Syria exposed the selective anti-imperialism of the anti-war movement

Mark Boothroyd writes: The Syrian revolt against the Assad regime is now in its fifth year, the death toll from the conflict has surpassed 330,000 with over 1 million wounded, 215,000 are still detained in regime prisons, 200,000 are missing, and between 650,000 and 1,000,000 people are under starvation siege by the regime in rebel towns and cities. Bombings of civilian areas by the regime are a daily occurrence, 4.5 million Syrians are refugees, and 8 million, almost half the remaining population, are internally displaced.

In all this time there was no direct western intervention in Syria against Assad. No bombs were dropped on Syria by Western powers until mid-2014, the fourth year of the revolution, and these were targeted at ISIS, not the regime. Not a single bomb has been dropped on regime military installations by the Coalition air force.

All the hype and warnings notwithstanding, Western aid to the rebels has been very limited. By mid-2013 the Free Syrian Army had received only $12 million of a promised $60 million of aid from the US , and been denied access to weaponry by the EU. The aid they did receive was only non-lethal aid consisting of food, medicine and vehicles. From 2012 onwards the CIA was involved in monitoring weapons shipments to Syria; its role was to stop them receiving the anti-air missiles and heavy weaponry that could have neutralised Assad’s airforce and armour and hastened the downfall of the regime.

When the US did finally begin to arm and train rebels in 2014, it was tightly controlled to a ridiculous extent. In contrast the regime has $3.5 billion worth of contracts for arms from Russia, and loans to pay for it. With Syria’s domestic weapons industry too small to produce enough arms to sustain a protracted conflict, the imperialist intervention which has kept the conflict going and maintains it to this day is from Russia.

The revolutions exposed that for many in the anti-war movement, opposition to imperialist intervention only extended to opposition to imperialist intervention by the UK, US, EU, and their allies. There was no opposition to the imperialist actions of the Russian government, or the crucial support given by the Iranian government to the Assad regime. [Continue reading…]

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