At yesterday’s Stop the War rally in London, Tariq Ali challenged the Cameron government by saying: “If the aim is to destroy ISIS, … then you should be fighting side by side with Assad and the Russians.”
The contradiction between this proposition and the rally’s slogan — “Don’t bomb Syria” — seemed to elude much of Ali’s audience.
Yesterday, on just one city — Darayya — the regime dropped 50 barrel bombs.
For the last four years, barrel bombs have been the principle tools of destruction used in a bloody campaign to crush opposition to Bashar al-Assad’s rule, the leading cause of death of a quarter of a million Syrians, and the driving force resulting in the exodus of half the population from their homes.
Since Russia started bombing Syria, an estimated 1,300 people have been killed, a third of them civilians.
Today, airstrikes, believed to have been carried out by Russian jets, killed 44 people and wounded scores of others in a marketplace in Idlib province.
There are legitimate reasons for doubting the efficacy or wisdom in Britain joining the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS in Syria, but those currently shouting “don’t bomb Syria” seem to be more concerned about who is dropping the bombs than who is being killed by them.
The Syria Solidarity Movement UK issued a statement yesterday explaining why they did not support the Stop the War demonstration.
Syria Solidarity UK and Stop the War have very different concerns regarding Syria: Syria Solidarity is concerned with ending the suffering of Syrians under the Assad dictatorship; Stop the War with opposing any UK military involvement regardless of consequences for Syrians.
We oppose the British government’s proposal to merely mimic the American ISIS-only counter-terrorism war; not only do we believe it is immoral to fly missions in Syria against ISIS while leaving the even greater killer, Assad, free to bomb civilians en masse, we also believe that any war against ISIS that doesn’t put the needs of the Syrian people first will be a failure that can only prolong their suffering.
The Syrian writer and leftwing political dissident, Yassin al-Haj Saleh, points out that our collective failure to act in the interests of the Syrian people has now turned Syria into a global issue.
“[B]ecause the world did not help Syria change for better, I think that Syria is changing the whole world for worse.”