- Solidarity with the people of Syria demanding an end to Assad regime

- End the violent repression now

- Western backed intervention and proxy war against Iran is no solution

The Irish Anti War Movement (IAWM) strongly condemns the killing, injuring, arrest and torture of civilians by the Assad dictatorial regime in Syria and in particular condemns the onslaught by the Syrian army on the city of Homs over the last three weeks and more recently on Deraa.

We demand an immediate cessation of these bombardments and safe access to water, food and other necessities for the civilian population.

Inspired by the Arab Spring in neighbouring countries, the Syrians began to protest and campaign for reform a year ago. The brutal suppression of these peaceful demonstrations by the Assad regime quickly led to calls for Assad to step down. The subsequent violent response by the Assad regime has led to thousands of deaths and injuries and has created tens of thousands of refugees. It is a crime against humanity.

The IAWM supports the right of the Syrian people to protest on the streets to demand freedom, democracy and the overthrow of the dictatorial regime of Assad and to organise political opposition to assert their right to self-determination. But people should be wary of the stated concerns of western and Arab leaders for the rights of the Syrian people and their hinting at so-called humanitarian intervention.

The complex web of intrigue by imperial powers is a classic example of brinkmanship for control of a highly important prize in a strategic area of the world. Russia has a long history of involvement in and support for Syria. China wants new territories to exploit and to impede western influence. And of course western powers such as Britain, France and the US have a long bloody history of colonialism in the region and wish to regain their influence after being initially upstaged by the Arab Spring last year.

The neighbouring despotic Arab powers are also concerned that the Arab Spring will eventually succeed within their fiefdoms and so they try by any means to quieten things down, firstly through the Arab League, a kind of NGO for the West, and now through their latest Orwellian creation – ‘Friends of Syria’. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, expressing disappointment at the Russian/Chinese veto at the UN recently, said without a hint of irony that, “the world must be governed by reason, by justice and by stopping the aggressor (meaning Assad)”! His concern for justice clearly does not apply to the most suppressed people in the region - those that he governs in Saudi Arabia.

Likewise, Obama and Clinton's verbal platitudes for the Syrian people ring hollow given their hesitancy in calling for the Egyptian dictator Mubarak to go, their unashamed support for the suppression of the revolt in Bahrain (home to the US Fifth Fleet) and their recent $34 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. It is so hypocritical of Arab and western leaders to condemn acts of barbarism in one country while condoning or carrying them out in another. Remember also western leaders' silence over the barbaric ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in Gaza three years ago that killed 1400 people including 352 children, and the numerous vetoes of UN votes by the US in support of Israel and against the human rights of the Palestinian people.

This grandstanding by the west on Syria must also be seen in the context of the escalating push for war against Iran. Assad’s crackdown is being used by the western powers, Israel and the regional Arab regimes as part of a geo-political strategy to weaken Iran. They want to install a new regime in Syria that will be friendly to them and Israel and that will act as a bulwark against Iran. Meanwhile the people of Syria just want peace, freedom and basic human rights and are suffering greatly because of this.

The situation in Syria is complex. The opposition is fragmented and disunited, the Syrian military is big and well armed (despite the defections) and there seems to be still a degree of acceptance of the Assad regime among some Syrians. The meddling of regional and world powers, including punitive western sanctions, is also potentially strengthening the regime. There is a degree of outside intervention already happening with the safe haven for the rebels provided by Turkey and reports are emerging of funding by the Gulf States to the rebels - a scenario that will only encourage sectarian conflict.

Any military intervention by the west will only make matters worse. The military intervention by NATO in Libya last year only worsened the violence with estimates now of up to 30,000 dead and horrific stories from independent NGOs of continued reprisal killings and torture. The town of Tawergha, south of Misrata, home to 30,000 largely black Africans, has been almost wiped out. The western invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has brought untold violence and consequent suffering to the people there.

Whatever happens in Syria the IAWM cannot support any military intervention of any form by western powers. The people of Egypt and Tunisia have shown the world that they are capable of overthrowing western backed dictators without any help from the west. Western leaders should stop meddling in the Arab Spring and allow the people of that region to determine their own future. They could best help the people of Syria by withdrawing their support for the despotic regimes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

For information contact:
Jim Roche, PRO Steering Committee, IAWM, 087 6472737
John Molyneux, Steering Committee IAWM, 085 7356424
Glenda Cimino, Steering Committee IAWM, 086 1249456