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'Fighting Terrorism in Syria' - A just pretext for Australia, or for Russia?

Previously published (15/9/15) on Russia Insider

  • Australia has committed to joining the US 'war against IS' which is illegal since Syria has not invited it to conduct military actions on its territory

  • Meanwhile its media fights a war against Russia and Iran which are genuinely helping Syria fight terrorism

On Wednesday the ninth of September 2015, Australia unofficially declared war on Syria. The announcement by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop seemed almost an afterthought, following news of the government's generous commitment to help Syrian refugees.

With the intense media focus on the refugee crisis in Europe, and sudden concern following the symbolic death of Aylan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, some media seemed barely to notice we were now 'at war' again, while those that did seemed to think it was a good idea, or at least a reasonable one.

We had been told repeatedly that 'Islamic State' had to be stopped because it threatened us all, and now apparently it was also causing Syrians to take flight from their country – so we simply had to act.

Australia's political contortions to maintain appearances within ICC convention

For those of us who have ceased believing anything our governments say, based on their track record of lies and fabrications, the new pretext for 'legitimately' invading Syrian sovereign territory was unconvincing. Although we are assured 'the collective defence of the Iraqi people' fulfils the requirements of international law under Article 51 as a pretext for military intervention – and it may do so – it is tempting to say "but I thought we had to protect Syrians from IS". Many would conclude that we are simply following the Americans, as we did in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that our 'contribution' is primarily political and strategic. The reason Australia also needs a legal umbrella for its troops is that we are signatories to the ICC convention, unlike the 'exceptional' Americans.

No real opposition party in Australia

Endorsing the 'intervention', and demonstrating the absence of a real opposition party in Australia at the same time, the shadow foreign minister Tanya Plibersek explained the details of the government's pretexts in an interview on the ABC's weekly political commentary program 'Insiders'. The Syrian government was 'unable or unwilling to prevent IS from launching cross-border attacks' she claimed, and in order to defend 'the Iraqi people, territory and military' from IS terrorists, Australia must be able to take action against IS bases in Syria. Most importantly she said that intervention is justified because "we will be responding to calls for assistance from a democratically elected government threatened by terrorist groups coming across its borders."

Clever new false pretext

So how did this happen? How is it that two years after Russia helped foil the US/NATO plans for Libya-style regime change in Damascus, based on fabricated claims of a chemical weapons attack, that such illegitimate plans are unaltered and now put into action with a clever new false pretext? And what does it tell us about the true nature of those who thought up this dastardly way to trick their publics, not just to put up no resistance to the new war but to actually cheer it on? Did they really mean to only target IS forces as they maintained, and effectively assist the Syrian government? Or would 'new circumstances' soon reveal the real meaning of "we have no plans to intervene" – in Syria, as they declared a year ago in order to get support for joining the fight against IS in Iraq?

De-facto declaration of war on Syria by Australia

And so it was, because only the day after our de-facto declaration of war on Syria, the Defence minister stated that the 'commitment' would be for 'two or three years'- which seemed a rather long time simply to 'stop cross-border attacks'. But government ministers didn't have to spell out the longer term plans, and admit that they still included forced 'regime change', and that in fact this was the only long-term plan they ever had. Because the public, whose opinion had been comprehensively narrowed into seeing Syria's President Assad as the chief cause of Syria's descent into hell, soon started calling for the (popularly re-elected) 'brutal dictator' to be removed. Commentators in Western media and think-tank experts observed that 'degrading' IS would also be 'upgrading' Assad, who – they claimed – had killed ten times as many people as the 'Da'esh death-cult'. Even worse, it would effectively be – God forbid – helping Russia, and everyone knows what they are like, and have been doing in Ukraine.

Orchestrated internationally

Australia's move against Syria became a precedent for France and the UK to join the campaign against IS and Assad, with the UK's David Cameron almost forgetting IS in his emotive call to protect Syrians from the murderous regime of Bashar al Assad. Coinciding with huge rallies in support of refugees in London and around the world it all seemed rather orchestrated … and the appearance in those rallies of the 'wrong Syrian flag' – the flag of the armed rebellion and its Western cheer squad - reinforced the feeling. With exquisite irony, the London rallies followed on from the excitement over the election of a new leader of the British Labor party – Jeremy Corbyn, who has been a leading light of the Stop the War movement since the Iraq invasion of 2003, and recently a staunch opponent of Britain's Trident Nuclear Deterrent.

