British government sabre-rattling about Syria

Schools in Syrian war, map

By Luke James in Britain:

Syrian war drums beat ever louder

Monday 26 August 2013

MPs from across the political spectrum demanded the recall of Parliament today to discuss the Syria crisis after Foreign Secretary William Hague threatened to pull the trigger on military action.

Mr Hague hinted the government was ready to launch an armed response to the Syrian civil war after around 300 people were reportedly killed in a chemical attack.

He said the UN security council had not “shouldered its responsibilities” on Syria because Russia and China have resisted military intervention.

But the Tory minister argued it was possible to respond to the use of chemical weapons “without complete unity” on the council.

Defending the prospect of a unilateral attack with the US, he said: “Otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, to such crimes.”

Mr Hague’s comments come before a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council on Wednesday which PM David Cameron has returned from holiday to chair.

MPs from all parties immediately called for an emergency session of Parliament to debate whether Britain should wade into the war.

Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said: “If, in reality, the Prime Minister is now considering military options involving UK personnel then of course I would expect him to seek a recall of Parliament.”

He insisted Mr Cameron should “come to the House of Commons and make his case in advance of a decision being made.”

Opposition forces accused government troops of being behind last week’s reported gas attack but President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the claim as “politically motivated.”

Distressing but unverified footage of dead bodies and hospitalised children emerged after the reported incident.

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn urged leaders today to make a “rational response” to the “terrible pictures of the atrocity in Syria.”

He said: “Instinctively we all want to punish the perpetrators and ensure there will be no repeat of this mass slaughter. That’s the emotional reaction.

“The rational one is to measure the consequences of our using force in the Syrian civil war.”

Mr Flynn added that both sides in the conflict have complex interests and said the consequences of intervention were completely unpredictable.

And he warned: “A civil war with evil fanatics on both sides could quickly escalate into a regional war and a world war.”

By Lindsey German in Britain:

When will the West ever learn?

Monday 26 August 2013

The latest horrific casualties in Syria, suspected of being the result of a chemical weapons attack, have been the occasion for a new round of demands for Western intervention in the country.

While details of the case are disputed, the use of chemical weapons should be condemned, whoever uses them.

But this latest attack should not be used as a pretext for military intervention, which will only worsen the situation there.

This is especially true when those condemning the use of these weapons have few qualms about using them (as the US has done in Iraq and in Vietnam) or of manufacturing deadly weapons, which they happily sell to dictators and despots around the world.

The latest incident in Syria crosses a red line for the Turkish government, which is urging further intervention.

A UN investigation has already begun but that isn’t enough for the Western powers and their allies in the Middle East.

While the UN dresses up the move for further intervention in humanitarian demands, any such step by France, Britain, the US or its regional neighbours will not stop the war now going on in Syria. It will exacerbate it and lead to greater casualties on all sides.

The tragedy of Syria is that the civil war there has turned into a proxy war with implications way beyond its borders and with outside intervention on a scale which resembles the 19th century carve-ups of the Balkans between the various empires of Europe.

A variety of countries have already supplied money, arms and special forces. US, British and other troops are on manoeuvres in Jordan, sending warships to the eastern Mediterranean and recognising and funding a “government in waiting” of the Syrian opposition.

The humanitarian credentials of the intervening countries are threadbare.

Saudi Arabia, which has poured arms and money in to overthrow Assad, who is a close ally of Saudi enemy Iran, is one of the most repressive and illiberal regimes in the world. Its support for brutal repression of demonstrators in Bahrain and its current support for the coup in Egypt which has led to thousands dead, belie any talk of protecting rights, freedoms and human life.

Turkey’s record on human rights, from its persecution and imprisonment of journalists to its long-running war and persecution of the Kurds, demonstrates that its support for the opposition Free Syrian Army is more about its own strategic interests in the region than anything else.

It may be that the ferocious calls to use force are in part an attempt to gain more access to different parts of Syria for the UN weapons inspectors, who are in the country investigating previous claims of chemical weapons use.

