Category Archives: United Nations

UN Report on Ghouta Gas Incident Points to Evidence Tampering, not Syrian Culpability


The following article below was originally published by foreign policy analyst Stephen Gowans on his blog what’s left.

By Stephen Gowans
September 17, 2013

The United Nations report on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on August 21 does not, as newspaper headlines have indicated, “point to Assad’s use of gas” [1]; confirm that rockets were loaded with sarin [2]; or “come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack” [3]. Nor, as US officials and some journalists have declared, does it “reinforce the case that Mr. Assad’s forces were responsible” [4]; “confirm Damascus’s responsibility” [5]; or “undercut arguments by President Bashar al-Assad of Syria that rebel forces … had been responsible.” [6]

This isn’t to say that Syrian forces didn’t use chemical weapons, only that the evidence adduced in the UN report doesn’t show, or even suggest, that they did. On the contrary, the report offers stronger evidence that attempts were made to manipulate evidence to attribute blame to the Syrian government.

The report concludes that “chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between parties in the Syrian Arab Republic, also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale.” [7]

The UN inspectors adduced five findings in support of their conclusion.

• “Impacted and exploded surface-to-surface rockets, capable to carry a chemical payload, were found to contain sarin.
• “Close to the rocket impact sites, in the area where patients were affected, the environment was found to be contaminated by sarin.
• “Over fifty interviews given by survivors and health care workers provided ample corroboration of the medical and scientific results.
• “A number of patients/survivors were clearly diagnosed as intoxicated by an organophosophorous compound.
• “Blood and urine samples from the same patients were found positive for sarin and sarin signatures.” [8]

The findings, then:

• Present evidence that the symptoms experienced by people in Ghouta on August 21 were due to sarin exposure.
• Suggest—but do not confirm—a possible route through which the contamination occurred (delivery of the agent by surface-to-surface rockets.)
• Says nothing about who was responsible.

US officials and their allies have cited the discovery by the UN inspectors of rocket fragments containing sarin to attribute blame to Syrian forces. But to make the leap from ‘sarin-contaminated rocket fragments were found’ to ‘Syrian forces carried out a sarin attack’ requires evidence to support two intermediary conclusions:

• The contaminated rocket fragments weren’t planted or manipulated.
• Only Syrian forces could have carried out a chemical weapons attack using rockets.

The report can’t confirm the first conclusion, and indeed, challenges it.

Pages 18 and 22 of the report contain key paragraphs headed by the title “Limitations”.

On page 18:

The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey … as well as take samples was very limited. The sites [had] been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence [had] clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team. [9]

On page 22:

As with other sites, the locations [had] been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. Time spent on the site was … limited. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence [was] moved and possibly manipulated. [10]

In other words, the inspectors had little time to carefully gather evidence and inspect it in situ; there was plenty of opportunity for the evidence to be manipulated; and the evidence had clearly been handled and moved.

Far from indicting Syrian forces as the culprits, these findings point more strongly to evidence being manipulated, possibly to falsely implicate the Syrian government.

As to the argument that only Syrian forces could have launched a rocket attack, it’s plain that rebel forces could have used rockets supplied by their foreign backers or captured from Syrian forces.

Indeed, as the Associated Press’s Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo reported on August 29,

U.S. intelligence officials are not so certain that the suspected chemical attack was carried out on Assad’s orders. Some have even talked about the possibility that rebels could have carried out the attack in a callous and calculated attempt to draw the West into the war. [11, 12]

In summary, here’s what the UN report says: On August 21, people in Ghouta were exposed to sarin. We don’t know how they were exposed and who was responsible. But we do know that evidence in connection with rocket fragments was possibly manipulated.

Concluding that the UN report adds to the evidence linking Syrian forces to the August 21 incident, as US officials and some US mass media have indicated, is misleading. First, there was no hard evidence of Syrian culpability to which the UN report could be added. An earlier assessment by the US intelligence community was “thick with caveats.” [13] Second, the UN report, like the US intelligence community assessment, offers no evidence linking the Ghouta incident to Syrian forces.

US officials are reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and US mass media are docilely following the officials’ lead. Anti-Syrian forces have adopted a ridiculously lax evidentiary standard to allow themselves to find the target of their hostility guilty of gassing non-combatants on, at best, flimsy evidence. One can only conclude that they’re motivated to discredit the Syrian government to facilitate the project of bringing about regime change in Damascus—a project these parties are overtly committed to.

Consider motives.

• The United States and its allies have a motive to blame the Syrian government for using chemical weapons in order to establish a pretext to step up their intervention in Syria’s internal war. In light of this, it would be expected that they would be inclined to favor very liberal, over-reaching, interpretations of evidence to create a casus belli.

• Once Washington declared that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian forces would trigger an overt intervention by US forces, the rebels had a motive to stage a chemical attack in order to blame it on Syrian forces.

• Syrian forces had a motive to refrain from using chemical weapons to avoid crossing the United States’ red line.

In light of these motives, the most probable scenario is that a sarin attack was carried out by rebel forces to draw the United States more fully into the war and that Washington and its allies have set their evidentiary bar deliberately low to read Syrian culpability into the flimsiest of evidence. The objective is to achieve what US foreign policy has long set as its principal goal: to topple governments that stand in the way of the expansion of economic space for private ownership, market regulation and profit accumulation.

What makes Syria’s government an object of hostility for the big business-dominated US state is its denial of complete freedom for foreign capital to exploit Syrian markets, land, resources and labour. [14] Added to this is Damascus’s refusal to fully cooperate in supporting US geopolitical goals (which are themselves linked ultimately to US profit-making interests.) “Syria,” says the country’s president “is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [15]

Syria’s insistence on maintaining its independence, the US government’s long-standing hostility to foreign governments that demand to be allowed to chart their own course, the rebels’ interest in staging a gas attack to blame on Damascus, Washington’s reading far more into the evidence than the evidence allows, and the absence of any hard evidence linking Syrian forces to the Ghouta incident, suggest that the Syrian government is being set up.

