The cauldron of imperialism bubbling over in Syria

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Tyrion's picture
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Aug 28 2013 00:33
The cauldron of imperialism bubbling over in Syria
NBC wrote:
The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already "crystal clear" that Assad's government was responsible.

[...]

White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated Tuesday that the White House isn't considering the deliberate overthrow of Assad.

"The options that we are considering are not about regime change," said during a daily briefing with reporters. "They are about responding to the clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons."

Senior officials told NBC News that Defense Department planning had advanced to the point that three days of strikes were anticipated, after which strategists could run an assessment and target what was missed in further rounds.

U.S. missile strikes would almost certainly be launched from Navy destroyers or submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. in recent days has moved destroyers closer to Syria, which sits on the sea's eastern edge, but that was mostly a symbolic move. U.S. Tomahawk missiles are so precise that they can hit not just buildings but also specific windows, and they could hit Syrian targets from far farther west in the Mediterranean.

Navy officials said four destroyers are lined up ready to strike: the USS Barry, the USS Mahan, the USS Ramage and the USS Gravely.

Tuesday, a fifth guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stout, also entered the Mediterranean, through the Straights of Gibraltar, but officials said it wouldn't take part in any cruise missile attack.

"The four destroyers now in place have more than enough cruise missiles," one official said.

Underscoring the urgency facing world leaders, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Parliament back from vacation and said it would vote on action Thursday, and U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military was "ready to go."

Monday, using forceful language, Secretary of State John Kerry said Syrian chemical attacks were a "moral obscenity" and accused the Assad regime not just of having used chemical agents but also of having covered up the evidence.

On Tuesday, the U.N. said its investigating team in Syria would delay its next outing by a day, to Wednesday. The team came under fire from unidentified snipers Monday on its way to check out the site of a suspected chemical attack near Damascus, the capital.

In Cairo, the Arab League said it held Assad responsible for the suspected attack. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries condemned the use of unconventional weapons.

[...]

Some U.S. allies, notably Britain, have signaled that a limited strike could take place without Security Council approval. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it would be a "very grave violation of international law," and China said through its government-run news service that the U.S. must refrain from "hasty armed intervention."

In Syria, the top general in the Free Syria Army, the umbrella group comprising rebel factions, told NBC News' Richard Engel that airstrikes were necessary to stop Assad from launching even broader chemical attacks.

"If there is no action, we are afraid that in the coming days, not coming weeks, Bashar will use chemical weapons and chemical materials against very wide areas and, I'm afraid, to kill maybe 20,000 or 30,000 more people," he said.

http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/08/27/20209022-military-strikes-...

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Aug 28 2013 00:44

I think quoting an NBC article is a bit too long for a forum.

But yeah, a military intervention seems very much likely, considering the decision may be made based on the findings of the UN investigation. The UN investigation is only going to confirm whether or not chemical weapons have been used, but not by whom.

baboon
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Aug 28 2013 18:02

It's possible that the Assad regime, or some stupid element in it, ordered a chemical attack but it's difficult to see why given the military's consolodation and advance. Alex Thomson on Channel 4 reported over a month ago of 26 regime soldiers killed by chemical weapons fired by the "rebels" and two members of al-Nusra were held in Turkey in possession of cylinders of sarin.

But that's not the point - it's another set-up following Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Libya and like them, will all end in tears. The nations of the US, Britain and France, along with Turkey, Israel and some Gulf states, have been actively "intervening" in Syria since at least last December and, at the same time, the presence of al-Qaida and al-Qaida affiliated groups has spread and deepened to the point where in the north they are the management running oil plants. These developments of imperialism, like those before in the Middle East, can only spread more chaos and misery.

The "humanitarian" reasons for what looks like a more striking attack on Syria by the democracies are just as sickeningly hypocritical as in previous wars for "humanitarian" reasons. And the probable decision to strike has come in the week when twenty-five year-old CIA documents have been declassified showing that the Americans knew all about Saddam's chemical weapons use against the Iranians in the 1980's and, since they (and the rest of the democracies) backed his army against Iran, provided them with intelligence on Iranian troop movements which enabled them to be targeted. At the same time Italy, Germany and Britain were helping Saddam build chemical weapons factories ("ferterliser plants") some time before the chemical attack on the Kurds in Halabja which killed over 5,000 people.

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Aug 28 2013 21:46

This has been doing the rounds on Facebook and I've been surprised at the people sharing it.

http://darthnader.net/2013/08/27/on-interventions-and-the-syrian-revolut...

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Aug 28 2013 23:05
Theft wrote:
This has been doing the rounds on Facebook and I've been surprised at the people sharing it.

http://darthnader.net/2013/08/27/on-interventions-and-the-syrian-revolut...

