Imperialist hopes that widening the scope of Islamic State operations in Iraq might give another significant lease of life to its proxy subversion of Syria – whether by securing a sustainable platform for IS to launch strikes back across the border or by furnishing a pretext for Washington’s own airstrikes against Syria – would appear to be rapidly dimming.
Syrian ground forces, backed by airstrikes, have succeeded in wresting the town of Morek in the north of Hama from the grasp of takfiri terrorists. The town is of some strategic importance, as it lies on the main highway between Damascus and Aleppo. The Syrian army has also recaptured the Mazra’at al-Halabi area and Madafeh Hill in Aleppo’s eastern countryside.
Best of all, the assortment of rival death squads infesting the eastern suburbs of Aleppo have now been encircled in a pincer movement to cut supply lines, dashing hopes that a jihadi-held Aleppo could open the way to a drive to the south. Edward Dark, in a recent article in Al Monitor, noted gloomily that: “The fall of east Aleppo would most likely precipitate a spectacular collapse among rebel ranks and herald their end as an effective actor in the civil conflict.” (Cited in ‘Will Aleppo finally fall to the Syrian army?’ by Lyse Doucet, BBC News Online, 14 November 2014)
UN calls for a ‘freeze zone’
Such developments, most unwelcome to imperialism, will be greeted with joy by all progressive people. The degree of the West’s alarm may be measured by the sudden prominence of a UN proposal for a ‘freeze zone’ – cautiously acknowledged by Damascus and regarded with foreboding by the ‘opposition’ – designed to “de-escalate violence through local truces and open a space to deliver humanitarian aid”.
The mixed response by the terrorist camp to this suggestion reveals the splits that weaken the proxy forces: “Some fighters want to avoid a long siege and are ready to accept a freeze, but others want to keep fighting.” (Ibid)
A report posted on Asharq Al-Awsat suggested that 14 of the terrorist gangs have quickly cobbled together an ‘Aleppo Revolutionary Council’, with a view to holding talks about the UN ceasefire plan. Meanwhile, the ‘Free Syrian Army’, claiming the backing of the Syrian National Coalition, rejected the UN plan ‘in its current form’, though it conceded loftily that it may deign to meet with the UN’s envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to “get a more detailed picture of the plan”. (‘Formation of Aleppo Revolutionary Council paves way for opposition talks with regime: source’ by Nazeer Rida, aawsat.net, 12 November)
For its part, Damascus declared the plan “worth studying”. Fares Shehabi, head of Aleppo’s Chamber of Industry, the previous HQ of which was reduced to rubble by one of the many underground mines detonated by departing terrorists, expressed himself with less diplomacy when he told Lyse Ducet: “We want the army to finish all of them off – the people of Aleppo have had enough.” (See BBC News Online, op cit)
Nor is Mr Shehabi alone in this opinion. According to blogger Tim Anderson, “The western media reported a series of FSA commanders in Aleppo (an overwhelmingly sunni city) complaining about lack of support from the local people. ‘I know they hate us,’ one told the Guardian, while Time magazine reported another saying: ‘The Aleppans here, all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar; they inform on us’.
“This was later confirmed by a report carried out for Nato, which estimated that 70 percent of the Syrian population backed President Assad, and that much of this support came from secular sunnis who were horrified by FSA atrocities.” (‘In defence of the Syrian Arab Army’, ingaza.wordpress.com, 29 June 2014)
US bombs Syria, abandons Kurds
Whilst the proxy forces squabble and retreat, the US-led airstrikes grind on – ostensibly targeting IS, but in fact reserving their real fury for Syria’s energy facilities, infrastructure and residential areas.
The pretext for bombing oil facilities and pipelines – that IS is funding itself by the sale of oil – does not hold up, given that IS uses tankers to carry oil into Turkey, which is then sold on to EU countries. There are obviously any number of ways to stop such a large-scale and open trade without destroying Syria’s refineries. The clear purpose of the bombing is not to ‘stop IS’, but to reduce Syria’s capacity for resistance by eroding its social fabric – just as was done by Nato in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya.
