The Sceptical Case for Opposing Western Intervention in Syria.
Al-Nusra Already Threatens Alawites over Chemical Attacks.
Patrick Cockburn writes (Independent),
The priority for Syrian foreign policy for the past two-and-a-half years has been to avoid foreign military intervention on behalf of the rebels. By the same token, the opposition has tried by every means to secure armed intervention by the US and its allies sufficient to win the war.
He then goes on to say,
Experts specialising in chemical weapons had hitherto expressed scepticism, even derision, at supposed proofs of chemical weapons use in the media.
So it is difficult to think of any action by the Damascus government more self-destructive than the Syrian army launching a massive chemical-weapons attack on rebel-held districts in its own capital. Yet the evidence is piling up that this is exactly what happened last Wednesday and that the Syrian army fired rockets or shells containing poison gas which killed hundreds of people in the east of the city. The opposition may be capable of manufacturing evidence of government atrocities, but it is highly unlikely it could do so on such a large scale as this.
After weighing up the situation detail Cockburn concludes,
The Syrian government denies it had anything to do with the gas attack, but it has not given a credible account of what did happen. Initially, there was disbelief that it would do something so patently against its own interests, but all the evidence so far is that it has done just that.
This morning on France Inter, the well-informed geopolitics commentator Bernard Guetta expressed the view that all the Western governments were convinced that the chemical attack had taken place.
The issue now is what kind of action they will take.
In France, Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius says on Europe 1 that “toutes les options restaient “ouvertes” et que la décision concernant une “réponse proportionnée” serait prise “dans les jours qui viennent”.
All options remain open, and that a decision, regarding a proportional response, will be taken in the coming days.
In the UK the BBC reports,
Diplomatic pressure on Syria has failed and the UK is considering its response to a suspected chemical attack, Foreign Secretary William Hague says.
He told the BBC it would be possible for the UK and its allies to respond without the UN’s unanimous backing.
He said the UN Security Council, split over Syria, had not “shouldered its responsibilities”.
Today we learn that (Independent),
The White House signalled on Sunday night that the Syrian government’s decision to finally allow weapons inspectors to analyse the site of last week’s alleged chemical attack was too little too late after bluntly rebuffing an invitation issued by Damascus.
Options for a military strike drawn up by the Pentagon are already on President Barack Obama’s desk. However as he contemplated them last night – most likely a strike by cruise missiles launched from the Mediterranean – he was on the receiving end of strong warnings to desist from both Moscow and some leaders of his own party at home.
The administration official stressed that President Obama had not made up his mind and was awaiting a final assessment from the US intelligence services on the circumstances of the use of chemical weapons. But he made clear that the outcome of that assessment was hardly a matter of suspense. “There is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.” Any final decision may also await a meeting of top Western and Arab defence ministers in Amman expected in the coming few days.
This is not a question of arming “Syrian democratic leftists”.
Not is a matter (as Socialist Unity believes) of defending an “axis of resistance” – Syria, and Iran – against the ‘West’ – imperialism or as they call it, the “West’s hegemonic objectives” .
We would not defend these blood drenched regimes.
It is is doubtful if the Syrian tragedy is a “proxy war” (for whom, for what?), as the Stop the War Coalition alleges.
There are profound democratic reasons to want Assad and the Baathist tyranny to go.
The reason is that intervention will not help Syria to create a democratic society based on social rights.
Western direct involvement in the Syrian civil war will not help the cause of the peoples.
There is indeed a wide range of opposition groups in Syria, many involved in the fighting (see Wikipedia for the long list).
It is said (Reuters) that they intend to create a National Army.
“Once we get the (battle)field organised, then everything will be organised,” he said. “This will be the army of the new Syria. We want to integrate its ranks and unify the sources of funding and arms,” the Syrian National Coalition member said.
Saudi Arabia has prevailed over Qatar to impose itself as the main outside force supporting the Syrian rebels, in part to counter the influence of Qatari-backed Islamist militants.
Riyadh has put forward $100 million as preliminary funding for a force planned to be 6,000 to 10,000 strong, rebels say.
Sources in the Coalition said the aim was to form a core of several thousand well-trained fighters that would also serve as the base for a bigger national army once Assad was toppled, avoiding a military vacuum and anarchy.
Yet the hard-line Islamist groups, Salafists and Jihadists (list here) within the armed opposition have not stopped growing.
They have shown utter contempt for democracy and human life.
Their hatred of minorities, from Christians, Alawites, to the Kurds, has been demonstrated through gore and horror.
The Al-Nusra Front has already threatened Alwaite villagers (not Assad) as a reprisal against alleged Chemical warfare.
Many of us would not put much faith in a Saudi backed force to replace them – or to rein them in.
The West’s action will be pouring petrol on the fire.
Oppose Western Intervention!