Certainly no lack of liberal, nationalist nonsense in there. If there's anything of interest in the piece, I suppose it's in the cynical attitude toward "humanitarian intervention" as a tool of achieving the liberal ideals espoused. What's surprised you about the people you've seen sharing it?

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Aug 29 2013 00:08

Has anyone read the piece by socialistworker.org? Even though their against intervention by the US and its western allies, they do accept the claims that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons. It seemed a bit odd.

ajjohnstone
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Aug 29 2013 01:00

Is the Left war-weary?

Several hundred protesting at Downing St on Wednesday. 5000 expected for Saturdays march. Hardly impressive compared to the million in 2003.

Anyways, just to put a few lies to rest

"Too little to late" they accused Assad. The UN didn't formally request permission to inspect the latest site until Saturday 24th and permission was given on the Sunday. The UN's own security team had not given safety issues for the inspection the green light as late as the Friday 23rd.

Soon as permission had been granted to the UN inspectors Kerry pressed for the UN to abandon the inspection (repeat of Kosovo and Iraq) and withdraw on the spurious grounds that the sarin would no longer be detectable...purposefully ignoring that the by-products of its use would still be in evidence.

The only hard evidence alluded to so far is reports of an Israeli interception of Syrian army radio messages but recording and transcripts so far has not been forthcoming and even so they appear to show a field-officer making the decision and regretting it getting out of control...but questionable in the sense if political authorisation for CW use has been refused, how did the weapons get from the ammo dumps to the front line in the first place.

The pro-war say Assad played a game of double bluff...last thing they would expect is for us to use them while the UN inspectors are a few miles away.... More sophisticated conspiracy is that Iran orchestrated the use to test the resolve of America in carrying out threats of red lines in regard to its alleged nuke policys.

Point is whether he used them, which i still seriously doubt, is irrelevant. Being blasted or incinerated or beheaded instead of gassed to death isn't much of a choice for the Syrian people.

baboon
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Aug 30 2013 10:41

Agree with the above.

The vote in the British parliament against involvement in the coming attack on the Assad regime changes little of the overall situation but a few words about it. After Iraq and the lies of the British and American ruling class over Saddam's WMD and the horrific consequences of that war - which visibly continue to this day - there is little appetite among the population of Britain, or America for that matter, for involvement in another war (the terrible consequences of the Libyan "triumph" have been largely ignored by the British media). The majority of the British media tended to reject the idea of bombing Syria over this issue with the exception of its Murdoch branch. What the vote in parliament does represent is the historical weakening of US/British ties (the so-call "special relationship") which expresses itself in some sort of antagonism every now and then. I think that this is one of those cases and is representative of a wider phenomenon of centrifugal forces in international relations and political tensions within previously relatively strong alliances.

Having said this it will not prevent British imperialism from taking part indirectly in any US or US/French attack on the Syrian regime. Recent Snowden leaks showed how British submarines in the Med were tapping straight into fibre-optic cables, collecting, filtering and classifying communication throughout the Middle East and sharing this information with the Americans. This will undoubtedly continue and be active before and during any new assault. As will the cooperation of British and American intelligence and special forces on the ground around Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere. And Britain has been involved in this war for many months giving financial, political and diplomatic and military support to the opposition - this will not stop.

As said above, our leaders care nothing for the suffering and death of innocents whether gassed, bombed or starving, so why the ratcheting up of possible direct action now? I think that the answer is one word: Iran. What's happened in Syria has never been a "revolution". When the original protests were crushed there wasn't a "civil war" or a Sunni/Shia war that filled the vacuum, but an imperialist war involving local and international states. There were some on here (and elsewhere) that predicted Assad's imminent collapse but that position underestimated the support given to the regime by Russia, China and, above all, Iran.

The big turning point in the war came recently with the direct involvement of battle-hardened and Iranian-trained Hezbollah troops and Iranian special forces. These forces have pushed back the "rebels" (these mostly al-Qaida affiliated fighters are no mugs and Hezbollah suffered severe losses) to the point that a route has opened up from Iran to the Israeli border. This change is a possible precursor to a wider war.

http://en.internationalism.org/icconline/201305/7641/chemical-weapons-sy.... A bit more here on the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie over Syrian chemical weapons.

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Aug 30 2013 14:06

Rabble.ie: Syria – An Inconvenient Truth May Emerge

edit:

Ablokeimet
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Aug 30 2013 14:05
baboon wrote:
What's happened in Syria has never been a "revolution". When the original protests were crushed there wasn't a "civil war" or a Sunni/Shia war that filled the vacuum, but an imperialist war involving local and international states.

