Irfan Engineer


(Secular Perspective September 1-15, 2013)


A key Senate committee could vote as early as Wednesday on a measure authorizing U.S. military action in Syria. A key US Senate panel has approved a draft resolution allowing a 60-day military action in Syria. With this, the possibility of a military strike on Syria seemed inching one step closer. The resolution will now be put to vote on Wednesday, 4th Sept. 2013. Leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee agreed late Tuesday on details of the plan that would give President Barack Obama authority to order limited strikes against Syrian military targets for 60 days.  He could extend the window by another 30 days under certain conditions. The US claims to know that the Syrian government used a chemical weapon near Damascus on Aug. 21 against those prosecuting war against Syrian Govt.  President Barrack Obama asserted: “We have a high confidence that Syria used… chemical weapons that killed thousands of people.” John Kerry, however said that it was beyond any reasonable doubt that President Bashar al-Assad’s government had used chemical weapons on civilians in the attack last month that killed more than 1,429 people near Damascus. And the French Govt. differs with the US Govt.’s claim of “thousands killed” by the use of chemical weapons. The French PM claims that they have video that shows 281 people died due to use of chemical weapons. It is on the basis of contradictory figures and claims, “confidence” and not evidence that the US wants to authorize the military action against the Syrian Govt.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called US evidence for Assad’s use of chemical weapons “absolutely unconvincing.”

US led forces went to war with Iraq on the pretext of weapons of mass destructions being hidden by Saddam Hussein regime. However, nothing was found after the war. If the US acted without any evidence then, this time even the claims from US itself are contradictory. While President Obama says thousands were killed, John Kerry gives the figure of 1,429. The “co-lateral damage” caused by unilateral and illegal military action by US itself would cause lives of hundreds of civilians. Around two million Syrians have reportedly fled the country since the uprising in the country in 2011 and the figure is expected to touch 3.5 million by end of the year, a United Nations report has stated. The UN says this is the worst refugee crisis for 20 years, with numbers not seen since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More than 100,000 people are thought to have died since the civil war against President Assad began in March 2011.

Anti-war activist Noam Chomsky categorizes any military action against Syria as illegal. He said, “that aggression without UN authorization would be a war crime, a very serious one, is quite clear, despite tortured efforts to invoke other crimes as precedents,” In an interview with the Associated Press and Russia’s state Channel 1 television, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the U.S. should present “convincing” evidence to the United Nations.  He said he “doesn’t exclude” supporting a U.N. authorization of force against Syria if there is such proof, but warned the U.S. against taking action without U.N. approval. “Only the U.N. Security Council could sanction the use of force against a sovereign state,” Putin said. “Any other pretext or method which might be used to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression.”

At the U.N, secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said any use of chemical weapons in Syria is an “outrageous war crime.” However, he called on the Security Council to “unite and develop an appropriate response” to bring the perpetrators to justice. Obviously, he was not supporting the unilateral action of US military action. He further said that a political solution to the crisis in accordance with the U.N. Charter was the best way to proceed. He cautioned that any use of force to punish those responsible for the chemical attack would not be legal without U.N. authorization. “This is a larger issue than the conflict in Syria,” Mr. Ban said. “This is about our collective responsibility to humankind.” The UN experts were working non-stop trying to determine whether chemical weapons were used on August 21 in neighbourhoods near Damascus but the report was not yet complete.

By some counts, the U.S. has been involved in more than 50 significant military actions in the last half-century – an average of more than one a year – ranging from significant fighting in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to lesser incursions in such far-flung countries as Kuwait, Bosnia, Pakistan, Libya, Grenada, Haiti and Panama. In Vietnam Napalm bombs were used by the US Army. Napalm B became an intrinsic element of U.S. military action during the Vietnam War. Reportedly about 388,000 tons of U.S. napalm bombs were dropped in the region between 1963 and 1973. The US Air Force and US Navy used napalm with great effect against all kinds of targets to include troops, tanks, buildings, jungles, and even railroad tunnels. The effect was not always purely physical as napalm had psychological effects on the enemy as well.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad has denied use of chemical weapon alleging it was the rebels who deployed them. However, it is difficult to whether chemical weapons had been used in the conflict, and if there is evidence of it being used, which side used it. President Assad has not opposed investigations by UN into the allegations. Therefore the right thing would be to investigate, gather evidence and then proceed. The US wants to carry out military action even before the UN report comes. Call for unilateral military action based on “claims” betrays nervousness of opportunity missed to carry out pre-planned military action that is waiting for pretext and the pretext is there in the form of “claims”, even if contradictory. International support to support President Obama’s decision to carry out military action has collapsed.

