USA Maneuvering for UN-Sanctioned Attack vs. Syria

Richard Becker

Having been forced to back off from a threatened military attack on Syria by intense international and domestic opposition, the Obama administration is now seeking to lay the basis for a UN Security Council-sanctioned assault.

On Sept. 13, an agreement was reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on a plan to dismantle Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. The government of Syria expressed support for the agreement, while the Syrian armed opposition has condemned it.

Having been delayed in carrying out a direct military attack, the United States, Britain and France are seeking to use any UN Security Council resolution as the basis for a renewed push toward a Pentagon bombing campaign. Russia and China, which hold the two other seats in the Security Council, are attempting to word any Syria resolution in a way that prevents it from being used or interpreted as a rationale for such an intervention.

France was the colonial power over Lebanon and Syria. Britain was the other major colonial power in the Middle East until the end of World War II. The United States took their place as the major imperial power in the region in the post-World II era.

The ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which organized protests around the country in the weeks prior to Obama’s announcement that he was pulling back from an imminent military attack on Syria, stated: “We believe that the issue of chemical weapons is being used as a pretext for greater intervention by the United States, Britain and France to carry out a larger but unstated agenda in the Middle East, which is to destroy every single independent, nationalist government in this oil-rich region.”

The United States has more than 5,000 nuclear weapons and is providing more than $3 billion each year to Israel, which has a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and, even more importantly, a large number of nuclear weapons. When the United States demanded last week that Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile be destroyed, they made sure to avoid language calling for a regional ban on such weapons since it would have highlighted the fact that the U.S. government’s principal ally, Israel, possesses these weapons.

Maneuvers at the United Nations

The plan agreed to by Syria calls for the Syrian government to turn over a list of its chemical weapons and where they are stored by Sept. 21. UN weapons inspectors are to arrive in Syria by mid-November and the weapons are supposed to be destroyed by the middle of 2014.

The agreement is being turned into a UN Security Council resolution. Kerry is demanding that the resolution include authorization for military strikes on Syria if it is deemed to not having sufficiently complied with the resolution. But the Russian government opposes this provision, and Russia is one of the five states that have veto power in the Security Council.

Both Obama and Kerry have repeatedly threatened that the United States could still carry out a unilateral attack on Syria, regardless of the wording of a UNSC resolution.

Chemical weapons report—More questions

The rationale for the U.S. threats of military action was a chemical weapons attack in Ghouta and the surrounding area east of Syria’s capital Damascus on Aug. 21. Obama and Kerry have blamed the Syrian government for the attack from the start. More than a year ago, the President Obama declared that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering a U.S. military response.

A team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had arrived in Syria on Aug. 18 to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Aleppo.

That the Syrian government would launch a large-scale chemical weapons attack immediately after the arrival of the OPCW team in the country seems illogical, even more so given that the government forces have been making major gains in the war over the past several months.

The OPCW team conducted an investigation of the Aug. 21 attack and issued its report to the UN on Sept. 16 confirming that a chemical weapons attack had taken place, but not assigning responsibility. While the United States, Britain, France and Turkey have all blamed the Syrian government, the Syrian government has adamantly denied using chemical weapons and accused the opposition of staging a provocation to justify a U.S./NATO assault.

On Sept. 18, the Agence France Presse reported that the Syrian government had forwarded “new evidence showing it was opposition forces were behind the sarin attack” to the UN.

Besides responsibility for the Aug. 21 attack, the OPCW report leaves other unanswered questions. The Ghouta area is in Syrian opposition hands and the report states, regarding evidence the OPCW was collecting: “During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.”

The OPCW report does not include the estimated death toll. While the United States claims that at least 1,429 were killed, Britain and France have reported far lower figures, 350 and 281 respectively.

The report states that a deadly nerve gas, sarin, was delivered by M14 artillery rockets. But the question of whether the armed opposition possesses such munitions and sarin gas itself is not addressed.