Struggle we face in fighting for the rights of Syrians

It tells us a lot about the struggle we face in fighting for the rights of Syrians, and in helping the heroic Syrian army fight its many foes, that nearly all of those millions who came out to 'stop the war' in 2003 are now unwittingly conscripted into the war to stop the Syrian army from protecting its people, and the President that they have chosen to lead their fight. What's more, those protesters are also with the war to stop Russia from helping the Syrian army, oblivious to the fact that Russia can more rightly claim that it is 'helping a democratically elected government threatened by terrorist groups coming across its borders'.

Syrian army defeats IS in area Australia claims Syria lacks control

Still, we shouldn't lose heart. On the same day that Australia proudly revealed its first foray into Syria in pursuit of IS targets, the Syrian army and air-force successfully defended an air-base in Deir al Zour from IS attack, killing up to 100 of their fighters. Deir al Zour is in the very area that Australia claims the Syrian government lacks any control, lying on the Euphrates between Iraq and the IS capital Raqqa. We might imagine that the Australian contingent, which 'didn't release its weapons', thought better of it when it saw the exploding bombs from the Syrian air-force…

Image icon raafCrewMembers_15sep15-s.jpg15.77 KB


Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie said this was "a very reckless and a very dangerous decision". "For a start, it is illegal for Australia to bomb in Syria," he said.

"There is no UN imprimatur for Australia to bomb in the sovereign state of Syria. It's as simple as that".

Fact check: Is it illegal for Australia to bomb Islamic State in Syria? (18/9/15) | ABC News

"Australians for Reconciliation in Syria" (AMRIS) spokesperson David Macilwain said that AMRIS unequivocally condemns atrocities committed by 'Islamic State' in Syria. AMRIS deplores the decision by the Australian Government to follow the lead of the United States in taking military action against IS within the borders of Syria, one of the founding members of the United Nations, without the consent of the Syrian Government.

Every time we become involved in a conflict that really has nothing to do with us, we get a flood of "refugees" in hired boats from the countries we are 'helping'? It started with Vietnam, and it has continued since. The current cessation in arrivals will last only as long as the Coalition government does. When Labor gets back in, the invasion of refugees will start again.

The legal justification for bombing raids without the consent of Syria’s government is dubious. The laws of war, under the United Nations Charter, restrict the international use of force by all countries to just two narrow circumstances: self-defence against an armed attack, and when asked for or authorised by the Security Council. Unless a country is under armed attack, the Security Council, and only the Security Council, has the lawful authority to permit the use of military force against another country.

The UN are more interested in spreading the problem of displaced people in Europe and the West and ignore the illegal wars and interventions causing mass human displacements, and "solve" the problem by opening the floodgates to reckless mass invasions.

Hi, tomorrow in Madrid in front of the Saudi embassy the FOrum contro la guerra imperialista holds a demonstration aginst the criminal war of Saud in Yemen. On october 1 and also in another day, in Rome as No War Network we will protest against the tyrants for the war and also for the death sentence to the young opposant.

And in Ryad? This article is very interesting:

Hopefully, the end of Saud is near!! Let's work for the Arab Republic (former Saudi Arabia)

“Counterproductive”?: Russia and the Warring in Syria

By Gary Leupp

"One must ask what the mainstream media never asks. Why is the U.S. been so hostile to the Damascus regime? Surely it’s not due to its horrible human rights record. The U.S. is intimately friendly with Saudi Arabia, which is arguably far worse.

(As we speak a young man who, at age 17 in 2012, attended an anti-government demonstration in Qaif province, and arrested for carrying a firearm–a charge never proved–is appealing a sentence that includes his beheading and posthumous public crucifixion. About 100 people are judicially beheaded in Saudi Arabia every year, including for such offenses as homosexuality and witchcraft. In Syria, which has two-thirds the population of Saudi Arabia, there are rarely more than 10 judicial executions.)"

Women in Syria were allowed to vote in 1949-1953 but were only granted the vote in Saudi Arabia recently under pressure. There are still roadblocks to voting in Saudi Arabia though, including the fact that women, due to religious custom, aren't even allowed to drive.