The mass, democratic uprising that broke out in Syria in 2011 against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad has increasingly turned into a prolonged civil war, with violence worsening and accusations of war crimes levelled against the regime and sections of the armed opposition.
The situation has been worsened by the intervention of Western-allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, selectively arming Islamic fundamentalist sectors of the anti-Assad forces.
At the World Social Forum in Tunisia in March, a global campaign in solidarity with the Syrian revolution was launched. A statement, signed by intellectuals, academics, artists and activists from more than 30 countries, expressed its support the struggle for a “free and democratic Syria”. However the statement also accused the US-allied Gulf states of intervening in order to “crush and subvert the uprising, while selling illusions and deceptive lies”.
But since the statement, a far more direct military intervention has taken place in the form of illegal military strikes on Syria by Israel. Israel’s May 5 bombings, the second strikes on Syria within 48 hours, represent a gross violation of Syrian sovereignty and threaten to turn the Syrian conflict into a regional war.
In a May 6 statement printed below, the Canadian Peace Alliance condemns Israeli bombing of Syria and points out why Western governments must not intervene into Syria.
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The recent Israeli attacks on Syrian territory are designed to further destabilise the situation in the area and push us closer to a larger regional war. They are illegal under international law and must be condemned.
For the last two years NATO and its allies have been trying to control the Syrian opposition by funnelling weapons to the rebels through the gulf states, deploying missile batteries in Turkey and by sending US Special Forces to the Syrian/Jordanian border.
This Israeli attack signals a dramatic escalation in that intervention. The timing of the strikes suggest that Israel is trying to stoke the conflict to provide justification for a larger NATO led military campaign.
If the government of Bashar Al Assad were to gain ground on the opposition forces, as appeared to be possible as recently last week, it would pose a serious challenge for NATO countries hoping to use the conflict in Syria to weaken other regional players, especially, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the government of Iran.
And so the west is ramping up the rhetoric. Recently, US intelligence officials stated that they had "some degree of varying confidence" that the Syrian state was using sarin gas on opponents. That absurd statement was hardly the smoking gun that NATO wanted to justify the intervention.
A leading UN investigator now says that the sarin may have been used by the opposition forces rather than the Syrian government.
All these factors point towards a larger — if not entirely coherent — drive to war with Syria. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird suggested that Canada is talking to its allies about a possible attack.
His press secretary Rick Roth subsequently “clarified” Baird's statement and said that Canada isn't contemplating support for a military attack on Syria.
But Canadians know what the government says, and what it does, in the realm of military intervention, are often two very different things. Most recently, they told Canadians no troops would be sent to support the French led mission in Mali, but deployed Canadian special forces within a week. In 2008 and in 2010, they extended the mission in Afghanistan after promises that they would not do so.
Any NATO attack on Syria would result in a much larger war throughout the Middle East and must be opposed. As we see in places like Libya and Afghanistan, NATO intervention have a tendency to leave a trail of dead bodies and corrupt governments.
All Canadians concerned about peace need to be on the alert for any further escalation and should be prepared for action should the Harper government decide to intervene in this conflict.