The real objective of military action:

The real objective of the impending military action is not to punish President Assad’s regime for using chemical weapons, nor it is to protect the people from Assad Govt. The hidden objective is to bring about a regime change through force. The civil war supported by the US has been sapping resources and getting prolonged without producing any results. The impending military action would mean striking artillery and rocket systems; aircraft; maybe even missile production facilities. Headquarters and other buildings could also be struck on the grounds that they are associated with units linked to the chemical weapons programme. These potential targets – artillery and aircraft for example – are a key element of President Assad’s superiority over the rebels. If these assets are badly damaged, the military balance on the ground will significantly alter in favour of the rebels. Rebels include some of the former Al Qaeda fighters. President Obama said that the military strike against the regime of Bashar Assad was part of a “broader strategy” aimed at ending the Syrian civil war. He made clear that he planned to help the rebel forces and allow Syria to “free itself”.

It is this objective of the US that one should be wary of. The US and French supported rebel forces were provided every assistance in Libya to win the civil war and to weaken opposition to Israel. The Allied forces imposed a No Fly Zone on Libya to help the rebels. People in Libya are agitating and asking tough question as to where US$103 billion worth budget has disappeared and questioning the oil theft.

There is little doubt that the Muammar Qaddafi was a dictator and the President Assad would not get re-elected if a free and fair elections were held. It is for the people of Syria to struggle for democracy. But there is also little doubt that democracy cannot be established under foreign interference and support.

Israel too has been calling for punitive strikes on Syria. Israel has occupied Golan Heights territory of Syrian and annexed in 1981. The Shia Alawite regime of Syria is seen as inimical force by Israel. Syria has been helping the Hizbollah in Lebanon; a Hassan Nasrallah led Shia resistance movement in against Israel. Iran has also provided support to Hizbollah’s resistance movement. The US has therefore directing its fire at the moment against the Shia axis of Iran-Syria-Hizbollah to secure Israel and weaken the Palestinian movement further. Assad in turn has been warning that any military intervention would exacerbate the chaos in the entire region. Comparing the Middle East to a “powder keg”, Assad said “the fire is approaching today” and the entire region would explode.

The crisis in Syria can, in the first instance, be resolved through dialogue between the rebels and the Government. International community should play role of a facilitator and promote fair systems to ensure popular regime and liberties as well as protection of human rights. If the dialogue and negotiations do not yield result, then in the second instance, the international community should decide based o n concrete evidence and investigations as to penal actions permissible to respect the human rights and dignity of all involved. There cannot be unilateral actions.

Resolution 2131 (XX) of the UN states that:

 “1. No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are condemned.

“2. No State may use or encourage the use of economic, political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights or to secure from it advantages of any kind.  Also, no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist, or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.

“3. The use of force to deprive peoples of their national identity constitutes a violation of their inalienable rights and of the principle of non-intervention.

“5. Every State has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State.”

“6. All States shall respect the right of self-determination and independence of peoples and nations, to be freely expressed without any foreign pressure, and with absolute respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Consequently, all States shall contribute to the complete elimination of racial discrimination and colonialism in all its forms and manifestations.”

However, the US wants client regimes installed in crucial countries so that it can act as a self appointed global cop and establish a new world order outside the UN system and enforce it on all the countries, to control the natural resources and sources of energy and the flow of world trade.


Centre for Study of Society and Secularism

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