The struggle to liberate the eastern sector of Aleppo from occupation by al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front terrorists continues to make progress, despite the worst efforts of Syria’s enemies.
Fearful lest the Syrian Arab Army should complete its task in Aleppo and move on to liberate Raqqa, the jihadis’ last stronghold, imperialism is rushing to get its preferred proxy forces (nursemaided by its own special operations teams) into Raqqa first, hoping to persuade the Syrian Kurds of the YPG to hold the ring whilst Islamic State (IS) cedes control of the city to some supposedly more ‘moderate’ anti-Assad forces.
There can be but one ‘liberation’ of Raqqa worthy of the name, however: that fought for and won by Syria itself, assisted by its brothers in struggle.
Even the most casual observer of developments in the middle east cannot fail to have been struck by the difference in the way the media have presented recent events in Syria’s Aleppo and Iraq’s Mosul.
Both are densely populated cities, both are occupied by jihadi thugs who are holding innocent civilians to ransom, and in both cases the respective governments are bent on ousting the thugs and bringing the city back under governmental control. Yet whilst the battle for Mosul is presented as a heroic war of liberation, the battle for Aleppo is treated exclusively as a humanitarian disaster, supposedly brought down upon the heads of the citizens by the arbitrary bloodlust of the ‘brutal dictator’ President Bashar al-Assad.
The truth is that imperialism has no interest in eradicating Islamic State or al-Nusra, only in containing and controlling them. In Iraq, it suits Washington’s book (at present) to be seen giving air cover to Iraqi forces battling against IS.
For the US, the fight against IS in Iraq is a good pretext for resuming its military operations in the country. Having seen what began as a puppet government in Baghdad morph into a key player in the axis of resistance (so much so that top government officials have taken to thinking aloud about how much they would prefer Russian help to American), US imperialism welcomes the chance now to posture as the country’s saviour, thereby keeping its boot jammed in the door.
By contrast, the Syrian Arab Army and its brothers in arms are deadly serious about dealing a death blow to the jihadi terror gangs infesting Syria. Their reward for their heroic sacrifices in this genuine war on terror is the implacable hatred of imperialism. For the west, skirmishes with the jihadis have only ever been a sideshow; the serious intention was, and remains, the overthrow of Syria’s legitimate head of state, President Bashar al-Assad, and the enslavement of the Syrian nation.
In fact, when it comes to waging war in such a way as to minimise civilian casualties, there is a significant difference between Mosul and Aleppo, though on this the western media are silent. It was left to a commentator on RT to explain: “In Aleppo, the Russians and the Syrians managed to open three passages for civilians to leave the eastern part of Aleppo in a truce … and they opened two passages for the rebels, especially the ones that are affiliated with al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, to leave as well and to prevent an escalation of the situation in Aleppo.
“While in Mosul, we haven’t seen the same process. In Aleppo, there are around 94,000 civilians trapped in eastern Aleppo … in Mosul there are one million civilians trapped and there are no passages for them to leave, there are no talks about any sort of truce or deals that could prevent the possibility of civilians getting killed.” (US double standards by Ziad Haidar, 2 November 2016)
Race for Raqqa
The truth is that imperialism is most alarmed by the possibility of the Syrian Arab Army completing the liberation of Aleppo and moving on to bag IS’s last remaining stronghold. Both Damascus and Moscow have previously suggested that the US should coordinate the Raqqa campaign with them. State department spokesman Mark Toner was unequivocal on the subject, declaring: “There’s no coordination. There’s no plan to coordinate with either the regime or Russia in going after Daesh.” (US rejects cooperating with Russia or Assad, Aranews, 9 November 2016)
It is clear that the desire of the west to make speed in ‘liberating’ Raqqa cannot spring from any solicitude for the terrorised population of that city. Nor can it seriously be explained by the need to stop terror attacks on the west, as was ventured by the top US military commander in Iraq, Lt Gen Stephen Townsend.
Whilst unable to name any specific threat against any western target originating from Raqqa, he spoke vaguely of a “sense of urgency”, saying that the operation against Raqqa must begin soon to pre-empt attacks that might be masterminded from the city. It is clear, however, that the real ‘sense of urgency’ has more to do with panic at the possibility of Raqqa getting liberated by the Syrian army before US special ops forces have managed to pull their boots on.
