With the defeat of Daesh (ISIS) more or less complete, it is no longer possible for the Assad regime to hide behind the lie that it should be supported against terrorists. The regime itself has engaged in terrorism to the extent that nearly 500,000 have been killed (overwhelmingly by Assad/Russian forces), six million are internally displaced and there are five million refugees who fled to other countries.
The Syrian struggle is not a socialist one but rather a struggle for democracy, encompassing many different factions and ways of thinking, including Islamists. The principal enemy has always been the fascist regime.
Trump has called Assad an “animal” and indicated that, unlike Obama, he will not allow a ‘second red line’ to be ignored. With support from France and Britain, Trump has said the US will act against the regime with or without United Nations support. Hopefully, he can build a wider coalition.
Will this be the turning point that the people of Syria and their supporters have been hoping for?
If it is, then prepare for the pseudo-left to launch a ‘Hands of Syria’ campaign of exactly the same reactionary kind as the overt neo-fascist admirers of Assad.
And also prepare for an advance in the position of the revolutionary forces on the ground in Syria.
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Below is the text of the statement by the Syrian National Coalition of Revolution and Opposition Forces calling for military strikes against the Assad regime.
The Syrian Coalition called upon permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely the United States, Great Britain and France to launch military strikes against the Assad regime in response to the repeated use of chemical weapons. The latest of these chemical weapons attacks took place in the town of Douma late on Saturday claiming the lives of more than 100 civilians.
In a press release issued on Sunday, the Coalition said that the use of force to strike the Assad regime’s army positions and airbases is part of the responsibility to maintain international peace and security.
“Calling a UN Security Council session has proved futile given Russia’s repeated blocking of any action by the Council. The Syrian Coalition, therefore, calls on the Council’s permanent members and the concerned countries, namely the United States, Great Britain, and France, to take urgent action in accordance with their responsibilities for maintaining international peace and security,” the Coalition said.
The Syrian Coalition also called for the urgent referral of the Assad regimes’ crimes to the International Criminal Court. “It is the responsibility of everyone to put an end to the brutal onslaught on Douma and eastern Ghouta and protect about 200,000 civilians who are still trapped in the liberated part of eastern Ghouta.”
The Coalition said that the attack on Douma was carried out in blatant defiance and utter disregard for all human values. It stressed that the use chemical weapons, inflammable napalm, and the white phosphorus in the bombings of eastern Ghouta constituted a war crime and genocide.
Moreover, the Coalition said that Russia and the Assad regime “bear total and direct responsibility for these barbaric crimes,” adding that the violent Saturday bombings targeted women and children who sought shelter in makeshift underground basements in Douma.
The Coalition called upon the Syrian and Arab communities and all free people around the world to speak up against the Assad regime’s crimes and exert pressure on the governments of the countries that remain silent over these heinous crimes.
The Coalition said it was communicating with the countries concerned to urge a response to Russia’s military escalation and the genocide taking place in eastern Ghouta as well as to ensure accountability for these crimes and protection for the people in Douma. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
Could be a turning point. Fox News and WSJ both calling for destruction of Assad’s air force.
Despite monitoring Trump news since election I still don’t have any confidence in guessing what US is likely to do. Serious air war as opposed to previous gestures does seem possible.
1. Trump’s declaration of desire for US troops to leave very soon could either be to prepare/test waters for doing so or (more likely I think) to “virtue signal” to isolationist supporters that he would rather have got out but has been forced to stay.
2. Either way, serious air war is not at all inconsistent with that statement. Its boots on the ground (hence casualties) that isolationists are most opposed to. Air war will arouse less opposition.
3. But the US is still the only power with logistics capability to support an occupation force regime could surrender/transition to without getting massacred. Still no sign of any such force except Turkey. (Germany has had 1200 or so troops in Syria for a couple of years so could provide a more “neutral” inner ring acceptable to Alawis than Sunni Turks for protection, but hasn’t got the logistic capability without US). US boots on ground still essential to staff port and airfields etc for airlift and sealift and for rapid reaction combat against armistice violations.
4. Recent announced appointments of Bolton and Pompeo to National Security Advisor and State Department seen to aim at performance on cable TV, which points to actually doing something.
5. Likewise non-departure of Mattis from Defence points to not being so stupid as to abandon Syria at this point like Obama did.
6. Destruction of regime air force is a necessary preliminary to any other effort and is much easier now with air defence system so much weaker and dependent on Russians.