That is, I think, an over-simplification. The protest movement took quite a while to crush and was marked by major general strikes shutting down many cities. In addition, there was a short-lived truce at one stage, during which demonstrators flocked to the streets calling for the downfall of the regime. These demonstrations showed Assad that he couldn't let up on the war.

My interpretation is that the events in Syria started out like those in Tunisia and Egypt, but in a society marked by much greater religious division. Assad calculated that he could survive if he turned it into a sectarian struggle and he is being proven correct. He has backing from Russia & Iran and Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. The Syrian opposition, in the face of the murderous attacks on it, needed guns. And that has led to it becoming gradually subordinated to outside interests. "Saudi" Arabia and Qatar are directly arming fellow thinkers, the great powers are arming whatever willing tools they can find, and jihadis are flowing across the borders.

Therefore, while it is correct to say that the situation in Syria at present is an imperialist war involving local and great power States, it should be recognised that this has occurred despite the struggles of the workers of Syria. Although the opposition on the ground has been sidelined, it still exists. The workers are still searching for a way to assert their own interests, independent of the bourgeois factions.

Finally, a word on the difficulties faced by the major imperialist powers. The US has decided that it doesn't like either side in the civil war. Basically, although it is arming willing tools, there aren't enough of them to make a serious difference (and there's even been trouble putting together a puppet government in exile). Therefore, Obama drew a red line at a point he thought Assad would stay behind - using chemical weapons. Now, however, it seems* that Assad has actually used them in a big way. Obama is now forced to act to defend his red line, because the last thing he can afford is for every medium sized country to decide that the US President is bluffing when he issues threats. So I expect some heavy missile strikes on a few military bases and maybe some research sites associated with Assad's chemical weapons program. The US, however, doesn't want to let the jihadis come to power, which at the moment would be the most likely outcome if Assad is defeated.

* The theory that Iran was behind it, going behind Assad's back and acting through its advisors on the ground, has an element of plausibility to it, but it's too early to reach a definitive conclusion. I doubt the opposition did it as a false flag attack, since if it had that much poison gas I would expect it to be used on a target like an air base, because taking one out would have a major military effect.

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Aug 30 2013 14:12
Ablokeimet wrote:
That is, I think, an over-simplification. The protest movement took quite a while to crush and was marked by major general strikes shutting down many cities. In addition, there was a short-lived truce at one stage, during which demonstrators flocked to the streets calling for the downfall of the regime. These demonstrations showed Assad that he couldn't let up on the war.

I don't remember this at all. I remember workers' strikes as being conspicuous by their absence.

Devrim.

rooieravotr
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Aug 30 2013 14:19
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Several hundred protesting at Downing St on Wednesday. 5000 expected for Saturdays march. Hardly impressive compared to the million in 2003.

Quite a strange comparison. There are vast differences between then and now. The Saturday actions are announced on short nodice, as an emergency response. The big 15 February 2003 demonstrations were announced and prepared much longer before; the initiative was taken somehere around the European Social Forum in Florence, november 2002. Maybe more important: the 2003 demonstrations werre organized against a large-scale Western attack, a big war that everybody saw coming. The current demonstration is a response to a pinprick, relatively speaking, within a war that is already proceeding. In 2003 , the missiles set off a conflagation. In 2013, the conflagation sets off the missiles.

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Aug 30 2013 14:20

re my last

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Aug 30 2013 14:34
Tyrion wrote:
Theft wrote:
This has been doing the rounds on Facebook and I've been surprised at the people sharing it.

http://darthnader.net/2013/08/27/on-interventions-and-the-syrian-revolut...

Certainly no lack of liberal, nationalist nonsense in there. If there's anything of interest in the piece, I suppose it's in the cynical attitude toward "humanitarian intervention" as a tool of achieving the liberal ideals espoused. What's surprised you about the people you've seen sharing it?

I was surprised to see so many anarchists sharing it that would generally hold a more anti-national liberation stance.

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Aug 30 2013 14:52

Russia has deployed two warships to the Eastern Med: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/29/us-syria-crisis-russia-navy-id...

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Aug 30 2013 23:05

While looking into the Syrian crisis I came across the supposed Britam leaks:

http://www.cyberwarnews.info/reports/a-look-into-the-britam-defence-data-leak-files/

It is purported that the files were hacked and posted online. Of especial interest is the following email:

Quote:
File name: Sirian Issue.eml
Email between David Goulding who is the Business Development Director and Philip regarding a new offer about an operation in syria.

