On August 7, 2012, Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) in Vancouver, Canada held a public forum titled “Syria: Is There a Revolution or Counter-Revolution? Facts & Fiction?!” This forum was part of ongoing antiwar forums organized by MAWO every second week on issues of imperialist war and occupation. The following is an excerpt from the talk given at the forum, by MAWO co-chair Janine Solanki. For the purposes of this article, the talk has been reduced to 2,000 words from the original 4,000 words.
Civil War in Syria
Right now Syria is under a rapidly escalating struggle, not between rebels and the Syrian government as is touted in the media every day, but between imperialist backed forces and an independent government and country that is resisting to be overthrown by the hand of imperialism. Right now Syria is in a full on state of war, but not just in a regular civil war between two opposing sides. This is a civil war where the opposition force is going against the government that, whether you like it or not, is popular and has broad support. And this so-called opposition is receiving weapons from foreign powers, receiving funding from foreign powers, and is even receiving on the ground support in the form of mercenaries from other countries who are coming to fight this so-called civil war in Syria. And we have seen this building and building over the last year and a half, also with increasing sanctions, from countries like the United States and Canada, condemnations from US officials and politicians and other imperialist governments around the world. And now coming to the very near threat, the very possible threat of a foreign intervention, and if not that, even if not a direct foreign military intervention, the kind of fighting that we’re seeing now, with the inside force being completely funded and armed by outside forces.
Syria, Independent or Colonial, That is the Question!
So why is this conflict receiving so much attention and support from Canada, the US and other imperialist countries around the world? Everything we see on the news today about Syria, and what the US government is planning and acting on, is a result of imperialist ambition to overthrow not only the government of Syria because it’s the government of Syria, but because it’s a government that’s independent. Independent in a very important region of the world right now, in the Middle East. For the United States to have the Middle East completely within its grip, as they have been trying to for the last many years, especially in the last 10 years, there can be no country that does not answer to US colonial policies, and does not have a puppet regime like we saw for so many years in Tunisia, in Egypt, as we see in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and so many other countries. As long as examples of countries not under the yoke of foreign imperialist domination exist in the Middle East, so they present the influence and resistance against US domination. So for so many years we’ve had three main countries that have stood up against these attacks and this domination from US imperialism – Iran, Syria and Libya. And amid every country in the Middle East or Africa either under occupation or with puppet regimes and military bases, these three countries presented resistance and independence. But also under constant pressure, under constant conflict with US covert operations, media campaigns, sanctions… throughout all of this for many years, they remained independent.
So I think when we talk about Syria we have behind us an example that is very similar. We saw Libya go through the same process of a so-called mass movement spring up, which was a group of people who were right away armed, and right away the mass media and imperialist governments pushing for the overthrow of that independent government, and what we saw was the outcome of Libya, we saw over 30,000 bombs dropped on that country and the killing of at least 25,000 innocent people. Well, this is what we are supposed to learn from imperialist countries when they are attempting to save the lives of people, as this is exactly what they claimed at the beginning for why they should impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
Syrian Opposition and Rebels: Where Do They All Come From?
But this is all kind of looking at the last year and a half, in the Middle East especially. But when we look at the global scale, imperialist forces launched the new era of war and occupation more than a decade ago. With the excuse of 9/11 (September 11, 2001), they invaded and occupied Afghanistan which for now over a decade has been occupied. They ramped up a new war drive to combat the world’s economic crisis that has been affecting imperialist countries and has been something that imperialist governments have taken the band-aid solution fix to, of invading and attacking colonial and semi-colonial, developing, poor and independent countries, to exploit their cheap labour, to plunder their resources and to gain a upper hand and gain more influence in those regions, as the United States is trying to now in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. But of course all of this when we’re talking about Syria is not what anyone is hearing in the mainstream news. What they are hearing is that Syrian government forces are blood-thirsty, committing massacres against their own people, but what’s really going on in Syria? Who are the so-called Syrian opposition rebels and their so called Free Syrian Army? These are not people that just came out of nowhere. For many years the United States has been holding meetings with opposition groups and their people in Syria, providing funding and support and training to them, and you have to just ask yourself, what kind of legitimate opposition gets their support from the biggest imperialist power in the world, and at what price? First of all, looking at how all of this started, this armed opposition to the Syrian government began in March of 2011, in Daraa, a small town on the Jordanian border. And this is from RT, on March 13. They said “mass protest movements usually start in large population centers. Later, Saudi Arabia admitted sending weapons to the opposition via Jordan.” So right from the beginning you see the foreign influence in this so-called mass movement. On June 21 of this year, the New York Times “reported that a number of CIA officers in southern Turkey are “helping” allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms, with the funding of US allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These weapons are reported to include automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons.” Besides even this military support, US allies are even putting Free Syrian Army fighters on a payroll. Saudi Arabia recently shared with the Guardian newspaper that they planned to pay future military deserters in dollars and euros. And this report came from a little while ago, now there is more reports that yes, they are on that payroll, yes they are receiving funding.
