The evacuation of armed fighters from Homs, Syria’s third most important city and an early base of operations for the mercenary thugs trying to bring down the popular national-unity government of President Assad, is a tremendous blow against the western-backed proxy forces. This victory for the government is a new milestone on the road to the complete defeat of imperialism’s attempted subversion of an independent, secular and anti-imperialist Arab state.
The terrorist exodus, conducted under an agreement between Damascus and the West’s proxy forces that was brokered by Iran, Russia and the UN, rams home both the government’s firm command of the situation and the escalating disintegration of the terrorist network. It also makes crystal clear who is (and who is not) serious about pursuing a political solution to the crisis that has caused so much suffering over the last three years.
When the chance presented itself earlier in the year at the Geneva talks for all the parties to work towards a diplomatic solution, the West wilfully squandered the opportunity, encouraging its stooges to demand the removal of President Assad from office as a precondition for any settlement.
Having thereby wrecked the peace talks, the US went on to busy itself on the diplomatic sidelines by cooking up various provocative resolutions against Syria, none of which convinced the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Washington has been contributing to the cause of peace by putting anti-tank missiles into the hands of the rent-a-jihad mob.
Syria itself has continued to conduct a twin-track approach to the crisis. On the one hand, the Syrian army has made full use of the weaknesses and divisions amongst the demoralised jihadist gangs, making steady progress in hemming in the remaining nests of terror and preparing for their elimination.
On the other hand, choosing to take expressed humanitarian concerns at face value, without regard to their provenance, the government has made every effort to come to local agreements wherever there has been any serious prospect of thereby bringing to an end the suffering of civilian populations caught in the crossfire of the conflict.
Such was the initial agreement back in February by which Damascus facilitated the delivery of humanitarian aid to Homs and began the evacuation of the civilian population – all under the supervision of the UN and the Syrian Red Crescent. Despite multiple terrorist attacks on aid convoys, which wounded a number of Red Crescent workers, the operation was a great success.
The new 4 May agreement built on this earlier achievement. Like the February agreement that preceded it, the deal would not have been possible without a combination of painstaking diplomacy from the government in Damascus and overwhelming superiority on the part of the Syrian army.
It is the steadfastness of the Syrian army and people, with the diplomatic support of Iran and Russia, in particular, which has made such local deals possible. The withdrawal of the gunmen from the centre of Homs has now reduced the terrorist presence in the city to one isolated enclave in the suburbs.
In exchange for their guaranteed safe passage out of Homs with one bundle of personal belongings and one rifle each (abandoning their heavy weaponry), the terrorists have agreed to stop blocking aid into Kafr Nabl and al-Zahraa (two northwestern towns hitherto under terrorist siege) and to release dozens of soldiers and civilians that they were holding hostage. Jihadis released 15 soldiers in Aleppo and some of the more than a hundred women and children being held hostage in Latakia province.
Thousands of formerly-exiled residents are now flooding back into Homs to pick up their lives and rebuild their city. Hundreds picked their way through the rubble, searching for what remained of their homes. Residents who had remained told how militants had trashed people’s homes and shops, then dug themselves into a network of tunnels complete with medical facilities whilst leaving the civilian population to starve on the surface, serving the terrorists as unwilling human shields.
One resident told Press TV: “There is a lot of destruction … but we can rebuild our homes and city and we will. Hopefully, everything will be better.”
Southern Front: Jordan gets cold feet
Not everyone welcomed this pragmatic deal. The New York Times quoted a member of the islamist group Ahrah al-Sham in Aleppo as saying “We should burn this regime, not sign a deal with them — liar regime.” (‘Syrian rebels depart Homs district under deal’ by Anne Barnard, 7 May 2014)
Nor will this new proof of the confidence and strength of the patriotic forces gladden many hearts in the vaunted new Southern Front headquartered in the Jordanian capital Amman. This freshly-minted joint Saudi, Jordanian and US operation had for its goal the coordination of all the different subversive forces, with a particular emphasis on reviving the flagging fortunes of the joke Free Syrian Army (FSA).
The plan was to open up a new, cleaned-up, and supposedly ‘non-sectarian’ front, which could shake off the endless internecine strife dogging every other front in the proxy war and thus regain the initiative from Syria’s patriotic forces.
