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Editorial

April 11, 2018

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Perpetual war

The Syria question is one that keeps coming back to the international community. This time, there are serious concerns that a chemical weapons attack in Douma could lead to the start of a full-blown war involving a number of countries. A day after the chemical attack, a Syrian airbase was targeted with a missile, which left 14 including Iranian militia dead. Both the chemical weapons attack and the airbase attack are threatening to open up a global war to replace the more clandestine war that has been ongoing in Syria over the last five years. Positions have hardened and it is becoming clearer who has chosen what side of the war. Reports indicate that it was Israel which launched the missile strike, which has drawn direct criticism from Russia. Russian troops are reported to have been deployed in large numbers near the Homs airfield and Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of ‘grave consequences’ if the US carries out attacks against Syrian government forces. These comments have come amidst US President Donald Trump’s promise of a ‘forceful’ response and renewed calls for a Western military response to the suspected chemical weapons in Douma.

The trouble is that the existing position on Syria is military intervention. The presence of Russian, American, British and Iranian troops inside Syria has been well documented. All of these countries continue to use airplanes and missiles to target their enemies. The military intervention being asked for is already happening. It is also important to see these calls for what they are: efforts to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The only problem is that Assad is not the only war criminal in this battlefield. Most world powers are implicated in the ongoing mass murder of civilians. Moreover, there is little chance that Assad’s removal will bring peace. Libya, another global battlefield, has only become worse after the Western-backed removal of Gaddafi. War does not bring peace. This is a fact that has been confirmed by the last two decades of human history. And imperial interventions in the Middle East have only brought more war and destruction. We are being asked to assume that world powers actually want peace. But the way they continue to act suggests that what they desire is perpetual war. It is likely that the big players – the US, Russia and Israel – will come to a compromise over the Douma attack. But they will also continue to act to further their narrow interests in Syria. The tragedy for the Syrian people will not end anytime soon.

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