Mainstream Media: Information as a Tool to Misinform
So we are seeing all of this being flipped on its head when we hear about it in the mainstream news and media and this is the kind of thing that people like the guy I work with read and take without any critical thinking as true. But we can always ask the question, if the US cares so much about the people in Syria, if they are so intent on having news on Syria every day pushing condemnations of the Syrian government and pressure on the Syrian government, and they claim to care so much about the Syrian people, then why do they not say anything about the people of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain, who are rising up as a legitimate mass movement, and are being repressed by those US backed governments.
Right now they are able to use kind of third parties, they are able to use their allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to fund and send weapons to the Syrian rebels. They are able to go through these rebels and mercenaries from other countries in Syria to fight against the government and potentially overthrow the government of Syria. And also there is the option of provoking the government of Syria. Such as what we saw a little over a month ago when a Turkish fighter jet flew into Syrian airspace and was shot down. And right away you had Western, US, Canada and all of the other imperialist allies crying foul on the Syrian government, saying they had shot down this plane in international waters, when every shred of evidence showed that this fighter jet had not just even come into Syrian air space a little bit, but came 13 miles into Syrian airspace. And all of this evidence, more and more as the days went on, became clear. And this is the kind of provocation that the imperialist forces, the United States, can use to their advantage. If Turkey and Syria at that point had entered into a war, this would have brought on NATO forces into the war, and would have brought the kind of provocation that would bring on the kind of intervention, maybe, that we saw in Libya.
Peace Plan for Syria?!!!
Also one point that I want to bring up because it’s so recent and so prevalent in the news right now, is the recent resignation of Kofi Annan as the United Nations special envoy to Syria. And after months and months of putting forward this so-called “peace plan for Syria”, when Kofi Annan resigned he called it a “mission impossible.” Yes a mission impossible because it is not really a mission for peace. This peace process was never for peace. This peace process was to buy time, to further scapegoat the government of Syria, and also to slander the government of Syria, when the so-called ceasefire was put into place, which was agreed on by the government of Syria, and never by the Free Syrian Army - from that situation, you saw headlines saying that Syria wasn’t respecting the ceasefire. And further using this to slander the government of Syria. This buying time bought imperialist forces time to reorganize and train mercenaries, to get them into Syria, to pressure the Syrian government, through pushing their imperialist backed rebel forces into those areas and into fighting and also through their condemnations of the Syrian government, trying to pressure them to bring their troops out of major Syria cities. Like Damascus and Aleppo.
Unity and Building a Strong Anti War Movement
But one last point that I want to go back to, kind of going in a bit of circle from where I started, is that we really have not seen the type of antiwar movement that we want to see, against a potential war and against even the covert operations and indirect interventions in Syria and the potential of a military intervention in Syria. There has been, as there has been confusion with my co-worker as I started with, this is also a confusion we have seen with so many political groups, in Canada, the United States and beyond, and in the general public. I think we’ve seen a very very effective media campaign, we’ve seen that a lot of people in the general public and in other political groups would like to look at the Syrian rebels and call them legitimate revolutionaries, and call them a legitimate fighting force against a regime. But as we went through earlier, this is not a legitimate fighting force against this government, this is not the kind of mass movement that we saw in Tunisia and Egypt, this is not any movement to be confused with any kind of revolutionaries. This is a fight of imperialism against an independent government, a sovereign country, a country that has not accepted to be slave of the United States. This is what we need to present when we go out to the streets, when we have our petition campaigns, when we talk to our friends, when we talk to anyone that we can, we need to be bringing this message of what is really happening, what the truth really is, and what the danger really is. We don’t want to see this new era of war and occupation hit yet another country and destroy yet another country. We want to see a world without war and occupation and this can only be achieved through self-determination and sovereignty for all oppressed nations.
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