Imperialism’s terrorist war in Syria

By JEFF MACKLER

U.S. imperialism’s selective “War on Terrorism” excludes some terrorists that the Obama administration finds more than suitable as allies in its effort to bring down the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.

On April 25, a combination of these “rebels” captured the city of Jisr al-Shoughour, the provincial capital and second largest city of Idlib province in northeast Syria. The previous month, al-Qaeda’s Syrian-based Nursa Front, an organization designated as terrorist by the U.S. government, occupied other parts of Idlib.

The Nursa front was joined in this effort by the Islamist “hardline” group, Ahrar al-Sham, and the U.S.-funded and armed “secular” Free Syrian Army (FSA). The latter has been deemed by the U.S. military as a rather ineffective force that more often than not “loses” its U.S.-provided weapons to al-Qaeda and/or Islamic State (ISIS) groups—who do the lion’s share of the fighting.

To date all Obama administration efforts to lend a semblance of secular credibility to the Free Syrian Army, via countless conferences overseen by Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva and elsewhere, have come to naught. Thus, the FSA, which alternately fights alongside the U.S. and Egyptian-sponsored terrorist groups or skirmishes against them, has little or no weight in Syria itself.

ISIS itself, largely a creation of the Saudi Arabian monarchy and otherwise engaged in eastern Syria and Iraq, was not a party to the recent victories in Idlib. ISIS, yesterday’s U.S. secret weapon in Syria, today seeks to remove the newest U.S.-installed government of Haider as-Abadi in Iraq. Yesterday’s U.S. rabid dog has today turned to bite the master hand that fed it, albeit with the go-ahead and support of the Saudi oil monarchs.

Observers close to the scene were quick to note that the “key” to the recent “rebel” victories was a combination of “captured anti-tank missiles” (presumably U.S. supplied to the FSA) and the free flow of arms and terrorists through the Turkish border. This flow has been facilitated by the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, with the latter monarchy, emboldened by its U.S.-supported saturation bombing of Yemen, feeling less inclined to hide the massive financial and military aid that it provides to ISIS.

Indeed, the Saudi oil barons expressed concern that last month’s U.S.-saturation bombing of ISIS forces in Tikrit, Iraq, not take too devastating a toll on its ISIS protégés.

The imperialist-funded and U.S.-Saudi-abetted terrorist military advance in Syria brings these forces closer to Syria’s coastal cities, a current stronghold of the Syrian government. The Syrian press agency Sana reported that Syrian government forces were “facing the terrorist groups flowing in huge numbers through the Turkish border.”

The April 26 New York Times reported, “Saudi Arabia and Turkey, longtime supporters of the uprising against Mr. Assad, are prepared to step up aid to insurgents with or without American support. Saudi Arabia has flexed its muscles lately in the region, most notably with its air war in Yemen to counteract what it sees as dangerous steps toward reconciliation with Iran, its main rival, and the United States.”

What began four years ago in the initial stages of the Arab Spring as a popular uprising—undoubtedly with the clandestine encouragement of U.S.-funded NGOs—against the Assad regime’s lack of democracy and corruption, and its imposition of neoliberal austerity measures, rapidly devolved into an imperialist assault on Syria with the “regime change” intention of replacing Assad with a more U.S.-friendly capitalist government.

Today, those radical or socialist forces that participated in the earliest anti-Assad mobilizations, which were brutally crushed by Assad, have no significant presence in Syria. We know of no independent forces with sizable social weight in the country. The construction of a revolutionary socialist party remains a critical, although long-term, perspective and necessity.

The initial short-lived rising of oppressed Syrian peasants and some elements in the working class has been transformed into a U.S. and allied-led reactionary effort, employing even the most ardent terrorist groups, who off and on ally with imperialism to achieve their own anti-social ends, to further globalize U.S. imperialism’s reach and control of the people and resources of the region.

Without equivocation, the central responsibility of all antiwar and social justice organizations is to demand and mobilize for the immediate and total end to all U.S. and allied intervention in Syria and to fully support the right to self-determination of the Syria people.

The defeat of imperialist intervention is the prerequisite for the Syrian masses to organize their own independent class-struggle forces for the liberation of their nation.

Photo: Tony Savino / Socialist Action