AWL statement on Syria

August 31, 2013 at 8:59 pm (AWL, internationalism, Marxism, Middle East, posted by JD, Syria)

Посмотреть изображение в Твиттере

Above: US ‘Answer’: even crazier and more blatantly pro-Assad than the UK ‘Stop The War’

In stark contrast to the thinly-disguised pro-Assad propaganda of the Stop The War Coalition, and (even more blatant) the US ‘Answer’ movement, the Alliance for Workers Liberty has put out the following statement:

No support for US bombs: but Assad is the main enemy

Syria’s disgusting, murderous, one-party state is responsible for mass murder, torture on a vast scale, and an enormous humanitarian disaster inside Syria, where whole towns have been razed to rubble.

Over four million are internally displaced, nearly two million have fled the country, seven million are in immediate need of humanitarian aid, the economy has collapsed, and over 100,000 are dead.

The main responsibility for this utterly avoidable catastrophe belongs to the Syrian government and military.

Bashar Assad’s small ruling inner circle has chosen to reinforce and exploit sectarian divisions in Syria in order to cling on to power. Some of the ruling group are also parasites, who have accumulated great wealth through membership of the ruling family or cliques that control the state. The unscrupulous elite want to protect their power and riches.

In 2012 US President Barack Obama declared that use or movement of chemical weapons by the Syrian state would constitute a ‘red line’, without spelling out the exact consequences for Syria if they were used. Obama wants to see an end to the war in Syria but has not acted openly and decisively for fear of making the situation worse, not better. The US fears – rightly – that Syria might fragment and collapse into utter chaos with swathes of territory run by al-Qaeda aligned Islamist militias if the US helps the armed opposition to victory.

In the past months the Syrian state has been testing the likely Western response to the use of chemical weapons against its own population. Assad has probably used chemical weapons in small quantities on several occasions over the last year. A 20-strong UN team is now in the capital, Damascus, sent there to investigate past attacks.

Emboldened by recent victories over the opposition on Wednesday 21 August the Syrian army bombed a civilian area in north east Damascus. Some of their rockets almost certainly carried chemical payloads. This was an attack on a different scale to previous chemical use.

Doctors Without Borders reported that three hospitals it supports in the area around Damascus received 3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms. The political opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, claimed 1300 had been killed during the bombardment, mainly by poison gas. It seems certain that several hundred died.

This is a war crime committed by a regime against its own, unarmed people, sleeping in their beds. The people were being punished and terrorised simply because live in an area held by opposition militias.

The more extreme militias have pledged sectarian revenge on the Alawite minority community that Assad’s family is part of. The al-Nusra Front leader, Abu Muhammad al-Joulani, has apparently stated: “We are announcing a series of revenge operations called ‘An Eye for an Eye.’ Your Alawite villages will pay a very dear price for every chemical rocket that you’ve launched against our people.” The cycle of tit-for-tat sectarian outrages is speeding up.

Now there is great pressure on the US to be seen to respond. They may use cruise missiles against government targets in Syria. They have already allowed hundreds of tonnes of Saudi arms, stockpiled in Turkey for months, to be released to opposition fighters.

What should the left say?

Firstly it is not our job to advocate the US intervenes. We do not trust the US. It is by no means clear that Western military intervention will improve the chances for peace and democracy in Syria. On the contrary, it may speed up the disintegration of the country.

Equally, if the US destroys the bases used by Syria’s military to massacre its own citizens you will not find the AWL on the streets protesting.

Some of the more disorientated left will ask us to “defend Syria” against US intervention. These are leftists who allow their politics to be determined by simply negating the US’s policies – no matter how bad the alternative that they thus implicitly or explicitly support.

The main problem in Syria is Assad’s policy, not the US. And if the UK’s left wants to oppose meddling foreign powers – and we should – it should start with demanding Iranian forces and Hezbollah militia get out of Syria.

The main enemy here is not America.


  1. Michael Walker said,

    Ah, so when the US wants to do something that might be “good” we are prepared to ignore the lack of legality……this is a very wishy washy piece of logic.

    I agree with everything else in this post but we don’t need to turn a blind eye USA militarism because we support its aims, even on a humanitarian level.

    Why are chemical weapons worse than attacks on refugee camps anyway? The only solutions are regional and then global through the UN. We must never, ever, let “public good” get in the way of using genuine international bodies to protect people.

  2. Ben said,

    “razed”, not “raised”.

    • Jim Denham said,

      For once, the spelling mistake wasn’t mine, but I’ve corrected it anyway. Thanks Ben.

  3. jimmy glesga said,

    The Yanks are saying their interests are at stake and the states surrounding Syria. This is rubbish and lies. The Syrians are at war with each other and it will take decades for it to recover. The worse option for Syria is for the islamists to take over then we will have Israel entering the frae possibly nukes and all. Let Assad get on with it.

  4. jimmy glesga said,

    I like that T Shirt an ‘Inside Job’. Maybe the tosser that wore it should know it was an outside job. Loony Lefty idiot. It is no wonder the working class are getting fucked when idiots like that are roaming the street.

  5. Mark Crawford said,

    I do agree with the AWL’s line on this – but, in the end, I would rather they gave somewhat more active support to the American attack on the strikes, if they think they are more likely to work than not. The point of saying “we will not support anyone” can be read as though to say “we will not try and influence the outcome”, which doesn’t seem very Marxist at all.

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