The menace of imperialist intervention looms over Syria as tensions increase between the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Western powers and their Middle Eastern surrogates. On June 22, the Assad government shot down a Turkish airplane that was conducting a reconnaissance mission in Syrian airspace. Despite an apology from Assad, the Turkish government (which is a member of NATO) responded by amassing more F-16 fighter jets and other military forces on the Syrian border.
The mounting tensions occur in the context of more violent attacks perpetrated by the Assad regime against the Syrian opposition. The Houla massacre of May 25, in which over 100 civilians perished in unclear circumstances, and the continued bombings outside of Damascus have stirred calls in the West for “regime change.” In the meantime, repression by the Syrian army and its associated militias has been met by increased attacks by the armed opposition, which has seen a steady rise in foreign aid.
While the Assad regime has received military assistance from Russia, the Syrian opposition has been accepting arms and equipment from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar—as well as from the United States. The New York Times recently confirmed that the CIA has been involved in smuggling arms to select militants from the opposition. And Time magazine reported in its issue of June 25 that the U.S. State Department has budgeted over $72 million to train armed Syrian dissidents in encryption, hacking, and video production.
Foreign ministers from the United States, France, Great Britain, Russia, China, and several other nations met in Geneva on June 30 to broker an agreement for a transitional government in Syria. No Syrians were represented in these negotiations, which were supposedly seeking to achieve “an inclusive Syrian-led political process to address the legitimate aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.”
The West has been silent on how a “Syrian-led political process” could develop without the input of the Syrian masses. Nonetheless, the imperialist powers could not come to an agreement during the conference, which resulted in an undefined plan to create a transitional government. Russia insisted that the arrangement would not specifically exclude Assad from any transitional regime. Elements from both the Syrian opposition and the Assad government have denounced the plan brokered at the Geneva meeting.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), a group of Syrian elites in-exile who have positioned themselves as the head of the opposition movement, has repeatedly called on the West to intervene militarily to oust Assad and end the violence that is tearing the country apart. In the week leading up to the Geneva conference, it was reported that 800 people were killed in fighting between Assad’s forces and the Syrian opposition. Heightened imperialist intervention, however, like the one conducted by NATO in Libya, would only result in more civilian casualties and deaths.
The fate of the Syrian revolution lies in the hands of the workers, peasants, and oppressed minorities struggling for their freedom. These forces must seek to maintain their political independence and take the opposition in a different direction than what is proposed by the Syrian National Council. This includes opposing imperialist intervention, which will only seek to co-opt the movement and bend it to the interests of foreign capital.
To this end, we call for the formation of a revolutionary party based in the working class and oppressed communities. Such a party must have a political program capable of uniting the Syrian people in their aspirations for freedom, democratic rights, and economic justice. Moreover, the Syrian people will only know true freedom when they overthrow the exploitative capitalist system, cast out their oppressors, and reshape society to one that is based on grassroots democracy, with the goal of meeting human needs instead of private profit.
No to imperialist intervention! No to the Assad regime! Victory to the workers, peasants, oppressed communities, and youth of Syria!
> The article above was written by Daniel Xavier, and is reprinted from the July 2012 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.