The liberation of eastern Ghouta

Imperialism is fighting a failing endgame.

Proletarian writers

Proletarian writers

The full liberation of the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has been achieved, despite the efforts of imperialism to undermine the struggle with its false-flag ‘chemical attack’ in the Douma enclave.

More than 21,000 jihadis and their families have been evacuated from Douma in line with a Russia-brokered agreement. Meanwhile, 63,000 civilians, more than half the population displaced from East Ghouta by the conflict, have now been able to return to the area.

Douma: false flag

The staged ‘chemical attack’ in Douma, and the subsequent missile strike against Syria launched by the US, France and Britain on the back of this provocation, failed to deter the liberation forces from pressing on to free eastern Ghouta from jihadist grip. Most of the missiles fired by the imperialist aggressors were countered by Syrian air defences, and the false-flag propaganda barrage fared little better.

The fact that the missile attack went ahead before the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW, the UN’s chemical weapons watchdog) even had a chance to visit Douma in itself aroused suspicions about the official narrative. These suspicions grew stronger as more inconsistencies emerged.

A video that was posted on the internet and widely circulated, showing a young boy being doused in water supposedly as a treatment for the aftereffects of a chemical attack, backfired badly when the boy, Hassan Diab, talked to journalists about what really happened that day.

Hassan was outside the hospital with his mother when some people told them to rush inside. Hassan said: “We were outside, and they told all of us to go into the hospital. I was immediately taken upstairs and they started pouring water over me. The doctors started filming us here, they were pouring water and taking videos.”

Another account by two medical professionals present at the hospital that day reports that some patients were suffering from smoke inhalation, and that panic ensued when a false rumour was spread (by persons unknown) of a chemical attack. (RT visits hospital seen in Douma ‘chemical attack’ video, RT, 20 April 2018)

As the credibility of the false-flag operation crumbled, Russia’s envoy to the OPCW – Aleksandr Shulgin – went on to the attack, affirming: “We have not just a ‘high level of confidence,’ as our western partners uniformly put it; we have irrefutable proof that there was no chemical attack in Douma on 7 April.” (Moscow has ‘irrefutable’ evidence chem attack was staged, RT, 16 April 2018)

The moment Douma was liberated, Russian military specialists swooped in to investigate. Shulgin went on to say that they found “not a single piece of evidence” to substantiate claims of a chemical attack.

Instead, Shulgin pointed the finger right back at British imperialism – asserting that this was a “pre-planned false-flag attack by the British security services” with US assistance.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov gave more detail, revealing that the Russian defence ministry “has evidence that Britain had a direct involvement in arranging this provocation in eastern Ghouta”, and saying: “We know for certain that between 3 April and 6 April the so-called White Helmets were seriously pressured from London to speed up the provocation that they were preparing.” (Syria ‘chemical attack’ staged to provoke US airstrike, RT, 13 April 2018)

White Helmets: past their sell-by date?

The White Helmets, a ‘charity’ that sells itself as a noble humanitarian outfit dedicated to the rescue of civilians from under the bombs, in fact operates only in jihadi-controlled areas and consorts openly with jihadi cut-throats.

Masquerading as the ‘Syrian Civil Defence’ (to the disgust of the real Syrian Civil Defence), its true role is to act as a public relations outfit for jihadi terrorists. But with the jihadis increasingly on the run, their White Helmets propaganda wing is also flagging, finding it harder to come up with provocations that are sufficiently timely and plausible to cover imperialism’s back – unlike the latest own-goal over Douma.

In its turn, Washington which, according to CBS News, pays one-third of the White Helmets’ budget, appears to be having doubts whether it is getting value for money. Under the headline ‘US freezes funding for Syria’s White Helmets’, CBS reports that US funding for the group has dried up, with future funding “under active review”. (Kylie Atwood, CBS News, 3 May 2018)

This is not only good news for Syrians, but for all those around the world, now and in the future, who find themselves the target of regime-change wars and coup attempts. It has long been pointed out that the huge efforts that have gone into promoting the White Helmets by imperialism were not aimed only at promoting the Syrian regime-change operation, but also at establishing a blueprint for proxy wars elsewhere. (Vanessa Beeley exposes the White Helmets, The Corbett Report, 8 February 2018)

There is some chance that the imperialists will think twice about reusing the PR formula (a fake frontline service of apparently ‘non-aligned’ ‘civilians’) that has come so badly unstuck in Syria. At the very least, thanks to the stalwart resistance of the Syrian people, anti-imperialists have been provided with ample materials to expose similar efforts by imperialism in the future.

Mopping up south of Damascus

In addition to the liberation of eastern Ghouta, the Syrian army has also been making progress in the area south of Damascus – in particular the Yarmouk refugee camp, for so long under the jihadi jackboot.

First Yarmouk was seized by Aknaf Beit al-Maqdis, an affiliate of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), then these ‘moderate’ cut-throats were in turn ousted by Daesh in 2015. When it became clear that Syria’s national-liberation struggle was winning, Daesh tried to to do a deal that would give them safe passage to leave Yarmouk.

At the time, the government declined – calculating that it would have had the effect of reinforcing the embattled jihadi ranks in the east of the country. A much more satisfactory understanding was reached with some former Aknaf forces, who threw in their lot with the pro-government National Defence Forces to fight the common Daesh enemy.