There have been numerous reports of rebel forces possessing and seeking to produce sarin. On Sept. 13, the Los Angeles Times reported that a Turkish prosecutor had indicted six members of the Syrian opposition for attempting to procure precursor materials for creating sarin. The government of Turkey, it should be noted, has been strongly supporting the opposition.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition and “Free Syrian Army” have expressed bitter disappointment that the U.S./NATO air strikes they were hoping for did not materialize. They were counting on foreign intervention to tip the military balance in their favor, as it has become clear that they cannot win without it.

While it is worthwhile to skeptically examine the claims of those who are set on attacking Syria, the people’s opposition to a new imperial war against Syria should not be premised on whether or not chemical weapons were used either by pro-government forces or by the armed Syrian opposition. Rather it is necessary to expose the imperial motives of the United States, Britain and France, who are seeking any pretext to carry out their semi-colonial designs on the peoples of the region. These same imperialist forces have used nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Imperialist powers do not go to war because of “moral outrage” about the use of any particular weapon.

While the Obama administration was forced to pull back from military strikes, it has not given up on the objective it shares with the 11 other presidencies dating back to World War II: domination of the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. That means the anti-war movement must stay on alert.


12 Big Lies Justifying Syria Attack

Mazda Majidi

1.     Myth: There is evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.

Fact: Despite vague claims of having proof, not only does the U.S. government have no evidence, it has worked hard to suppress any real investigation into what actually happened in suburban Damascus on Aug. 21. Washington pressured Damascus through the UN to grant permission for an inspection of the area, assuming that Syria would refuse. As soon as the Syrian government granted the permission within 24 hours, the U.S. tried to get the investigation canceled, claiming that it was too late.

2.     Myth: The use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government is not surprising and Syria will use them again if is not “punished.”

Fact: The Syrian government had no incentive to use chemical weapons and every reason not to. It is widely recognized that the government had made significant gains in the civil war and that the rebels were losing ground. Why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons when it knew that it would likely trigger a U.S. military attack? The opposition rebels, on the other hand, had strong motivation to use chemical weapons and blame it on the government because it is their only chance to reverse their fortunes in the civil war by inviting Western military intervention.

3.     Myth: Only the Syrian government could have used chemical weapons because the rebels would have lacked the capacity to do so.

Fact: The “evidence” provided equates proof of the use of chemical weapons (by someone) with proof that it was the Syrian government that used them. In fact, several states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the U.S. have long been directly involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting the Syrian rebels with funding, arms, equipment and training. Any of these parties could easily have facilitated the launch of chemical weapons within Syria in areas long under the control of the rebels. Unlike nuclear weapons, launching chemical weapons does not require a great amount of technological capacity. In May 2013, Carla del Ponte, member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the rebels had used the nerve agent Sarin. Del Ponte said that her panel had not seen any evidence of the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons.

4.     Myth: If the United States and its imperialist allies prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, a U.S. bombing will be legal.

Fact: The UN Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, makes it illegal for any member nation to attack another, except in the case of self-defense. “Punishing” another member state, even if that were the real motive, would not legally justify a U.S. attack on Syria. The Obama administration, despite its pretense to legality and morality, is proposing to bomb Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which it knows it cannot obtain.

5.     Myth: U.S. Congressional approval would make a U.S. bombing of Syria legitimate.

Fact: The U.S. Congress has no more jurisdiction over Syria than the Syrian parliament has over the United States. If another country’s parliament voted to bomb the U.S., would President Obama and the U.S. Congress consider the bombing legitimate? Obama’s consultation with Congress is intended to give a veneer of legality to a gross violation of international law.

6.     Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is intended to protect civilians.

Fact: A U.S. attack on Syria will claim countless victims, including civilians. The history of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan proves that its military interventions kill thousands of civilians. Washington politicians and the generals consider civilian victims to be “collateral damage” and callously state: “We don’t do body counts.” The majority of the victims of ongoing U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have been civilians.

7.     Myth: The Syrian people are united against the Syrian government.

Fact: While the rebels have some popular support, a significant part of the Syrian people, including many Sunnis, Alawites and Christians, support the state. In fact, support for the rebels has eroded in rebel-controlled areas due to their atrocities and criminal activities. Without popular support, it would not have been possible for the Syrian state to still stand and, in fact, gain the upper hand in the civil war.

