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The Internationalist
  April 2017

Defend Syria!

Drive U.S. Imperialism
Out of the Middle East!

Internationalists demonstrate in April 7 NYC protest against U.S. missile attack on Syria.  (Internationalist photo)

The following Internationalist Group leaflet, updated to 9 p.m. EST, April 7, was distributed at protests against the U.S. attack on Syria in New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oregon.

APRIL 7 – At around 4 a.m., Friday, April 7 Middle Eastern time (Thursday evening in the U.S.) the United States carried out a missile attack on a Syrian air force base. This strike, personally authorized by President Donald Trump, was billed as punishment for a supposed Syrian chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Sheikun that reportedly killed as many as 100 people on April 4. There is no proof that the Syrian government launched this attack, and considerable circumstantial evidence that strongly suggests otherwise. Pentagon officials say they are considering further military action against Syria.

This morning’s missile strike is a blatant act of imperialist aggression that must be protested worldwide. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call for defense of Syria against U.S. attack, and to kick the U.S. and its NATO imperialist allies out of the Middle East. The U.S. imperialists are the biggest mass murderers on the face of the planet, having slaughtered over 3 million people in Korea in the 1950s, over 2 million in Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, and are responsible for the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis since invading and occupying the country in 2003 (plus another million due to “U.N.” sanctions in the 1990s).

This is the kind of incident typically used by the imperialists to launch their wars, from the explosion of the USS Maine touching off the U.S. invasion of Cuba (1898) to the Tonkin Gulf incident (1964) used to justify U.S. bombing of North Vietnam. More recently there was the hoax about Iraqi soldiers killing babies in Kuwait that was used to build support for the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and the non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” used to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The same ploy was tried in 2013, accusing the Syrian government of using chemical weapons in Damascus, but it failed due to widespread public resistance to going to war.

Now the attack ordered by Donald Trump has united Democrats and Republicans for imperialist aggression. The Democrats’ complaints about Russian interference in last year’s election will be drowned out by the drums of war. Earlier on Thursday, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, speaking at a “Women in the World” summit in New York held to honor her, called to destroy the Syrian air force. Clinton is a vicious war hawk and representative of Wall Street, who is responsible for the destruction of Libya, has been pushing for years to attack Syria and is itching for a military confrontation with Russia.

Internationalist protesters at April 6 imperialist women’s “summit.”(Internationalist photo)

Previously, the Trump regime had stated that removal of Syrian president Bashar Assad was not a priority for it. Now, the racist, misogynist, immigrant-basher and “America Firster” in the White House claims to be morally outraged at the sight of dead children, and the U.S. is pushing for “regime change” in Damascus. On Wednesday, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made war threats against Syria at the women’s “summit.” The next morning the Internationalist Group and Internationalist Clubs at the City University of New York protested there with signs including, “Warmonger Hillary and Trump Rep Nikki Haley: Not My ‘Sisters’.”

The war hysteria against Syria is being whipped up in unison by the imperialist media, retailing propaganda from jihadi groups in Syria and echoed by an array of Democratic and Republican capitalist politicians. Some liberals are “conflicted” but will soon fall in line. Their social-democratic leftist camp followers make a pretense of separation, calling on the imperialists to aid the Syrian “rebels,” including providing them with heavy weapons and even anti-aircraft missiles. Their “Syrian Revolution” is a myth, consisting of bloodthirsty Islamist killers. This chorus of imperialist warmongers and their stooges are all enemies of the working class and oppressed peoples.

It is too early to say with certainty what exactly transpired in Khan Sheikun on April 4. Imperialist spokesmen like the New York Times (7 April) claim “Independent evidence continued to suggest that the Syrian military was to blame.” Yet no such evidence has been presented. Moreover, it makes no military or political sense for the Syrian regime to launch a chemical strike when it is well aware from past experience that this could lead to full-scale imperialist attack on it. Moreover, the Syrian army has been winning the war military, retaking Aleppo and pushing back both the Western-backed Islamists and the Islamic State on several fronts.

The U.S. story doesn’t add up, and appears to be a staged scenario. The claim that sarin was used is highly unlikely for several reasons, including the color of the victims’ bodies and the fact that the “rescuers” are shown handling them without gloves (or even face masks). The bodies shown in photos have clearly been transported from elsewhere to a base of the Syrian White Helmets, which has provided many of the photos. Lionized in the Western media, this outfit (financed by the U.S. and other imperialist governments) is directly tied to the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly the Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda, which holds that town.

U.S. Imperialism Kills Babies in Syria

Right: Child killed in U.S. bombing of the town of Tokkhar in northern Syria on 19 July 2016. The massacre was almost universally ignored in the imperialist media. For pictures of children killed in the 28 July 2016 massacre in the nearby town of al-Gandur, click here or on the photo at right.

NOTE: these images are extremely graphic.

In justifying his order launching missiles against Syria, U.S. president Donald Trump feigned human emotion, declaring “beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.” But U.S. imperialism has killed scores of children in Syria in its barbaric air war. In July of last year there were three major massacres carried out by the U.S.-led imperialist “coalition” in their war against the Islamic State. The first, against the town of Tokkhar in northern Syria, took place on July 19, killing at least 73 civilians, including 35 children and 20 women. This slaughter went almost entirely unmentioned in the imperialist media.