Twice in the last century – after the first and second world wars – there was a major reshaping of the Middle East. This was done not in the interests of the people of the region, but of the imperial powers.

Their ability to learn from their mistakes has proved to be zero, while their propensity to repeat the mistakes continues.

Western intervention in Syria, or anywhere else in the Middle East, would deny freedom and justice to its people and fuel greater displacement and war.

A Syrian Chaldean Catholic bishop on Monday warned that an armed intervention in Syria could unleash a “world war”, while the Vatican’s official newspaper called for more “prudence” from Western powers: here.

Why air strikes against Syria probably won’t work: here.

Britain and other imperialist states are in danger of sleepwalking their way into an unjustifiable military adventure in Syria that could engulf the entire region in flames: here.

The U.S. Knew Iraq Was Using Chemical Weapons, Helped Out Anyway: here.

35 thoughts on “British government sabre-rattling about Syria

  1. From the USA:

    WAR ALERT: Syria in danger of U.S. bombing

    John Kerry has just made an ominous announcement that the U.S. intends to take “action” against Syria, and that Syria will be “held accountable.” Talk of a chemical weapons attack in Syria is filling the airwaves. The U.S. is blaming the Assad government for it and openly talking of direct military intervention.

    We, as the antiwar movement, have a duty to denounce any military action against Syria by the United States. If U.S. war begins against Syria, be in the streets. Make plans.

    Emergency protest in New York City at Times Square, 5:00pm

    Actions will take place at Federal Buildings, the offices of military contractors and other symbols of U.S. militarism.

    Send us word of your local action:

    We must make clear that we will not be tricked into another war designed to make profits for the Wall Street military contractors and oil profiteers. Such a war will take thousands of innocent lives. There is no justification for such a criminal act.

    The billions of dollars that such a war would cost should be spent on education, schools, healthcare, and other basic societal needs. The fact that another foreign war is being considered, at a time that food stamps are being cut, record numbers of homes are being foreclosed, and schools are being shut down and privatized in the name of a “budget crisis”, is outrageous. Austerity is continuing in the U.S. and public sector workers’ jobs are being eliminated. Basic infrastructure within the U.S. is crumbling. Bridges are insecure. Water is not being properly purified.

    A new war will be disastrous for people of the Middle East, the U.S., and the entire world. According to a Reuters poll, 89% of the population is opposed to U.S. support for Syrian opposition.


    There is absolutely no evidence or confirmation that the Assad government carried out the alleged chemical attack.
    United Nations weapons inspectors are in Syria at the direct REQUEST of the Syrian government to prove that they have not used chemical weapons. The attack took place a mere ten miles away from the inspection team, on the very day they arrived.
    Carla Del Ponte, a United Nations Human Rights investigator, has stated that the Syrian government has not used chemical weapons but the rebels have.
    In May, 12 members of the Syrian rebel forces were arrested in Turkey. The rebels possessed 4.5 pounds of Sarin, the neurotoxin gas alleged to have been used in the recent attack.
    In January, the “Daily Mail”, a prominent British newspaper, reported that the Syrian rebels were planning a chemical attack which they would blame on the Syrian government in order to justify U.S. intervention. The report was based on leaked emails from military contractors.
    The Syrian rebels are receiving direct weapons and funding from the United States, despite their record of atrocities including rape, murder, and torture. The U.N. has reported that they are actively recruiting young children, in addition to other violations of international law.
    The Assad government has fully cooperated with the weapons inspection teams.
    Members of the United Nations inspection team have openly stated their doubts about the chemical attack. Dr. Ake Sellstrom, the leader of the team, called the reports of the alleged attack “suspicious”.
    Reports on the attack are extremely inconsistent. Some reports said over 1,300 were killed. Other reports have said less than 200. Still other reports say over 350. The numbers are unclear and totally unsubstantiated.
    The report being circulated by “Doctors Without Borders” is not based on their own information, but based on reports they received from a Syrian rebel group by their own admission.
    Videos of the alleged attack were posted on the internet by allies of the Syrian rebels, BEFORE the attack took place.
    The credibility of the video of the alleged chemical attack is being widely questioned by chemical weapons experts. The victims are not displaying the proper symptoms of having been struck by a Sarin nerve gas. The people shown treating them are not wearing proper equipment.
    The U.S. is currently urging the U.N. weapons inspection team to halt its work. The U.N. weapons inspectors insist that they must be allowed to continue their investigations and to determine actual facts.