8.     Myth: The Syrian people support a U.S. bombing.

Fact: Opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council, whose leaders are handpicked by Washington, are enthusiastically calling for a U.S. bombing campaign. But these groups do not even represent the Syrian rebels, much less the Syrian population at large. It is hard to imagine any people supporting the bombing of their country. This is particularly true of the Syrian people who have witnessed the catastrophic effects of U.S. bombings in their neighboring country, Iraq.

9.     Myth: The U.S. government is opposed to weapons of mass destruction.

Fact: The U.S. government is opposed to its adversaries owning weapons of mass destruction, or any weapons for that matter. The U.S. owns over 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is the only country to have ever used nuclear bombs, twice. It has used ammunitions tipped with enriched uranium in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has provided its garrison state, Israel, with white phosphorus, a weapon Israel used in its 2008-2009 massacre of civilians in Gaza.

10.  Myth: The U.S. government is only now considering intervening in Syria.

Fact: The U.S. has long pursued the goal of regime-change in Syria. On April 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, stated:  “Iran, Syria and North Korea should heed the lesson of Iraq.” The Syrian government, despite its inconsistent and contradictory record, has not been a Washington client. For that reason, Washington has sought to overthrow the Syrian state for decades. Throughout the civil war, the U.S. has funneled arms and funds to the Syrian rebels through its client states neighboring Syria, Turkey and Jordan, with much of the finances coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ultra-conservative, repressive absolutist monarchies.

11.  Myth: The goal of U.S. intervention is not regime change.

Fact: Despite President Obama’s oft-repeated claim, the ultimate goal of bombing Syria would be nothing but regime change. The U.S. hopes that an intense bombing of Syria will change the balance of forces in favor of the rebels, resulting in the overthrow of Bashar Assad’s government. If Washington achieves this goal, it will then be in a stronger position to pursue regime change in Iran. Ultimately, the U.S. government wants nothing but compliant client states in all of the Middle East, a region with immense resources of oil and gas.

12.  Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is unrelated to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fact: Obama’s intervention in Syria is nothing but a continuation of the same goals that drove the Bush administration to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. The false pretext for U.S. intervention in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction while the false pretext for U.S. intervention in Syria is chemical weapons. The real motive behind both interventions is to expand the domination of the U.S. Empire to maximize the profits of oil giants and corporations.

History of FSA Use of Sarin Gas on Syrian Civilians

via Alexandra Valiente


























Hands Off Syria! Take Action Against U.S. Intervention!

This Call to Action was originally posted by the ANSWER Coalition.

Washington is on the march toward yet another war of aggression in the Middle East, this time targeting Syria. In the event of U.S. military strikes against Syria, the ANSWER Coalition is calling on organizations and individuals to take to the streets in opposition to what would be a destructive and criminal war by the U.S. government.

Make plans now to hold a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the American people are clearly opposed to U.S. intervention, the signs all point to war. In a recent Reuters poll, only 9 percent favored direct U.S. military intervention, and 89 percent opposed arming the Syrian opposition. But the tiny elite clique who really run the country are completely discounting the will of the people, making a mockery of their so-called “democracy.”

The U.S. 6th Fleet has deployed war ships to the eastern Mediterranean and is threatening to launch missile and air strikes against Syria. Not only are the White House and Pentagon openly threatening direct intervention, they are also moving to further arm the Syrian opposition. A U.S./NATO attack on Syria could well lead to a wider, regional war with grave and unpredictable consequences.

A staged provocation: a pretext for war

The pretext for attacking Syria is the allegation that the Syrian government used chemical weapons last week in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus, just after a UN team had arrived in the country to investigate an earlier alleged use of chemical weapons. President Obama declared over a year ago that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would cross a “red line,” triggering U.S. military action.

The idea that the Syrian government would launch a chemical weapons attack exactly at the moment when the UN team was in the country investigating chemical weapons defies all logic.

