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Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad

Monday 16 April 2018, by siawi3


Don’t bomb Syria – No support for Assad

Friday 13 April 2018

by : Socialist Resistance

A decade ago, a time when Boris Johnson was able to present documentaries on the BBC about the glories of Roman imperialism [1], visitors to the main market in Damascus could still see the bullet holes in the roof from 1945 when the French tried to suppress an anti-colonial rising in the city, writes Andy Stowe. So, when you hear journalists telling you that the French have an historical interest in Syria, they really mean that Macron, neo-liberalism’s aspiring De Gaulle, wants to retain that element of imperialist control over Syria’s destiny.

Exactly a year ago, the concern was that Trump was willing to launch a nuclear attack on North Korea [2]. He failed to build the coalition necessary to do that. He’s having more luck with his threatened attacks on Syrian forces. As Jeremy Corbyn has pointed out [3], Theresa May seems to be waiting on instructions from him. A big advantage from May’s point of view is that a significant group of Labour MPs seem willing to vote for virtually any imperialist attack anywhere. They have apparently learned nothing from the bloodbaths in Iraq and Afghanistan but appear willing to sacrifice other people’s lives to weaken Corbyn’s position.

The new element in the picture is Emmanuel Macron. He is trying to force through a set of austerity measures and is in open battle with much of the French working class. He wants to both present France as a resurgent new imperialist power and to develop the political persona of a tough leader. Limited military intervention in Syria is a way to do that.

The workings of Trump’s mind are almost as unknowable as the proceeding of the North Korean politbureau. We know he’s an Islamophobic racist, so his claim to be outraged by the suffering of Syrian civilians can be disregarded. He’s also the man who ordered the dropping of the largest non-nuclear bomb in his arsenal on an Afghan mountain [4] on little more than a whim and describes the weapons he’ll use against Russian forces in Syria as “nice and new and “smart!”(sic).

As Joseph Daher points out: The butcher Assad’s regime is “a despotic, capitalist and patrimonial state ruling through violent repression and using various policies such as sectarianism, tribalism, conservatism, and racism to dominate society” [5]. No socialist can support it.

But neither can socialists support imperialist intervention against it. A US led coalition could only bring the regime down by sending in large numbers of troops, a move that would condemn the country to a worse hell than that inflicted on Iraq, in a regional and political situation which is even more volatile. The regrettable fact is that the secular and democratic forces which tried to bring down Assad have been seriously weakened, benefiting the Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist forces on the ground. A settlement based on aggression by the French, Americans, British and their regional supporters will do nothing but create a worse sectarian and ethnic bloodbath.

Jeremy Corbyn is right to say that: “More bombing, more killing, more war will not save life. It will just take more lives and spawn the war elsewhere.” It seems certain that the Assad dictatorship is responsible for the gas attack on Douma which killed at least seventy civilians and injured many others [6]. Chemical weapons are abhorrent and we support their banning by international law.

But one of Macron’s, May’s or Trump’s missiles could kill many times more than that and, should they decide to attack, they will most likely launch dozens or hundreds.

And they will not force Assad out of power. Indeed it is not clear that the imperialist powers want to see an end to this barbarous regime and certainly they are opposed to self-determination for the people of Syria.

The entire Labour Party must back Corbyn in his opposition to more bombing and war and we should make sure that party banners are highly visible at demonstrations opposing military intervention. We need to be demanding an end to the war and all foreign interventions, including those on behalf of Assad from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah. We must continue to offer political and material support to the secular and democratic opponents of the dictatorship and Labour must call on European governments to offer sanctuary to Syrian refugees.

Socialist Resistance

Footnotes added by ESSF





[5] ESSF (article 43970), “Our Destinies are Linked”: On the Syrian Revolution, the Middle East and the Solidarity.




Why and how we should oppose ISIS

October 2, 2014

Sarah Parker

Sarah Parker looks at how and why we should oppose ISIS. Sarah argues that we should also oppose US and British airstrikes because they are intended to increase imperialist control over the area, not to rescue people, and that it is best to support people who are defending themselves against ISIS, whether in Iraq or Syria.


It controls or is contesting major areas of Syria and Iraq, and some important parts of Kurdistan, it has made an incursion into Lebanon (Ersal).

It is running a reign of terror in Mosul and everywhere else it controls, executing people in its path who do not conform to its misogynist Wahhabi ideology and carrying out large scale massacres (Shias, Kurds).

It surrounds Baghdad with a ring of forces and allies. A fight for Baghdad would be horrendous.

It abducts young women and subjects them to a regime of extreme abuse, torture, sexual violence and slavery, including often forcing them to phone their families and describe what has happened to them, the point being to visit further humiliation, fear and grief on themselves and their families; some are sold as slaves.

It has been fighting to destroy parts of the Syrian opposition for example in the area of Deir a Zor and in and around Aleppo, the second biggest city in Syria, which at the moment seems to be at risk of falling to ISIS

ISIS has been besieging the majority Kurdish area of Kobanê in Syria for two years.

Since 15 September, ISIS has been staging its heaviest attack so far on Kobanê, one of the Kurdish three autonomous regions in Syria from 3 sides; the fourth side is partly covered by Turkish army.

It massacred hundreds and perhaps thousands of Yezidi Kurds and drove the survivors out of their ancient homes round Sinjar; fighting in some of the villages is ongoing and at least 3,000 women are unaccounted for

It has driven all the Christians / Assyrians and Turkmen out of the towns of the plain of Nineveh (near Mosul). The alliance being formed by the US seems to be involved in Kurdish peshmergas’ plans to retake Mosul; so far some villages have been taken back.

