The Turkish-Syrian border during heavy fighting. Image: Aris Messinis, AFP/Getty Images

John Rees looks at whether there is a side that ‘we’ should join

David Cameron says that our allies need us to join in the bombing of Syria. He also believes that there are 70,000 pro-western rebels who will do the fighting for ‘us’ on the ground. So here’s a quick guide to who is fighting who in Syria.

1 Turkey, our NATO ally: is really fighting the Kurds and the Russians, not the Islamic State group (IS) because its main aim is to get rid of Assad.

2Russia: is only half (at best) fighting IS because it really wishes to defeat the pro-western opposition to the Assad regime which is its client.

3The Kurds: are fighting for their own nation state and are only really fighting IS when they threaten Kurdish territory. The West officially designates the Kurds as terrorists.

4Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, our key allies in the Middle East: have always supported the IS and other extreme jihadists in order to defeat Iranian ally Assad.

5Iran: backs Assad, but is now western friendly since the nuclear deal.

6The United States: is against Assad and the IS, but not too much in case it loses the new found friendship with Iran.

7France: the only European country currently bombing Syria.

8The FSA: a tiny rump that has consistently failed militarily.

9Al Nusra front: the Al Qaeda franchise in Syria that is fighting Assad and only fights IS when it threatens them. Designated a terrorist organisation by the West but included in Cameron’s 70,000 pro-western forces.

From which it should be obvious to a fool, and therefore to the Prime Minister, that there is no military solution that involves additional bombing by Britain. In particular the figure of 70,000 pro-western militia is, as the Tory chair of the Defence Select Committee said, simply ‘magical’. If those numbers existed in Syria alone they would have triumphed over the 30,000 IS fighters that the US says exist in Syria and Iraq long ago.

What all this shows is that Cameron has no strategy and just wants a war so that he can be part of whatever carve up takes place at the end of all this. Meanwhile Cameron is not only cavalier with innocent lives in Syria. He also seems to believe that attacking Syria will not worsen the terrorist threat in the UK. But he’s wrong. It will. 

John Rees

John Rees is a writer, broadcaster and activist, and is one of the organisers of the People’s Assembly. His books include ‘The Algebra of Revolution’, ‘Imperialism and Resistance’, ‘Timelines, A Political History of the Modern World’, ‘The People Demand, A Short History of the Arab Revolutions’ (with Joseph Daher), ‘A People’s History of London’ (with Lindsey German) and The Leveller Revolution. He is co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition.

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