In a sign of their total disregard for the truth, the United States government has declared, in advance of any actual investigation, that the Syrian government is guilty of using chemical weapons. U.S. officials have stated that the United Nations weapons inspection team, which is today at the site near Damascus where hundreds of people died last week, is “too late.” In other words, the United States, along with Britain and France – the former colonizers of the region – have decided to use chemical weapons as an excuse to go to war.

We must remember the Iraq War in 2003, where “overwhelming evidence of weapons of mass destruction” was used as the pretext for a war that killed hundreds of thousands and tore Iraq apart. No such weapons were ever found.

If in fact chemical weapons were used in Syria last week, the far greater likelihood is that it was a staged provocation by the opposition to invite U.S./NATO intervention in order to save their weakening military position in the conflict. We have no reason to trust the U.S. government’s version of what happened. This is the same government that has routinely lied and deceived the American people on many issues, as was recently revealed by Edward Snowden’s leaks related to NSA spying.

U.S. foreign policy is not one of benign humanitarian concern, but one of Empire. Washington’s goal is control of the entire oil-rich and strategic Middle East region. To achieve this aim, U.S. leaders – Democrats and Republicans alike – have worked to destroy independent governments and popular movements in the region for more than six decades.

For the people of the United States, fighting against a U.S. intervention in Syria is of paramount importance to prevent the spread of war and destruction. The ANSWER Coalition is calling on all those opposed to this brutal war drive to take action against any U.S. attack on Syria! A broad coalition of organizations worked together in June and July 2013 for days of action opposing the U.S. role in Syria. We expect that the actions in the coming days and weeks will be of a similar unified character.

Plan a demonstration in your city on the day of or the day after U.S. military action begins. Fill out our Event Listing form so we can help spread the word!

Lying About Syria: John Kerry’s “Colin Powell Moment”

Alex Lantier

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on national television to deliver a lying statement aimed at preparing public opinion for an impending US-NATO attack on Syria. It was his very own “Colin Powell moment.”

On February 5, 2003, Powell, then the secretary of state in the Bush administration, made an infamous presentation before the United Nations. For two hours, armed with photos, graphs and audio tapes, the chief diplomatic officer of the United States made the case for war against Iraq. He claimed that the evidence he presented showed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which it was about to unleash on the world.

The media and politicians of both parties hailed Powell’s performance, declaring that the former general had made an overwhelming case that Iraq had enormous WMD programs. Six weeks later, bombs fell on Iraq as the US invasion began.

Powell’s speech was a pack of lies. Not one of his claims about yellowcake uranium from Niger, aluminum tubes, or mobile weapons labs was true. At the time, the WSWS wrote that the brief for war was “a diplomatic charade laced with cynicism and deceit… predicated on a colossal lie: that the coming invasion is about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and Baghdad’s supposed threat to US security and world peace.” And so it proved to be.

The speech ten years later by Kerry was no less dishonest, no less cynical. Indeed, by comparison, Powell’s presentation was a masterpiece of detail.

Kerry’s entire case against the Syrian regime consisted of a general moral denunciation of chemical weapons. Describing “gut-wrenching images” of casualties from the alleged chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, he said: “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity.”

The United States government and its allies in Britain, France and Germany are in no position to lecture the world on the “moral obscenity” of chemical warfare or anything else. A complete documentation of the war crimes and atrocities carried out by American and European imperialism would fill many volumes.

Washington has poisoned entire Iraqi cities with depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Earlier, it dropped 75 million liters of Agent Orange—a chemical weapon—on Vietnam, affecting millions of people. The US is the one country in the world that has used nuclear weapons on defenseless cities—not once, but twice, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It and the European imperialist powers—who pioneered the use of poison gas—are collectively responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

While invoking the “moral obscenity” of indiscriminate killings with chemical weapons, the Obama administration continues to fund the Egyptian military junta, which over the last month has slaughtered thousands of unarmed protesters in the streets.

Kerry could not present a single fact, beyond his own lurid allegations, to justify the claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces carried out a chemical attack in Ghouta.