It derives financial and political / religious support from at least Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all members of the “coalition of the willing” now starting to bomb Iraq again and Syria as well.

It derives increasingly open military support from Turkey in Turkey’s attempts to crush the Kurds of Kobanê.

It has massacred unknown but substantial numbers of Shias from the Iraqi army.

It has a large arsenal of powerful American weaponry left behind by the retreating Iraqi army, possibly by the retreating KDP “peshmergas” round Mosul and Sinjar, and gained from Syrian opposition forces who have joined it and it must have captured plenty of Syrian army and airforce equipment, all of which is being used to attack people in many parts of Iraq and Syria.

It has executed an American, and American-Israeli and a Briton and posted videos of their executions.

It acts as a pole of attraction for naïve or angry and disturbed Muslim youth from Europe and elsewhere.

It is reputed to have experienced jihadis from Libya and Chechnya in its ranks

It has demolished parts of the FSA by incorporating FSA fighters into its ranks (numbers not clear but as a phenomenon this is reported frequently).

Its activity massively feeds Islamophobia, very useful as a tool of division for western leaders.


We should oppose ISIS by supporting people in the region who reject the rule of ISIS and are defending themselves against it, many of whom believe in democracy, self-determination and social justice. The more successful in self-defence the local people are, the more they can assert their independence from imperialism, resist subordination by imperialism, and generally cut across US/British/EU plans to exploit the presence of ISIS to reassert control over Iraq and Syria.

We would support organisations such as the FSA opposition groups still functioning in Syria (whom SR already supports via the Syria Solidarity Movement), YPG (Kurdish People’s Defence Forces), and anti-sectarian organisations in Iraq, including women’s organisations. Kurdish organisations all over Europe and the Middle East are holding mass demonstrations, occupations and hunger strikes constantly. A Europe-wide women’s organisation called Roj Women, based in London, is launching a campaign in solidarity with women in Kurdistan, Iraq and Syria which we should support.

If people want to help with medical aid, they can do so via Hand in Hand for Syria or Heyva Sor (Kurdish Red Crescent).

We should also do the maximum to expose the direct help that ISIS has been getting from outside states – Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and we should point to the US/British policy of fostering sectarianism in Iraq over the last 10 years including via the Maliki government, and their encouragement of the most right-wing forces in Syria, while failing to arm the popular masses, all of which have assisted the rise of ISIS. In the case of Turkey, which wants to have part of north Syria as a “buffer zone” which they control, where they can do what they like with ISIS, and which is empty of Kurds we don’t know exactly what the US view is of this, but it seems unlikely that the US will want to encourage the autonomous Kurdish areas, let alone the breaking down of the border with Turkey. If the US really wanted to assist people in Kobane they would put more pressure on Turkey and insist that some of the weapons allegedly going to the KRG in Iraq would be sent to Kobane – this is not happening and I doubt it will.


We oppose coalition air strikes. The US is using ISIS as an excuse for interfering again in the affairs of Iraq and Syria. It is more worried that a new regional power could get out of control than about deaths or human suffering. If this was not the case, then we would have heard more about the sectarian killings that the inhabitants of Baghdad and other places have had to live in fear of since the invasion in 2003.

The air strikes are unlikely to be very effective against generally mobile forces like ISIS, they are already killing civilians who are in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they are certainly not being used to deter ISIS forces from massing around Kobanê, for whatever reason.

Recent air strikes in Syria, such as those near Erbil a few weeks ago, are gnerally aimed at protecting perceived US interests – in other words at weakening ISIS, not at assisting the people of the region. We should also note that several non-ISIS opposition groups have had their leadership targeted in recent days, in some cases clearly by the Syrian regime. US sources claim to have killed 170 ISIS members in their overnight strikes of 22/23 September. They have probably done quite a lot of damage to the ISIS “capital” of Raqqa, but there are still thousands of fighters active, with all their weaponry. Civilian casualties of course are also being reported. So their targets and the rest of the Syrian opposition, as well as Kobanê are still under heavy pressure.

We should support weapons for those in Iraq and Syria opposing ISIS, but we recognise that the imperialists are unlikely to arm progressive forces, which will have to rely on their own resources or on solidarity. Coalition propaganda says there is no alternative to bombing, but if it were willing to arm the resistance to ISIS, then that resistance would be much stronger as would have been the case with the Syrian opposition that arose 3 years ago. If the people of Iraq and Syria have the right to defend themselves against ISIS, then they should get the arms necessary to defend themselves.

After making a big announcement in August, the US led “coalition” seems to have been sending some equipment via the Iraqi government, much of which is probably being held up for political reasons, and has sent some limited amounts to the KDP forces. Recently PUK sources complained that they are not seeing any of the new heavy weaponry. It also appears that YPG in Syria are not getting any weapons – contrary to the hopes of the Danish Red-Greens who voted to allow the Danish government to send military equipment. Those defending themselves against ISIS and the brutal repression of Assad should obtain weapons. As Syria has shown, outside powers give significant weaponry to the most reactionary elements, while the more progressive and democratic forces have had to rely on their own resources.

We must oppose air strikes because they are intended to increase western imperialist control over the area, not to rescue people suffering at the hands of ISIS. Furthermore, air strikes always end up killing a lot of innocent bystanders. We should support the people in Iraq or Syria who are defending themselves against ISIS. Many in the West seeing the news will not be happy about airstrikes, but will also want assistance for those defending themselves against ISIS. That is why support for people in the region who are defending themselves will cut across the waves of Islamophobia we are seeing as the US and its allies go to war once again.