The UN report does nothing to challenge this view. If anything, its noting that evidence was moved and possibly manipulated, supports it.

1. Rick Gladstone and C.J. Chivers, “Forensic Details in UN Report Point to Assad’s Use of Gas”, The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
2. Rick Gladstone and Nick Cumming-Bruce, “U.N. Report Confirms Rockets Loaded with Sarin in Aug. 21 Attack,” The New York Times, September 16, 2013.
3. Joby Warrick, “U.N. inspectors’ findings come closer to linking Assad to sarin attack”, The Washington Post”, September 16, 2013.
4. Siobhan Gorman, Joe Lauria and Jay Solomon, “Report on Gas Attack Emboldens U.S.”, The Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2013.
5. Gorman, Lauria and Solomon.
6. Gladstone and Chivers.
7. UN Report on the Alleged Use of Chemical Weapons in the Ghouta Area of Damascus on 21 August 2013,
8. UN Report.
9. UN Report.
10. UN Report.
11.Kimberly Dozier and Matt Apuzzo, “Intelligence on weapons no ‘slam dunk’”, The Associated Press, August 29, 2013.
12. Significantly, that “suspicion was not included in the official intelligence report.”
13. Dozier and Apuzzo.
14. Stephen Gowans, “Syria’s Uprising in Context”, what’s left, February 10, 2012,
15. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency


Counter-Questions on Syria


By Stephen Gowans
September 1, 2013

The US state is above international law, according to US president Barack Obama. In an address announcing that he was referring to the US Congress the decision to take military action against Syria, Obama declared that the United States needs to violate international law in order to enforce “the international system” and “international rules.” The international “system” and “rules” Obama referred to, which he apparently intended his audience to construe as “international law,” is not, in fact, international law, but rules Obama himself has unilaterally drawn up, and through rhetorical sleight of hand, attempted to pass off as international law. Yet, the very act Obama proposes—waging war on Syria without UN Security Council authorization, and to punish an act that, if there were hard evidence that it actually happened, would not be unlawful—is a flagrant violation of the authentic international system Obama deceptively claims he wishes to uphold. Obama has arrogated onto himself the powers and responsibilities of world ruler. He sets the rules, decides when they’re broken, and metes out the punishment.

The US president justified his self-elevation to the post of world emperor on moral grounds, arguing that the United States must punish heinous acts (though only those, real or imagined, of countries that are not US satellites; the heinous acts of satellite countries are allowed to continue with impunity, and often, US assistance.) In his statement, he asked:

• What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system that we’ve built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world’s people…is not enforced?
• If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms? To terrorists who would spread biological weapons? To armies who carry out genocide?

Laying aside the realities that: there is no hard evidence that the Syrian president was behind the heinous act and that it seems more likely that the opposition, Washington’s ally, was; that appointing to himself the moral duty to punish the perpetrator is rather rich coming from the leader of a country that has authored multiple heinous acts around the globe—and on an infinitely grander scale; that the agreement of other governments not to use chemical weapons has no relevance to what goes on within Syria, which has not signed onto international conventions against the weapons’ use (and neither have US allies Egypt and Israel); we might put these counter-questions to ourselves:

• What message will we, the world’s 99 percent, send if a president can autocratically appoint to himself the right bomb other countries without justification and without legitimate authority, and pay no price?
• What’s the purpose of the international system if a prohibition on the unlawful use of force that has been agreed to by the governments of 100 percent of the world’s people (the UN Charter) is ignored with impunity?
• If we, the 99 percent, won’t enforce accountability in the face of this act of aggression against Syria, which is to be carried out in brazen defiance of the international system, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules? To a country that threatens non-nuclear countries with nuclear arms (as the United States does, reserving the right of first-strike against any country)? To a government which terrorizes civilians through bombing raids, “shock and awe” and drone attacks? To states that carry out genocide through sanctions of mass destruction (as the United States did in Iraq)?

Not only is Washington willing to brush aside international law when the UN Charter gets in the way of its foreign policy interests, it is also willing to toss evidence, reason and logic aside when they threaten its pretexts for war. Apropos of this, see counter-hegemonist Amal Saad-Ghorayeb’s 10 simple guidelines for ensuring methodological rigor, as inspired by US officials, here.


Turkey finds sarin gas in homes of suspected Syrian Islamists – reports


May 30, 2013

Turkish security forces found a 2kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front who were previously detained, Turkish media reports. The gas was reportedly going to be used in a bomb.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian Islamists detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia following a search by Turkish police on Wednesday, reports say. The gas was allegedly going to be used to carry out an attack in the southern Turkish city of Adana.

On Monday, Turkish special anti-terror forces arrested 12 suspected members of the Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda affiliated group which has been dubbed “the most aggressive and successful arm” of the Syrian rebels. The group was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December.

Police also reportedly found a cache of weapons, documents and digital data which will be reviewed by police.

Following the searches, five of those detained were released following medical examinations at the Forensic Medicine Institution Adana. Seven suspects remain in custody. Turkish authorities are yet to comment on the arrests.

Russia reacted strongly to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation into the detention of Syrian militants in possession of sarin gas.

“We are extremely concerned with media reports. Russia believes that the use of any chemical weapons is absolutely inadmissible,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

In a separate incident in Adana, police reportedly received intelligence that an explosive-laden vehicle had entered the town of Adana on Thursday, the Taraf daily reports.

Ankara has attempted to bolster the Syrian opposition without becoming embroiled in the Syrian civil war, a policy which Damascus claims lead to the deadliest act of terrorism on Turkish soil.

On May 11, 51 people were killed and 140 injured after two car bombs exploded in the Turkish town of Reyhanlı, located near the country’s border with Syria.A dozen Turkish nationals have been charged in the twin bombings, and Ankara has accused Damascus of helping the suspects carry out the attack.

