Syria’s tragedy is in danger of spreading across the Middle East
If the first casualty of war is the truth then a large dose of disinformation has always been its pre-strike call to arms.
Within the UK we were carefully and deliberately coached and prepared for the military intervention in Syria. Our foreign secretary, cheered on by a jingoistic British media, lit new flames under the cold war, blaming Russia for all the worlds ills, whilst commentators found ever more reason to support UK military action without proper UN authority.
The reason given for the action was of course to respond to Syria’s (still unproven) suspected chemical attack on Douma, where it is alleged 40 people were killed on the 7th of April in a rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta. The truth? Who knows? The outcome? Always the same: more bombs, the risk of more civilian casualties, often more displacement and less and less chance of any lasting peace.
Imagine, if you will, the continued pain and the suffering of the civilian population of Douma, and a wider Syria, imagine that it was your loved ones who had been taken from you in this cruel and unending civil war. Do you really care if your son, daughter, husband, wife, brother or sister were blown to pieces by conventional bombing or by chemical attack? Would you have any interest as to the insignia painted on the wings of the bombers overhead? Will it make one iota of difference if the carriers of death above were Syrian or Russian or Iranian or British or French or American or Israeli? And wouldn’t you be willing to pledge your support at this stage to anybody who simply offered you even the promise of peace? Of course you would, but I fear that peace will not be forthcoming anytime soon. Unfortunately, it seems war lust, death and destruction are not done with Syria just yet.
This never ending war in Syria is, of course, no longer (if ever it was) a case of ridding the region of ISIS (Daesh), no longer a popular uprising against an embattled President Assad, and not even a simple case of controlling vital access to oil/gas pipelines running through the territory. It has become far more than any of that: it is about future control of the Middle East, it is about Russian/Iranian or USA/Israel dominance in the Levant. And of course, it is about Israel.
Whilst the UK domestic audience were kept fully informed of UK involvement in air attacks over Syria the involvement of the Israeli air force in even deadlier air raids went almost unreported. Israel has launched numerous airstrikes into Syria in recent weeks, aimed solely at protecting its border from a build up of Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces and particularly those close to the occupied Golan Heights.
Israel has one eye on the Golan Heights and Lebanon to it’s North, and the other on Gaza in the South. Equally, it fears Iraq, and Jordan to its East, and watches with increasing alarm Iran’s growing presence and positioning in the region, all backed up by Russia. Iran’s Shia Muslim regime has always in the eyes of Israel sworn to destroy the state of Israel and as the strength of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) grows, Israel’s concerns multiply.
Israel will not allow any further Iranian consolidation in Syria nor the establishment of gun routes through to Hezbollah. They see Iran’s forces, partnered by those of Lebanon and Hezbollah, the Syrian Army and the abundance of Shia militants active in the area as a direct threat to their security interests, and unlike the UK they do not have to care about public opinion at home regading any military engagement. Iran’s leaders in Tehran meanwhile continue to extend its regional reach in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Afghanistan in Jordan and even in Yemen, where Tehran backs the rebel forces opposed to Saudi Arabia.
Simon Tisdale of the Guardian, has long warned it’s readers of the growing danger of escalation of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours and maps of the Middle East show a country ringed by US military bases from Turkey to Bahrain to Afghanistan.
By backing Assad, Iran, with Russia’s blessings, are of course ensuring that Syria does not fall to the Western, pro-Israel influence. In recent weeks Israel and Iran have already engaged in direct military exchanges, with Israel shooting down an allegedly armed Iranian drone, and carrying out out air raids on the T-4 air bases in Syria, where the Iranian Revolutionary guard are based. Iranians have been killed in these attacks and Tehran has now committed itself to avenge those deaths. The possibility, maybe probability, of a new Israeli/Arab war is very real and almost upon us.
Should we therefore be surprised at President Trump’s recent announcement of the tearing up of the West’s nuclear deal with Iran? Of course not, but we should be very concerned at the ease in which the recent air strikes by the UK with their French and US partners has committed ourselves to possible continued involvement of our military in the future actions of an enraged US President .
Uncertainty is to be found in each and every direction we look, but there is of course one thing we can always be certain of: that truth will always be the first casualty of war, but it will be the civilian populations across the Middle East who will pay the ultimate price for the folly and blood thirst of their respective leaders.
Our role as citizens rather than politicians within the UK therefore must be to hold the actions of our government to account, to continue to call for parliamentary approval of all military action through a war powers act, to continue to resist and protest against any military intervention not approved through the UN Security Council. And if Russia’s veto of any intervention in Syria or the US’s veto of any intervention in Israel continue to frustrate the wishes of a wider world then we need to reform and redraw its articles .
We must also, all of us as individuals continue to speak out and publish the truth as a counter to the disinformation and lies peddled by some in power and their friends in the media who still believe they can bully and coerce us into supporting continuous, unnecessary and seemingly neverending wars and the misery they inflict on the innocent.
Editors note: ‘unhinged’ was edited to ‘enraged’ to describe the US president on the 01/05/2018 at the request of the author