7. Any opposition from pseudo-left “Hands Off Syria” would only be a plus that will help console Trump base and help demobilize paleocons who don’t seem inclined to mobilize against it the way they did over Iraq.
8. Media discussion would mainly be about Russians as usual and so irrelevant.
9. A Fateh CC member friend of mine told me that when Israeli jets shot down Syrian air force during the Lebanese civil war a Palestine National Council meeting erupted in cheering. Attempts to mobilize Arab opinion in defence of regime will have negligible impact. Part of the Arab opposition to destruction of fIraqi Baathist regime arose from its hostility to Syrian Baathist regime which was always hated.
10. Negotiations between Iran, Russia and Turkey can only be about transition from the regime. Never was any possibility that Iran and Russia could hope for regime to remain in charge for long or that Turkey would even discuss anything other than getting rid of Daesh (and Al Qaeda) first. That has now been almost done so something has to come next.
11. Worrying sign is Trump asking Saudis and other Gulf States to get involved. There was talk of a separate Sunni region run by Gulf States. I cannot imagine that being taken seriously so I assume Trump just wants Saudi cash for rebuilding.
12. But I really have no idea what’s happening.
‘8. Media discussion would mainly be about Russians as usual and so irrelevant.’
It may not seem so irrelevant to the people under those Russian bombs, but hey, what with them turning up not to kill the FSA, but to end the regime and hand the country over to those very same democrats, well what’s a few hundred thousand more killed and millions turned into refugees! Far more serious apparently – as your brief interest showed – was a spot of chemical warfare on 3 people in Britain! Now that also got media but fortunately no ½ theory yet.
Yes it ‘Could be a turning point.’ and people are calling for the ‘destruction of Assad’s air force.’ and yes even; ‘Despite monitoring Trump news since election I still don’t have any confidence in guessing what US is likely to do.’ because that is how bad this is. Nevertheless it’s to be hoped that the ‘Serious air war as opposed to previous gestures [that] does seem possible.’ is to be launched.
But the coming attacks are still more likely to be a few (albeit more effective) strikes than an ongoing air-war, and there is this little matter of the Russians being all over the place. So lots of air strikes now seem probable against all manner of regime assets, and in particular the air assets that are not hiding or alongside the Russians at their bases. It’s very hard to think through what the Donald will do, but I think it more probable that he really wanted to get out ASAP and that was because he thought that the big picture could be now imagined and yet it still ain’t so IMV.
The latest Turkish intervention has however altered the big picture and I hope for the better. They will now protect even more of the FSA and deal with Al Qaeda as best they can. IMV that FSA will eventually regroup and soon enough (2-3 years) resume a fight for Aleppo. So if a deal is emerging with the Turks, Russians and Iranians as the regional guarantors, then control of Aleppo is either going to be conceded for the FSA enclave, or else the Turks are stuck with the baby of all those Syrians and no big city! (Till a revolutionary underground army infiltrates and the revolution resumes and retakes it.)
The US led West has demonstrated after years of Turkish ‘begging’ that they do not intend to do what must be done and so Turkey is acting and the consequence is going to eventually be another enclave that is eventually capable of rolling some of the close in regime territory.
I know F-all about Pompeo, but Bolton is clear enough about doing rather than pushing any reset button etc. But I am still not clear what that doing will be. It’s going to be hard to be very effective in an air-war when Assad grounds his fixed wings in among the Russians and then hides the helios. Even if Assad cops it big time the Russians with the ground forces of the rest of the HIRISE can now finish the remainder of the rubble making air work that is required to get the long term (whatever that means) enclaves into effect.
I do think Bolton would have pushed back much harder over the shape of the on ground reality of these enclaves and (with the Trump uncertainty caveat) slightly reshaping these is what I would guess for the immediate future. An easy way to make the HIRISE pay some price would be to clear some on the ground pink spots up north and east of the Euphrates first. This is where the US recently killed a few hundred Russians ‘contractors’! Clearing these spots could be followed by a substantial incursion down near the Jordanian border and that would very much annoy the enemy.
