The alliance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Jordan and the western powers has in its sights the taking out of Syria as a key ally of Iran, and with it Hezbollah in Lebanon
The use of chemical weapons by Syria's Bashir Assad would be, said Barack Obama last year, a 'game changer' and a 'red line'.
This week, the US and British governments have made accusations of the 'probable' discovery of missiles using the chemical sarin in fighting between government and rebel forces near Aleppo.
While these governments have been qualified in their assessment of the extent and seriousness of the use of such weapons (and indeed their provenance), this latest accusation and the call for the UN to investigate is a clear escalation of a war which has long involved players beyond the borders of Syria. We are getting closer to the 'red line'.
The ominous quote from a senior British official in the Financial Times today that 'It is increasingly likely that sarin was used by the Assad regime' demonstrates that a case is being put together to justify overt military intervention on top of the widespread but unofficial intervention that already exists.
Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Israel, as well as the US and EU powers, are all supplying support for the opposition in various forms, through arms, finance, provision of control centres and troops. Jordan's border with Syria is the site of military training and manoeuvres by foreign troops, including the British. Just last week, the Pentagon "announced that is is sending an additional 200 troops, mostly command and logistics experts, to Jordan to help prepare the Jordanian government for a potential military intervention in Syria’s ongoing civil war. "
The EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this week cried more crocodile tears about the need for humanitarian intervention in Syria. But their actions yet again confirmed that what they are preparing for is war. The EU announcement that it is lifting sanctions preventing it from buying oil from Syria is a means of further financing an opposition, which it is already funding and arming, as a means of effecting regime change in the country.
It is on the face of it a remarkable decision, where foreign powers not only decide to arm and send funds to rebel forces, but also to buy resources from them which have only been obtained as a result of fortunes of war.
The impact of Western intervention in Syria is becoming more destructive as time goes on. Syria, locked into a bitter civil war between the government of Bashir Assad and the various opposition forces, is continuing its descent into hell, aided and abetted by outside powers whose concern is not humanitarian nor democratic (witness the internal regimes of Saudi Arabia or Qatar, or their friends in Bahrain and Jordan), but is about reshaping the region and especially destroying Syria’s ally in Iran.
The Western powers have not yet been able to intervene openly in military terms but they are doing their best to ensure that the bloody war continues. Their aim is regime change and the removal of Assad to be replaced by a pro Western government. But it would appear that in the absence of such an outcome, the anti Assad governments are prepared to do their part in continuing and worsening the war which has already brought so much misery to ordinary Syrians, many of whom are now refugees.
The journalist Robert Fisk wrote recently: 'The 100-mile highway to Tartus, and thus to Latakia – long closed by the armed opposition – has just been reopened by Assad’s divisions. For the first time in months, Syrians can now drive from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast. The rebels so beloved of NATO nations are losing their hold of Damascus. Yes, they may get it back. The road to Latakia may close again. This war – beware – may last another two, three or more years. Nobody will win.'
Far from anyone winning, the instability is now spreading with fighting in Iraq near the Syrian border, and with the threat of a much wider war. The alliance of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Jordan and the western powers has in its sights the taking out of Syria as a key ally of Iran, and with it Hezbollah in Lebanon. The aim is nothing short of a transformation of the Middle east aimed at permanently weakening Iran and its allies.
They tried it before, ten years ago, with the invasion of Iraq. We are all living with the consequences. Remember that when they try to sell the need for intervention based on weapons of mass destruction. Again.
First published on the Stop the War Coalition website.
As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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