In Iraq, too, the airstrikes are, if anything, accelerating the ravages of IS. Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) has stated that IS has stepped up its attacks since airstrikes began in August and that the frequency has continued to rise ever since. Head of JTIC Matthew Henman asserted that: “The airstrikes certainly aren’t impairing [IS’s] ability to intensify their attacks or carry out their campaign.” (‘Airstrikes fail to slow IS’ Iraq killing spree’ by Cassandra Vinograd, nbcnews.com, 14 November 2014)
The real aim in Iraq, just as in Syria, is to weaken national cohesion.
The manoeuvres around the Syrian town of Ayn Al-Arab, known to its largely Kurdish population as Kobanî, have illustrated the cynical double-dealing of the West.
The imperialists have been happy enough to encourage aspirations amongst the Kurdish people of Syria for autonomy, so long as that was seen as a way of weakening Syria’s national identity and exposing her to foreign subversion. However, now that the Kurds of Ayn Al-Arab find themselves under murderous attack by the same forces Damascus has been battling for so many years, the West is eagerly seizing the pretext for multiplying its air strikes, whilst doing little or nothing to relieve the besieged town.
It beggars belief that the USA’s overwhelming firepower could not over so many weeks have proven decisive in relieving the town from the massed ranks of IS – especially considering the arid nature of the terrain, affording so little cover. Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya has noted that: “After heavy criticism and international pressure, the US began to drop token medical supplies and arms shipments for the locals and Kobanî’s local defenders. Some of these US arms got into the hands of IS.
“The Pentagon says this was the result of miscalculations and that IS were not the intended recipients. Sceptics, however, believe that the Pentagon deliberately parachuted the US weapons near places where IS’s battalions could easily see and obtain them. The arms caches included hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and ammunition, which were all displayed in at least one video produced by IS during the battle for Kobanî.” (‘The war in western Kurdistan and northern Syria’ by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, globalresearch.ca, 11 November 2014)
Meanwhile, as it continued to blast away at Syria’s infrastructure, the US was talking out of the other side of its mouth, hypocritically urging its Turkish satellite to open its borders to allow fellow Kurds to help defend the town. After resisting at first, Turkish president Erdogan eventually opened the doors to a token contingent of Kurds – one that he hoped might be less likely to bolster the progressive Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is closely aligned to Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
A significant section of the KRG-aligned (Kurdistan Regional Government) peshmerga fighters from Iraq who were allowed to cross Turkey’s border into Kobanî on 1 November are allies of Turkey. Members of YPG (People’s Protection Units) or YPJ (Women’s Protection Units), both under the leadership of the PYD, were not permitted to cross. Nor were Turkish or Kurdish volunteers.
The overall thrust of imperialist policy, cutting through this imbroglio, is simple enough: to weaken the unity and strength of the Syrian people. The West is as little concerned with the fate of the Kurds as it was with that of the Yazidis atop a mountain in Iraq.
Support the Syrian Arab Army
Some on the left play into the hands of imperialism by spreading the notion that self-determination for the Kurds could or should be won in opposition to Syria’s patriotic war against imperialism. Sometimes, the argument is given a ‘progressive’ flavour by pointing (correctly) to the arbitrary nature of the borders imposed by the Sykes-Picot agreement between French and British imperialism in the wake of World War I. In the article referred to earlier, Tim Anderson wrote as follows:
“Cynics suggest that arbitrary national boundaries and entities created by the colonial powers have no value. However, hundreds of thousands of young Syrians put their lives on the line every day to defend a nation that gives them identity, education and a range of shared institutions. I suggest that deserves some respect.
“The Syrian Arab Army has been vilified by those very same regimes that arm the foreign jihadis and the local sectarians. Yet despite the relentless attacks, this army has held together and is showing strong signs of resuming control of its own country, in service of a secular and socially-inclusive state. If that is not the legitimate function of a national army, I don’t know what is.”
Victory to the Syrian Arab Army!
>Will Aleppo finally fall to the Syrian Army?, BBC online.
>Formation of Aleppo Revolutionary Council paves way for opposition talks with regime, Asharq Al-Awsat
>In defence of the Syrian Arab Army, ingaza.wordress.com
>Airstrikes fail to slow ISIS Iraq killing spree , nbcnews.com
>The war in western Kurdistan and northern Syria, Global Reasearch