration builds over Syria


Proletarian issue 47 (April 2012)

Russia and China continue to hamper imperialist designs, but the threat of all-out war remains strong.

Attempts by imperialism and its local Arab and Turkish stooges to overthrow the progressive government of Syria, which assumed acute form a year ago and have plunged this once peaceful country into a veritable civil war, appear to be floundering in the face of astute political tactics by the Syrian leadership, a determined fight-back by the Syrian armed forces, and the resolute stance taken by both Russia and China, who have repeatedly blocked the attempts to give imperialism’s war against Syria a United Nations fig-leaf.President Bashar al-Assad has now called parliamentary elections for 7 May, to be held under the terms of a new constitution that was overwhelmingly endorsed in a February referendum and which considerably enhances peoples’ democratic rights. At the same time, the Syrian army has scored major victories against the imperialist-backed terrorist forces in their erstwhile strongholds of Homs and Idlib, essentially bringing these cities back under the control of the legitimate government.

Against this background, Russia and China have began working deftly to open up contradictions between the imperialist powers and the Arab reactionaries, who, faced with the firm joint stance of Moscow and Beijing have had to start reviewing their options in the light of the strategic decline of US hegemonism and the continuing crises in all three main centres of the global capitalist economy (the US, EU and Japan), which means that other countries are also concerned not to overly damage their relations with emerging powers for the long term.

This resulted, doubtless much to Washington’s and London’s chagrin, in Russia and the Arab League agreeing on a five-point plan to end the crisis, although doubtless the two sides are still working to quite different agendas.

According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti: “The plan proposes an end to violence by all sides, monitoring of the situation in Syria, provision of humanitarian aid to all Syrians, support for the UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s mission in the country and abstention from external interference in Syrian domestic affairs.” (‘Russia, Arab League agree plan on Syria’, 10 March 2012)

Speaking after a meeting with the Arab League in Cairo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointedly said: “We think these five steps are crucial. They are addressed to all parties in Syria.”

Lavrov was clearly referring to the imperialist insistence on placing all demands on the legitimate Syrian government and none on the terrorist forces, an issue that was to resurface at the United Nations just a couple of days later. For his part, President Assad declared: “Syria is ready to support any honest effort to solve the situation.” China, which has sent its own special envoys to the region several times now, also expressed its support for the Russia-Arab five-point plan.

Moreover, to imperialist fury, Russia has insisted that it will continue to supply arms to the Syrian government. Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov stated: “Russia enjoys good and strong military technical cooperation with Syria and we see no reason today to reconsider it.”

Meanwhile, a high-level UN Security Council meeting, attended by Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which saw the imperialist powers yet again attempt to railroad an anti-Syria resolution, broke up in disarray, faced with determined opposition from Russia and China.

A key issue was the, perfectly logical and reasonable, insistence by Moscow and Beijing that a peaceful solution necessitated a cessation of violence by all parties, compared to the imperialist demand that only the forces of the legal Syrian army should unilaterally cease fire, in effect surrender, with no such demand placed on the terrorists.

Lavrov denounced the support being given by some foreign governments to the terrorists. “Interference from outside, using raw military force, increases the illicit spread of arms, thus jeopardising stability in the region,” he said.

“Making hasty demands for regime change, imposing unilateral sanctions designed to trigger economic difficulties and social tensions, inducing the opposition to continue its confrontation with the authorities instead of promoting dialogue, making calls in support of armed confrontation and even for foreign military intervention – all of the above are risky recipes of geopolitical engineering that clearly result in the spread of conflict,” the Russian foreign minister warned.

In stark contrast, Hillary Clinton said: “We reject any equivalence between premeditated murders by a government’s military machine and the actions of civilians under siege driven to self-defence.”

The utter and odious hypocrisy of this ruthless imperialist brigand should be clear to all, but, as though perversely wishing to remove any doubt, Ms Clinton, in the very same speech, made reference to a people who really are living under siege, and have done so for years, namely the besieged and tormented Palestinian people in Gaza.

Speaking after several days of Israeli air strikes, which had killed 23 Palestinians, with no fatalities on the Israeli side, Clinton declared: “Let me also condemn in the strongest terms the rocket fire from Gaza by terrorists into southern Israel.”

These statements alone should be enough to lift the scales from the eyes of any confused people as to what the real issues are in Syria and the crying need for all anti-imperialists and anti-war activists to give their full support to the Syrian government in its just struggle.

Faced with the Syrian armed forces and people regaining the initiative, the refusal by Russia and China to knuckle under, and their own alliances starting to fray, the imperialist warmongers are growing increasingly frustrated. Such frustration was openly and petulantly expressed by Prime Minister David Cameron during his USA visit:

“We’re all frustrated by Syria. What’s happening in Homs is completely appalling. I’m endlessly kicking the tyres and asking what else can be done.”

Such frustration does not lessen the threat of all-out war; rather, it is extremely dangerous. Leading US senator, and Obama’s Republican challenger in 2008, John McCain, is among those openly calling for a Libya-style war to be unleashed on Syria, while the Pentagon has openly admitted to planning for just such a scenario.

It is therefore more urgent than ever to demand:

Hands off Syria!

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