Resolution adopted by the Central Committee, Communist Party of Canada, March 5, 2017
Since its onset in 2011, the devastating conflict in Syria has resulted in a staggering death toll of several hundred thousand, with millions more internally displaced or driven into exile, and with massive destruction to homes, schools, hospitals and national infrastructure. Now in its seventh year, the war has reached a new, critical juncture, and the anti-war movement internationally must do everything possible to demand an immediate end the imperialist interference driving the conflict, and to help bring about a just, negotiated peace.
From its very beginning, the Syrian conflict has never been a ‘civil war’ in any real sense, much less a ‘popular uprising’ or ‘revolution’; rather, it was – and remains today – a proxy war of aggression launched by the U.S. and its NATO imperialist allies, with the active support of Saudi Arabia, the reactionary Gulf States and Israel. Using the 2011 ‘Arab spring’ protests against the elected government in Damascus as an opportunity and convenient cover, imperialism covertly organized, financed and armed extremist groups composed primarily of foreign mercenaries to launch a military insurgency aimed at toppling the Bashir Al-Assad government. The ultimate objective of this ‘regime change’ operation was not only to topple the current (elected) government in Damascus, but also to weaken and eventually split up the country into a number of pliant mini-states divided along religious, sectarian lines. Such a balkanization of Syria would not only strengthen Israeli domination in the region and undermine the Palestinian struggle against the occupation and for national self-determination; it would also further isolate and expose neighbouring Iran as the next target of imperialism and its regional allies.
This ‘proxy war’ strategy however has now become completely unhinged. Ever since the Al-Assad government requested and received military support from the Russian Federation in September 2015, the tables have turned. The assistance rendered by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah forces, combined with the resolute resistance of the Syrian people themselves – the vast majority of whom have rallied in support of the government and army – has dramatically shifted the strategic balance of forces in the country. The defeat and withdrawal of the so-called ‘rebel’ forces from East Aleppo, along with other battleground setbacks for the insurgent forces, including the recent re-liberation of Palmyra by the Syrian army and retreat of ISIS forces in the eastern part of the country, have created a qualitatively new situation.
Some of the ‘rebel’ forces have now been forced to accept a limited ceasefire agreement with the Syrian government, monitored by Russia, Turkey and Iran. Negotiations between the Assad government and at least some of the extremist groups are now also underway in Geneva aimed at achieving a long-term political resolution to the conflict.
There are disturbing signs however that U.S. imperialism is determined to scuttle any possibility of a negotiated peace in Syria that does not serve its interests. It is using various UN agencies and international NGOs, such as Amnesty International, to float wild and unsubstantiated accusations against Syria for using chemical weapons, murdering political prisoners, and committing other ‘crimes against humanity’, in order to further demonize the Assad government and its allies, and prevent any peace agreement.
Washington has also given its official ‘blessing’ to plans announced recently by the Saudi regime to send its troops into Syria to attack both ISIS and government forces and create ‘safe havens’ and ‘liberated zones’ to be handed over to “moderate” extremist forces to administrate and control. This would essentially complete the process of carving up Syria into a patchwork of mini-sectarian states and enclaves.
Already, Turkish ground forces, and US and other NATO special forces, are operating inside Syria without any government sanction or approval. The entry of Saudi forces would further inflame the already dangerous situation, and would likely result in a direct confrontation between Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces on one hand, and US/NATO powers and their state allies on the other, with all of the dire consequences which that might spawn.
Canada remains directly implicated in the Syrian conflict, despite media reports to the contrary. While the Trudeau government reluctantly agreed in 2016 to halt direct Canadian CF-18 air attacks inside Syrian territory, Canadian jets are continuing to provide strategic and intelligence support to the US military campaign, refueling and finding targets for other US “Coalition” aircraft. This is a direct violation of Syrian sovereignty and independence. The Communist Party of Canada condemns this continued collusion with the illegal and dangerous war on Syria, and calls for the immediate halt to this Canadian military involvement.
Instead, Canada must contribute actively and sincerely to the search for a peaceful, negotiated settlement to the war, one which guarantees the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Syria. Syria’s future must be determined by the Syrian people themselves, free of foreign interference and intimidation.
As a sign of Canada’s desire to help bring about a genuine peace in Syria, the Canadian government must immediately revoke all economic and other sanctions against that country, re-open the Syrian embassy in Ottawa, and renew Canada’s diplomatic relations with Syria on the basis of full equality and mutual respect for the principles of international law.
The massive misinformation and vilification campaign against Syria and its allies over the years has led to much confusion and division within the broad peace movement, effectively silencing its opposition to this imperialist aggression. Given the ever-increasing danger that the Syrian conflict could spill over and envelop the entire Middle East, and even ignite a globalized confrontation between the leading nuclear powers, the paralysis and resulting silence must be overcome, and peace forces across Canada and around the world need to mobilize against this proxy war, and demand a negotiated political solution. The Communist Party of Canada restates its active support for the efforts of the Canadian Peace Congress, the “Hands Off Syria” Coalition and other peace and solidarity forces working to expose the truth behind the insidious imperialist conspiracy against Syria, and for a just end to this horrendous conflict.