Instead, he said: “Our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscience, and guided by common sense … Chemical weapons were used in Syria. Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these weapons. We know that the Syrian regime has the capacity to do this with rockets.”

Such arguments prove nothing. Though Kerry preferred not to mention it, it is well known that US-backed opposition militias have access to chemical weapons and have used them. Opposition groups have posted YouTube videos bragging of their ability to manufacture poison gas, and UN officials have repeatedly stated that investigations inside Syria showed that opposition forces, not the Assad regime, were responsible for previous chemical attacks.

The CIA, which has been transformed into a heavily-armed global paramilitary organization, has access to such weapons and could easily make them available to the opposition.

Kerry’s claim that his accusations against Syria are grounded in “common sense” is false: common sense, applied to the situation in Syria, leads one precisely to the opposite conclusion.

The opposition is on the run, losing the war; their only hope is massive military intervention by their backers in the US, Europe and the Middle East. The chemical weapons attack—previously described as a “red line” by the Obama administration—provides the desired pretext for this intervention.

In another remarkable statement, Kerry gave a back-handed acknowledgment that Washington does not intend to offer proof of its allegations against Assad. He stated, “as Ban Ki-moon said last week, the UN investigation will not determine who used the chemical weapons, only whether such weapons were used, a judgment that is already clear to the world.” That is to say that, regardless of what the investigation shows about the identity of the attackers, Washington will seize upon it as a pretext to attack the Syrian government.

After demanding that Syria allow “unrestricted” access to investigate the alleged attack, Kerry responded to the government’s acquiescence to this demand by declaring that it doesn’t matter anyway, since it was “too late to be credible.” All the demands are simply intended to pave the way for war. Short of opening up the country to foreign occupation, there is nothing the government could do to satisfy the ultimatums of US imperialism.

Only months after his 2003 speech on Iraq, it was clear that Powell had lied through his teeth. In the months ahead, Kerry, the one-time anti-Vietnam war protester, will also be caught up by the web of lies underlying the US war drive against Syria.

Turkey Waves “False Flag” vs. Syria


Liberation News

Claims by the opposition in Syria about the recent “chemical massacre” that took place on August 21 brings to mind suspicions about a false flag operation that is aimed to set the stage for a foreign military intervention while diverting the attention of the UN chemical weapons inspectors away from the opposition forces.

An opposition group called “Syrian Revolution General Council” claimed that 430 people were killed as a result of the chemical weapons attack on August 21 in Guta, a district east of the Syrian capital, Damascus. Media organizations run by the opposition immediately released images from the alleged attack coupled with claims of the use of Sarin agent by the Syrian Arab Army.

Main target: To derail the UN Inspection on earlier suspected chemical attacks

The opposition has more than once accused the Syrian government of committing massacres, all based on unfounded claims and dubious reports. In this recent incident, if there has in fact been a chemical weapons attack, it is much more likely that the attack was staged by the opposition in order to be able to blame the Syrian government to set the pretext for a NATO-led intervention. The most important factor that strengthens this possibility is the timing of the attack. The UN inspection team of 20 experts arrived in Damascus Syria on August 18 to investigate three earlier suspected chemical attacks, in Khan al-Asal near Aleppo, an area in Homs as well as a location near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In the attack by the opposition forces in Khal al-Assal in March 2013, at least 26 were killed. An earlier investigation by a Russian team had concluded that Sarin nerve gas had been used by the opposition.

While refuting the recent charges by the opposition, on August 25 the Syrian government announced that it would allow the UN inspectors to visit the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack.

The Syrian Government also stated that on August 24 the Syrian Arab Army discovered chemical weapons in the tunnels around Damascus that were occupied earlier by the armed opposition forces.

U.S.: It doesn’t matter who used the weapons

The U.S. government has in the past issued statements that stated that the Syrian government would be held responsible in case of a chemical weapons attack, irrespective of which side uses it. About a year ago, after the attacks in Khan Al Assal, in a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama declared that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that would lead to military action if crossed.

From the nature of these statements, it is easy to realize that a “false flag” operation would immensely help the opposition since it would enable the foreign intervention.

