Imperialist powers feed Syria’s war

Russia and the Assad regime are continuing their horrific campaign of carpet bombing against Aleppo. Around 250,000 people are facing bombardment with terrifying weapons such as bunker buster bombs and incendiary munitions, which cause burns similar to napalm. They have indiscriminately bombed civilian areas, and repeatedly targeted hospitals. Only 35 doctors are left in the area, according to the World Health Organisation.

A year ago Russia intervened decisively in Syria, showing it was not prepared to see the Assad regime fall.

Thanks to Russian support, the regime has been able to retake territory, seizing the town of Darayya to the west of Damascus and advancing in the centre of the country.

The continuation of Syria’s brutal war is largely due to outside imperialist powers—both Russia and Iran who have funded and supported Assad as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US who have armed the opposition.

Russia has long been a key Syrian ally and the main source of weapons for the regime. Syria is an old Cold War ally, and the host of Russia’s only naval base in the Middle East at Tartus.

Russia’s intervention managed to dramatically outmanoeuvre the US, and show that Russia was still a power to be reckoned with on the world stage. Russia is effectively able to dictate terms over resolving the conflict, abandoning ceasefires despite US protests.

The US has called for Assad’s removal as leader in the hope that a more pliant regime would emerge. But its main concern recently has been bombing Islamic State and other jihadists like Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra). It is also leading the bombing of Mosul in Iraq as part of the operation to retake it from Islamic State, supporting Iraqi troops and Shia militias as well as the Kurdish Peshmerga.

Some rebel groups in Syria have received US support, but mostly with severe restrictions. Russia has focused on bombing rebels backed by Western allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, or other more moderate armed groups, in an effort to eliminate any prospect of the US developing reliable proxy forces. This has been designed to force the West into accepting Assad as the only alternative to the jihadist rebels.

Prior to 2012, Aleppo was Syria’s largest city with a population of 2.5 million. The rebel-controlled area of the city has been under siege on and off since July, with supply lines to food and medical supplies cut.

If the Assad regime captures Aleppo, it would have control over all of Syria’s major urban centres. Assad’s army on the ground is still weak, and relies on Iranian troops to do much of the fighting. So it has resorted to using the starvation and relentless bombing of civilians in an effort to force rebel-held areas to surrender.

Some have called for a “no fly zone” to stop the bombing but this would mean the US shooting down Russian planes. None of the imperialist powers, whether Russia and Iran, or the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, will be part of the solution in Syria.

By James Supple


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