 The second massacre took place on July 28, in the town of al-Gandur, in the same area as the first, near the city of Manbij, which was taken by imperialist-led forces two weeks later. Once again numerous children were killed, but there was virtually no coverage in the Western media. The next day, another 120 civilians were killed by an imperialist airstrike against the town of Tukhan al-Kubra, near the Turkish-Syrian border. In this case, the bombing attack was led by the French air force, but also included U.S. warplanes.

Eventually the killing of non-combatants by the imperialists became so blatant that even Amnesty International, a pro-imperialist “human rights” outfit, published an article titled “USA must come clean about civilian deaths caused by Coalition air strikes in Syria” (26 October 2016). The AI report was sanitized for Western sensibilities, and although it noted that it had viewed a video of the slaughter in al-Gandur town, it did not link to that video or reproduce any of the images (which you can see by clicking on the image above).

During the Vietnam War, antiwar demonstrators chanted against Democratic president Lyndon B. Johnson, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” The same question could be posed to Democratic president Barack Obama, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (responsible for the gruesome slaughter in Libya in 2011), and now Republican Donald Trump, war criminals all. ■

One must first ask in such unclear circumstances cui bono, who benefits? Damascus turned over its entire chemical weapons arsenal in 2014 to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which supervised and certified their removal. A chemical attack is the last thing the Syrian regime would want. But the armed opposition which is weakened militarily, desperately needs increased imperialist backing, which it has now received. It’s also noteworthy that the attack occurred just as another round of “peace” talks between the Syrian government and opposition was to begin, leading to their (predictable) breakdown.

Various alternative explanations are possible, including a “false flag” operation such as in August 2013, when Islamists launched missiles with chemical warheads on a rival rebel-held Damascus suburb and then blamed the Assad regime, in order to provoke a U.S. attack. Another possibility, raised by Russia, is that a Syrian airstrike on a Fatah al-Sham weapons storage site touched off an explosion of highly toxic precursor chemicals stored there. The jihadis have used chemical weapons on several occasions in Syria, and the Syrian government has sent official complaints to the OPCW about the armed opposition bringing in such chemicals from Turkey.

The imperialists’ response to this is to portray Syrian strong man Assad as a comic-book ogre and personification of evil, a modern-day Hitler who delights in killing babies. In reality, however, Assad is an authoritarian bourgeois ruler who has been able to stay in power through six years of an imperialist-backed uprising because of support from his Alawite base, from other ethnic and religious minorities, and from sectors of the Sunni Muslim bourgeoisie who fear the collapse of Syria in the sectarian civil war. The IG and LFI are for the defeat of all sides in this communal conflict, while calling to defeat and drive out the imperialists.

The Pentagon has been escalating its military forces in Syria, now over 1,000 troops. The U.S. is dispatching assassination squads, dropping assault teams by helicopter and commanding a force of Arab and Kurdish troops closing in on the Islamic State capital of Raqqa. While opposing the ultra-reactionary Islamist holy warriors of the I.S., we recognize that any military blow against the imperialist marauders is in the interests of the world’s workers. We call to defend Raqqa (and Mosul in Iraq) against the U.S. attack and to defeat the Kurdish YPG attackers who are acting as mercenary troops for the U.S. and NATO.

In Washington, the attack on Syria marks the ascendency of the military and intelligence establishment and the Democrat and Republican leaders in Congress who have been pushing for years for a showdown with Russia in Syria. Spurred on by the Israeli Zionists, they want to oust Assad in order to counter Iran and lock in U.S. imperialist domination of the region. Now that Trump has been lined up, these leftover Cold Warriors are gunning for the “Russkies.” Russian leader Vladimir Putin is playing for time, calling for an “objective investigation” of the deaths in Khan Sheikun. But having become the casus belli (excuse for war) that all factions in Washington now want, any investigation will just be an excuse for escalation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. (which A-bombed Japan) is threatening North Korea with “overwhelming” force for its nuclear tests. We defend North Korea, as well as China and the other remaining deformed workers states against imperialism and internal counterrevolution.

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International have insisted in the overlapping wars of the Syrian imbroglio that the only progressive outcome for the oppressed in this region of a myriad of interpenetrated peoples and ethnic/religious communities is the struggle for proletarian revolution throughout the Near East. The fundamental forces that can put an end to the communal bloodletting and expel the imperialist invaders lie in the millions-strong working classes of Turkey and Egypt, which must first and foremost bring down their own capitalist rulers. The fight for a socialist republic of united Kurdistan, and for an Arab/Hebrew Palestinian workers state, can only come about in a socialist federation of the Middle East.

Workers in the imperialist centers have a key role to play by mobilizing their power to stop the bloody warmongers who would launch yet another Middle East slaughter. To put an end to the endless wars that have torn apart the region, it is necessary to smash imperialism through international workers revolution. That requires above all the leadership of internationalist communist parties, built on the program of Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, in a reforged Fourth International that is truly a world party of socialist revolution. ■