No imperialist arms to Syria!

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIA, Russia and Iran have condemned the European Union’s decision to end its arms embargo on Syria. The Syrian government said: “The recent EU decision proves they are hindering the international efforts aimed at achieving a political settlement to the crisis in Syria based on national dialogue among Syrians”. And Iran warned that some EU states had taken a wrong and dangerous stand in supporting the terrorists which can only undermine international efforts to end the fighting.

Meanwhile US Senator and former Republican presidential candidate John Mc- Cain paid a surprise visit to the rebels in northern Syria on Monday. The leading American war-monger entered Turkey and then sneaked across the border into Syria where he met with leaders of the “Free Syrian Army”. McCain represents the most aggressive sections of the American ruling class and he has constantly pushed for more direct US involvement in the conflict, including arming the rebels.

The EU move, taken at a foreign ministers’ conference in Brussels on Monday, was pushed through by Britain and France despite opposition from many other member states. Fourteen members, led by Austria, Sweden and the Czech Republic, were against lifting arms embargo. Germany expressed caution while Italy and Cyprus backed Britain and France.

Foreign Secretary William Hague naturally hailed the Anglo-French initiative, saying that all the sanctions would be maintained against the Syrian government, but lifted for the rebels -- paving the way to open weapons sales to the “Free Syrian Army”, the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaida gangs that are fighting to overthrow the Baathist-led popular front government in Damascus.

Back in Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the EU has made a “double mistake” in imposing the embargo in the first place and then refusing to extend it. Lavrov said that lifting the arms ban would only aggravate the situation in Syria and hinder progress towards the Russian-American sponsored international peace conference to end the fighting in Syria.

The Kremlin now says it will go ahead with deliveries of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, and that the arms will help deter foreign intervention. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the missiles were a “stabilising factor” that could dissuade “some hotheads” from entering the conflict.

Russia agreed to supply Syria with S-300s some years ago but delayed delivery last year following Nato protests. The truck-mounted missiles are capable of striking multiple targets simultaneously with a range of up to 200 km and the system is designed to defend large administrative centres, industrial complexes and military bases.

The Syrian armed forces are winning the war against the Nato-backed rebels — a fact now acknowledged by German intelligence. Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) believes that the foreign-sponsored militant groups in Syria are facing extreme difficulties in the battle and says the Syrian army is capable of conducting successful operations against the foreign-backed militias “at will”. Gerhard Schindler, the head of the BND, told security officials that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is now more stable than it has been in a long time. This is a fundamental reversal from last summer, when the BND predicted that the Syrian government would collapse by early 2013.

Schindler visited Syria earlier in the month for talks with the chief of the Syrian national security agency about the presence of German extremists in the country.

According to the German media the BND currently believes that the foreign-sponsored militant groups in Syria, which include several al-Qaida- affiliated groups, are in deep trouble.

Syrian security forces have inflicted major losses on the rebels in the strategic western city of Qusayr including the chief commander of the terrorist group al-Nusra Front, Abu Omar, who was killed in the fighting in the city last week.

Schindler says that the rebels are fighting each other to gain supremacy in certain regions. There is no functional chain of command between the leaders of the foreign- backed Syrian opposition and its armed elements inside the country, the BND head stated, adding that each new battle weakens the militants further.

Schindler said the Syrian army could regain control of the entire south of the country by the end of 2013 if the conflict continues as it has over the past week and the Syrian army has managed to cut supply lines for weapons and evacuation routes for wounded militants to neighbouring countries.

While Anglo-American and French imperialism move closer to open aggression against Syria the struggle for peace continues. As President Assad said last week: “Syria is determined to tackle terrorism and those who support it regionally and globally, and to find a political solution to the crisis.”