Death toll rises in Syria
By Red Lion
For over 20 months, Syria has been home to a brutal civil war that has the entire world watching. The UN estimates more than 60,000 people have died in Syria’s uprising and civil war. UN Human Rights researchers have gathered data for over five months and report that 59,648 people have been killed in Syria between March 15, 2011 and November 30, 2012. Recently, it was reported that dozens lost their lives from an airstrike that turned a petrol station into an inferno. The situation in Syria is worsening and the bloodshed shows no sign of slowing down.
In early 2011, anti-Assad protests broke out in Damascus and Aleppo. Eight months later, United States President Barack Obama called on Syria’s president to step down. Consequently, a civil war erupted between the Syrian opposition, also known as the Free Syrian Army, and Assad’s government forces. The main objective of the battle against Assad is regime change. The imperialists are sharpening their knives at such a prospect. The removal of Assad from power has been in the works for quite some time. The United States and Israel are weary of Syria’s alliance with Iran, a country that has been in the imperialists’ crosshairs for decades and is currently facing attacks as well. According to Central Command chief Gen. James N. Mattis, regime change in Syria would represent “the biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” The United States has not overtly intervened in Syria but they, along with NATO, are waging war by proxy. Arms are flowing into Syria from surrounding countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and Israel. The resurgence of Al-Qaeda in Syria, possibly backed by Western finance, has been observed. The al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, is one of the many factions that have carried out multiple terrorists attacks in the effort to undermine Assad. Although the al-Nusra Front has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, the front appears do be doing much of the heavy lifting for the United States-backed anti-regime forces. Assad’s forces have responded. NATO intelligence reports the Syrian military has utilized Scud-style ballistic missiles against rebels. Syria denies such accusations. There have also been instances of cross-border missile deployments against southern parts of Turkey. A Turkish military plane was shot down by the Syrian regime earlier this year. The conflict may be spilling into Turkey.
The imperialists are once again exploiting sectarian and religious difference in the Muslim world to further their dominance in the region. Although the Syrian state is mostly secular, President Bashar Al-Assad is of Alawi background, which is considered a branch of Shia Islam. The Twelver Shia, which control Iran, recognize the Alawi as legitimate Muslims even though the Alawi tradition contains pagan, gnostic, Christian elements, in addition to traditionally Islamic ones. The Alawi are the largest minority group in Syria, comprising 13% of the population. The second largest population of Alawi is in Turkey. Alawi have inhabited the mountain ranges of Northwestern Syria for over one thousand years. In the past, Alawi were at the bottom of the Sunni-dominated social system, having been prosecuted by the Sunnis for a very long time. This changed when Hafez Assad, an Alwai, came to power as part of a Ba’athist coup in 1963. He occupied the position of Minister of Defense. After a political struggle with rivals, after arresting other members of the regime in 1970, he was elected President of Syria in 1971. Assad projected the image of a Nasser figure, promoting Arab unity and the struggle against Israel. Assad’s rise changed the fortunes of women and minority groups in Syria. In 1973, Assad’s regime changed the constitution to nominally guarantee equal rights to women and to allow non-Muslims to occupy the Presidency. Later, under pressure from the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, some of these reforms were reversed. Throughout the 1980s, Assad came into conflict with the Brotherhood. After an assassination attempt, Assad’s regime reportedly killed hundreds of opposition prisoners. In 1982, the uprising against the regime in Hama led to a bombing of the city, reportedly killing 10,000. Assad’s regime’s base of support is disproportionately from minority religious and ethnic groups, Alawi, Christian, Kurdish, etc. Sectarian tensions between Assad’s base and parts of the Sunni population have heightened since the recent conflict.
A State of Chaos
Popular uprising, riots, invasion, mass killings, hunger, disease, etc. The Middle East turmoil stems from a long history of imperialism. Last year, the world witnessed the brutal assault on Libya by Western powers. What is transpiring in Syria bears some resemblance to the ousting and death of Muammar Ghadaffi. The coalition of armed rebels is backed by the United States and its Gulf allies. However, in Syria, NATO has not yet officially reared its ugly head in the conflict because they recognize the situation in Syria is different in some respects. They fear that they may not be able to manage the resulting sectarian conflict that emerges. The outcome in Syria is unpredictable. Although the Sunni Islamic opposition is currently aligned with the West in some respects, this could change in time. In addition, Syria has less resources to be plundered by the West. In addition, Syria has historic ties with Russia. Both Russia and China have extended limited diplomatic support to the regime in UN Security Council.
Comrade Lenin said that imperialism plays no progressive role upon the nations it seeks to control. Since the conflict broke out in Syria, the country has suffered significantly. There have been food shortages and power outages that affect the Syrian people every day. Food costs have shot up 20 percent, piling on misery, after increases of 50 to 80 percent were reported earlier in the year. Cities deemed conflict zones are having problems receiving food supplies because of compromised security measures. Residents living in rebel held areas say state-subsidized rations are not reaching them. Many more Syrians are without work and often have to decide between buying heating fuel or food. Some families chop up trees or even furniture for firewood. The United States, Turkey and their Gulf allies are fanning the flames of sectarian conflict and chaos in Syria. The imperialists and their allies seek to divide and conquer Syria as part of their larger campaign against Iran. It is the duty of Leading Lights and people of good conscience to stand against all imperialist meddling in Syria. We should extend critical support for all those resisting imperialism, while at the same time contending for proletarian, scientific, Leading Light leadership within the united front. “Uphold the broad united front against imperialism! Hold the Red Flag high!”