“This incident was carried out by an organization which is in close contact to pro-regime groups in Syria and I say this very clearly, with the Syrian Mukhabarat [intelligence agency],” Interior Minister Muammer Guler said.

Syria’s Information Minister Omran Zoubi denied any link the attack, saying his country “did not commit and would never commit such an act because our values would not allow that”.Zoubi further charged the Turkish government had facilitated the flow of arms, explosives, funds and fighters across the country’s border into Syria, claiming that that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party bear direct responsibility [for the attack].”

Reports of chemical weapons use by both Damascus and the Syrian opposition have surrounded the conflict in Syria for months.

In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency (SANA) on March 19, 2013, a man is brought to a hospital in the Khan al-Assal region in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria’s government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time (AFP Photo)

In March, the Syrian government invited the United Nations to investigate possible chemical weapons use in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo. Military experts and officials said a chemical agent, most likely sarin, was used in the attack which killed 26 people, including government forces.

Damascus claimed Al-Qaeda linked fighters were behind the attack, further alleging Turkey had a hand in the incident.

“The rocket came from a placed controlled by the terrorist and which is located close to the Turkish territory. One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey,” Zoabi said in an interview with Interfax news agency.

US President Barack Obama has warned any confirmed use of chemical weapons by Damascus would cross a “red line” which would prompt further action. Both Washington and London claimed there was growing evidence that such chemical agents had been used.

Less clear perhaps is whether a similar red line would apply to Syrian opposition groups such as Al-Nusra by the US and NATO allies. Author and historian Gerald Horne, for one, told RT that there are greater political dynamics at work.

“Well, one would think so, but of course we know that the United States along with its NATO partners Britain and France are quite close to the main backers of the rebels — I’m speaking of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We know, for example, according to the Financial Times that Mr Sarkozy, the former president of France, is in very close financial relationship with the Qataris,” says Horne.

That would be under the existing paragraph in the story: US President Barack Obama has warned any confirmed use of chemical weapons by Damascus would cross a “red line” which would prompt further action. Both Washington and London claimed there was growing evidence that such chemical agents had been used.

This case being similar to an earlier one, with the findings of UN chemical weapons expert Carla Del Ponte  – who had found evidence of their use by the rebels – some think the fallout will be what it was then as well.

Journalist and RT contributor, Afshin Rattansi believes that the same fate will befall this story, as far as media coverage goes. All possible doubts will either be hushed or directed elsewhere, as they were toward Del Ponte’s findings.

“Carla Del Ponte – one of the greatest experts on this from the United Nations – did do an in-depth investigation only a few weeks ago, and of course, the mainstream media tried their best to ignore it and to character-assassinate Del Ponte… she did masses of work on this, and [found] It was the rebels and not the government.”

Rattansi goes on to say that “the news management of the Syria story has been incredibly sophisticated, and I don’t think it will be on the front pages of any newspapers in Britain or the United States – it will quietly disappear like Del Ponte’s case. The big story, of course, will be Russia and the delivery of the S-300.”

A day before the Reyhanlı bombing, Erdogan released a statement claiming he had evidence the Syrian government had had used chemical weapons, crossing the red line set by President Obama.The accusation contradicted a statement made at the time by a leading UN investigator. Carla Del Ponte, who heads the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said there were “concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas” in Syria.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” Del Ponte continued.

Exposure to large quantities of sarin gas, whose production and stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, causes convulsions, paralysis, loss of respiratory functions and potentially death.


Should the US bomb Syria?


By Stephen Gowans

There is no compelling evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the rebel forces which seek its overthrow. But even if chemical weapons have been used, a military intervention by the United States, its NATO allies, or its regional proxies, would fail the test of humanitarian intervention. First, it would exacerbate, not reduce, the suffering of Syrians. Second, it would be undertaken for concealed reasons of economic and geostrategic gain, not to protect Syrians from chemical weapons, not for the promotion of multi-party representative democracy, and not to encourage tolerance of dissent, as the promoters of intervention would have us believe.

Moreover, a successful US-led intervention would eliminate a pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist state committed to secularism, non-sectarianism, and public ownership of the commanding heights of its economy, and would, install, in its place, a US-client regime that would adopt a pro-US foreign policy, abandon the Palestinians, capitulate to Israel, and cater to Western investors and corporations. “Syria,” remarked president Bashar al-Assad, not without substance, “is an independent state working for the interests of its people, rather than making the Syrian people work for the interests of the West.” [1] This orientation would be completely reversed if a US intervention succeeded.

Three reasons the chemical weapons case against the Syrian government is weak at best

1. Britain and Israel claim to have evidence that the Syrian army used chemical agents against armed rebels. The British evidence is based on tissue samples taken from armed rebels who claim to have been gassed by loyalist forces. To concretely make the case that the Syrian army used chemical weapons:

• The tissue samples would have to test positive for chemical agents.
• There could be no possibility the samples were tampered with.
• A direct link between the contaminated tissue and an attack by Syrian forces would need to be established.

Concerning the first point, we have nothing to rely on but the word of British authorities. Should we believe them? Britain has been implicated in attempts to concoct pretexts for military intervention with phony evidence before (see the bogus WMD claims used to justify the war on Iraq and the genocide fear-mongering pressed into service to justify NATO’s 1999 air war on Yugoslavia.)

What’s more, Britain is hardly a neutral party to the conflict in Syria, and therefore has an interest in manufacturing justifications for more open and direct meddling. That’s not to say that the tissue sample didn’t test positive, only that it would be foolhardy to suppose that a country that “sexed up” evidence to justify a war on Iraq can be trusted.

Secondly, “the samples collected by Britain may have been tainted by rebels who want to draw the West into the conflict on their side” [2], a point made by US officials.

Third, “the detection of chemical agents doesn’t necessarily mean they were used in an attack by the Syrian” army. [3] Rebels, for example, may have been accidentally exposed to chemical agents they, themselves, had in their possession.