    Despite all of this confusion and inconsistency in the claims about this alleged attack, the U.S. government, along with its corporate allies in Britain and France are openly pushing for an attack on Syria.

    We have seen all this before:

    The Spanish-American War was justified with an alleged attack on the U.S.S. Maine. In reality, the ship was sunk by an internal explosion.
    The U.S. entrance into World War I was justified with the “Zimmerman Telegram”, claiming Germans were plotting to invade the U.S. with Mexico. The telegram was later proven to be a fraud.
    The Vietnam War was justified with the “Gulf of Tonkin”incident claiming Vietnam had attacked a U.S. ship. It was later proved that the alleged attack never actually took place.
    In 1983, the U.S. invasion of Grenada was based on allegations that the government was planning to murder U.S. medical students. This was proven to be complete fiction.
    In 1989, the U.S. overthrow of the government of Panama was based on false allegations about drugs and attacks on U.S. troops.
    The U.S./NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was justified with reports of with unsubstantiated reports of genocide in Serbia. A great number of these reports have been totally discredited.
    The Gulf War of 1991 was justified with false reports of Iraqi War crimes in Kuwait. The “babies thrown from incubators” stories that filled the TV news, were proven to be totally false.
    In 1991, the U.S. used satellite photos to claim that Iraq was amassing soldiers to invade Saudi Arabia. The photos were proven later to have been complete forgeries.
    The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was justified in the name of fighting a “war on terror” after Sept.11. None of the people who allegedly carried out the 9/11 attacks had any connections with Afghanistan or its government.
    The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on reports of “weapons of mass destruction” and “chemical and biological weapons.” After the U.S. invaded, killing thousands of innocent people, it was proven that Iraq never had any such weapons.
    The U.S. intervention in Libya was justified with claims of genocide and rape. Now that the Libyan government has been overthrown and thousands innocent Libyans killed, many of these reports have also been thoroughly discredited.

    Emergency actions will take place at Federal Buildings around the country, and in Times Square in New York City in the event of such an attack. Be in the streets. Demand an end to U.S. support for the Syrian rebels.

    The International Action Center urges united actions of antiwar, community and progressive forces to organize for anti-war people’s assemblies, rallies, and protests against another war!



  2. The neocon war criminals who took the U.S. into an illegal and disastrous war in Iraq are back – and demanding a Syria War.

    The Shock and Awe bombing of Baghdad in 2003 that launched the disastrous Iraq War: We say No!

    Attacking Syria won’t reduce the violence – it will only escalate it with devastating consequences for Syrians and Americans, as we learned so painfully in Iraq.

    The U.S. invasion of Iraq killed 100,000 to 600,000 Iraqi civilians. For Americans, the invasion killed 4,486 U.S. troops and wounded 32,223. Of the 2.3 million U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, roughly 20% suffer from PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury, and hundreds commit suicide each year. For returning troops and their loved ones, the war is never over.

    Tell Congress: No Syria War!

    Economically, the U.S. absolutely cannot afford war with Syria. The Iraq War cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion and helped cause the Great Recession of 2008, which has not ended.

    Since Republicans refuse to raise taxes, the inevitable costs of a Syrian War will come from food stamps, education, health care, environmental protection, and Social Security. The American people adamantly oppose cuts in these essential programs.

    Tell Congress: No Syria War!

    Tell your Senators and Representative to vote against a Syria War, and block any funds for any military actions that could start such a war.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik


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