Then, in the beginning of May, it was reported that government forces had made significant advances, entering the northern part of the Yarmouk camp area and a farming area to the west of al-Hajar al-Aswad. Meanwhile, the SAA also took possession of the eastern part of Yarmouk – taking over territory as it was being evacuated by local jihadi groups under a more recent agreement. (Palestinians resisting Israeli occupation not the same as rebels fighting Syrian govt by Rania Khalek, RT, 4 May 2018)

These flexible tactics, combining firm military action with a painstaking effort where possible to forge local de-escalation agreements on the ground, with the aim of minimising civilian bloodshed, stand in stark contrast to the sledgehammer approach of imperialism, which, in collaboration with its Kurdish SDF (‘Syria Defence Force’) rent-an-army, ‘liberated’ Raqqa by destroying it.

Imperialism wants partition

This is not just a case of mistaken tactics on the part of the west, but of radically different objectives.

Syria is fighting to liberate the whole of its territory from foreign occupation. US imperialism, having failed to topple President Bashar al-Assad in favour of some more compliant leadership, is now beavering away at plan B: the partition of Syria into a number of protectorates.

Rather than attempting to smooth over ethnic or confessional sensitivities, as suits the national unity objectives of the secular Assad government, it is to imperialism’s advantage to play on and amplify such sensitivities, as suits its project to divide and weaken the country and expose it to imperialist meddling.

America, lies US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, will help neighbouring states to “secure their borders” from Islamic State (aka Isis or Daesh), striving to keep up the pretence that the US is in Syria primarily to fight terrorists. (US plan of last push against Isis raises spectre of Syria partition, RT, 1 May 2018)

But with Daesh dwindling in strength under the hammer blows of the Syrian Arab Army, this pretext is wearing thin, and it is becoming more obvious that America’s real enemies are not Daesh at all but the Syrian government itself, as well as its stalwart neighbour and ally Iran.

So it is that Nauert talks of the US ensuring a “strong and lasting footprint” in Syria – in theory to ‘keep Daesh out’, but in practice to ensure that the liberated populations “are not exploited by the Assad regime or its Iranian supporters” (ie, do not unite behind the Syrian flag and welcome the fraternal support of Iran).

Nauert claims to favour a “future political settlement that honours the will of all Syrians, including sunni Arabs, Kurds, christians, Turkmen and other minorities”. Yet precisely such a ‘political settlement’ already existed, thanks to the secular and progressive nature of the Syrian government (though not excluding the shias and alawites, whom Nauert in a fit of absent-mindedness forgot to mention in her roll call).

Nauert perhaps dreams of a patchwork quilt of ethnicities and faiths, all in a state of tutelage to the west as the ‘impartial’ guarantor of the ‘rights’ of minorities.

Washington may indeed desire to see the sovereign state of Syria disintegrate into a jumble of protectorates. But it will first have to reckon with a Syrian population that is united in resistance to all such atavistic colonial ambitions – backed up by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia.

In particular, it will have to reckon with the Syrian army, which reflects in its ranks the ethnic and confessional diversity of the country, including a healthy contingent of Kurdish Syrians and a majority of sunni Syrians – giving the lie to those who chatter about an ‘alawite military dictatorship’.

Nato allies fall out

Meanwhile, the US cannot even count on its own Nato allies.

While Washington would prefer to see the FSA cut-throats supervising a Turkish-sponsored enclave on Syria’s border than have the territory return to the bosom of the Syrian state, its relations with the Turkish government in Ankara continue to be strained.

Turkey is enraged by the way in which the US has stoked up Kurdish national sentiments by enlisting the Kurds into its Syrian Defence Force (SDF) rent-an-army (supposedly against Daesh, but in practice as an impediment to the Syrian army’s recapturing of the whole of Syria’s territory).

Ottoman fury scaled new rhetorical heights when Washington threatened to stop the sale of US weapons to Ankara if the latter went ahead with plans to buy Russian S-400 missile batteries.

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said: “If the United States imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate. What needs to be done is the US needs to let go of this. Turkey is not a country under your orders, it is an independent country … Speaking to such a country from above, dictating what it can and cannot buy, is not a correct approach and does not fit our alliance,” (ie, the imperialist Nato alliance of which both countries are members).

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been no less forthright on the question of US President Donald Trump tearing up Iran’s nuclear deal, saying: “We don’t need new crises in the region. Iran will never compromise on this agreement, and will abide by this agreement to the end. However, the US will lose in the end.” (Turkey will ‘retaliate’ if US halts weapon sales over purchase of Russian arms, RT, 6 May 2018)

These frictions spill over into the battlefield too. For its own reasons, the US has propped up the Syrian city of Manbij as an SDF enclave, and Erdogan has frequently threatened to attack it.

When a top US commander suggested that Turkey would face a “sharp response” if it struck the city, Erdogan was incandescent: “It is obvious that those who say they will ‘give a sharp response’ if they were hit have not been hit by the Ottoman slap.”

It seems that this is a reference to a martial-arts open-palm punch that is reputed to crush the opponent’s skull. Such is the state of harmony prevailing in the imperialist camp.

Trump’s recent provocations – opening up the US embassy in Jerusalem and ripping up the Iran nuclear deal, taken together with the spike in Israeli attacks on Syria – suggest that Washington is falling back on its old zionist ally to help prolong the war against Syria and target fraternal Iranian forces.

But by turning to Israel for help at the very moment that zionism stands, for the whole world to see, covered from head to foot in the blood of Palestinians demonstrating in Gaza, the USA will only intensify its own deepening isolation as a pariah on the world stage.

Victory to the Syrian president, government, army and people!