The key point is that evidence of tissue contamination (if indeed such evidence exists) is not evidence that the Syrian army used chemical agents, since there are multiple possible ways in which the tissue could have become contaminated.

2. Once US president Barack Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government was a red line that would trigger a more muscular US intervention, the Syrian calculus turned decidedly against their use. Using chemical agents against rebels would play directly into Washington’s hands, giving the bellicose superpower a pretext to intervene militarily in an open and direct fashion. This would be a disadvantage that would grossly outweigh any advantage that accrued from the weapons’ use. On the other hand, once Obama announced his red line, it made a ton of sense for the rebels to falsely claim they were gassed.

3. While an investigation by the United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has found evidence that the rebels used sarin gas, no evidence has been found that the Syrian government has done the same. Commission member Carla Del Ponte reported that, “We collected some witness testimony that made it appear that some chemical weapons were used, in particular, nerve gas. What appeared to our investigation was that was used by the opponents, by the rebels. We have no, no indication at all that the government, the authorities of the Syrian government, had used chemical weapons.” (Emphasis added.) [4]

An intervention would create harm

To reduce suffering, a military intervention would need to reduce harm to a greater degree than the military intervention itself would produce. Judging by previous US-led interventions undertaken for professedly humanitarian reasons, a military intervention in Syria would likely involve air strikes on Syrian military, government and even civilian facilities, with attendant civilian casualties, disruption of essential services, and massive displacement of non-combatants. According to The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bummiler, senior Pentagon officials have warned that “military intervention would be a daunting and protracted operation, requiring at least weeks of exclusively American airstrikes, with the potential for killing vast numbers of civilians.” (Emphasis added.) [5]

To be sure, an open and direct military intervention would be ardently welcomed by Syrian rebels, and their co-sectarian arms suppliers, the Turks, Saudis and Qataris. But it would kill many and make life even more miserable and uncertain for Syrians, especially those living in areas under loyalist control.

Far better to reach a political solution. But one of the reasons the Syrian civil war carries on is because the United States refuses to back a political resolution that would fall short of achieving its chief Syria foreign policy goal, namely, the ouster of Assad and his replacement by a pliant, pro-US government. A genuinely humanitarian intervention would set as its goal an end to hostilities, not the absorption of Syria into the US-Israeli camp.

Intervention would not be based on humanitarian concern

There is no reason to believe that the United States has any genuine interest in protecting Syrians from chemical weapons attacks. Washington dismissed out of hand evidence presented by the United Nations that the rebels used sarin gas, which is hardly what a government would do were it genuinely keen on protecting all Syrians from chemical attack, no matter which side of the conflict they’re on.

Significantly, US regime change policy in Syria antedates Syria’s civil war. The outbreak of the “Arab Spring” in Syria, and Damascus’s response to it, didn’t start the ball rolling on US efforts to force Assad from power. US regime change policy, linked to Damascus’s refusal to become a “peace-partner” with Israel, its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, and its refusal to fully open its economy to US capital, existed long before the Syrian government cracked down on opposition forces. In fact, one element of US foreign policy was to encourage opposition to the Assad government, [6] that is, to foment the kind of civil unrest that eventually morphed into a full blown civil war.

Multi-party representative democracy, a tolerant attitude to dissent, and eschewal of chemical weapons, have not been relevant components of US foreign policy decision making. Indeed, Washington has shown itself willing to overlook the absence of multi-party representative democracy, to ignore an intolerant attitude to dissent, and to turn a blind eye to the deployment of chemical weapons, where US corporate interests are promoted, either directly, or indirectly through the strengthening of United States’ geostrategic position. For example, Washington and its NATO allies have adopted a tolerant attitude to the violent suppression (aided by Saudi tanks) of a Shiite rebellion in Bahrain against an absolutist Sunni monarchy, while at the same time casually dismissing the UN’s concrete suspicions that the Syrian rebels used sarin gas. Significantly, Bahrain, a paragon of free-markets and free-enterprise, is home to the US Fifth Fleet; Saudi Arabia is a source of generous profits for US oil majors and New York investment banks; and the Syrian rebels are instruments through which US foreign policy goals of regime change in Damascus are to be achieved. If US foreign policy was indeed driven by democracy-promotion, human rights objectives, and non-proliferation goals, its attitude toward Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Jordan and the possibility of sarin gas use by Syrian rebels, would be very different.


There are sound strategic reasons for the Syrian army to leave chemical weapons in storage. Deploying them would play into Washington’s hands by providing the United States with a pretext to escalate its intervention in the Syrian civil war. On the other hand, any force that would benefit from a more muscular US intervention on the rebels’ behalf has an interest in manufacturing evidence of the use of chemical agents by Syrian forces. This would include the rebels themselves and those of the United States’ allies that would like Washington to refashion Syria in their political or sectarian interests.

Much as intervention by the United States is sold as a humanitarian exercise, it fails the humanitarian test on two levels. First, it would create substantial harm. US military officials have warned that direct military intervention—which would take the form of US air strikes—would create massive civilian casualties. Second, US foreign policy is based on commercial, financial, and geostrategic goals, not the promotion of multi-party representative democracy, tolerance of dissent, and anti-proliferation. This is clear from a simple examination of the countries Washington supports: those with a congenial attitude to US free enterprise and a willingness to submit to US domination, regardless of their practices in connection with multiparty representative democracy, civil liberties and weapons of mass destruction.

For all these reasons the United States should not bomb Syria, and nor should it provide military, diplomatic, or any other kind of assistance to the Syrian rebels. Of course, what it should do and what it will do are very different matters, but all the same we should be clear that the chemical weapons case against Syria is a fraud, as is the idea that direct US military intervention in the Syrian conflict would have either a humanitarian basis or humanitarian outcome.

1. Bashar al-Assad May 19, 2013 interview with Clarin newspaper and Telam news agency.

2. Adam Entous, Joshua Mitnick and Stephen Fidler, “Syria used chemical arms, Israel says”, The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2013.

