Imperialist schemes to bring the long-cherished dreams of regime-change in Syria to fruition continue to be bedevilled with difficulties, despite the worst intentions.
Turkey in turmoil
A key element of the grand plan is the annexation of part of Syrian territory as supposedly ‘Islamic State-free zones’, in coordination with Turkey, in the expectation thereby of more successfully pursuing regime change in Damascus – as always, on the pretext of combating Islamic State (IS). That fiction is proving particularly difficult to maintain in the case of Turkey, given the bountiful evidence of Ankara’s willingness to sell Turkey to the Muslim Brotherhood reactionaries, consistently arming and sustaining IS and other terrorists over the whole period of the undeclared proxy war against the Syrian nation.
Now it appears that Washington has persuaded Ankara to make greater efforts to appear to distance itself from IS, in the hope of preventing the whole NATO plan from foundering in a PR nightmare. To demonstrate its supposed commitment to the fight against IS, on 24 July Ankara dutifully dispatched warplanes to attack 3 alleged IS targets in Syria – but then subsequently sent 75 more warplanes to bomb 48 PKK targets in the north of Iraq, thereby clarifying its real priorities. Speculation that giving Ankara a free hand against the Kurds was the price paid for Turkey tucking in behind NATO strategy was heightened by Washington’s verbal support for the attacks on the basis that the PKK is a ‘terrorist organisation’ (although it was the PKK’s Syrian affiliate that was credited with the expulsion of IS from Kobane, on which occasion they were the official ‘good guys’).
Turkey’s role as launchpad for terror operations against Syria has already proved enormously destabilising for the country, in part accounting for the recent electoral turmoil and the dramatic loss of support for Erdogan and the previously governing AKP. Of particular concern to the ruling establishment has been the growing success of a Kurdish-based populist movement, the HDP, despite that party suffering repeated violence in the course of the elections. In these circumstances it seems that the forces of reaction in Turkish society are attempting to divide and demoralise the people with anti-Kurd chauvinism. When an attack by IS upon Kurdish leftists in Suruc on 20 July left 32 dead, the hand of the state was seen behind the outrage and the revenge killing of two Turkish police officers swiftly followed. This then served as the pretext Ankara required to declare the end of the ceasefire (under whose terms PKK forces had relocated from Turkey to northern Iraq) and begin its slaughter from the air. This act of international state terror was complemented on the domestic front by the arrest of around 300 people during raids in 13 cities of Turkey, with 5,000 police mobilised in a crackdown in Istanbul. It does not help the NATO war effort against Syria that Turkey, a key agent of imperialist influence in the region, should be in such uncontrollable crisis.
Knock-back for US-sponsored Syrian turncoats
To make matters worse, the Pentagon’s programme for training up a mercenary army of Syrian turncoats to subvert their own country (sorry, a “moderate opposition force to rid the country of IS”!) runs the risk of descending into farce. The idea was supposed to be for NATO planes to take off from Turkish bases bearing a load of Syrian insurgents tasked with securing “Islamic State-free zones”. But now it turns out that these would-be Syrian “boots on the ground” are not quite all they were shined up to be. According to the New York Times,
“A Pentagon program to train moderate Syrian insurgents to fight the Islamic State has been vexed by problems of recruitment, screening, dismissals and desertions that have left only a tiny band of fighters ready to do battle. Those fighters – 54 in all – suffered perhaps their most embarrassing setback yet on Thursday. One of their leaders, a Syrian Army defector who recruited them, was abducted in Syria near the Turkish border, along with his deputy who commands the trainees. They were seized not by the Islamic State but by its rival the Nusra Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda that is another Islamist extremist byproduct of the four-year-old Syrian civil war…
“The biggest kidnapping prize on Thursday was a leader of the trainees, Nadeem Hassan. When the Pentagon announced the program last year, Mr. Hassan helped to gather several groups totalling 1,200 insurgents, who were already fighting in Syria and willing to join the training… In an interview just two days earlier, Mr. Hassan spoke about the troubles he had faced. After screening, just 125 of his recruits were invited to the first course. Of those, more than half were thrown out or quit. The rest, he said, had deployed back to Syria, but had not been told whether American warplanes would defend them if Syrian forces attacked. Mr. Hassan said the Americans, worried about the lack of recruits, were recalling men they had once rejected.” ( Karam Shoumali, Anne Barnard, Eric Schmitt, ‘Abductions hurt US bid to train anti-ISIS rebels in Syria,’ New York Times, 30 July 2015)
Most comical of all was the failure of the Pentagon to keep up with which terrorists are supposed to be flavour of the month and which are public enemy number one. Despite the Nusra Front’s known link with Al-Qaeda, the puppet masters ended up strangling in their own strings.