Turkey: Pushing for intervention, as usual

The Turkish government has taken the opposition claims about the alleged recent chemical attack by the Syrian government at face value without question. Led by The Turkish state TV TRT and news agency AA (Anatolian Agency), the whole main stream Turkish media rushed to publish news stories to convince the Turkish public that it was the Assad government that was behind the attack.

On August 21, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the United Nations to act decisively. He also added that “all red lines” had been crossed without the UN taking action in Syria and that the body “can’t assume an indecisive attitude about chemical weapon attacks” there.

Known as the architect of the “Policy of Zero Problems(!) with Neighbors”, on August 23, on his visit to London, Davutoğlu cited an example from the Bosnian war in the 90’s, noting that it was the “coalition of the willing” that had taken action then when the UN Security Council had not reacted to the events in Bosnia. He said “Now, the UN Security Council should take a harsh decision about Wednesday’s attack. If the council does not do so, we should take action with those willing countries.”

What is truly scary about the role the Turkish government has played in this recent event is that it may be more than a simple role of “provocation”. While it is well established that the Turkish government has been providing the opposition forces with all the logistical and military support since the start of the conflict, it is also very likely that it has turned a blind eye or even possibly aided the acquisition or manufacturing of chemical weapons by the Syrian opposition. As a matter of fact, on May 30, after a search carried out by the Turkish Security forces in Adana, Sarin gas was found in the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra front and five were detained. The government and the mainstream media quietly dropped the whole issue in a few days.

The opposition does not hide it: “We have chemical weapons”

On the other hand, last January, Free Syrian Army’s political advisor, Bassam Al Dada, claimed that the Syrian opposition was capable of putting together components of chemical weapons and using them if necessary. In March this year, in Khan Al Assal, a suburb of Aleppo, the Syrian government has in fact claimed that the opposition used Sarin nerve gas in an attack against Syrian soldiers and civilians, killing 26. After the attack, ex-Syrian information Minister Mehdi Dalullah also claimed that the chemical weapons used in the attack had been manufactured in Turkey. On July 27, the opposition armed groups committed another massacre killing 123, 73 of whom were civilians. The opposition has recently announced that they would not let the UN inspection team in Khan Al Assal. If an investigation were to be performed in that region, it would very likely reveal evidence of use of chemical weapons in the attack by Al Nusra in addition to proving Turkey’s cooperation in the attack.

Huge weapons shipment from Turkey

According to a news piece by Reuters on August 25, Turkey has shipped 400 tons of weapons to the opposition forces after the recent chemical attack. Financed by the Gulf monarchies, the shipment was made through the Turkish border town Hatay into Northern Syria.  Believed to be the largest weapons shipment to the opposition forces in the last two years, the shipment is said to consist of rocket launchers and anti-aircraft weapons.

Syria: U.S. War Policy at a Crossroads

Sara Flounders

Despite CIA coordination of training operations in Jordan and safe havens in Turkey and despite countless reports in the corporate media of the imminent surrender of a panicked Syrian government, the more than two-year intense effort to overthrow the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad is collapsing.

This does not mean that the threat of a wider war has vanished. No, the Pentagon’s response to the humiliating defeats of the forces they have spent large amounts of funds recruiting, training and equipping is to float plans for a long-term war with the goal of partitioning Syria into nonviable parts. As the July 22 New York Times reported, Washington is preparing for “the long-term reality of a divided Syria,” of which Assad would only control a “rump portion.”

In a July 23 letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined five escalating military options to overthrow the government of Syria. These already planned options include sending U.S. troops as “trainers”; strikes on Syria’s air, ground, missile defense and naval forces; and imposing “no-fly zones.” Other options include establishing buffer zones and sending in thousands of troops to “secure chemical weapons.”

Dempsey’s blunt letter acknowledged that all these military options risk a wider war, tens of thousands of lives and long-term U.S. involvement. Most scenarios “could also average well over one billion dollars a month.”

The many Pentagon plans are under intense discussion in Washington because the more than 1,200 bands of mercenaries funded and equipped by U.S. arms, supplied through Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and several other NATO countries, are now in almost total disarray.