3. Ibid.

4. Alex Lantier, “UN says US-backed opposition, not Syrian regime, used poison gas”, World Socialist Web Site, May 7, 2013

5. Elisabeth Bummiler, “Military points to risks of Syrian intervention”, The New York Times, March 11, 2012.

6. Craig Whitlock, “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by Wikileaks show”, The Washington Post, April 17, 2011.


UN investigators say Syrian rebels used chemical weapons, not Syrian govt.


The following article below was originally published by Reuters

Syrian doctors and nurses treating victims of sarin gas nerve agent.

U.N. has testimony that Syrian rebels used sarin gas: investigator

By Stephanie Nebehay
May 5, 2013

U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria’s civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators said on Sunday.

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.

“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.

“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.

Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general who also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave no details as to when or where sarin may have been used.

The Geneva-based inquiry into war crimes and other human rights violations is separate from an investigation of the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria instigated by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which has since stalled.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the rebels accuse each another of carrying out three chemical weapon attacks, one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and another in Homs in December.

The civil war began with anti-government protests in March 2011. The conflict has now claimed an estimated 70,000 lives and forced 1.2 million Syrian refugees to flee.

The United States has said it has “varying degrees of confidence” that sarin has been used by Syria’s government on its people.

President Barack Obama last year declared that the use or deployment of chemical weapons by Assad would cross a “red line”.

How The World Will Respond To North Korea’s Nuke


The following article below was originally published by

This test will be the first of many challenges for Park Geun-hye and could dictate South Korean policy towards the North for the next five years.

By Markus Bell & Geoffrey Fattig
February 12, 2013

Following the news today that North Korea has successfully tested another nuclear device, the international community is currently working to implement measures to ensure it is Pyongyang’s last.

Under the aegis of the UN, the international community is preparing to voice its condemnation while imposing fresh sanctions on Kim Jung Un’s regime – but this is where the truth ends and unfounded optimism begins. As with the previous two nuclear tests and the ineffective – yet rhetorically pleasing – response on the part of the international community, this round of “sanctions and tightening of existing measures,” to quote American UN ambassador, Susan Rice, will have led to a great deal of ink being spilt while doing precious little to alter North Korea’s present course of action.

The 2006 nuclear test brought near unanimous condemnation from the global community. The economic effects were instantly seen, as a ripple of instability coursed its way through the Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese stock exchanges. Statements expressing ‘deep concern’ were issued from the most unexpected corners of the globe, including China, North Korea’s closest ally. Nevertheless, condemnation stopped short of calling for military intervention and, after a brief period of finger wagging, things returned to the status quo of unceasing missile and nuclear weapons development by the DPRK, and half-hearted engagement efforts on the part of the United States through the Six Party Talks.

In 2009 a similar sequence of events played out; following the nuclear test, the international community roundly condemned the actions of North Korea, condemnation was concomitant with further sanctions.  Meanwhile, stock exchanges took a tumble, weapons were sold in larger quantities to South Korea, and Japan started investing in some hardware of its own in the form of a satellite early warning system.

In a game of swings and roundabouts, what factors could mark the aftermath of this test and its fallout (excuse the pun) as any different from what has come before?  Two important questions need to be examined:  first, will the Chinese finally decide to take the kind of tough steps that will get the attention of leaders in Pyongyang? Secondly, will the election of Park Geun-hye lead to any significant change in the inter-Korean relationship?

There are hopeful signs that China may be nearing the limit of its patience with its recalcitrant dependent. A recent editorial in the state-run Global Times called for reductions in aid should the North press ahead with its nuclear test. # Given that China supplies roughly 90% of the DPRK’s fuel and energy, it is the sole player in the game that has real leverage over the North. # While the present warnings suggest that times may be changing, if fears of regime collapse continue to trump worries over a nuclear North Korea, counting on the Chinese government to maximize its influence is a risky proposition at best.

The real catalyst for change could come from south of the DMZ.  On February 25th, Park Geun-hye officially enters the Blue House; while campaigning, the President elect was reported as offering “hopeful generalities” in regards to relations with the North. “I plan to break with this black-or-white, appeasement-or-antagonism approach and advance a more balanced North Korea policy,” Park is reported as promising. The operative word here, of course, is “hopeful.”  Until the latest back-and-forth invective following the missile test and UN sanctions, there were actually some positive signs coming from Pyongyang about re-engaging with its brethren in the South, including a prompt announcement of Park’s victory in North Korean media and Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech calling for “reconciliation” between the two sides.

The third nuclear test will be the first of many challenges for Park’s administration and could, for better or for worse, dictate South Korean policy towards the North for the next five years. Almost from the day he took office, outgoing President Lee Myung-bak painted himself into a corner in regards to North Korea, pursuing the misconceived idea that squeezing North Korea would force the regime to choose between weapons development and survival. Increased economic engagement with China on the part of the North rendered this strategy completely ineffective and ensured that many of the positive achievements of the ‘Sunshine Policy’ era were rolled back. The worst thing possible would be for President-elect Park to make the same mistake as her predecessor. In terms of inter-Korean dialogue and a possibility of seeing some concrete action towards the much idealised idea of reunification, an idea which persists despite the turmoil of the past 60 years, now is the time for engagement rather than stonewalling.

Given there is so much at stake in terms of peace and co-operation in Northeast Asia, let us hope the variable in how events play out this time will be the ‘balanced approach’ of Park. Let us hope the new South Korean leadership can break five years of stalemate with positive engagement, rather than empty saber-rattling. Let us hope “hopeful generalities” are more than they appear at first sight.

China backs Ayatollah Khamenei’s decree against nuclear weapons


January 17, 2013

China voices support for Iran’s reaffirmation of the fatwa (religious decree) issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of nuclear weapons and its registration as an international document.

China attaches special significance to the issue that Iran intends to register the Leader’s fatwa as an international document, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Wednesday.

