Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Sceptical Case for Opposing Western Intervention in Syria.

with 8 comments


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!

Written by Andrew Coates

August 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on digger666 and commented:
    It’s impossible not to stand in solidarity with anyone who opposes intervention in what is essentially a civil war. Why would our leaders believe this intervention will have happier consequences than other interventions in the region?


    August 26, 2013 at 1:03 pm

  2. The empirical evidence that Western intervention will improve the situation is non-existent. Based on the outcome of recent events in the Middle East, UK and US involvement would be utterly irresponsible. If anyone, anywhere can provide an example of “choosing a side” in a civil war that’s alleviated the situation, please come forward.


    August 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    It is very serious and it’s gut-wrenching to watch the civil war.

    There is indeed no evidence that attacks – probably air bombings – will do anything other than make things worse.

    Owen Jones (whose article I did not see until after I’d written this), makes a number of the same points:


    He also states,

    ” The Cruise Missile Liberals, who casually call for other people’s children to fight their wars and for bombs to fall on the heads of those they will never meet, are beginning to cry for military action. It is perplexing indeed: these are the sorts of people who generally favour bombs to be dropped on the sorts of Islamist fighters taking on Assad’s forces.”

    I would add: It is equally bizarre to see those in the StWC and SU, amongst others, who allied with the Muslim Brotherhood (that is the Muslim Association of Britain) in the big Stop the War demonstrations over the invasion of Iraq, now so virulently attack the bloc involving the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria – a pillar of the armed opposition.

    This would be one thing, but it’s hard to take these arguments from those who accuse us lot of ‘Islamophobia’ reeling out argument that Assad (ally of Iran and Hezbollah) is a force of ‘resistance’ to… Islamism.

    Lee is right, let’s not ‘choose’ the Assad side either.

    Andrew Coates

    August 27, 2013 at 10:44 am

  4. RSS Jean-Luc Mélenchon (PG) : frapper la Syrie serait “une erreur gigantesque”

    “Ce serait une erreur gigantesque, peut-être le seuil d’une guerre beaucoup plus large que toutes celles que nous avons vues dans cette région.”

    It would be a gigantic error to attack Syria, perhaps reaching the threshold of a much wider war than those who have already seen in the region..

    The leader of the Front de gauche expressed doubts about he American reasons for a an attack, questioned France’s strategy of following the US, warned of a “domino” effect of an intervention, and called for a “political solution” to the conflict.


    Andrew Coates

    August 27, 2013 at 11:47 am

  5. Not all forms of imperialist intervention are equal or equally detrimental to the world’s peoples. Libya is clearly much better off now after the successful completion of the bourgeois-democratic revolution (with “aid” from NATO) than it was or would have been under Ghadafi’s tyranny.

    The problem here is that the coming airstrikes won’t help arms-starved Syrian revolutionaries of any stripe.


    August 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm

  6. Excellent work there Drew! I too oppose western intervention. Let the moozlamb savages kill each other and if some poor, innocent Mohammed going about his day in the street gets killed..well what did Lenin say about omelettes and eggs? BUT….when the intervention fails and the killings and massacres and gassings continue, you must, must MUST write a blog post!!! That is ESSENTIAL!!


    August 27, 2013 at 10:59 pm

  7. Reblogged this on oogenhand.


    August 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm

  8. sav·age (svj)

    1. A person regarded as primitive or uncivilized.
    2. A person regarded as brutal, fierce, or vicious.

    tr.v. sav·aged, sav·ag·ing, sav·ag·es
    1. To assault ferociously.
    2. To attack without restraint or pity: The critics savaged the new play.

    [Middle English sauvage, from Old French, from Late Latin salvticus, from Latin silvticus, of the woods, wild, from silva, forest.]

    savage·ly adv.
    savage·ness n.


    John Wight

    November 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

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