By Sara Flounders
Published Aug 25, 2011 10:35 PM
President Barack Obama on Aug. 18 demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, saying that his days are numbered. The governments of Britain, France and Germany joined in this demand.
This threat is blatant imperialist interference in Syria’s internal affairs. More than that, it is an open threat to again intervene militarily in the region, just as the U.S. and its European allies have done already in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia.
Two weeks earlier, Russian NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin told the media that NATO was planning a military campaign to overthrow the Assad government. In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia, Rogozin added that the Western imperialist military alliance also may have plans to attack Iran. (Xinhua, Aug. 5)
When imperialism states its intention to bring down a government or movement, as the U.S. is doing now to Syria, it is cowardly to stand on the same side as the imperialists who seek to dominate the world, or even to be neutral. This has been an ABC in class-conscious workers’ movements for 150 years, since Karl Marx. Whatever one’s assessment of the government under attack, imperialist intervention, whether through sanctions or armed attack, must be opposed.
Obama’s double standard
The Obama administration has called on the governments of Libya and Syria to resign, as though they were the only ones using force against a portion of their population.
Look across the Atlantic to Washington’s closest ally. The British government just sent 16,000 police against the rebellious people of London and other cities. After hasty trials, some people were sentenced to four years in prison for sending messages with their Blackberries. Even before the recent rebellions there, the police had killed 333 civilians in England and Wales over the last 13 years. (Report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, reported in The Guardian, Dec. 3, 2010)
In May police of the Spanish state fired rubber bullets at people camped out in Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona protesting an austerity budget. The Greek government has repressed many strikes and demonstrations in the past year. Washington cheers on the state power in all three allied capitals for punishing legitimate rebellions.
Even more blatant is the repression in Bahrain, a country of half a million people that hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet. There was not a word of criticism from Washington when the monarchy killed dozens of protesters and arrested and tortured hundreds more, or when Saudi troops invaded the island to help put down the uprising.
The threat to Syria is connected to the social explosion shaking the Arab world. U.S. imperialism and all the old regimes tied to it in the region are trying desperately to manage and contain this still unfolding mass upheaval into channels that do not threaten imperialist domination.
The U.S. and its collaborators are also trying to divide and undermine the two main wings of the forces resisting imperialist domination — the Islamic forces and the secular nationalist forces — which together overthrew U.S.-backed dictators in Egypt and Tunisia. There is now a concerted effort to turn these same political forces against the two regimes in the region that have opposed U.S. domination in the past Libya and Syria.
U.S. diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks showed that the U.S. campaign to overthrow Assad began years ago under President George W. Bush. (“U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups,” Washington Post, April 18)
Now Obama’s open declaration against Assad makes it no longer necessary to see secret cables to know where U.S. imperialism stands.
Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center. For more on Syria see: www.iacenter.org/nafricamideast/syria050611.