“China welcomes Iran’s position. Iran is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). We hope relevant sides can strengthen dialogue and cooperation to increase trust and make progress as soon as possible towards a long-term solution to the Iranian nuclear energy issue,” he added.

On February 22, 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.

On Tuesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa is binding for Iran, adding, “There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader’s fatwa.”

The Chinese official’s remarks came as Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wrapped up the first day of their talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program in Tehran.

The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

As a member of the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – China says it recognizes that constant IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities has detected no diversion of nuclear material. Chinese experts say that makes it impossible for Iran to build a bomb.

Iran and the six major world powers have held several rounds of talks with the main focus being on Iran’s nuclear energy program. The last round of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 was held in Moscow in June, 2012.

China and Russia, as two veto-wielding powers at the UN Security Council, have persistently expressed their support for Iran’s civilian nuclear program.


Washington balking at democratic transition in Syria


By Stephen Gowans

December 27, 2012

UN and Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi (left) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last June world powers called for a transitional government to succeed the current government in Syria. The United Nations and Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi to negotiate a settlement with the Syrian government and opposition forces.

So far, Brahimi has made little headway. That’s to be expected. The deck is stacked against him.

With Washington, London, Paris and various Sunni Arab monarchies providing political and military support, the opposition has little motivation to negotiate. They must see their eventual victory as all but guaranteed.

At the same time, Washington must see recent rebel military gains as a sign that an opposition military victory is a very real possibility. It, too, then, has little motivation to see a settlement arrived at which stops short of its regime change objective.

Brahimi met this week with Syrian president Bashar Assad and various opposition groups and will meet with Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Saturday. Russia has also held talks with Syria.

One proposal under discussion, which has the backing of Assad’s allies in Moscow, would see the Syrian president’s authority gradually transferred to a transitional government, while Assad stays on as a figurehead president until his term expires in 2014. At that point, elections would be held.

If accepted, the proposal would end a civil war that has displaced hundreds of thousands and killed tens of thousands. It would also allow Syrians to decide their future peacefully in free elections, rather than at the point of a gun.

Given that Assad’s ally, Russia, floated the proposal, that Assad’s position is weakening, and that the proposal allows him to stay in the game, it’s likely that Assad is onboard.

Not so the other side.

Predictably, Radwan Ziadeh of the Syrian National Council dismissed the proposal, while Washington, equally predictably, insists that Assad step down as a precondition for talks.

But that’s not all. Washington is also demanding Assad’s disqualification from running in future elections. Neither condition helps end the conflict, nor serves the interests of Syrians as a whole.

Allowing Assad to stay on as a figurehead president is a concession of little significance, since power would eventually reside with a transitional government.

And why shouldn’t Assad be permitted to stand for re-election? If Syrians truly despise him, and wish to see him gone—as Washington and its allies would have us believe—he’ll get the boot at the polls.

Moreover, if the opposition is truly a popular movement for democracy, it can hardly object to Assad standing for election.

On the other hand, if Assad isn’t as unpopular as Washington and the rebels insist, he might emerge from a free election as victor, dashing the regime change agenda of the Sunni jihadists and US imperialists who object to his secular Arab nationalism.

Is the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which Washington and many of its allies have unilaterally dubbed the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, afraid that a free election might show that it is not the legitimate representative Washington says it is?

The truth of the matter is that the National Coalition, which is the brainchild of the US State Department, is representative of US military and economic interests in Syria.

Funny how Washington presents the conflict in Syria as a democratic struggle, but wants to limit who can run in elections. Sad too that it would let this anti-democratic condition stand in the way of arriving at a settlement to end a bloody civil war.


U.S. anti-war, religious leaders meet with Iranian President Ahmadinejad


The following article below was originally published by Fight Back! News, the news wing of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

September 26, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

New York, NY – 150 prominent anti-war activists, religious leaders and supporters of Iran attended a special here on Sept. 25 with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is in New York to address the opening meeting of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly.

For the past year there have been escalating threats by the U.S. over Iran’s alleged development of nuclear weapons. Many speakers made it clear that Iran has no nuclear weapons and no plan to develop them. In fact, Phil Wilayto, one of the event organizers, said, “Iran has called for a nuclear free Middle East.” Unlike Israel, which has over 150 nuclear weapons, Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and allows inspectors of its nuclear facilities.

According to a number of speakers, the U.S. is already intervening. Economic sanctions are an act of war, according to international law; the U.S. has admitted to carrying out cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear processing facilities; and to having special operation troops on the ground. As with Libya and Syria, the U.S. is also looking for opposition groups to back inside Iran.

In addition, this past week the U.S. government removed the Mojahedin el Khalk from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. It is widely believed that they have carried out assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Ironically, two of the anti-war activists attending the meeting – Joe Iosbaker, a key organizer of the Chicago anti-NATO protest and Sarah Martin, a member of Women Against Military Madness and Freedom Road Socialist Organization – have been targets of a grand jury investigation for allegations of “providing material support to terrorist organizations” in Palestine and Colombia.

‘Terrible time in history of America’

Prominent among guests was Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam. “This is a terrible time in the history of America. America and Israel are pushing this nation to war with Iran over alleged attempts to build weapons of mass destruction.” He warned, “We have to stand against the war mongers.”

Ramsey Clark, who was U.S. Attorney General when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968, said, “The heart of the treaty was for the nuclear powers to eliminate their nuclear weapons.” He concluded, “The nuclear powers failed,” explaining how the U.S. has not lived up to its end of the deal.

Ellie Ommani, of the American Iranian Friendship Committee congratulated Iran “… for successfully hosting the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned movement with 125 nations. This puts to rest the myth of Iran’s isolation.”

Leah Bolger, president of Veterans for Peace, called for the U.S. to, “Remove carrier battle groups armed with nuclear weapons from the region.” In a proposal to President Ahmadinejad, Bolger also called for a delegation of vets to visit Iran.

