In Multipolarity

By Danny Haiphong, published on American Herald Tribune, Dec 14, 2016

Eastern Aleppo in December 2016 (photo by Jan Oberg on Facebook)

Eastern Aleppo in December 2016 (photo by Jan Oberg on Facebook)

U.S. imperialism is inching closer to defeat in Syria. On December 6th, the Syrian government announced that it was days away from liberating the city of Aleppo from terrorist insurgency. For over five years Aleppo has been under constant siege from terrorist proxies supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the U.S.-NATO alliance. The imperial powers’ strategy of support to armed groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Syrian government has reached a crisis point. Obama had promised the ruling class he would overthrow the Syrian government prior to leaving office, but this goal appears out of reach.

What is a defeat for Obama is a significant victory for the Syrian people. Syria has withstood every assault on its sovereignty that the U.S. and its allies could possibly muster short of a full scale military invasion. Just days before the Syrian government announced the coming liberation of Aleppo, the U.S. attempted to ram through a UN Security Council ceasefire agreement. The ceasefire was proposed in order to give time for the terrorist forces to regroup in the face of imminent defeat. Russia and China both voted against the ceasefire, effectively forcing the Obama Administration to give up its dirty war on Syria or escalate the war by other means.

Obama chose the latter. On December 9th, Obama signed an Executive Order to waive all restrictions of U.S. arms transfers to “irregular” forces in Syria. The order gives the State and Defense Departments the permission to increase support for any and all groups in Syria. Nowhere in the order does it bar the military state to refrain from supporting ISIS, one of the few groups in Syria with any fight left in it. Of course, U.S. arms have been reaching ISIS in Syria since at least 2014. Obama’s executive order gives an open mandate of support to whatever foreign force will continue the Administration’s failed project to destroy Syria.

Then, on December 10th, the Pentagon announced the deployment of 200 Special Operations troops to Syria. These forces were allegedly deployed to assist the fleeing armed groups heading for safety in Raqqa against the battle-ready Islamic State. What is not mentioned is how many of the armed groups the U.S. has been supporting share similar objectives to the Islamic State. Groups such as the Al Nusra Front and the “Free Syrian Army” have always been comprised of ideologues whose main goal is to establish a sectarian and divided Syrian state. Obama’s apparent preparation for a sectarian war between U.S.-backed proxies and ISIS reveals that his commitment to a divided Syria remains strong.

Few in the U.S. have been paying attention to Syria since the 2016 elections ended with Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the Presidential seat. Doomsday projections for the future of the U.S. have flooded the corporate media as Donald Trump packs his Administration with far right figures. There is a palpable fear among significant sections of the population that Trump will wage war on immigrants, Black Americans, and just about anyone who gets in his way. Yet these domestic wars have already been in motion under a Democrat. And on the international front, few have felt the brunt of war harder than the Syrian people.

The Syrian people never had any reason to believe that the ascendancy of Trump would bring a worse fate than Obama’s rule. In fact, the war on Syria began under the direction of the Obama Administration. Obama and his partner Hillary Clinton pivoted militarily toward Syria in 2011 shortly after the U.S. and NATO destroyed Libya. Armed fighters leaked through Syria’s porous borders from hostile states such as Turkey and Jordan. These fighters, sporting a Wahhabi ideology akin to their primary backers in Saudi Arabia, helped facilitate one of the largest refugee crises in world history.

Obama worked with a broad alliance of imperialist states to wage war on Syria. Turkey protected and helped train many of the armed fighters along its border with Syria. Turkey also promised Europe to absorb many of the armed groups as well as ordinary Syrians fleeing the war. Saudi Arabia has been instrumental both in its supply of weapons and ideological guidance to the proxy forces. The EU, Turkey, and the Gulf monarchies have collaborated with the U.S. since 2014, conducting regular illegal airstrikes in Syria under the guise of fighting the Islamic State. Many of these airstrikes have killed Syrian civilians and military forces fighting to defend the country’s sovereignty.

In this context, the coming victory in Aleppo gives cause for celebration. Syria’s refusal to fall under the pressure of imperialist war is a testament to the power of solidarity and self-determination. Russia, Iran, China, and Hezbollah have given consistent aid to the Syrian people’s struggle to maintain genuine independence. When there is unity, there is strength. The war is a long way from over but imperialism is indeed on the retreat.

But the fact remains that the war on Syria will continue so long as U.S. imperialism goes unchallenged within its own artificial borders. Syria fits within the broader context of U.S. imperialism’s grand strategy for expansion in the Middle East. Since the CIA created the Mujahideen to destabilize independent Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. and its allies have utilized terrorist proxies to achieve the objective of regime change. Regime change has been the primary means by which U.S. imperialism maintains its regional dominance. The nations of Iraq and Libya can attest to this.

On December 12th, the Syrian Arab Army reported that it was now in control of 98 percent of Aleppo. The victory in Aleppo reveals the depth of the Syrian people’s commitment to the sovereignty of their nation. Now it is time for the anti-war left to reconsider its own commitments. The regime change policy and narrative is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions. And until the anti-war left drops its commitment to regime change, the movement in the U.S. and West will continue to collapse along with it.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and radical journalist in the Boston area.



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