Eleventh Hour to Prevent Catastrophe in Syria

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(For current information on the dangerous situation of a U.S. military action in the wake of a chemical attack in Syria, go to peoplesworld.org. The CPUSA opposes any U.S. military action in Syria.)

On May 8 of this year, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) wrote in a statement on the Syria situation:

"The push for U.S. intervention ultimately comes from the drive by international monopoly capital and especially the great oil and gas extraction transnationals to control resources in the Middle East and West-Central Asia....The Communist Party calls for an eleventh hour effort to stop the fighting and move toward a peaceful resolution."

Now, a month later, the eleventh hour is upon us. The situation has radically degenerated, and a region wide war involving not just Syrian factions but several local governments and major powers is not impossible. In response to some reverses for the rebels at Qusayr and elsewhere, the Obama administration appears to be ready to move into the Syria situation in a way which, we strongly believe, will greatly worsen the situation.

 

  • The United States government has announced that it will be providing arms directly to "moderate" Syrian rebels, in such a way as to supposedly prevent them from falling into the hands of the extreme Salafist militants of the Al Nusra Front, which is linked to Al Qaeda and shares its goals and methods. But numerous independent reports suggest that preventing such weapons from falling into the hands of the extreme Salafist jihadis is not going to be so simple. They appear to be the strongest rebel military force, and have showed no moderation in their stated objectives of setting up a repressive theocratic state in which minorities including Alawites, Sufis, Shiites, Christians, Jews and secular leftists will be in danger of their lives.
  • There are also indications that the United States also plans to set up military bases in Jordan, which could be used to launch attacks necessary to establish a no-fly zone in areas of Syria where rebels are taking a pounding from the forces of President Bashir al Assad's government. Although the Obama administration has not confirmed that such a no-fly zone is in the offing, it is what the rebels and their regional allies are demanding. We must remember that in the case of Libya, the setting up of a no fly zone was the first step to a massive NATO intervention which led to a war whose aftershocks are still being felt in North Africa and especially in the Sahel countries of Mali, Niger, Chad and Northern Nigeria.
  • The official reason given by the Obama administration for this escalation is that the Syrian government "crossed a red line" by using chemical weapons in a small number of incidents in their fight against the rebels, leading to the deaths of 120 to 150 individuals. Yet many people, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.N. war crimes investigator Carla Del Ponte and a variety of scientists in several countries question this, pointing out that the evidence is paper thin. There are also claims that the rebels have been either trying to get hold of their own chemical weapons or even have used them. Finally, it has been revealed that the "chemical weapons red line" may be a mere pretext for a decision to intervene which was taken weeks ago.
  • Russia, Iran, Iraq (which has a Shiite majority which feels threatened by Salafist Sunni militancy) and others will not tolerate that Syria, which is a modern and relatively developed country, becomes the base for al Qaeda type attacks on their countries, or for NATO insertion into the area. To avoid this eventuality, they are stepping up their aid to Mr. Assad's government, including with fighters from Iran and from the Hezbollah Shiite militias in neighboring Lebanon.
  • We do not think that the United States government is going to repeat the disastrous "boots on the ground" approach used in Iraq. But nevertheless, the whole panorama is degenerating into a series of interlocking proxy wars: Between Iran and Saudi Arabia, between militant Sunni and Shiite Islam, between Israel and Iran. More than 93,000 people, including many noncombatants have died and the number of refugees is in the millions. These figures will grow if something is not done to pull back from the brink.

 

Earlier there had been the beginnings of negotiations between Russia and the United States, which are now disrupted by the U.S. decision to escalate help to the rebels. Assad's government has shown some tentative willingness to move toward a negotiated solution, but the disparate forces in the rebel coalition have not so far, probably because this would cut off the aid they receive from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and wealthy patrons in the Gulf area. If the United States increases arms for the opposition, Assad is also likely to pull back from any inclination to negotiate.

In escalating U.S. intervention, the Obama administration goes against the clearly stated will of the overwhelming majority of the people of the United States, who oppose intervention in Syria.

The CPUSA calls on the American people to stop the slide toward disaster by demanding that the US government:

 

  • Cancel the order to start arming the rebels directly.
  • Stop the activity of the C.I.A. which has been helping channel aid from the Gulf states to the rebels.
  • Return to the idea that a negotiated and peaceful settlement is the best solution. This negotiated settlement must however be ultimately decided by the Syrians themselves.
  • Abandon the disastrous course of so-called "humanitarian interventions" to carry out "regime change" in other countries, which has benefited only multinational corporations wherever it has been applied.
  • International law forbids countries from intervening militarily in each others' internal affairs. This applies to the United States in the Syria situation also. International law, and international bodies, specifically the United Nations, should be the framework for resolving the situation, along with the will of the Syrian people, not unilateral action or self-serving "alliances" like the "Friends of Syria" and NATO. 

 

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