People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 09, 2012



How Syria is Being Ravaged


Debasish Chakraborty


WHAT is being witnessed in Syria today is not only a great tragedy for the land of ancient civilisation and a heritage of secularism, but also an impending threat of a violence of the international scale. The so-called civil war in Syria has already gained broader international ramification, spilling over boundaries and with very evident involvement of foreign powers. Even the possibility of a full-fledged military intervention is not so distant.


Syrian people, like those of every other nation, have the inherent right to enjoy democracy, civil rights and a fuller humane society to live in. They have every right to engage in extension of these rights, to demand political reforms if they want so. There were dissensions within Syrian society and it was being reflected through demonstrations and political opposition, calling for broader democratic reforms. The position of Syrian communists is important to be noted here. They supported the reforms which have democratic nature. The most important, according to them, were the lifting of martial law and the democratic revision of press and publications law to enhance exercise of opinion and expression of freedom. Initially, the Syrian government was responding to the demands and it initiated reform measures. But these internal questions are sought to be utilized for not only a ‘regime change’ but to destroy every advancement achieved by the people of Syria. And, what made the entire episode dreadful is the involvement of the foreign forces.


Whether one agrees with their position or not, there were opposition forces who tried to advance their demands in a political way and independently. These forces, like National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change or Popular Front for Liberation and Change were quickly undermined and Islamist, foreign-sponsored forces started the mayhem.




The involvement of a number of countries in the Syrian crisis as arms suppliers and political operatives is virtually exposed and well documented now.  Saudi Arabia and Qatar supplied money and other help, including supplying arms to specific groups. Turkey is playing the most aggressive role. Turkey, which has a 900 km border with Syria has nurtured and promoted both Syrian National Council (frequently called as Istanbul Council) and armed the Free Syrian Army. The southern border of Turkey, specially the Hatay province, has become the main gateway of infiltration of foreign terrorists. FSA has been trained and supplied arms by Turkish military and they have created buffer zones for launching attacks in northern Syrian towns including Aleppo. Turkey is not only giving open support and an organisational base for the rebels, but has also threatened to invade Syria several times. Turkey’s parliament has given the government permission to wage war. NATO is preparing to deploy Patriot missiles along Syrian borders responding to requests from Turkey.


What is less reported, however, is the direct involvement of USA in building up armed gangs within Syria and engineering armed attacks. US ambassador in Syria Robert Ford has personally monitored and organised so-called ‘rebel’ groups and encouraged demonstrations by personally attending them. CIA operatives are active in training and supply of arms since long. According to reports in western media, US administration abetted forming ‘provincial military councils’ and supplied arms through them. According to NBC News, the Free Syrian Army has received American Stinger missiles via Turkey. 


The most interesting part of the Syria story is that US, France, NATO allies and Islamist terrorists are on the same team. The most ferocious of them is Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate. They have become the strongest force among the ‘rebels’ now. The first attack for which Jabhat al-Nusra claimed responsibility came on January 6 this year when a suicide bomber blew up buses in Damascus. Since then the use of suicide bombings or remotely-detonated car bombs has spectacularly increased. Such attacks have become an everyday reality in Syria. They have killed hundreds of citizens. A gruesome example is the attack on a school in al-Wafeen camp near Damascus in which 29 students were killed in a class. ‘Collective violence and selective assassination’ are their methods of operation.


According to reports in western press, the key to Jabhat al-Nusra's extreme violence is its recruitment of radical fighters from abroad who include mercenaries from Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Chechnya. They have not only declared their goal of ‘regime change’ but also establishment of an Islamist government replacing the secular political system in Syria. The same terrorists who are thought to be “hounded” by USA in Libya are actually in Syria now, assisting NATO efforts to terrorise people. The façade of expressing ‘concern’ for the presence of such forces by top officials of US while channelising arms and logistics for them exposes the utter hypocrisy of the Obama administration.


Judging by these attacks Syria is now facing international terrorism. But the western media and NATO countries are understandably silent on this. To them, the ‘rebels’ in Syria have an undivided identity. On the contrary, the Syrian government’s response to such terrorist attacks is being branded as an ‘attack on people’. The yardstick in fighting terrorism has changed in Syria.


The USA and its allies are trying to replicate the successful strategy it used to break up Yugoslavia in 1999 and in Libya. In Kosovo and Libya, western trained and financed proxies staged grave provocations against the State. When the governments responded, their actions were described as “genocide” and international public opinion was sought to be moulded by barrage of misinformation.




In Iraq, the strategy was to mobilise even the UN, though USA was desperate enough to declare that they would attack Iraq with or without the sanction of UN security council. For more than two years, media was used to construct the fear of so-called “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, allegedly built by Baghdad, or Iraq’s “ involvement” in 9/11 attacks etc. It has been proved beyond doubt that nothing of that sort of weapons ever existed there and the 9/11 commission in USA never produced any evidence of Iraqi government’s contribution. In Libya too, the specter of an “impending massacre” was trumpeted to justify blatant NATO bombing.


In the case of Syria, the so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ is being sought after. For last few days, the specter of ‘Chemical Weapons’ is being widely used. Western media started reporting that there are some “extra ordinary activities in the areas where Syria keeps its chemical weapons’’. Following this were ‘warnings’ from western powers that Syria would have to face ‘immediate’ response if such things occur. Despite Syria’s repeated denial, this atmosphere is being created to mould public opinion and justifying intervention by NATO.


In their design of disintegration and devastation, the imperialist forces always stir up sectarian strife and narrow identities. This has happened in many parts of the world, including Iraq. This is now being done in Syria, which traditionally has been one of the most composite formations of religious and ethnic identities in the Middle East. The victims at this juncture are the Shiites and Alawites, who have faced brutal attacks from Islamists with Sunni and Salafi identities. The New York Times has reported that the Syrian rebels have committed large scale ethnic cleansing against Syrian Christians. This sectarian division has destroyed the potential of any movement with democratic aspiration from below.


The battle for control of the Middle East, part of which is being fought today in Syria, is obviously related with control over oil, as it was in Iraq and Libya. Crisis-ridden international finance capital is intensifying its pernicious expropriation of natural resources all over the world. One should not disconnect this hunt and the political-military adventures of USA and its friends.


The struggle in solidarity with the Syrian people, therefore is a part of the wider struggle to resist predatory finance capital, imperialist strategic designs.