However, this is not going according to plan. Jordan, whose border with Syria is a launch-pad for terrorist attacks, is getting increasingly jumpy about the price its fragile monarchy might have to pay if the country is too openly identified with the promotion of western-backed terror against its Arab neighbours.
According to the Arabic website Al-Monitor, Jordan pulled the plug on an FSA attack against Syrian Air Force positions planned for 13 April, and, in the course of talks in May, King Abdullah II was anxious to assure President Putin that Jordan would not fight a battle on the Syrian southern front and that his country had no agreement with anyone about participating in that battle – somewhat throwing into doubt precisely what the shiny new Amman HQ is for. (‘Jordan delays rebel attack on Syria’s ‘southern front’, 14 May 2014)
Aside from concerns about creating new enemies in Russia, the corrupt feudal kingdom must fear the destabilising consequences of getting entangled in the rats’ nest of squabbling groups, most of which nurse ambitions that reach far beyond regime change in Syria alone.
It was possibly such anxieties that recently compelled the Jordanian Air Force to destroy a rebel arms convoy spotted heading out of Syria and into Jordan. Al-Monitor raised the suspicion that some of the very groups supposedly ‘controlled’ and funded by the joint-ops room in Amman are getting hold of weapons stashed in readiness for opening a second front against Syria and are instead running them back to Jordan to suit their own purposes, be they commercial or terrorist (or both).
A phoney ‘Arab spring’ in Syria is one thing, but Abdullah may be less eager to import one into Jordan.
Thieves fall out
Meanwhile, the only serious war being opened up on the ‘Southern Front’ would appear to be the one being fought out between different wings of the rebellion itself.
In theory, the FSA is the ‘moderate’ top dog on the Jordan border and al-Nusra is the ‘unacceptable’ face of al Qaeda-sponsored islamist terror. In practice, al-Nusra is the dominant presence with which the FSA has to accommodate itself.
This real pecking order became apparent when an FSA colonel to whom al-Nusra had taken a dislike was captured and accused of treachery. Having failed to follow through on its initial blood-curdling threats of retaliation, the humbled FSA offered a series of negotiating postures, each more craven than the last.
The colonel should be released? No. The colonel should be handed over to the FSA to stand trial? No. The colonel should go before a joint tribunal? No. Al-Nusra stood firm: the colonel would go before a court composed of al-Nusra clones and suffer the consequences. The FSA’s lame response to this – announcing that it would cease cooperation with al-Nusra – merely confirmed what had previously been denied: that all along the weaker partner had been obliged to accommodate itself to the stronger, Washington’s official stance notwithstanding.
Syria goes to the polls
Meanwhile, unfazed by all these sordid and self-defeating shenanigans on its borders, Syria carries on with its national life, relying on the steadfastness of the army and the patriotism of the masses to create a democratic space within which to hold the 3 June presidential elections, in accordance with the constitution.
Standing against the incumbent president, as we go to press, are two rival contenders – a former Communist Party member from Aleppo and a pro-‘free economy’ businessman from Damascus, running on an ‘anti-corruption’ ticket.
This exercise has not been to the taste of everyone, with Britain’s pip-squeak foreign minister Hague denouncing the poll as “a parody of democracy”, US secretary of state Kerry pronouncing it a “farce”, and France preventing Syrians resident there from exercising their right to vote. Shamefully, UN chief Ban Ki-Moon added his ‘neutral’ spoonful of tar into the mix, claiming that the election could torpedo efforts to broker a deal to end the war.
Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s leading diplomat at the UN, turned this back on Moon, pointing out that, “there is nothing in the Geneva Communique that would ban or question such elections”, and went on to propose a draft resolution dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria, and with the aim of supporting dialogue between the sides, adding that, whilst the resolution said it was necessary to help the political process forward, “the main starting point was in the local truce which was achieved in Homs”.
Imperialism can never win this proxy war, but it would sooner drag out the suffering of the Syrian people indefinitely than admit defeat. Yet Syria’s future lies, not in the hands of imperialism and its stooges, but in the unity of the nation and the steadfastness of its patriotic forces. May victory come soon, and with it an end to the untold suffering of the masses.
Victory to Assad!
Victory to the Syrian people!