No to Military Intervention in Syria!
In the wake of recent events in Paris and elsewhere and following a UN Security Council resolution, Prime Minster David Cameron has presented to Parliament a new justification for the bombing of Syria. On this occasion the government is claiming that its target is the so-called Islamic State/ISIL, but it must remembered that two years ago Cameron and his coalition government were demanding parliamentary support for a military attack on the government of Syria. On that occasion the government were defeated, not least because it was clear that there was widespread opposition throughout the country to the government’s warmongering and stated policy of regime change and because of the consequences of previous military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
On this occasion too there is widespread opposition to the government. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, has written to all Labour MPs to make clear his strong opposition to further military intervention. Plaid Cymru and the SNP have also voiced their opposition, while the Conservative chair of the Select Committee on Defence has put forward that ISIL can only be defeated if Britain forms an alliance with the government of Syria.
Cameron’s thirty-six page justification for the bombing of Syria was in part a response to a similarly lengthy document published by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons at the end of October. That Conservative-dominated body rejected any extension of Britain’s current bombing of IS targets in Iraq to those in Syria. The Select Committee found no evidence to suggest that Britain’s bombing of such targets would “have anything other than a marginal effect”. In particular the Select Committee made much of the international nature of the conflict in Syria, in which the British government has interfered from the start. It pointed out that its nature is such that more intervention by Britain would be unlikely to lead to any lasting resolution. It concluded: “We consider that the focus on the extension of airstrikes against ISIL in Syria is a distraction from the much bigger and more important task of finding a resolution to the conflict in Syria and thereby removing one of the main facilitators of ISIL’s rise.”
What is clear is that the conflict in Syria cannot now be considered just a civil war, nor a regional conflict, but has become almost a global conflict in which many external forces are involved. The recent attack by Turkey on a Russian military plane shows the great dangers which exist of an even wider escalation of the conflict. It also highlights the fact that even those external forces that claim to be united in opposition to ISIL are in fact at odds over the future of Syria. Britain and its allies remain focused on regime change, while Russia, Iran and others are fighting to preserve the sovereignty of Syria and at the request of that country’s government. It appears that the military intervention of Russia and Iran in recent months has enabled the Syrian government to regain the initiative against both ISIL and those rebel forces that are supported by Britain and its allies. As for ISIL itself, it appears that this sinister organisation had not been “downgraded” as a result of military attacks by those forces under the leadership of the US but on the contrary the evidence suggests that it has been directly or indirectly aided by these forces. Thus intervention by Britain and other NATO powers in Syria must be opposed as being less about the need to combat ISIL, which exists as a consequence of their interference in Iraq and Syria, and more about the continuing contention in the region and their stated policy of regime change for geopolitical advantage.
The recent UN Security Council resolution calling on members of the UN to take “all necessary measures” to combat the threat posed by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and Al-Qa’ida in Syria and Iraq also reflected this contention and was immediately interpreted in varying ways by those who had voted for it. The US took the lead in demanding that what was required to resolve all the problems in Syria was regime change, a view supported by Britain and reiterated again at the conclusion of the G20 Summit. Other delegations, most notably those from Venezuela and the Russian Federation, placed more emphasis on removing “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”, specifically the financing, arming and training of “terrorist groups”. The representative of the Russian delegation spoke of the need for “the creation of a broad anti-terrorism front aimed at eradicating root causes”. Noticeably absent from the resolution, and the speeches of delegates, was any mention of state terrorism, the most significant of such root causes.
The government is using the recent events in France and elsewhere and the UNSC resolution not in the interests, or for the security, of the majority of people in Britain, but to further the geopolitical interests of those it represents. The Prime Minister has for example also recently announced, as part of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, that around £180 billion will be spent on military equipment in the next decade. This will enable the deployment of three new RAF fighter squadrons, the replacement of four nuclear submarines, at least fifteen other new naval vessels, as well as the enlargement of the country’s rapid deployment forces. In addition a further £2.9 billion is to be spent on strengthening the secret services with nearly 2,000 new personnel, as well as on additional surveillance drones and other measures for intervention abroad and the curtailment of rights at home. In this regard there was no mention of austerity or the needs for cuts. The government has also seen no need to cut what it refers to as overseas “aid”, a euphemism for the money that is used both for economic intervention in the affairs of poorer countries, many of them former colonies, which is then employed as subsidies for the big monopolies and financial institutions.
All the evidence shows that the government is intent on pursuing the same course that has created the conditions for the tragic events in France, as well as equally tragic events in Britain and other countries. It is intent on further military intervention around the world, still following its reactionary mission to Make Britain Great Again, and in this specific case its aim of armed intervention is that of regime change in Syria.
Recent history has shown that stability and security in the world have not been produced by the military intervention of Britain and the other big powers; quite the contrary. The danger of even greater crimes against the people looms large. What is required is an end to all foreign intervention and interference by Britain in the affairs of other countries. There must be no further military intervention in Syria or in other countries. We call on the movement against Britain’s intervention to redouble its efforts to establish an anti-war government.