Feb 19, 2018
The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière [Workers’ Struggle], the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.
On February 10, the Israeli air force launched a raid in Syria. This military intervention comes on top of all the others. Even though ISIS only controls a few isolated pockets of territory, Syria is becoming the terrain for a new war between the different regional powers.
On January 20, the Turkish army launched an offensive with the cynical name “Olive Branch” in the Afrin region controlled by the Kurdish forces of the YPG, even though these forces were allied with the United States. On February 7, pro-Assad Syrian forces tried to cross the Euphrates river near Deir Ezzor, to establish a foothold in an oil-rich territory controlled by the Kurdish-Arab militia, the Syrian Democratic Front (FDS). While the U.S. was content with a verbal rebuke of the Turkish invasion, at Deir Ezzor the U.S. lent air support and sent in its own soldiers to fight against the Syrian military.
Finally on February 10, the Israeli military bombed many sites in Syria controlled by the regime or its ally, Iran, and for the first time in a long time it lost a fighter jet. According to Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, an Iranian surveillance drone had flown over Israel a few hours earlier, provoking this immediate reaction.
During this time, some 400,000 Syrian civilians, trapped in Ghoua to the north of Damascus, suffer from a terrible blockade and murderous bombardment from Assad’s army. Supported by its Russian allies, Assad’s army wants to retake control of this zone.
After having supported various militias against each other, the Turkish, Iranian, and Israeli governments, along with the Saudis who have armed and supported anti-Assad militias since 2011, are fighting an increasingly open war in Syria.
When Russia intervened in Syria in October 2015, it put the United States in a difficult situation. This was the moment when the growth of ISIS threatened to throw the situation out of control. But today ISIS is all but defeated. The United States wants to stop this from giving the Assad regime a total victory that could consolidate the influence of Assad’s allies, Russia and Iran. The Israeli intervention and the influence of the Saudis have come to the rescue of the U.S. in this regard, while Turkey is playing its own game.
The war against ISIS is almost over, but a new phase of the war in Syria is heating up and increasing the chance of pulling in the neighboring countries. The populations of Syria and the countries surrounding it are at risk of paying an even bigger price.