|Volume 46 Number 8, March 28, 2016||ARCHIVE||HOME||JBCENTRE||SUBSCRIBE|
The government have continued to demand regime change in Syria, even while peace talks between the government of Syria and various opposition groups have continued under UN auspices. In Parliament, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond made clear the government's position when he stated that "we assess that the removal of Bashar al-Assad is an absolutely essential prerequisite for peace". At the same time the Foreign Secretary has also continued to attack the Russian government for its role in Syria, and more generally, following the announcement that the main part of Russian military forces are being withdrawn, although it will maintain its major military bases in Syria.
Speaking before the EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on March 14, Hammond made clear the bellicose position of the British government: "We have to have relationships with Russia but we can't lose sight of the challenge that Russia represents to our values and to our security and we have to be robust in making our case and defending our principles, our values, and our borders in Europe." In regard to Syria he added, "We expect President Putin, who has backed President Assad with huge amounts of military and political commitment, we expect him to be able to get control of Assad, and at the moment it doesn't look like he is in control of Assad." It is with such bullying and provocative tactics that the government conducts what it refers to as its foreign policy. Speaking to military personnel, Russia's President Putin stated his government's view of its military intervention in Syria: "We have created the conditions for a peace process. We have established constructive and positive cooperation with the US and a number of other countries, with respectable opposition forces in Syria, which really want to end the war and find a political solution of the conflict."
The aim of the British government, the US and their NATO allies has always been regime change in Syria and for that purpose they have incited, financed and armed a variety of opponents of the current government in that country, either directly or through their proxies. The government has even referred to those elements it supports as the "legitimate representatives" of the Syrian people as if it decides such matters. There is no doubt that they also hoped that the removal of the government of Bashar al-Assad would provide a geopolitical advantage not only in itself but in relation to Russia and Iran too. What has become an illegally engineered civil war in Syria has now led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. A major humanitarian crisis now engulfs Syria, the surrounding countries and even parts of Europe. The conflict has led to instability across the entire region and created the conditions for the emergence of the sinister IS/Daesh in Syria, which has also fought against the Syrian government and brought death and destruction in its wake not just in the region but also in Europe. Despite everything that is a consequence of its regime change strategy, the British government and its allies still maintain that it is this self-serving strategy which is the only future for Syria, a future dictated not by the Syrian people but by the big powers in NATO.
However, so far, despite all the efforts of the NATO warmongers there has been no regime change. The government of Syria, with the military support of Russia, Iran and others, has remained in power and recently regained territory previously lost to IS/Daesh and other opposition groups. According to one report, the Syrian government has been able to regain control of some 400 towns and 10,000 square miles of territory and has recently re-entered the ancient town of Palmyra. Russian air strikes appear to have made a significant impact and have led to the current "cessation of hostilities". It is in this context and as a result of negotiations between Russia and the US that peace talks are now taking place in Geneva. There too, Britain and the US are attempting to impose their own agenda on the people of Syria, but the government of Syria has refused to be bullied and has announced that as well as engaging in peace talks it is also obliged to hold and will hold parliamentary elections in April, since it is the Syrian people who are sovereign not foreign governments. The opposition groups that have been supported by NATO and its allies such as Saudi Arabia now refer to themselves as the High Negotiating Committee, but they have been joined at the peace talks by two other groups that oppose the al-Assad government and yet are also opposed to the regime change agenda. In short, the current situation regarding Syria cannot be dictated by Britain and its allies as they had hoped, nor can it ultimately be decided by solutions imposed by external forces.
The attempt by Britain and its allies to determine the fate of the people of Syria and effect regime change in that country in the same manner as occurred in Libya has led to a great tragedy for the people of Syria and many other countries. Its ramifications are also felt in the capital cities of Europe too. A great crime has been and is being committed and all the conditions created for further crimes against the people. The times cry out for an alternative, for an end to the use of force as a means to resolve political questions nationally and internationally, for an end to military and others forms of intervention by the big powers within sovereign states. It is the urgent task of the workers and all democratic people in Britain to step up the struggles to establish this alternative, an anti-war government that will end the crimes of the warmongers and allow the people of all countries to decide their own future.