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 raised 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.
Syrian atrocity: Galloway blames Israel
Speaking on the Iranian propaganda outlet Press TV, the Respect MP George Galloway stated: “If there’s been any use of nerve gas it’s the rebels that used it.”
He explains: “If there has been a use of chemical weapons it was al-Qaeda that used the chemical weapons — who gave al-Qaeda the chemical weapons? Here's my theory, Israel gave them the chemical weapons.”
It takes someone with Galloway’s intellect to sniff out the Zionists’ cunning plot — al-Qaeda and the Jewish state are conspiring to force the US to act. Of course they are.
Normally if Israel (or France, or the UK, etc.) wants the US to do something they get their ambassador to pick up the phone.
But not this time. This time Galloway believes Israel gave a shed load of chemical bombs to people that hate Jews. Obvious, when you think about it.
This is the Syrian al-Qaeda that if it had chemical weapons would use them against Syrian Alawites (or Israel), not Sunni civilians in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.
This is the same Israeli state that recently bombed Syria to stop chemical weapons getting into the hands of Islamists (Hezbollah, in that instance).
The US claims that Assad was responsible? Lying imperialist bastards. All makes perfect sense.
Liberty says that it's wrong to speculate that the reason America hasn't intervened yet is because it (America) doesn't want to make the situation worse.
This seems a bizarre criticism to me. Firstly, because the article doesn't particularly argue this anyway.
But secondly, isn't that actually entirely plausible? As Liberty him/herself recognises, America knows an intervention could provoke a further degeneration into sectarian chaos in which it would get bogged down, and desperately wants to avoid this. Isn't that America holding back from an intervention because it doesn't want to make things worse? You don't have to impute any sincere democratic motive to the US ruling class to speculate that it would rather not intervene because such an intervention would (from the point of view of its own interests) make things worse.
The article does not give America any "cover" for anything, so the bland anti-imperialist truism about America's project having "nothing to do with democracy or peace but everything [to do] with America controlling this strategic area of the world" is, I'm afraid, wasted.
Liberty seems to agree with the central thrust of this article, which is quite clear: it is the policy of the Syrian ruling class, and not the American, that is the "main enemy" in Syria right now, and that the "imperialist intervention" of Russia, Iran, and China to support Assad is a more pressing and ongoing problem than a potential military intervention from the USA.
Those are the fundamentals of the AWL policy, with which Liberty appears to agree. I don't really understand the quibble.