National Sections of the L5I:

League statement on the Israeli air strikes on Syria

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

The League for the Fifth International unreservedly condemns Israel's 3 and 5 May air strikes on a military complex near Damascus in which 42 Syrian soldiers were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Such attacks, and these are not the first, are blatant violations of Syrian sovereignty intended to bolster Israel's regional power and assert its self-proclaimed right to act pre-emptively wherever it wishes.

Unofficial spokesmen of the Zionist state have tried to justify these attacks as necessary to prevent missiles reaching Hezbollah forces in Lebanon, who might have used them to hit Israel. A member of the Knesset argued that the strikes were an attack, "only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime". Obviously, at a time of full scale civil war in Syria, attacks on one side can hardly be neutral, especially at a time when the Assad regime and its sectarian militias, are waging a murderous offensive against the Syrian rebels. However, it is true that, since the civil war in Syria erupted, Israel has shown little or no sympathy for the uprising, regularly confirming the Assad regime’s propaganda that the Free Syrian Army is heavily influenced by jihadi “terrorists”.
 
While Israel and Syria are still formally at war, there has been no actual fighting between them since 1982. Israel has repeatedly said that it is does not wish to involve itself in the war raging across its northern border. The claim that the purpose of its raid was to prevent advanced weapons and technology being acquired by Hezbollah, who gave the Zionists such a bloody nose during the latter’s punitive invasion of Lebanon in 2006, is probably true.
 
If the Israelis are no friends of the Syrian revolution, the Obama Administration is the falsest of friends. Even cooler is the German government, and behind it a great majority of EU states. Neither the EU nor the USA wishes or intends to intervene directly in Syria. Britain and France, the former colonial powers in the region, may still talk belligerently but realise that the US and Germany will hold them back from anything much more substantial. Meanwhile, it is very clear where Russia and China’s sympathies lie – the shipments of weaponry and their vetoes in the UN Security Council speak for themselves.
 
So why - when we support the Syrian uprising - do we condemn actions which may objectively aid that uprising to the extent that they disrupt the troop movements of Assad and his Hezbollah allies, however marginally? Because the political damage to the cause of the revolution within Syria and the Arab world is far greater than any military advantage to it. If substantial sections of the Syrian population and progressive forces in the Middle East become convinced that there is some truth in Assad’s lies that his opponents are essentially agents of imperialism, then the social support of the revolution, which underpins its military powers of resistance, will wane and the revolution could founder.
 
That is why the Assad regime immediately hailed the Israeli attacks as proof that the expansionist settler state was behind the uprising, just as it has claimed the Americans, British and French were behind it too. This is but another version of the oldest trick in the reactionary book; blame a mass popular insurrection on foreign intervention, just like strikes are always the work of outside agitators.
 
The prolonged character of the Syrian revolution, and its evolution into a bloody civil war, has certainly drawn in interventions from foreign powers. But that is true of both sides; if the rebels have Saudi, Qatari or Turkish support (and, perhaps, some undercover French or UK special forces, who knows) the Assad regime certainly has much greater “outside support” in the form of the logistical and political support of Russian and Chinese imperialism and the Iranian and Iraqi regimes. Most usefully, when it comes to prolonged street fighting, is the aid it is now receiving, it seems, from increasing numbers of crack fighters from Hezbollah.
  
Genuine revolutionaries; rather than knee-jerk “anti-imperialists”, have no problem with continuing to give wholehearted support to the revolutionaries at the same time as opposing Israeli attacks on Syria and Hezbollah. It is, likewise, a duty for revolutionaries to support the defence of Syrian or Lebanese territory by Assad’s forces, or by Hezbollah, from Israeli attacks. The independence of Syria and Lebanon and, indeed, any Arab country and Iran, from the predatory and expansionist settler state and its US, UK and French backers is an imperative duty. But this does not mean extending this support to all the actions of the Syrian or Lebanese governments, at home or abroad. That is the “anti-imperialism” of simpletons.
 
The murderous attacks by Assad forces against his own people, and Hezbollah’s participation in this, are utterly reactionary. We must wish for their total and complete defeat. When the Syrian people have finally overthrown this despicable regime, they will most certainly not hand their country over to Israel or to the US imperialists or European former colonialists. Nor will the majority of the revolutionaries rip their country apart in religious sectarian conflict.
 
Like Israel’s interference, any intervention into Syria by western imperialism or its Turkish Nato ally would have overwhelmingly reactionary consequences. Nevertheless, the war going on in Syria is not a proxy clash between imperialist and anti-imperialist forces, with the latter being represented by the fascistic Ba’athist murder gangs. It is a genuine struggle for democracy – initiated at the height of the Arab Spring. Are some of the forces engaged on the rebel side reactionary islamists, some even sectarian killers? Yes, that is possible, even inevitable, given the chaos the regime's forces have wreaked. But that is far from being the predominant character of the militias fighting Assad.
 
Those leftists who support Assad in the belief that jihadis, such as al Nusra, are the ultimate in reaction against which a secular dictatorship is a “lesser evil” have, whether they recognise it or not, sided with the counterrevolution and deserve to be shunned by the whole labour movement. Likewise, those leftists who have retreated into neutrality, or who urge compromise with the regime in order to preserve the unity of the Syrian state, are cowards who desert a real revolution when it turns into civil war. What would they have done in Russia in 1918?

Victory to the Syrian Revolution and its armed forces.
Defeat for all Israeli attacks on surrounding states.
Victory to the Palestinians' struggle for a free and united Palestine
No to any Nato or EU “humanitarian” military interventions
All Imperialist forces and advisers – eastern as well as western, out of the Middle East