Phil

We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

Kind regards

David

Britam immediately decried the leak as fraudulent [nothing unexpected]. The major online new sources also removed mention of the leak within 24 hours of breaking the story. However, some of the sites that originally posted the leaks are now saying they are fakes based on some techy analysis of the files: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R7knc-G360

I've seen numerous people cite the Britam email as "evidence" that the rebels, and the Americans by extension, were responsible for the chemical attack. As I'm not very tech savvy I don't know what to make of the files authenticity. If authentic the email is quite damning, but if fake others should made aware of false info. What is everyone else's take on this?

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Aug 30 2013 23:23

Just purely on the basis of the language in the email, it sounds like a crock of shit.

ajjohnstone
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Aug 31 2013 03:58

Even the Nazis didn't ever describe the Final Solution so clearly in memos as this presumed hack does,( which the Daily Mail had to pay damages for publishing.) It challenges common sense as much as that Assad authorised the chemical attack does.

But it amusing how now France is according to Kerry its oldest ally now that it supports intervention unlike the Iraq situation. Added to itd Libya/Mali war-mongering credentials, now makes it respecteble to be a francophile again in the US again!

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Aug 31 2013 04:08

In regards to the beginnings of the Syrian protests, the SPGB blog had in 2011, posted on the aspirations of those involved. Sadly, the dangers commentators wished to avoid took place.

http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/revolution-without-...

"People are suspicious of those who want to take personal advantage from the revolution. Efforts by exiled opponents of Assad to form a united front have faltered because of an acute awareness that the Syrian street is driving the uprising. No one, least of all the Syrians wants to see a repeat of the Iraq experience, in which exiled leaders with no street credibility are foisted upon those living inside the country."

A year later the blog in 2012 relates the failure of democratic resistance.

http://www.socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2012/04/syrian-struggle...

A singer who uses the pseudonym ‘Safinas’ because she still lives in Damascus explains. "Our revolution has been stolen from us...We are fighting two regimes and two armies now."

Ablokeimet
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Sep 1 2013 03:28
Devrim wrote:
Ablokeimet wrote:
That is, I think, an over-simplification. The protest movement took quite a while to crush and was marked by major general strikes shutting down many cities. In addition, there was a short-lived truce at one stage, during which demonstrators flocked to the streets calling for the downfall of the regime. These demonstrations showed Assad that he couldn't let up on the war.

I don't remember this at all. I remember workers' strikes as being conspicuous by their absence.

Devrim.

For the first year of the struggle, I had access to dispatches from the Local Co-ordinating Committees, who were a major part of the movement against Assad & the Ba'ath. After the movement developed a mass scale, there were repeated general strikes in cities like Hama, Homs, Daraa and others. On a couple of occasions, I saw reports of a general strike in a part of Damascus. At one stage, I saw a strike across 23 cities reported. And on one occasion, I actually saw videos posted on You-Tube of the streets of cities being completely empty as two activists (one a driver and the other the camera operator) drove through normally bustling areas.

As the struggle became progressively more militarised, the working class was pushed off its terrain and eventually sidelined. The working class in Syria will need to learn lessons from this and work out ways to prevent religious sectarianism being used to divert future struggles.

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Sep 1 2013 05:25
Ablokeimet wrote:
For the first year of the struggle, I had access to dispatches from the Local Co-ordinating Committees, who were a major part of the movement against Assad & the Ba'ath. After the movement developed a mass scale, there were repeated general strikes in cities like Hama, Homs, Daraa and others. On a couple of occasions, I saw reports of a general strike in a part of Damascus. At one stage, I saw a strike across 23 cities reported. And on one occasion, I actually saw videos posted on You-Tube of the streets of cities being completely empty as two activists (one a driver and the other the camera operator) drove through normally bustling areas.

I didn't see any indications of workers strikes (I was interested, I read Arabic, have friends in Syria, and was living in a neighbouring country during the period referred to). What I did see were shutdowns where armed groups stopped people going to work, and examples of the petit bourgeoisie (shopkeepers) closing their businesses. I saw nothing that looked to me like a workers strike. I think that you have been mislead by the terms used (strike being used for both of these events), and the videos. I think you are very wrong though.

Devrim

baboon
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Sep 1 2013 09:49

I'm not aware that any significant workers' strikes took place in Syria around or just after the street protests.

Oliver Holmes and Alexada Dziadosz, two reporters for Reuters were on the ground in Aleppo earlier in the summer and in a report (June 18) related news of their research and interviews regarding the situation around the original protests. Around 2000 fighters of the "moderate" Islamist group (wanting a supreme religious leadership) called Ghurabaa al-Sham took control. In the words of its leader it was made up of "outlaws and reprobates". The group had no support from the protesters - on the contrary - they were thieves and looters shipping their booty back into Turkey. The formidable al-Nusra Front defeated them overnight, confiscating their weapons, ammunition and transport. This Islamist "order" was initially welcomed somewhat by the population as the criminals were routed.

