Written by David Hungerford exclusively for SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence
The Balance Changes
Russia’s entry into the war in Syria changed the military balance of the war in favor of the government. Because of the change it looked possible at one point for peace to break out.
Russia’s decision to ally with the Syrian government was clearly linked to the war in Ukraine. Both are made-in-USA wars of “regime change.” The U.S installed a client government in Ukraine. It wants to bring Ukraine into NATO. Likewise the U.S. wants to install a client regime in Damascus. The U.S. has a number of aims in mind, which will be treated below.
At this point the Ukraine project has gone off the tracks and stalled. However, the U.S. has not given up.
Against this background the Russian alliance with Syria came as a bold and justified move. It was done in accordance with international law and Syria’s rights of sovereignty. Defeat of the aggressive war of “regime change” in Syria would come as a powerful body blow to U.S. policy in Ukraine.
The Russo-Syrian alliance greatly strengthened the government’s hand. Terrorist groups like the Daesh lost the initiative. A framework for negotiations to settle the war was outlined by the Vienna Agreement of October 30, which was signed by 15 countries including the United States. The prospects for a negotiated settlement were looking good.
Imperialists Thwart Danger of Peace
Not to worry, the imperialist powers will have none of it! They all want to get in of the “bomb Syria” act. Moreover, Turkey is a wild card in the deck. It is in economic crisis. It is at risk of civil war. Erdogan is not a U.S. puppet. He takes insane risks, like the destruction of the Russian Su-24 bomber, to find a way out of his dilemmas.
France has been bombing opposition targets in Syria since late September. It struck an “Islamic State training camp which threatened the security of our country,” said French President Hollande, in an echo of Hermann Goering.
Britain officially got in on the bomb-Syria act in early December. It was learned that British pilots had been engaged since September, but “not under British chain of command.” Cameron said the IS “poses a terror threat to British people,” sounding again like Goering!
On Dec. 1 a permanent new US “expeditionary force” to target Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria was announced. As if that were not enough, Germany announced on Dec. 4 that it was sending a logistical support and reconnaissance mission to Syria. They did not quote Goering.
Neither France, nor Britain, nor the United States, nor Germany bothered to ask the Syrian government what it thought of their military operations on its ground and airspace.
A diplomatic settlement of the war is a strong possibility. What is all the rush? Why repeatedly commit acts of war through violations of Syrian sovereignty?
Vast Energy Reserves Discovered in Syria
In 2011 a scientific study of Syria’s offshore energy resources was published in a journal called GeoArabia. The journal is exclusively distributed to big energy corporations including Chevron, ExxonMobil, Aramco, and Shell, a few other corporations, and some universities.
The study identified three blocks in Syria’s offshore territory. They are estimated to hold about 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 3.6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas. That is more gas than China has. The maximum depth throughout the Syrian basins is less than 250 meters (around 800 feet), which poses no problem for drilling. Syria’s total proven petroleum reserves come to a hefty 25.3 billion barrels.
As the world is today, the possession by a small country of vast natural wealth leads to all kinds of trouble from international robbers large and small.
There are also large petroleum reserves in the Golan Heights. The area was seized by armed force by Israel in 1967, and illegally declared annexed by Israel in 1981.
Syria is located close to Europe and its markets. Its territorial waters overlap with those of nearby countries, including Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.
In 2010 the Syrian Ministry of Petroleum worked closely with the British firm Shell to plan development of gas production. On the other end Shell met with British Prime Minister Cameron to discuss “business issues” and with the Foreign Minister to discuss “international energy matters.” The Ministry of Petroleum also cooperated with oil companies from China, India, France, and others.
Given these factors and more, the likelihood of coincidence in the outbreak of protests and armed conflict in 2011 in Syria is very close to zero.
A pipeline was planned to run from Iran, across the stateless territory known as “Iraq,” to port facilities in Syria. It was abandoned due to the conflict. The U.S. always wants to obstruct Russian energy transport to European markets. Again the likelihood of coincidence seems small.
Now the historical bad actors are scrambling into the war on one pretext or another. Their motives are those they have always held: conquest of natural resources, command of territory and trade routes, plunder. “ISIS,” whatever that is, hardly matters. It’s about which contender gets what share of the plunder. Imperialist intervention is imperialist rivalry.
As Lenin said a century ago, the capitalists divide the world “‘in proportion to capital,’ ‘in proportion to strength,’ because there cannot be any other method of division under commodity production and capitalism.” (Imperialism)
In the mad scramble of undeclared war of all against all on Syrian territory, how are the proportions of strength among contenders to be determined? “Once the relation of forces is changed, what other solution of the contradictions can be found under capitalism than that of force?” (ibid.)
The only way out is the path of negotiated settlement among the indigenous forces in conflict. The Syrian government has declared all along that it is willing to negotiate with domestic opponents. Russia is present in accord with Syria’s rights of sovereignty. It has declared, in the Vienna agreement, for a process of distinction between domestic belligerents and invasive forces against the government, such as ISIS. Its presence exerts some restraint on the western powers. A negotiated peace is still a real possibility.
The peoples are still poorly informed, but every day they become more aware of the great danger to the world. They are dependent on mainstream media that are no more than the mouthpieces of their respective governments.
Progressive people must organize to tell them the truth. If the truth were not important why would the governments and media tell so many lies? The truth makes a very great difference.