There is a concerted effort by the West to highlight Russian atrocities in Syria and gloss over its own, writes JOHN GREEN
WHAT both Syria and Iraq had in common before Western intervention was that they were both stable, secular countries pursuing an independent policy at variance with Western and Israeli interests.
They were also run by distasteful regimes that were not averse to using torture and assassinations in oppressing their own people. In the latter sense they were no different to Saudi Arabia and other despotic regimes in the Middle East and elsewhere.
However, the terrible destruction and suffering inflicted on the Syrian and Iraqi people have been a direct result of Western interference.
Despite the end of the cold war, we are, once again, seeing proxy wars being fought in Syria and Iraq. The West is determined to remove the last bastion of opposition to Israeli and Western hegemony in the region and also to push out the Russians who have been traditional allies of Syria.
Turkey is also becoming increasingly involved as part of its aim to suppress Kurdish aspirations for an independent state.
Today it is also putting into practice President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s dream of a neo-Ottoman empire. In its invasion of both Syria and Iraq it is contravening the UN Charter on the conduct of war but with not a murmur of dissent from the UN or the West.
In the West, the war in Syria has been portrayed as support for an armed uprising by the Syrian people against a hated dictator, which is both simplistic and a distortion of the truth.
While there was, of course, opposition to the Assad regime in the country, it was enflamed and armed by outside forces. How else could the Syrian people have obtained weapons?
This conflict then sucked in the various types of Islamist militants — Isis, al-Qaida, The Nusra Front, etc — armed and funded largely by Saudi Arabia with the connivance of its Western backers.
What has resulted is a bloody and nefarious civil war dominated by outside forces.
No-one seems to have asked the simple question of how such an amorphous, ad hoc grouping of fundamentalists from around the world, with little or no training, has been able to wage such a protracted and effective armed struggle, in both Syria and Iraq, against well-armed and trained government and Western forces.
The recent assaults to retake Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria have shown how, even in the face of US, Russian and Turkish air strikes backed up by Turkish and Kurdish ground forces, the insurgents have not only been able to stand their ground but fight back effectively using sophisticated weaponry.
Where and how have they obtained this expertise and hardware?
All true anti-war activists should oppose every war and armed intervention in other countries as a matter of principle. We need to make it clear that we will not be dragged into condemning one side while exonerating the other in such conflicts involving the killing of civilians and atrocities committed by all sides.
At present there is a concerted attempt to demonise the Russians for “committing atrocities” in Syria while glossing over the atrocities that have been and are being committed continually by Western forces.
We should not be led down that road. All bombings and killing of civilians has to be forcefully opposed and condemned, but it should not be forgotten that Russia only got involved in Syria after hundreds of thousands of civilians had already been killed or forced to become refugees.
While the country’s towns are reduced to rubble, the West — in its determination to topple Assad — is prepared to let the fundamentalists wreak havoc in the country in the hope that the ensuing carnage will eventually lead to regime change.
While Turkey, a member of Nato, has been secretly supporting those self-same forces as long as it helped in their battle against the Kurds.
Any revolutionary context of the so-called “anti-Assad” rebels in Syria has been sidelined by a melange of Saudi and Qatari-financed jihadists.
Even if the uprising began in response to the Syrian government’s neoliberal policies and brutality, among other things, it is no justification for the maiming and killing of countless innocent men, women, and children.
It is still an open question as to whether there really was a genuine revolutionary uprising in Syria or whether it was a vicious Contra-style war fomented by the US, Nato and its Gulf, Turkish and Israeli clients?
There is also an apparent unwillingness on the part of the “Syrian revolutionary” camp itself to face up to the fact that they have turned themselves into tools of US interventionism.
As Eric Draitser wrote in a recent issue of Counterpunch: “Were this the 1980s, one wonders whether they’d be saying the same things about the “revolutionary” Contras in Central America who, like the so-called rebels in Syria, were also backed with US weapons, money and training.
“How about the mojahedin in Afghanistan? Has the collective memory of the left gotten so short? And what about those foreign fighters fleeing Syria? Are they revolutionaries when they go back to Libya and engage in human trafficking for profit? Or to Chechnya to smuggle Afghan heroin? Or to Saudi Arabia or anywhere else?”
Syria, like Iraq and Libya before it, is a victim of a US and Israeli-led imperialist intervention.
How many more thousands of bodies have to be buried in the sands and soil of the Middle East before we can stop this war and prevent it escalating any further.
That is the priority for all anti-war forces before either US presidential candidate becomes the “commander-in-chief.”
As the war continues to escalate, there is little doubt that if Hillary Clinton — as an avowed hawk — does become president, it will only be a matter of time before she ratchets up military involvement in Syria and thus possible armed conflict with Russia.