On July 22nd, Channel 4 News reported street protests in Aleppo against the armed presence of al-Nusra which is running large areas of the town. Aleppo is an industrial area with a large number of workers and their families still present. The crowd braved Assad's snipers and the armed goons of al-Nusra shouting "You're all the same", "The same thieves", "Shame on you" and "Shabiha, Shabiha" (Assad's squad of thugs).

The situation of Syria generally was well summed-up by a senior British diplomat in The Observer, 16.6.13: "Every scenario is a nightmare now".

Mark.
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Sep 2 2013 10:29

Darth Nader on Twitter:

Quote:

May be inconvenient to anti-war activists, but Assad used CW on Syrians. Any opp to US strikes should grapple with, not deny, that reality.

…..

All the arguments about how it was rebels who used CW have been debunked, & all future ones will be debunked. Stop embarrassing yourselves.

Argument 1: Why would Assad use CW when he was winning war? A: Was losing in Damascus, youd know if u bothered to read other than headlines.

Argument 2: What motive would Assad have? 1) ignores Assad has used small amounts in past 2) ignores militiafication of Assad regime.

In what world does rebels 1) having CW capability 2) launching on own territory make more sense than Assad, who used before, launching them?

Also possibility that Assad didnt anticipate so many would die from CW attack. Better answer to "what motive?" than "must be rebels then."

https://twitter.com/DarthNader

Edit: some background on al-bab.com - which is speculative but I think might be realistic.

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Sep 2 2013 15:43

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/02/syr2-s02.html

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 2 2013 19:34

GRINGOS DON'T ATTACK SYRIA...BEFORE BUYING OUR OIL FOR THE BOMBER JETS

Despite his anti-war rhetoric, Venezuelan President Maduro continues to sanction the sale of oil to the US. He remains a staunch ally of Assad (as - it would seem - does the Cuban regime), but Venezuelans are starting to speculate whether the national resource stands to gain from continued instability in Syria. Certainly a US puppet government would push down the price per barrel.

Mark.
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Sep 2 2013 22:10
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/02/syr2-s02.html

A response to these claims on the Brown Moses blog, which as far as I can make out is reliable:

Chemical weapons specialists on claims linking rebels to chemical attacks in Damascus

A detailed summary of the evidence on munitions linked to the August 21st attacks

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Sep 2 2013 22:19

Just quickly as I feel like I'm missing something: what is France's interest in Syria? I don't get why they're so up for this war but guess it's just coz I'm missing some piece of info..

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Sep 2 2013 22:26
Ed wrote:
Just quickly as I feel like I'm missing something: what is France's interest in Syria? I don't get why they're so up for this war but guess it's just coz I'm missing some piece of info..

According to some Facebook-er, "France is a puppet of the US".

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Sep 2 2013 22:31
Mark. wrote:
Agent of the Fifth International wrote:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/02/syr2-s02.html

A response to these claims on the Brown Moses blog, which as far as I can make out is reliable:

Chemical weapons specialists on claims linking rebels to chemical attacks in Damascus

A detailed summary of the evidence on munitions linked to the August 21st attacks

Then who the heck are using those cws?

"I’m sure the Saudis would not do this without any training or support, protective equipment etc – I can’t in my wildest dreams believe they would do it anyway – they are still very close to US, who [US] even in the ‘Blackest ‘of operations are very very unlikely to go this far." - Black Moses Blog

This seems very naive.

omen
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Sep 2 2013 22:44
Ed wrote:
Just quickly as I feel like I'm missing something: what is France's interest in Syria? I don't get why they're so up for this war but guess it's just coz I'm missing some piece of info..

Because if France doesn't support the US, stupid Americans would start renaming unrelated things with "French" in the title, just like the last time, and the whole of France would simultaneously knock itself out from all the facepalming, leaving them open to US invasion. It's obvious if you think about it.

vicent
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Sep 2 2013 23:24

"I think that Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless army might just be winning against the rebels whom we secretly arm. With the assistance of the Lebanese Hezbollah – Iran’s ally in Lebanon – the Damascus regime broke the rebels in Qusayr and may be in the process of breaking them north of Homs. Iran is ever more deeply involved in protecting the Syrian government. Thus a victory for Bashar is a victory for Iran. And Iranian victories cannot be tolerated by the West."

robert fisk

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iran-not-syria-is-the-wests-...