Despite any delusions about Russians showing up to end the regime etc., the whole of the HIRISE is the enemy and have to be annoyed (even Sisi led Egypt) and not just Assad. To really annoy Iran the Western COW would then roll the HIRISE back up the west side of the river! Virtually everything else in the form of limited air-war would soon enough just blow over and the HIRISE plan continue to unfold as is exactly what happened over the last year. That’s when some people thought that the theatre of Tomahawks smashing up an almost empty base meant that at least a state of war then existed. It didn’t. The incident blew over until this latest series of ‘insults’. The Russians are now dragged into this with their carry on in Britain and the Iranians are always on the US agenda as are the Iraqi Sadr types! https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/al-sadr-says-iraq-turkey-agreement-against-pkk-is-unlikely-1.720309
I think Trump shares Obama’s basic thought that the rag-heads can all just go and kill each other but is not prepared to let the Russians etc., get away with what they are. That is a big difference yet still imponderable.
‘6. Destruction of regime air force is a necessary preliminary to any other effort and is much easier now with air defence system so much weaker and dependent on Russians.’ Curiously, the Turks are proving that this is just not the case as they nibble away at the old map of what was once Assad’s Syria. The regime and Russians are not bombing where the Turks are! They are not even shelling that territory. That air-power would be quickly destroyed if it were to get near the US areas, so it might be a good move to expand the footprints a little bit to annoy them; stir the ant nest a bit and see what targets turn up. Who knows exactly? We will see soon enough.! The West can’t afford to be humiliated yet again.
‘10. Negotiations between Iran, Russia and Turkey can only be about transition from the regime. Never was any possibility that Iran and Russia could hope for regime to remain in charge for long or that Turkey would even discuss anything other than getting rid of Daesh (and Al Qaeda) first. That has now been almost done so something has to come next.’
A great deal of death and destruction has now befallen the FSA types since it was first proposed that this was the ONLY possibility. No wonder people who still hold to it are usually so silent. The Turks have just gone after the Kurds and are still busy with restoring the FSA to towns in the north etc. The tyrannies are still killing and cleansing to a plan that is NOT about handing over to those that are being bombed out of the country if not out of existence.
‘11. Worrying sign is Trump asking Saudis and other Gulf States to get involved. There was talk of a separate Sunni region run by Gulf States. I cannot imagine that being taken seriously so I assume Trump just wants Saudi cash for rebuilding.’
On the other hand if there was going to be a longer run for the maps that really do exist and there was a regional context to consider and the US and Europe were not going to put in the required ground forces then this could make a bit more sense.
‘12. But I really have no idea what’s happening.’ By now the word had ought to be able to be spoken as well!
While ‘Air war will arouse less opposition.’ at home it still has direct conflict with Russians as a major obstacle for any longer period rather than any more limited ‘targeted strikes.’ The region is involved and push is up against shove so all plans might go out the window as has happened on more than one occasion in the past.
The West has to find a way to sweep away the HIRISE because they are not going of their own accord!
But the current signs are that the US led West may have just changed direction for the better.
Does sound like could just be another pointless missile strike.
We will know soon enough. No point speculating.
But even that would also explode myths about Russians being the problem as they have ridiculously threatened to shoot them down. (Technically feasible for cruise missiles but militarily and politically a ludicrous threat aimed at encouraging absurd media coverage of “mighty” and “fearsome” Russia). Reality is that Russia can only operate there at all because West permitted it. Now that Daesh largely done and Al Qaeda less of a threat that may change. May not since Trump like Obama doesn’t care what happens to Syrians. His focus is entirely domestic and just sending token missiles again would be missing a big opportunity to split Democrats. But I have no way to tell.
Obama used Russians as excuse for doing nothing. Its a pathetic excuse. The naval forces of the landlocked Austro-Hungarian empire (2 slovenian patrol boats) would be quite sufficient to keep the Russians out of Syria if Turkey wanted them out and closed the straits. Iran has slightly more access via Iraq but not much. Iran is not going to remain bogged down once satisfied that Daesh and a massacre of Alawis has been avoided and an orderly transition arranged. Nor would Iraq let it if they were stupid enough to try.
Certainly there has been totally unnecessary death and destruction as a result of the West and Russia both joining Iran in prioritizing Daesh rather than the bigger problem, Assad. But the regime “victories” are wildly exaggerated. They avoided collapse of Damascus when Russians came in and now control all the main cities. But mainly because except for Ahrar Al Sham (which is a major exception) most of the Syrian opposition agreed to stand by and wait for isolation of Al Qaeda and join in defeat of Daesh first. They did cease fire and are still there (and now running civil administration outside the cities). Kurds and Turkey both know Assad regime is finished. That is why they are fighting over some disputed territory (and only huffing and puffing about far larger Kurdish territory on Turkish border).