“While American military trainers had gone to great lengths to protect the initial group of trainees from attacks by Islamic State or Syrian Army forces, they did not anticipate an assault from the Nusra Front. In fact, officials said on Friday, they expected the Nusra Front to welcome Division 30 as an ally in its fight against the Islamic State.
‘This wasn’t supposed to happen like this,’ said one former senior American official.”
Britain deeper in the mire
British imperialism is fully engaged with US warmongering plans. In the wake of revelations that British troops have long been embedded with US-led forces in Syria, it has now come out that RAF drone crews have been operating under US command from Creech airbase in Nevada, in all probability involved in illegal strikes on Pakistan and Yemen.
On top of all that, it now emerges that the SAS have been busy dressing themselves up as Islamic State militants and infiltrating Syria. Two SAS squadrons so far, under US command and comprising some 120 men in total, have entered Syria in the guise of IS militants as part of “Operation Shader”, using mini-drones to identify potential targets for air strikes sited within the poetically titled “kill boxes”. The stated aims of Operation Shader are (a) the destruction of equipment and weaponry belonging to IS and (b) ” assessing infrastructure and identifying where ISIS is hiding its equipment in order to set the conditions for a potentially larger, future engagement .” If for ‘IS’ we substitute ‘the Syrian army’ we get a much clearer picture of the true goal of British imperialism. (RT, ‘Special Forces disguised as ISIS fighters operating in Syria – military sources’, 3 August 2015)
What would transpire were an SAS squadron in full Islamic State drag ever to run into the latest sorry batch of Syrian turncoats to be trained up in Turkey beggars imagination.
As Bashar al-Assad noted in his 26 July speech in Damascus, speaking of the West’s relationship with militant Islamists, “What they want is to keep this monster in check and not eliminate it. All their military, political and media campaigns are in fact smoke screens, and what the West has done so far has led to a growth of terrorism instead of eliminating it .” (Bashar al Assad, ‘”Terrorism” from Damascus’ Perspective’, Global Research, 29 July 2015)
Syria stands firm
Meanwhile eyewitness reports reveal the strength and unity of Syrian society under terrorist attack.
“In my second visit to Syria during the crisis, in July 2015, I could see how security had improved around the major cities. In my first visit in December 2013, although NATO’s throat-cutters had been ejected from much of Homs and Qsayr, they were in the ancient village of Maloula and along the Qalamoun Mountains, as well as attacking the road south to Sweida. This year we were able to travel freely by road from Sweida to Damascus to Homs to Latakia, with just one minor detour around Harasta. In late 2013 there was daily mortaring of eastern Damascus; this year it was far less common. The army seems to control 90% of the heavily populated areas.. Notwithstanding the Daesh/ISIL offensives in Daraa, Idlib and Eastern Homs, the heavily populated areas of Syria are under noticeably stronger army control than they were in 2013… The Syrian Army has tightened its cordon around northern Aleppo, Douma and Harasta, and has had recent victories in Hasaka, Idlib and Daraa. With Hezbollah forces the Army has virtually eliminated Daesh/ISIL and its squabbling partners from the Qalamoun mountains, along the border with Lebanon.” (Professor Tim Anderson, ‘Why Syria is winning: advancing towards a strategic victory’, posted on Information Clearing House, July 2015)
Contrary to Western media reports which pretend that the Syrian army favours shock and awe tactics, bombing rebel-held areas without regard for civilian casualties, this eyewitness suggests that the real war is being fought on the ground, building by building, and notes that:
“Many Syrians we spoke to said they wished the government would indeed flatten these ghost towns, saying that the only civilians left there are the families of and collaborators with the extremist groups. The Syrian Government proceeds with greater caution… The fact that, after three years, Syrian planes and artillery have not flattened hold-out areas like Jobar, Douma and parts of northern Aleppo, gives the lie to claims against the Army.” (ibid.)
Meanwhile, despite powercuts, rationing and the internal displacement of so many thousands, the Syria people remain steadfast:
“Despite years of mass terrorism and western sanctions the Syrian state is functioning surprisingly well. In July 2015 our group visited large sports centres, schools and hospitals. Millions of Syrian children attend school and hundreds of thousands still study in mostly fee-free universities”. (ibid.)
Victory to the Syrian government, army and people!
Death to imperialism and all its agencies!