December 16, 2016

Aleppo: a broken but liberated city

Adrien Welsh

Those who mourn the victims of raids and bombardments are right to do so provided they make NATO and its allies responsible for these atrocities. The war in Syria and Iraq is not a civil war, but an imperialist war of aggression. In this context, the so-called ‘pacifists’ who claim to be neutral, refusing to focus on the crimes of Western imperialism, who equate military operations led by the Syrian army with the attacks perpetrated by Islamist fascist forces, are pleading for lasting war, not lasting peace.

Friends of yesterday, useful to impose a regime change and to set in motion the plan for the ‘Greater Middle East’ sought ever since Sykes-Picot, are now our enemies. Yet, when the Syrian people, its representatives and its army strike back and defend their sovereignty, our "enemies" (whom we indirectly helped by selling $ 15 billion worth of weapons to their closest ally) are suddenly no longer such bad guys.

Syria, the only country in the region to resist against Israeli Apartheid, Oil Monarchy States and against the hegemonic plans of Western imperialism, must be put in the same category as Libya. Warlords sharing the spoils would be better than guaranteeing the right to self-determination for the Syrian people. For 100 years, the West has been manipulating the Levant to protect its interests. We recall the partition of Syria, the creation of Israel in 1948, the Mossadegh affair in 1953, the Baghdad Pact in 1955 and the Lebanon War twenty years later. But we also remember the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939, the long history of anti-imperialist struggles of the Arab peoples (Nasser in 1952, Kassem in 1958, the United Arab Republic in 1958-1962, the Palestinian intifada, etc.) The contemporary history of the Middle East is one of attempts at control and attempts at neo-colonization opposed by local peoples. The current conflict in Syria must be understood in this light.

Russia’s role in the conflict is confusing to many. Since 1991, Russia is not a socialist country anymore, but a capitalist country that tries to insert itself into the world market economy. As such, it cannot be longer considered as a consistently anti-imperialist and internationalist force. Russian implication into the conflict in Syria has a lot to do with the protection of its own interests in the region, one of which being the safeguard of its military base in Tartous. Nevertheless, in the Syrian case, Russia has been the only country from the so-called International Community, perhaps along with China, to behave according to the UN’s principles and to international law by defending Syrian sovereignty. Eventually, Russia will have to leave Syria, but this will happen only once Western imperialist countries get out of the Middle East and stop funding proxy forces.

The role of Russia could be disturbing to some, but it can in no ways be compared to the one of NATO and its allies, especially if we look at the broader picture. The US alone has between 700 and 800 military bases throughout the world. Russia only has one. NATO troops are mobilized in Eastern Europe with canons pointed towards Russia, while Russia has no troops in Mexico or in Canada. The US keeps 28,500 personnel in South Korea and France has military facilities in 11 African countries, not to mention the military forces present in its colonies. The plans of Western imperialists are clear: they are ready for a deadly, bloody and catastrophic globalized war if they aren’t stopped. The Syrian government is part of the forces that exist to stop them.

A bloodbath could certainly have been avoided if NATO, the United States, the European Union and their allies had respected the sovereignty of the peoples of the Middle East. A bloodbath could have been avoided if the allies of Western imperialism had cared to consider more than mere profit. "Pecunia non olet," said Vespasian (“money does not stink”). Here, however, money smells like the blood of women and children, money smells of putrefying flesh, money smells of death. As Hugo Chavez would have said, "it smells of sulfur!"

Those who kill overseas are the same people who here cut social services and try to get paid in order to see a doctor, to study, to send our children to daycare. They are the ones who apply austerity measures to make us, the working class, the youth, women, LGBTQ+, immigrants, religious minorities, etc. pay for their economic crisis. Ironically, it is in the name of the oppressed and exploited that they join the imperialists' hawkish adventures. In our name today, instead of celebrating the liberation of Aleppo similar to defeats of Nazi-Fascism 70 years ago, they take the opportunity to prove once again that they are beholden to petroleum monopolies and not on the side of the people, that they are ready to pave the way for a World War 3 no doubt more deadly than those we have already known.

They made their choice between war and austerity against peace and prosperity. Progressive youth, the youth who struggle, have also made their own. This youth who promised to build a new world, a world without wars, without crisis and without exploitation represents a considerable force, a mobilized, organized and united force. It is in this spirit of unity and combativity that we will mobilize to organize a strong Pan-Canadian delegation to the 19th World Youth and Student Festival, which together we will call "no to war and Austerity, yes to peace and prosperity!"

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