In closing remarks, President Ahmadinejad said, “The U.S. wants to expand its hegemony over the center of energy. Iran will not allow this.” This brought cheers from the crowd.

Syria stands defiant, U.S. imperialism stands exposed


The following article below was originally published by Lalkar, journal of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist):

Both the military and people of Syria stand with Pres. Assad against imperialism.

Under imminent threat of an external air war being unleashed against Syrian territory, the progressive government of Syria is pressing on with its campaign to deal with the Western-fomented internal rebellion, on the one hand engaging in a systematic mopping up operation against rebel forces in Aleppo and Damascus, and on the other launching a pre-emptive airstrike against insurgents holding to ransom the Northern Syrian town of Azaz.

With the Annan Plan now comprehensively scuttled by Washington and its partners in crime, the truly bestial face of imperialist aggression is exposed for all to see. Let any communists, socialists, anti-war activists or democrats who hitherto doubted the real intentions of the armed “opposition” and its Western backers now open their eyes and rally in support of the brave and beleaguered people of Syria and their anti-imperialist leadership.

The Annan Plan

Enraged at the continuing failure to secure regime change in Damascus, the warmongers achieved the pyrrhic victory of regime change back in New York, where former UN chief Kofi Annan finally buckled under intolerable pressure and opted to quit his post as mediator over the Syria crisis.

The fact that he was charged with this responsibility in the first place can only be explained by the circumstances attending the launch of the Annan Plan. As a lifetime career diplomat at the UN, Annan has on occasion fallen foul of Washington. In 2003 he recognised the illegality of the US and British invasion of Iraq, and last year he criticised NATO’s actions in Libya as going beyond what was mandated by the Security Council. These reproofs, though pathetically mild in their expression, were enough to ensure that Annan would not be Uncle Sam’s first choice to put in charge of any serious piece of international diplomacy, let alone one that potentially interfered with the supposed God-given right of the USA to choose the government of any country on earth. There are flunkeys and flunkeys, and we can assume that Washington would have preferred one less prone to drifting off-message.

The fact is that Annan’s six-point plan for political reconciliation occupied a diplomatic space carved out by just two forces: the patriotic resistance of the Syrian masses themselves and the steadfast refusal of both Russia and China to aid and abet intervention against Syria. Without the interposition of the Chinese and Russian veto, Washington had every hope of keeping the diplomatic initiative and using the UN as a springboard for aggression, just as happened over Libya. The United States, Britain, France and the other imperialist powers had no interest whatever in a diplomatic solution which was not predicated on the ouster of the country’s incumbent president and the violation of its sovereignty, and were aghast to see the diplomatic initiative wrested from the West.

Right from the outset Washington and its allies did everything possible to undermine the Annan Plan, geeing up their proxy fighters to trample over the ceasefire arrangements and running their own ‘Friends of Syria’ circus sooner than accept the lead given by Russia and China in the Security Council and at Geneva. Whilst servile in his efforts to be “even-handed” (between aggressor and victim, be it noted), Annan could not hide his growing irritation with America’s combination of faint praise for “his” Plan and active assistance to the rebellion on the ground. He blurted that “criticism of the international community’s failure to negotiate a political solution has too often focused on Russia” and further ruffled yankee feathers by maintaining that “all these countries say they want a peaceful solution, but they undertake individual and collective actions that undermine the very meaning of Security Council resolutions”.

In his resignation speech he said he had embraced a “sacred duty” but “did not receive all the support that the cause deserved,” complaining that “continuous finger-pointing and name-calling” at the UN Security Council had undermined his efforts. As if in confirmation of his gloomy assessment, Western diplomats queued up to tell Ban Ki-moon why he should not bother finding a replacement for Annan. Whilst Russia, China, South Africa and Pakistan all see the urgent necessity for a replacement to keep open the diplomatic track, according to Reuters on 8 August, “the Americans, council diplomats say, see little point in replacing Annan. They had grown increasingly frustrated with the veteran diplomat’s refusal to step aside… ‘The Americans gave up on the Security Council route back in October after Russia’s first veto and have unenthusiastically supported the European push in New York since then,’ one council envoy said on condition of anonymity. ‘They also feel Annan took too long to concede failure.’” The belated decision to shuffle former Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi into the post is merely intended to give the Annan Plan a quiet burial.

Washington wades deeper into blood

With the West now virtually micromanaging the rebellion themselves and burying diplomacy as fast as possible, the aggression is naked and the democratic mask cast aside. At a recent council of war convened by Hillary Clinton with the Turkish foreign minister, Clinton spoke openly about imposing “no fly zones” over Syrian territory, the same form of words which was used when NATO unleashed eight months of aerial bombardment upon Libya. Clinton announced that “We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments.” To this end she announced the establishment of a working group in Turkey to increase the involvement of the intelligence services and armed forces of both countries, making Ankara’s pretensions to an independent foreign policy look even shakier. To give a “humanitarian” sounding gloss to US support for rebel base camps on Turkish territory, Clinton also announced an extra $5.5 million assistance for Syrians displaced to Turkey. (America’s true sentiments regarding genuine refugee relief may be judged by the treatment reserved for Mexicans who dare cross into the USA in search of work, escaping from the wreckage of a home economy trashed by NAFTA.)

