Statement by the Internationalist Socialist League (Section of the RCIT in Israel/Occupied Palestine), 15.04.2018, www.the-isleague.com
Following Israel’s new round of killing and injuring unarmed Palestinians in Gaza and its attack on base T4 in Syria, killing at least 8 Iranians, US President Donald Trump, together with the UK and France, striked the Syrian capital on Friday evening, allegedly in response to a suspected chemical attack on rebel-held Douma last Saturday.
The first few questions that come to mind are: why did the US, UK and France strike Syria? What were the targets? What was the damage? What are the results?
Why did the US, UK and France strike Syria?
Only an imbecile would believe that Trump, May and Macron were motivated by concern for Syrian lives. After all they all supported Assad’s bloody crushing of the Syrian revolution. It is more likely that Trump has been building and consolidating allies for his future confrontations with Russia. This might also be an attempt to shift the public attention from his dealings with Russia that led to his victory in the presidential elections. In any case, the message of Trump is that Assad can kill as many Syrians as he wishes as long as he uses conventional weapons.
The Washington Post suggests: "The real reason for the attack threats is probably this: Midterms are approaching, the Russia investigation is escalating and former FBI director James B. Comey’s book is being released. Research shows that diversionary wars — wars started to distract the public from domestic unrest — are hard to start in democracies and rarely have the intended effect. Military operations in an already existing conflict are much easier to manipulate — and are not as risky as starting a war". (1)
What were the targets?
According to US imperialism "The three targets hit included a scientific research center in the greater Damascus area used for research, development, production and testing of chemical weapons; a facility just west of Homs which is thought to be centre for sarin gas production and “precursor production equipment;” and a command post located near the first facility, said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford." (2)
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who had urged caution in White House deliberations leading up to the strike, told reporters on Friday night that there were no more attacks planned unless Mr. Assad again uses gas on his own people. “We confined it to the chemical weapons-type targets,” Mr. Mattis said. “We were not out to expand this; we were very precise and proportionate. But at the same time, it was a heavy strike.” (3)
However, if there were caches of already-produced chemical weapons in these facilities that were destroyed during the strike, they could have leaked and harm the nearby civilian population on a larger scale than Assad’s reported attack on Douma.
We do believe that Assad used chemical weapon and not for the first time, but it is more than likely, that after he got the warning that the US and its allies would bomb Syria, he moved the caches of already-produced chemical weapons to other locations. Thus, even if all or most missiles and bombs hit the targets, the damage has been only to some buildings and maybe a laboratory.
The Russian who promised to shoot down the missiles and even the ships, planes and the submarines used for the shooting stated that the damage was so little that it was not necessary to retaliate as most missiles were shot down by Assad’s defense systems. The Russian military said Saturday that Syria’s Soviet-made air defense systems downed 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies, according to Tass, Russia's government news site.
Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff said the strikes have not caused any casualties and Syrian military facilities targeted by the U.S., Britain and France have suffered only minor damage. (4)
Thus, the winners of this attack are Assad and Putin. Assad will receive more sophisticated Russian weapons like the S300 and S400 and Putin can present himself as a responsible politician, unlike the ruling classes of the US and its allies.
The real loser is Israel, that at a time the US is leaving the region, it can only build a weak alliance with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan against the stronger alliance led by Iran backed by Russian imperialism. Ephraim Halevi, the former head of Mossad, in an interview on Israeli TV last Saturday, predicts a very heavy war in the north of Israel which will cost many Israeli lives. When he asked if Israel could be destroyed, he just said Israel cannot be destroyed without giving any reasons to support this statement.
While we do not think that the conflict in Syria will lead to a third world war, the danger of third world war is growing, not only because of the situation in Syria, but because of the trade war between the US and China. The only force that can save humanity from the madness of the imperialist system and its leaders is a world socialist revolution.
In a case of a war between Israel and Syria, Iran and Hezbollah the interest of the working class and the oppressed is the revolutionary defeat of Israel with or without the backing of the US. In a case of a war between US and its European allies and others on one side and Russia on the other the Internationalist Socialist League and its international comrades in the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency will advocate revolutionary defeat for both imperialist sides.