US retreat from Syria sends shock waves through the Middle East

“If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, King James Bible)

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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Right now, the key link in the chain of developments in the Middle East is the humiliating failure of imperialism to overturn the progressive and secular Arab state of Syria by means of either proxy or direct war.

This setback for Anglo-American and French imperialism is creating enormous opportunities for anti-imperialist forces to assert themselves throughout the region and beyond. This is so whether the context is the continuing rout of terrorist forces in Syria itself, the related progress of the Egyptian revolution, the improving relations between Hamas and Iran, the mounting contradictions between Washington and Saudi Arabia, the appearance of a nervously conciliatory US stance towards Iran, Ankara’s growing irritation with the antics of its former jihadist protégés and the complex interplay with and between various Kurdish forces in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

In every case, Washington’s failure to overturn the Syrian nation either by proxy war or by boots on the ground is sending shock waves throughout the region, weakening the very structures of oppression that imperialism has sought to bolster.

The joke Syrian National Council (SNC) continues to fiddle whilst its fond hopes of lucrative ministerial posts go up in smoke, announcing yet more preconditions that ‘must’ be met before these nobodies will condescend to attend the long-avoided peace conference in Geneva. Meanwhile, 13 anti-Assad brigades under the leadership of the al-Qaeda-endorsed al-Nusra Front have denounced the SNC and are pushing for the imposition of sharia law.

Abrupt moves to pull the plug on some of the material support given to even the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ have forced such a somersault on the CIA that at least one high-ranking official has resigned in high dudgeon.

Bombing Syria: Israel pushes its luck

Israel is continuing its sporadic bombing raids into Syria, with the sixth attack this year coming at the end of October. Such attacks, the latest supposedly aimed at ‘Russian missiles destined for Hizbollah’, are, as ever, flagrant breaches of international law, which Israel will ‘neither confirm nor deny’ and which the supine UN is ignoring.

But such random acts of brigandage, whilst strong meat and drink for a section of the Israeli electorate, are doing nothing to alter the strategic balance of the war, and could end by inviting unwelcome consequences for the warmongers.

This is now starting to raise qualms in some domestic quarters. Gideon Levy wants to know: “How far can Israel stretch the rope until it snaps, hitting it in the face? Will Russia stay silent forever in the face of the bombing of weapons of its manufacture, in the possession of its allies? Will America always remain quiet when Israel interferes in Syria, inciting the war there – especially at a time when President Bashar Assad keeps his word meticulously in getting rid of his chemical weapons ..?” (Haaretz, 3 November 2013)

Whilst the zionist tail may sometimes appear to be wagging the White House dog, in reality, the tail has little or no future without its imperialist paymaster.

Saudi puppets left to dangle

Much the same applies to the rotten comprador sheikhdoms propped up by imperialism, with Saudi Arabia lolling at their head.

Assorted feeble scions of the royal house of Saud have been venting their spleen against Washington, whingeing that the deal on chemical weapons is designed “to give Mr Obama an opportunity to back down” and that Obomber “had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and [on] the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011”.(‘Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from US over Syria, Iran’, Reuters, 24 October 2013)

But when Saudi Arabia turned down the chance of a two-year stint on the UN Security Council in a fit of pique over Obama’s inaction, this self-defeating grand gesture only confirmed Riyadh’s enraged impotence. The only remaining trump card – messing with the oil supply – could also be the last card these superannuated relics ever get to play.

Erdogan left to clean up the mess

US imperialism’s retreat from war with Syria appears also to have triggered a significant shift in Turkey’s role. Having previously been leaned on to provide logistical back-up for the proxy war, thereby turning its border areas into a playground for terror gangs, Turkey is now waking up to the grim morning after, with Washington rapidly upping sticks and Ankara left to clear up the mess on its own.

In mid-October, Turkey actually shelled the positions in Syria of the same jihadist headbangers it had only yesterday been backing. Whilst Ankara’s stated position is still for the overthrow of President Assad, Erdogan is only too keenly aware how deeply unpopular Turkey’s involvement has been with his own people.

Now that Obama is seen to be throwing in the towel, the pressure is on for Ankara to reconsider its policy of blind loyalty to imperialist interests. Rumours that Turkey has taken steps to mend fences with Iran, turning over to the government Iranians found to be spying on behalf of Israel, suggest at the least that Erdogan is hedging his bets.

More worrying still for the West is Turkey’s announcement that it is thinking of buying a long-range air defence system, not from any of its Nato ‘allies’, but from a Chinese defence company subject to US sanctions on account of its alleged cooperation with the DPRK.

These straws in the wind, suggestive of the decline of the US as a global power and China’s corresponding rise, can offer little cheer to Uncle Sam.

And of course, to cap everything else, all these cracks opening up in the axis of oppression are being faithfully mirrored closer to home in a veritable firestorm of mutual recrimination unleashed in the wake of revelations that Washington has been routinely spying on all its continental European allies without exception.

Hamas mends fences with Tehran?

Whilst the US retreat spreads mutiny and disarray in the imperialist ranks, there are some hopeful signs that the axis of resistance, weakened in some measure by the imperialist manipulation of sectarian frictions, now has the opportunity to emerge stronger.

Israel and its friends have long gloated over the confusion within anti-imperialist circles spread by the position adopted by Hamas in relation to Syria, Egypt and Iran. Swayed by confessional ties, some in Hamas were moved to support the armed struggle against Syria, continued to stand with the Muslim Brotherhood after the Egyptian revolution had succeeded in overthrowing it, and leant succour to the islamist terror gangs roaming the northern Sinai – in the process compromising the tunnels upon which the besieged Gazan population depends for its survival. (See related article in this issue.)

But here, too, the steadfastness of Syria in seeing off the threats and bluster of imperialism may be having a salutary effect. According to, on 14 October, Mussa Aby Marzouk, the deputy chief of the executive council of Hamas, acknowledged on Syrian TV station al-Mayadeen that the organisation had been wrong to oppose Assad’s government, in consequence of which Hamas decamped from Damascus in 2011. It is also reported that Iranian assistance to Hamas, apparently cut back earlier, has once more been increasing in recent months.

Try as it might to weaken and divide the resistance forces that rise up to confront its criminal wars of oppression, the imperialists will find that it is their axis of oppression that will disintegrate under the dual pressure of economic crisis and anti-imperialist pressure, and the axis of resistance that will triumph.

Death to imperialism!
Victory to the axis of resistance!