Nor has Obama been content to let Clinton bag all the warmongering ‘glory’, warning of“enormous consequences” should Syria choose to defend herself with the full range of her military options. Obama’s has threatened military action should Damascus exercise her right to deploy her defences as she sees fit – “a red line for us is if we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized”. Lest anyone should doubt the scale of the “enormous consequences” Obama dreams of, a bevy of administration officials is on hand to colour in a scenario for Channel 4 News in which, in addition to massive aerial bombardment, “tens of thousands of ground troops” would “go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.”(21 August, ‘Obama warning to Syria on chemical weapons’)

So it is that, maddened by its own economic crisis, US imperialism appears hell bent on persisting in its fascistic designs against the Syrian nation, even if that risks (a) suffering a humiliating rebuff from the patriotic forces of Syria and from her allies, and (b) testing to destruction the willingness of its fellow imperialists to remain in lockstep with a military adventure so uncertain in outcome and so utterly devoid of any legitimacy under international law. The issue is already producing ructions in France, with Sarkozy going head to head with his social democratic successor in the Elysee. The timing of the US denunciation of the British Standard Chartered Bank for allegedly circumventing US sanctions against Iran, a denunciation which wiped millions off its share values, suggests interesting limits to the vaunted “special relationship”. It is significant that that relationship, founded to a degree on a community of interests (guns and oil), should start showing fracture lines in the context of US war plans in the Middle East.

Patriotic resistance versus sectarian provocations

Throughout all this, the resistance of the Syrian nation persists. The Syrian armed forces, described by writer and US war veteran Colonel Doug Macgregor as the most competent and disciplined in the Arab world, have been making life very uncomfortable for the rebels in Aleppo and elsewhere.

Unable to prevail on the battlefield, rebel forces are taking revenge upon helpless civilians. In Jandar village near Homs it is reported that rebel fighters attacked a housing compound inhabited by workers at a power company, killing 16 Syrian civilians, mostly Alawite and Christian by faith. Japanese and Iranian workers in the same compound were reportedly untouched.  Another Alawite, a film director called Bassam Mohieddin, was recently murdered near his home in the suburbs of Damascus. Such sectarian outrages are consistent with sightings of many foreign fighters seen in Aleppo, including Al Qaeda affiliates.

Another target of sectarian hatred has been Shia pilgrims from Iran, 48 of whom were kidnapped by ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) terrorists as their coach was on the way back to the airport. So outlandish are rebel claims that the ‘pilgrims’ represented some kind of military threat that in embarrassment an opposition source hastily briefed Al Jazeera, to the effect that the gunmen were in reality “an extremist Islamist group whose religious discourse is based on inciting hatred against Shias and Alawites,” and supposedly “has no links with themainstream FSA” (emphasis added).. The source claimed that the terrorist’ video “was just a cover-up for the fact that this operation was carried out in order to target Iranian Shias.” In trying to salvage the reputation of the sectarian butchers of the FSA, Al Jazeera only succeeds in confirming the foul reactionary essence of the rebellion. Coming on top of the abduction of eleven Lebanese pilgrims back in May, this outrage against Syria’s close neighbours can only strengthen the resolve of their friends to stand by Syria in her hour of need.

The Iranian Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi pointed out that Iran has no armed forces in Syria, none having been requested by the Syrian government. After all, reasoned Vahidi,“Syria has a powerful military and also enjoys popular support. The Syrians can handle the adventures that foreigners have created in their country.” But the continuing refusal of China and Russia to aid and abet the violation of Syrian sovereignty, coupled with the neighbourly solidarity coming from Iran and the Lebanon, should serve to stiffen the resolve of the Syrian nation – and give pause to the warmongers in Washington, London, Tel Aviv and Paris. It can only fill these circles with gloom to hear Saeed Jalili tell President Assad that Iran and Syria form one single “axis of resistance” that Teheran will not allow to be broken.

Press freedom

Meanwhile, whilst the warmongers routinely berate Damascus for its supposed suppression of democracy, their friends in the opposition death squads are busy demonstrating their respect for the freedom of the press. On 10 August gunmen kidnapped three Syrian TV journalists and their driver who were covering violence on the outskirts of Damascus: their whereabouts are still unknown. A day later someone heading up a department of the Syrian news agency SANA was assassinated in Damascus. Not only are all such journalist deaths the inevitable consequence of the civil war conditions imposed by Western meddling, but on closer examination it turns out too that losses amongst Western journalists are sometimes the direct responsibility of rebels as well. The chief correspondent of Channel Four News, Alex Thomson, reported how he and his crew were intentionally directed by rebels into a zone where their presence would be misconstrued and invite a lethal response from security forces. Having narrowly escaped with his life, Thomson was terse about the near-fatal propaganda trap into which he had fallen. “My point is,” he blogged, “dead journalists are bad for Damascus.” Then came the demise of French journalist Gilles Jacquier. Whilst all the headlines were screaming that the Syrian army was to blame, fellow journalist Georges Malbrunot pointed to insurrectionist fire, a judgement backed up by France’s own intelligence services who concluded that Jacquier had actually been killed by an 80mm mortar fired from rebel lines.

Despite all the unsubstantiated and slanderous opposition twitter “reports” and dodgy mobile phone rushes, endlessly churned around and amplified by the imperialist media in lieu of news, the steadfast resistance of President Assad, the secular coalition government over which he presides and the vast mass of patriotic Syrians which stands behind them cannot be hidden and presents a challenge to all those who identify themselves as anti-imperialists. Support Syria in her hour of need, or forever hang your heads in shame.

Stand with the Syrian nation!

We congratulate the Syrian army for the strenuous measures it has been undertaking in Aleppo and elsewhere against the armed rebellion and its foreign auxiliaries. We applaud the steadfast refusal of both Moscow and Beijing to aid and abet the West’s criminal adventure in Syria, and congratulate them on having decisively wrested the diplomatic initiative from the warmongers, now leaving imperialism with no scrap of a fig leaf to camouflage its warlike intentions.

Now that Iran’s envoy Saeed Jalili has declared that Iran stands with her neighbour in an “axis of resistance” which cannot be broken, let us do the same. Let British workers now stand shoulder to shoulder with Syria in their own unbreakable “axis of resistance”. Let us refuse to cooperate with the criminal aggression against Syria, whether by fighting directly, making or transporting arms, or assisting in the broadcast of slander and lies demonising the Syrian leadership. Be assured that victory for Syria will in turn weaken imperialism’s own axis of oppression, a welcome setback not least for our own British imperialist ruling class.

Victory to Syria!

Victory to President Assad!

Death to imperialism!