The much-trailed imperialist plan to take Raqqa, which is to be backed by US, British and French warplanes, and whose assailants will be ‘trained‘ by 300 special operations personnel, is supposedly to be carried out by the 30,000 fighters of the so-called ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF), comprising 20,000 Syrian Kurdish fighters and 10,000 jihadis. (See US not liberating Raqqa, RT, 8 November 2016)
Washington has sought to mollify the Turkish government (which is increasingly nervous at the sight of all the well-armed and battle-hardened Kurdish fighters on its doorstep) by promising that the Kurds will be restricted to “isolating” the city, holding the ring for the motley crew of Arab jihadis to enter the city. The transparent goal of this cumbersome process is to wind up with Raqqa in the hands of another band of Assad-hating thugs, scrubbed up for the world media as the latest thing in ‘moderate’ jihadism.
Patriotic forces turn up the heat
Soon it may be too late for imperialism to play these sick games. The pace is now being set by the real liberation forces – not least including the fraternal efforts of Russian sea power in the Mediterranean.
On 15 November, the Russian defence minister announced that the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser had begun combat operations in Syria, noting that Russia had started “a major operation to launch massive strikes on Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in the Idlib and Homs provinces”.
He added: “The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser began taking part in operations for the first time in the history of the Russian navy. Our Su-33 aircraft began working from this cruiser today. Before this, we carried out very careful, thorough reconnaissance of all targets.” These included ammunition depots, as well as plants producing weapons. (Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier begins combat operations in Syria, Sputnik News, 15 November 2016)
This new wave of sea power comes on top of considerable successes for Russian air power in the battle against the jihadi terror gangs. Russian bombers have reportedly been taking out “command posts, heavy weapons, ammunition and armament depots, military vehicles, plants producing explosives, field camps and bases” in the provinces of Hama, Idlib and Latakia as well as Aleppo and Raqqa.
It is in vain that by way of compensation the US drops another 50 tons of weapons and ammunition to its latest terrorist client (this time called the ‘Syrian Arab Coalition’). (Russia destroys most IS-Daesh heavy weaponry by Jay Syrmopoulos, Global Research, 26 October 2016)
By 16 November, after 29 days in which Russian bombers had made no sorties in or near Aleppo city, Russian defence spokesman Major Konashenkov was able to announce the successful outcome of the Syrian army’s ground offensive against al-Nusra forces, confirming: “The militants now ultimately have no chance to break into Aleppo from the southwestern direction,” and adding that the army had also made gains in the northern part of the city.
Now that the writing is on the wall for al-Nusra, desperate internal resistance is breaking out within the occupied east of the city. Many have sought to flee, but roads leading to the humanitarian corridors have been mined by the terrorists, and would-be escapees, whether civilians or disaffected gang members, face summary execution.
Forced to stay, Syrians are bravely turning on their captors, with some 1,500 defiantly protesting on the streets and attempting to seize a food depot controlled by al-Nusra. On 15 November, the terrorists shot dead 27 demonstrators and injured hundreds more. (Syrian army makes gains in Aleppo offensive, RT, 16 November 2016)
These vile and desperate acts of nihilism, so far from saving their skins, will seal their fate. Aleppo will be free.
Victory to the Syrian president, government, army and people!
Footnote: Will Trump make a difference to Syria?
The reason the US political establishment loathe Donald Trump was not his racism, his sexism or his tax-dodging, which are all par for the course in bourgeois political life. The real problem is Trump’s failure to toe the line when it comes to demonising Presidents Putin and Assad, instead proposing to cooperate with Russia in getting rid of Islamic State.
On the stump against Clinton, the presidential hopeful offered this idiot’s guide to the middle east: “Assad is killing Isis. Russia is killing Isis. Iran is killing Isis.” In short: “I think it would be great if we got along with Russia; we could fight Isis together.” The logic of this is unanswerable, unless we acknowledge that imperialism does not want to destroy IS and all its lookalikes, merely wishes to control them and direct them against its enemies.
Since nobody in the establishment would dream of admitting this, the only way to counter Trump’s logic was to abuse him for various of his repulsive characteristics, most of which are shared by his opponent, only more discreetly.
Anyone who hoped that the transition from presidential candidate to president-elect might see Trump moderate his stance on Syria will have derived little comfort from the interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal, in which he said that he was likely to stop supporting ‘moderate’ opposition groups fighting Assad, because “we have no idea who these people are”.
He repeated his view that the US should focus on defeating IS and find common ground with Syria and Russia, stating: “I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria. My attitude was you’re fighting Syria, Syria is fighting Isis, and you have to get rid of Isis.” At the very least, these conflicting stances suggest that the disastrous failure of the war against Syria is causing some serious confusion and instability within imperialist ruling circles.
If he makes it in one piece to the Oval Office, the new president will come under enormous pressure to bow to the wishes of his imperialist overlords. Only time will tell whether Trump’s presidency truly signals a dramatic change in US foreign policy.