Syrian no-fly zone may mean nuclear war, United States general warns

This video is called Execution of a Syrian citizen by [Free Syrian Army] militants on 5-7-2012.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Top US general warns Syrian “no-fly” zone means war with Russia

24 September 2016

The enforcement of a “no-fly” zone in Syria would mean a US war with both Syria and Russia, the top US uniformed commander told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spelled out the grave implications of the policy advocated by both predominant sections within the Republican Party as well as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton amid rising violence in Syria and increasing pressure by Washington on the Russian government to unilaterally agree to grounding its own aircraft as well as those of the Syrian government.

Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly demanded that Russia adhere to what would essentially be a one-sided “no-fly” zone under conditions in which US warplanes would continue carrying out airstrikes.

Kerry presented his proposal as a means of reviving and restoring “credibility” to a ceasefire agreement that he and the Russian Foreign Minister negotiated on September 9. This cessation of hostilities collapsed less than a week after its implementation in the face of hundreds of violations by US-backed Islamist “rebels” who have refuse to accept its terms, as well as two major back-to-back attacks.

The first was carried out by US and allied warplanes one week ago against a Syrian army position, killing as many as 90 Syrian soldiers and wounding another 100. Washington claimed that the bombing was a mistake, but Syrian officials have pointed to what appeared to be a coordination of the airstrike with a ground offensive by Islamic State (also known as ISIS) fighters who briefly overran the bombed position.

This was followed on September 19 by an attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo that killed at least 20 and destroyed 18 trucks. The US immediately blamed Russia for the attack, without providing any evidence to support the charge. Russia and the Syrian government have denied responsibility and suggested that the so-called “rebels” shelled the convoy.

The US position was reflected in the testimony of both Dunford and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter before the Senate panel Thursday. The general admitted to the committee, “I don’t have the facts,” as to what planes carried out the attack, but quickly added, “There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians are responsible.” Similarly, Carter declared, “The Russians are responsible for this strike whether they conducted it or not.”

The collapse of the ceasefire under the weight of these incidents abrogated an agreement that had been bitterly opposed by both Carter and the Pentagon’s uniformed command. The latter have publicly declared their opposition—in terms bordering on insubordination—to the deal’s provision for coordinated actions and intelligence sharing with Russia, which America’s top generals see as the main enemy.

This view was reiterated Thursday by General Dunford, who declared that based on the “combination of their behavior and their military capability, Russia is the most significant threat to our national interests.” Asked if he supported the proposal for intelligence sharing, Dunford responded, “We don’t have any intention of having an intelligence-sharing arrangement with the Russians.”

Speaking in New York Thursday night after the so-called International Syria Support Group ended a meeting with no progress toward restoring the US-Russian ceasefire agreement, Secretary of State Kerry declared: “The only way to achieve that [cessation of hostilities and violence] is if the ones who have the air power in this part of the conflict simply stop using it—not for one day or two, but for as long as possible so that everyone can see that they are serious.”

After leaving the same meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the demand that the Syrian government take “unilateral steps” under conditions in which the US-backed “rebels” reject the ceasefire. “We insist and find support for steps being taken by the opposition as well, so as not to let Jabhat al-Nusra take advantage of this situation,” he said.

This, however, is precisely the aim of Washington. The US military and intelligence complex is increasingly concerned that with the backing of Russia and Iran, the Syrian government is on the brink of breaking the five-year-old siege waged by the Islamist militias armed and paid by the CIA and Washington’s principal US allies, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. Syrian and Russian planes began intense bombardment of “rebel”-held eastern Aleppo Friday in what has been reported as preparation for a major ground offensive to retake this area of the city. If the offensive proves successful, the US war for regime change will have suffered a strategic reversal.

Al Nusra, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, which is formally designated by both the US and the UN as a terrorist organization, constitutes the backbone of the proxy forces employed by US imperialism to effect regime change in Syria. One of the major controversies surrounding the US-Russian truce agreement was its call for the US to persuade the “rebels” on its payroll to separate themselves from Al Nusra. This Washington was unable and unwilling to do, both because they are so closely integrated with the Al Qaeda elements and because they could not survive as a fighting force without them.

The imposition of a no-fly zone over Aleppo and other Al Nusra-controlled areas is increasingly seen as a life and death matter for the US-backed Islamists. As Thursday’s Senate hearing indicated, while Kerry is appealing to Russia to voluntarily stand down, there are significant elements within the US state that are calling for the imposition of the no-fly zone by force.

Gen. Dunford was asked by Mississippi Republican Senator Roger Wicker if the US could take “decisive action” in imposing a no-fly zone. Wicker indicated that he had discussed the matter with Democrats, who indicated that they would support such a venture if the US intervention were given another name.

“For now, for us to control all the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war with Syria and Russia,” Dunford replied to the Senator. “That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make.”

