Imperialism steps up the offensive against Syria

Photo by: Israel Defense Forces
Israeli tanks in the Golan Heights

By Paul Roberts

Immediately following the US Presidential election the imperialist countries started to increase their activity to overthrow the Syrian government, which has continued whilst Israel is bombing Gaza.

On 11 November the US and its allies pulled together a new opposition coalition – the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces (SNCORF) to act as the political focus for rallying international support. This latest bloc, assembled in the Qatari capital Doha, replaces the Syrian National Council (SNC) as imperialism’s favoured opposition front.

The US insisted that the Muslim Brotherhood dominated SNC be subordinated within a more imperialist controlled framework and made clear to the SNC that the new coalition would be formed with or without their participation. Imperialism’s project is to install a reliable client regime – it coordinates closely with the Islamic currents fighting to oust Assad, but does not support them being handed overall control.

The SNCORF has already been recognised by France, Turkey and the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait) as the ‘sole representative of the Syrian people’ – effectively as the government in exile. The Arab League has only recognised it as ‘a legitimate representative’ – as several member states, notably Iraq and Lebanon, do not back imperialism’s regime change project.

Britain and other imperialist states have welcomed the new coalition and are discussing giving it formal recognition.

Britain has just started a new push to encourage greater intervention in Syria. Last week David Cameron visited a Jordanian refugee camp on its border with Syria and it was announced that Britain will have official talks with Syria’s armed rebels. On 16 November Britain hosted a donor conference in London so Syria’s opposition could push for more financial support and weaponry.

Alongside France, Britain has launched a campaign for the EU arms embargo to be lifted so that it can directly arm rebel militias.

British ‘special forces’ are already active inside Syria and the population is being prepared for ‘conventional’ action. General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on 11 November that plans are in place for a military intervention this winter should it be required – he indicated the pretext that might be used would be a worsening ‘humanitarian crisis’ in Syria, as if Britain is not currently working to produce just such a crisis.

Prior to commencing its current assault on Gaza, Israel had publicly joined the military campaign against Syria’s government. On 12 November it started firing missiles at Syrian Army positions in the South of Syria. Rebel guerrillas are using Syria’s northern and southern borders as strategic fighting positions so that Turkey and Israel can claim infringements of their territory to justify making ‘retaliatory’ assaults.

So Israel claimed that Syrian Army munitions had fallen in the Golan Heights and shelled Syrian positions for three days. The hypocrisy of the Israeli claim is that the Golan Heights are part of Syria that has been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967.

Within Syria the conflict continues to be a stalemate – opposition fighters have been unable to consolidate control over any area.

Suicide bombings and guerrilla attacks into urban areas are inflicting immense damage. But there is no indication that the violent sectarian campaign is increasing popular support for the rebels.

Aware that ousting the Syrian government requires greater military commitment, imperialism is stepping up its intervention.