Russian fighter planes have started bombing Syria. Claiming to strike ISIS, Russian jets bombed the village of Zafarana north of Homs as well as near the town of Lataminah northwest of Hama, neither of which are ISIS strongholds.
The Russian raids killed 30 people many of them women and children. Putin has been a supporter of the dictatorial Assad regime and this intervention will only make Syria a more dangerous place.
According to human rights groups the Assad regime is responsible for the vast bulk of civilian deaths in Syria. These Russian raids only help to strengthen Assad.
Since bombing by various Imperial powers began, including raids by French and US planes, recruitment to ISIS has increased. More Islamist groups have affiliated to ISIS in the wake of each bombing run.
A revolution lost
The Syrian uprising began as part of the Arab Spring with protests by children chanting ‘the people want the downfall of the regime!’ These protests were met with brutal repression. The Syrian army split and the rebellion became a militarised conflict.
The various regional powers all had an interest in diverting the revolution from a movement of the people into a sectarian conflict. The Gulf States wanted to weaken Assad while the sectarian murders by forces such as Hezbollah have left deep scars.
Most of the popular revolutionary committees, that emerged from the initial wave of the revolution, were drowned in blood by Assad, militias allied to Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia or by ISIS.
Kurdish fighters, who opposed both Assad and ISIS, were alienated from the rebellion because of a lack of sympathy for their national rights.
Many of those who led the Syrian opposition had illusions in Western Imperialism but the track record of the West in the Middle East is every bit as bloody as Assad’s. US forces laid waste to Iraq leaving half a million people dead while also creating the conditions for the rise of ISIS.
By imposing a sectarian regime in Baghdad the US strategy of divide and rule backfired and led to the rise of a vicious Islamist opposition. Obama is reluctant to let the US get sucked into another failed military enterprise in the Middle East.
Any US intervention is not meant to destabilise the nasty Assad regime but to bring him to the negotiating table. The US even alerts the regime to its air raids on ISIS targets.
The US has been trying to roll back the Arab Spring and is no friend of the people of the region. Their monetary support for the Army council in Egypt is evidence of their counter revolutionary intentions.
Their bombing of Syria makes a complicated situation worse – A situation where many counter revolutionary forces are battling it out at the expense of ordinary Syrian people- who are then forced to flee.
Patrick Cockburn, a commentator on the Middle East, wrote:
“Five distinct conflicts have become tangled together in Syria: a popular uprising against a dictatorship which is also a sectarian battle between Sunnis and the Alawite sect; a regional struggle between Shia and Sunni which is also a decades-old conflict between an Iranian-led grouping and Iran’s traditional enemies, notably the US and Saudi Arabia. Finally, at another level, there is a reborn Cold War confrontation: Russia and China v. the West.”
No to the Empires
There is no such thing as ‘progressive’ Imperialism. The legacy of US and Western Imperialism in the Middle East is a catalogue of horror but Putin’s gangster regime in Russia is as reactionary in its intent.
Socialists never counterpose one Imperialism to another. While emphasising the reactionary aspirations of our ‘own’ Western Governments we never ever forget the reactionary intent of the other Empires.
No to bombing- US, French or Russian- no to the reactionaries of ISIS. Open the borders to refugees.