Dunford’s remark provoked an intervention by the committee chairman, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who pushed him to clarify that total control of the Syrian airspace would require war with Russia and Syria, while a no-fly zone could potentially be imposed short of that.

The hearing provided a chilling exposure of the discussions going on within the US state and its military over actions that could quickly spiral into an all-out confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia, bringing humanity to the brink of catastrophe.

In separate remarks the day before the Senate hearing, both Carter and Dunford stressed that the US will maintain its military deployment in the Middle East long after the defeat of ISIS, the pretext for the current interventions in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking to the Air Force Association conference, Dunford declared, “If you assume, like I do, that we’re going to be in that region, if not Iraq, for many, many years to come,” decisions would have to be taken on the establishment of permanent military headquarters and command-and-control infrastructure.

“What is obvious and very clear is that we’re going to be in that region for a while,” Carter declared in a “troop talk” streamed live on social media. He added: “ISIL is a big problem, but one we’re going to take care of through defeat. But we have Iran over there, we have other issues in the Middle East.”

In other words, Washington is planning the continuation of its unending wars in the Middle East, including military action directed against Iran, with the aim of imposing American hegemony over the region’s vast energy resources and strategically weakening the principal targets of US imperialist aggression, Russia and China.

PUSHING for the UK to begin openly bombing Syrian army positions and to consider taking action against Russian aircraft, Tory MP for Sutton Coldfield, Andrew Mitchell, requested an extraordinary emergency debate in Parliament yesterday: here.

John Pilger: “I made this film to break a silence about nuclear war”: here.

32 thoughts on “Syrian no-fly zone may mean nuclear war, United States general warns

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  3. Thursday, 13 October 2016

    Tories and Labour right-wing call for war with Russia

    WAR hysteria dominated the Parliamentary debate on Tuesday, with both Tory and Labour MPs pushing for a full-scale war against Russia over unproven accusations of ‘war crimes’ in Syria.

    The three-hour-long frenzy for shooting down Russian planes was instigated by Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary and ex-military officer, who has for months been calling for a no-fly zone to be enforced by the US and Britain over Syria.

    Mitchell whipped up the hysteria likening Russia to Nazi Germany raising the comparison with the Nazi bombing of the town of Guernica in Spain in support of the Spanish fascists led by Franco, and called a no-fly zone a ‘feasible’ idea.

    He won support from right-wing Labour MPs with Mike Gapes agreeing with him and calling for condemnation of Russia ‘Not just from this government but from the opposition benches unanimously’.

    The Tory foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, added his voice saying: ‘I have every sympathy with those ideas and for the motives behind them and we must work through all these types of options together with our allies given that I think this House is not committed to putting boots on the ground.’

    His speech deliberately left open the door to a no-fly zone and the prospect of British and US planes shooting down Russian aircraft – a declaration of war against Russia. In a futile attempt to whip up popular support for these war plans, Johnson called for mass demonstrations outside the Russian embassy.

    A three-hour emergency debate instigated by a Tory backbencher is a very rare occurrence and it was not just for the right-wing to let off steam. It was designed to further the war aims of American imperialism whose most vocal supporter is the Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    During Sunday’s debate with Donald Trump, Clinton was quite open. She said: ‘I, when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones.’ Her opponent Donald Trump was equally emphatic in opposing their introduction.

    This division between the two candidates is worrying the American ruling class and military, hence the instructions have gone out to their loyal lapdogs in the British parliament to try to raise a popular storm of approval for war with Syria and Russia using the old pretext of ‘humanitarianism’ as a cover.

    Clinton’s hypocrisy and her long-standing commitment to war to effect regime change was exposed in a secret transcript of private remarks she made during a paid speech in 2013.

    Commenting on the practicalities of enforcing a no-fly zone in Syria she said: ‘So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting our pilots at risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.’ So much for saving Syrian lives!

    The whole issue of humanitarian war and the wild accusations of war crimes levelled against Russia and the Syrian army are just a smokescreen. Not a single shred of evidence has been produced that Russia bombed the aid convoy, an act that benefited the Americans and their Islamist allies, while it is the truth that the US bombed Syrian army positions to aid ISIS and al-Nusra and then called it a ‘mistake’.

    The sole reason for a no-fly zone is to try and halt the total defeat of their terrorist allies at the hands of the Syrian army supported by Russia and effect yet another regime change in the Middle East for the benefit of the imperialists.

    They are prepared to go to war with Russia in order to achieve this. The working class in Britain and America are overwhelmingly opposed to imperialist war. In Britain, workers must demand that Corbyn gives no support to any war plans and conducts a political struggle to bring down the Tories if they try and use British forces to enforce a no-fly zone.

    At the same time, the TUC must be instructed that if these war plans are implemented, they must call an immediate general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers government that will withdraw all troops from the Middle East.


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