Syria: Horror of the imperialist battlefield
Capitalism is a bottomless pit of horror. In all four corners of the globe this system destroys, starves and massacres. And in Syria today this system of exploitation is carrying out new acts of barbarity at the point of a bayonet dripping with blood. Life is valued less than bullets.
The UN now estimates that 7,500 have died in the violence and 70,000 have fled to Jordan, although the majority of the population cannot get out.
Saturday 4 February was an afternoon like any other in Homs. An enormous crowd was burying the dead in a mass funeral, and demonstrating against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Since the start of these events in April 2011 there has not been a day without a demonstration being repressed. In less than a year there have been more than 2,500 dead and thousands of wounded.
But on the night of 4 February and morning of 5th the mass assassinations were ratcheted up even further. For hours, in the dark, all that could be heard was Assad’s army’s artillery and the cries of dying men. In the early morning the horror of the massacre of Homs became apparent: in the light of day the streets were strewn with bodies. 250 dead, not counting those who died of their injuries later or who were finished off in cold blood by the military in the pay of the government. The massacre wasn’t finished by the break of day; the injured were hunted down even in their hospital beds, in order to be executed; the doctors caring for the ‘rebels’ were beaten; some residents of Homs were shot dead simply for the crime of carrying medication in their pockets. Neither women nor children were spared the carnage. The same night Al Jazeera announced that large explosions were heard in the region of Harasta, in the province of Rif Damashq. In this town, about fifteen kilometres North of Damascus, there were violent conflicts between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the forces of the regime. The massacres were abominable there also.
Since then the bombardments and deaths have only continued – at Homs, and at Binnish and Idlib as part of a new offensive in the North of the country. In fact the violence was stepped up during and after a ridiculous referendum on a new constitution.
How is all this possible? How could a movement that began by protesting against poverty, hunger and unemployment be transformed a few months later into such a blood bath?
Who is responsible for this horror? Who orders the killing?
The Syrian regime has done plenty to demonstrate its barbarity. The clique in power will stop at nothing, will not hesitate to massacre, to stay at the head of the state and maintain its privileges. But what is this “Free Syrian Army” which claims to put itself under the command of the “people’s protest”? Another clique of assassins! The FSA claims to fight for the freedom of the people, yet it is only the armed wing of another bourgeois faction competing with Bashar al-Assad’s. And this is the great tragedy for the demonstrators. Those who want to struggle against their intolerable living conditions, against poverty, against exploitation, are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and they are crushed, tortured and massacred…
In Syria the exploited are too weak to develop an autonomous struggle; and so their anger has been immediately diverted and used by the different bourgeois cliques in the country. The demonstrators have become cannon fodder, enrolled in a war which is not their own, for interests which are not theirs, as happened in Libya some months earlier.
The FSA has nothing to learn from the bloodthirsty nature of the Syrian regime in power. At the beginning of February, among other things, it threatened to bombard Damascus and all the headquarters and strongholds of the regime. The FSA called on the population of Damascus to flee far from these targets, which it knew was impossible. The Damascus residents had no choice but to lie low, terrified, in cellars or underground like moles or rats, just like their exploited brothers in Homs.
But the Syrian bourgeoisie is not the only guilty party in these massacres. Those implicated internationally all have seats in the UN. Ammar al-Wawi, one of the FSA commanders, directly accused Russia and some neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon and Iran, for their involvement, and indirectly the Arab League and the international community for their inaction which gave Assad the green light to massacre the people. What a discovery! The new calls for a resolution at the UN, being drawn up at the end of February, will come up against the same divisions of imperialist interest, against which the professed humanitarian concerns will pale into insignificance:
- China and Russia publicly and politically defend the Syrian regime. Russia, like Iran, supplies it with arms. And it is likely that some of their armed forces intervene directly on the ground under some pretext or other. For capitalist powers neither deaths nor the human suffering that they inflict count in the defence of their sordid imperialist interests.
- Iran relies on Syria for a large part of its power in the near Middle East. That’s why this state does all in its power to support the existing Syrian regime, even with direct military involvement. And today’s proclamations by the ‘great democratic nations’, hand on heart and crocodile tears in their eyes, that the repression of demonstrators by Bashar al-Assad’s army is intolerable, have no real compassion for the bereaved families, only an interest in weakening Iran by putting Syria under their thumb. But this is dangerous because Iran is not Iraq. Iran is a country of 70 million, with a large and well equipped army. And above all with the capacity to create nuisance much greater than Syria. If Iran was forced to block the Straits of Hormuz preventing the supply of oil, what an economic catastrophe that would be! Any direct attack on Iran would unleash uncontrollable chaos. Bloody nights like those in Homs would spread throughout the region.
Syria on the brink of imperialist war
Tensions are mounting every day between Iran and a number of other imperialist powers: United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc. War is threatened, but for the moment is not breaking out. We are waiting, and the sound of boots marching towards Syria is heard more and more, amplified by the Russian and Chinese veto of the UN resolution condemning repression carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s regime. All these imperialist vultures are using the pretext of the Syrian regime’s infamy and inhumanity to prepare for full scale war in this country. We first heard through the Russian media, Voice of Russia, relaying the Iranian Press TV, news according to which Turkey, with American support, is getting ready to attack Syria. The Turkish state is massing troops on the Syrian border. Since then this information has been taken up by all the western media. On the other side, in Syria, Soviet-era ballistic missiles have been deployed in the Kamechi and Deir Ezzor regions, on the border with Iraq and Turkey. All this has followed a meeting in November in Ankara, the start of a series of diplomatic meetings. The Qatari emissary offered Turkish prime minister Erdogan finance for military operations from Turkish territory against President Assad. Meetings were held with the Lebanese and Syrian oppositions. These preparations led Syria’s allies, foremost among them Iran and Russia, to raise the temperature and make barely veiled threats against Turkey. For the moment the Syrian National Council (CNS), which according to the bourgeois press includes the majority of the country’s opposition, has made it known that it is not asking for any foreign military intervention on Syrian soil. There is no doubt that this refusal is still holding back the Turkish armed forces, and ultimately the Israeli state. The CNS couldn’t care less about the human suffering involved in all-out war on Syrian soil, any more than the other bourgeois fractions. What it fears is simply the total loss of the little power it presently holds in the event of a major conflict.
The horrors which we are seeing every day on the television and in the bourgeois press are both dramatic and real. If the ruling class are showing us all this at length it is out of neither compassion nor humanity. It is to prepare us ideologically for ever more massive and blood military interventions. Bashar Al-Assad and his clique are not the only executioners in this genocide. The executioner of humanity is the dying capitalist system which produces the barbarity of inter-imperialist massacres just as surely as storm clouds produce thunder.