The effort to overturn the Syrian government predates the uprising in the Arab world known as the Arab Spring. According to the April 16, 2011, Washington Post, the U.S. had quietly funded right-wing Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005.

Despite all U.S.-NATO efforts to cobble together a unified military command, they were never able to go beyond developing a collection of marauding bands. Despite their failures, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees have given a green light to publicly arm these forces, while continuing the thinly veiled flow of U.S. arms via Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Opposition lacks program & support

Behind the opposition’s imminent defeat is its absence of popular support. The Free Syrian Army and the religious sectarian groups have been incapable of providing for the social needs of the population in the areas they occupied, not even to sustain bread lines or organize basic medical needs. They mobilize only through fear, focused on intensifying sectarian differences.

Even the corporate media report the extreme disarray of the reactionary forces that are largely uncoordinated bands, increasingly bogged down in local turf wars for lucrative control of towns and cities.

Mercenaries, privateers and criminal gangs from many countries have flooded into Syria to take part in the looting of equipment and cars that can be spirited over borders, cashing in on paychecks for fighters, and kidnapping and ransoming business people.

Other forces flooding into Syria have a totally reactionary and religious agenda of intolerance and sectarian war that the Syrian population abhors. Because they can’t defeat the government, the competing groups are now selling their own weapons, looting weapons from opposing bands, and executing competing fighters and civilians, including children, to instill fear.

Widely publicized videos of bloody executions, along with decapitations, the eating of human hearts, the use of torture, and increasing bombings of civilian targets such as schools and marketplaces, have confirmed the thoroughly reactionary nature of these forces.

Top United Nations envoy Leila Zerrougui, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, reported to the U.N. that many children between the ages of 15 and 18 have been recruited from other countries and brought to Syria to fight, in violation of international conventions banning the recruitment of child soldiers.

Syrian rebels have sent children into combat and used boys as young as 14 to transport weapons and supplies, according to a June 22 Human Rights Watch report.

Of the 6.8 million people displaced or made into refugees, 70 percent are women and children. Over 3 million children are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

A U.S.-NATO effort at imposing a unified political coalition of a government-in -exile of well-financed expatriates living in comfort has met with similar failure. Contentious and disconnected individuals and groups have refused to even meet in the same room.

People’s militias back gov’t

Throughout the country, the reactionary bands have run up against local defense groups and people’s militias, which have helped to turn the tide. SANA, the Syrian Arab news agency, has highlighted efforts such as those of the Palestinian Popular Committees that cleared several neighborhoods of the al-Yarmouk refugee camp, warning the armed terrorist groups to surrender or leave the camp.

The militias are now organized under a structure called the National Defense Forces to defend their own neighborhoods. Many of the militias sprung up spontaneously to defend their areas against sectarian forces, criminal gangs, car bombs and kidnappings. A New York Times article on July 21 described the militias that patrol the “Old City” neighborhood of Damascus to protect a diversity of peoples who have existed there in harmony for hundreds of years.

Government forces have rolled back rebel gains near Damascus, the capital; in Aleppo, a major city close to the border with Turkey; and in central Homs province. Hezbollah militia forces from Lebanon aided in the complete defeat of rebels in al-Qasr, a strategic transit and logistics point near the Lebanese border, which had been controlled by the opposition since the beginning of the war.

Washington’s goal in Syria was to pull down another country that had for decades attempted an independent economic and political course. The country had full literacy and the highest education standards and lowest infant mortality in the region.

Most importantly, Syria was the only remaining country in the Arab world that was not drowning in debt to U.S. and Western banks, which to Wall Street is the greatest crime. Many of Syria’s key industries are still nationally owned.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the U.S. wars in Iraq, the Syrian government had tried to reach an accommodation with Western corporate power by agreeing to privatize part of many industries and to cut basic subsidies. Now, under pressure of an imposed war economy and extreme sanctions from the U.S., European powers and the monarchies of the Gulf States, Syria has reorganized parts of the economy. Many of the unpopular economic decisions are being reversed.