The Point
Last updated: 05 March 2020. sky thinking for an open and diverse left

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No to military intervention in Syria

As we dash headlong into what would effectively be a declaration of war on Syria, egged on by the usual trustworthy sabre-rattlers, John Wight reminds us of the West's previous in the Middle-East and asks...
Is it all happening again..?
Why would Syrian government forces mount a chemical weapons attack on a suburb of Damascus at a time when a delegation of UN weapons inspectors were in the country – only just arrived in Damascus no less – to investigate previous allegations of chemical weapons use during this unrelentingly brutal conflict? Why would they do so knowing it would give the West the pretext they’ve long been seeking to engage in military intervention? Why would they do so knowing it would instantly lose them the crucial geopolitical support of Russia, without which military intervention would already have taken place? And why would it do so when after two and a half years the Syrian National Army, aided by Hezbollah and Iran, had begun to take the strategic initiative on the ground?
It would constitute one of the greatest military and political blunders in history if it was proved that Bashar al-Assad or any of his generals had ordered the use of what most experts have agreed was sarin nerve gas against the civilian population of Ghouta on the eastern outskirts of Damascus recently, resulting in the horrific scenes of men, women, and children suffering unspeakable agony that we’ve seen in the aftermath.
It would, in fact, be tantamount to Bashar al-Assad signing his own death warrant along with that of his government.
Let's not pretend: from the outset the US, Britain, and France - along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey in the region - have been open in their political, financial, and military support for the opposition and the toppling of the Syrian government. It's instructive that of all the western powers lined up against Assad, France was the one to come out first with a call for direct military intervention in the conflict should it be proved that the government was behind this particular atrocity. France - the former colonial power - whose bloody war to maintain control another of its former colonies, Algeria, from 1954 to 1962, cost the lives of up to 1.5 million people – from the outset decided that the Syrian government was responsible and viewed it as an opportunity to garner support both at home and abroad for some kind of military intervention. Paris was predictably and quickly joined in its rush to judgment by Washington and London.
 Five days after the attack the UN inspectors already in Damascus were given access to the site of the attack. This delay was added to the charge sheet prepared in Washington, which by now had taken control of the situation in time old fashion. Also added to the charge sheet was the sniper attack on one of the UN vehicles as they made their way through the war torn suburb to begin their investigation.
 We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Just cast your mind back to 2002/03 when Saddam and Iraq was in the crosshairs of western military intervention. Remember the then US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, appearing at the UN holding up a vial which he told the world could contain enough anthrax to decimate an entire city? Remember how Saddam’s and the Iraqi government’s denials that they possessed WMDs was taken as evidence they did? Remember how UN inspectors, led by Hans Blix, were withdrawn precipitately when it became clear there was no evidence to support the justification for a war that had already been green lit and was going to take place regardless?
Well here we are, a decade on, with the latest UN Secretary of State, John Kerry, declaring in his recent statement to the world’s media that despite the fact it will probably be impossible for the UN inspection underway in Damascus to determine who was responsible for the chemical weapons attack, he and the president have no doubt that President Assad is responsible.  
 Iraq, Libya, Syria – the script is the same; the only thing that has changed is the location.
The West's hegemonic objectives when it comes to the region are clear. With Syria as one pole of resistance both to the West's geopolitical objectives and Israeli military domination removed, Hezbollah, a second pole in what is an axis of resistance, would be significantly weakened, no doubt preparatory to an Israeli pretext being cooked up to settle accounts with the Lebanese resistance movement after the humiliating military defeat it suffered at its hands back in 2006. The major stumbling block to complete western domination of the region and its resources is, of course, Iran, which would be left isolated if both its close allies, Syria and Hezbollah, were defeated and/or destroyed
Those are the stakes involved in this ongoing conflict; and this is why these allegations must be regarded with a healthy dose of scepticism.
 Meanwhile the suffering of the Syrian people continues, with reports and graphic images and videos of atrocities being committed a stark reminder of the stakes involved. The summary execution of prisoners, the beheading of minorities and prisoners by the main opposition current, the al-Nusra Front – an al-Qaeda affiliate – which is set on turning not just Syria but the entire region into a mass killing field in service to a perverse rendering of Islam, are taking place on a daily basis. There is no other word to describe these people other than beasts, whose very existence is an affront to the very word civilisation.
 Add to this the millions of refugees who’ve crossed Syria's borders to escape the violence, the millions displaced within the country, and the need for an end to the violence is self evident. This can only come about via a political solution, negotiated in good faith by the Syrian government and a credible Syrian opposition. There can be no place at the table for non-Syrian jihadists whose vision for the future of the country is rooted in the seventh century. 
Yet in the West the emphasis remains on supporting the opposition, whatever its stripe, in its attempt to topple the Assad government by force. The lessons of the human suffering, carnage and chaos to beset Iraq and Libya have been forgotten - or as is more likely ignored - in service to the more important issue of an outcome favourable to western geopolitical interests.
'Twas ever thus.

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