The Syrian regime has postured as part of an “anti-imperialist” alliance with Iran and Hezbollah and is seen as a supporter of the Palestinians.
But it has never consistently opposed imperialism. Syria invaded Lebanon in 1976 to help crush the leftist and Palestinian guerrilla groups that looked like taking power. It also joined the 1991 US war against Iraq and carried out torture of prisoners as part of the US’s rendition program under the “war on terror”. It is a regime that puts its own interests first and has been happy to strike deals with Western imperialism.
Assad runs a brutal and ruthless regime. Even before 2011, there were hundreds of political prisoners and opposition activists were regularly tortured.
Widespread privatisations and pro-market policies have seen inequality soar, reaching a level greater even than Egypt by the mid-2000s. Unemployment before the revolution began stood at 25 to 30 per cent.
Government fighter jets have indiscriminately targeted civilians, bombing bread queues and hospitals in areas under opposition control.