Having overthrown the governments in Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, the U.S. government has sought to topple the Syrian government during the past two years. The CIA has been the coordinating agency for massive weapons shipments from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to armed groups fighting to topple the Syrian government.
The conflict in Syria that began more than two years ago was fueled by a wide range of grievances, some legitimate, some reactionary. But the armed rebellion inside the country is today inextricably bound to imperialism and the most reactionary regimes in the Arab world. Its aim is to destroy a secular, nationalist government that U.S. leaders view as an obstacle to their goal of dominating the entire Middle East.
The United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been funneling vast quantities of arms, money and supplies to the Syrian opposition, and training thousands of anti-government fighters in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere. On May 5, Israel heavily bombed an area close to the capital, Damascus.
Harsh economic sanctions have been imposed on Syria. The United States and its allies have waged a worldwide campaign to isolate and demonize the Syrian government.
Outside support has sustained the opposition, but not brought it victory. Thus, the leaders of the U.S.-organized “National Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces” and the “Free Syrian Army” have been making repeated and urgent appeals for more direct imperialist intervention, including an air war against their own country. Those appeals have become even more urgent due to losses suffered by the splintered opposition forces in recent weeks.
“Friends of Syria”: another face of imperialism
Stepping up the imperialist-led campaign, on May 22, the so-called “Friends of Syria” met in Amman, Jordan. Led by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the other “Friends” at the meeting were the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
The open aim of the “Friends” is the overthrow of existing government in Syria. Its concluding statement speaks of “supporting the legitimate rights of the Syrian people” and “a new Syrian constitution with equal rights for all.”
This supposed concern for “human rights” in Syria is nothing but the crassest cynicism.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Jordan are all police-state, absolute monarchies, sustained in power by U.S. support. Saudi Arabia has never had an election, women are forbidden to drive cars and public beheadings are a frequent occurrence. Britain and France are the former colonizing powers in the region, striving to retain their influence today. Germany and Italy shared in the colonial division of Africa; half the population of Libya died under Italian rule during World War II. Turkey has long repressed the Kurdish population inside its borders, as well as unions, leftist parties and other progressive organizations. The Egyptian government is suppressing the opposition as it seeks to consolidate its power.
As the dominant world power over the past 70 years, the United States has carried out genocidal wars from Korea to Vietnam to Iraq, leaving tens of millions dead, wounded and displaced. In addition, U.S. military and intelligence forces have intervened hundreds of times in countries around the world, and today the United States maintains more than 900 military bases on every continent. Death by U.S. drone is today a regular and terrorizing feature of life for people in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
The “Friends” are in reality a criminal gang who have no concern whatsoever for the interests of the people of Syria – or any people anywhere, for that matter.
Say no to U.S./NATO and Israeli intervention
An international peace conference on Syria has been jointly proposed by Russia and the United States, and is tentatively set to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, in June. It is not clear yet whether it will actually take place.
Regarding the proposed conference, the “Friends of Syria” statement ended by threatening, “[U]ntil such a time as the Geneva meeting produces a transitional government, they [the “Friends”] will further increase their support for the opposition and take all other steps as necessary.” By “transitional government,” the “Friends” mean one absent the present leadership. In other words, until there is “regime change,” they will escalate the war.
The anti-war movement in the United States has a duty to unequivocally oppose all forms of intervention by the United States, the other imperialists and their clients, and to support the right of the Syrian people to determine their own future, free from imperialist intervention.