Inside of one week, the political and social crisis in Syria has escalated rapidly. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people were killed in the city of Khan Sheikhoun in the northwestern part of the country by what appears to be nerve agents. Syrian opposition groups by instinct blamed the Syrian government, accusing it of launching a chemical attack against civilians on purpose. The accusation was quickly taken up by media in the imperialist countries of Europe and North America followed by the governments of those countries, insisting that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical attack without any actual evidence. Donald Trump, the supposed non-interventionist who is known for having criticized Obama in 2013 for threatening attacks against Syria, made a number of statements this week where he repeatedly accused the Syrian government of orchestrating the attack before ordering a bombardment of the al-Shayrat military airport near Homs. The U.S. Navy fired more than fifty cruise missiles which damaged or destroyed large parts of the airport and killed at least six soldiers.
The aggressive attack against the Syrian airfield was supported by the governments of the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, while China, Russia and Iran opposed the attack. The justification from the United States and the other imperialist governments who supported the bombardment of the airfield was that it was necessary as a form of punishment for the chemical attack that was supposedly perpetrated by Syria. Trump stated without any evidence that al-Shayrat airfield was where the chemical weapons originated from.
Based on evidence and motives, it is most likely that the release of nerve agents in Khan Sheikhoun was the result of the Syrian Air Force hitting a factory controlled by opposition forces which contained chemicals without the Syrian forces being aware of the chemicals held inside the plant. The Syrian government, having recently won major victories against the various terrorist forces that make up the ‘opposition’ such as in Aleppo and in Latakia, enjoying a popular mandate (1, 2, 3), and with the United States indicating a loss of interest in Syria, would have had no reason to resort to chemical attacks to ensure its future, as this would only have resulted in the type of response from imperialist forces that we have seen in the last several days. The rebels on the other hand, being driven out by the Syrian Arab Army from large parts of Syria and relying on support from the U.S. and its allies to continue fighting, would have had a motive to blame the Syrian government for a war crime that could be used as justification for greater intervention on the part of these countries. The April 4th air mission of the Syrian Air Force involved Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets bombing key positions held by the rebels. Su-22 bombs cannot hold chemicals, which means it would have been impossible for these fighter jets to have conducted chemical attacks on the city. It was, however, possible for nerve agent to have seeped out of an opposition-controlled facility. Jerry Smith, an inspector who led a UN mission to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons in 2013, wrote in an article on The Guardian, “Russia’s claim that the latest poisoning is a result of a conventional attack on an opposition arms storage facility should not be dismissed out of hand. While it is true that nerve agent can be destroyed by explosion, it is perfectly possible that some agent could survive and be ejected out as a result of an explosion.” Smith also said in a Channel 4 News interview, “If it is Sarin that was stored there and conventional munitions were used, there is every possibility that some of those [chemical] munitions were not consumed and that the Sarin liquid was ejected and could well have affected the population.” Smith’s argument regarding the possibility of the Syrian and Russian forces telling the truth was featured on a BBC article only to be removed later. Smith’s interview was also not listed on Channel 4 News’ archive.
With all of this evidence in place, it seems most likely that the Syrian forces unknowingly destroyed a terrorist stockpile of chemical weapons which resulted in the release of nerve agents throughout the city. The United States military also seems to believe that it is possible for chemical agents to be released in such a way, considering their attack on al-Shayrat airport was influenced by such concerns.
The above image was released by the White Helmets as evidence of humanitarian work in the wake of the supposed government attack on the city. Many have noted by now the fact that the White Helmets shown are handling people afflicted with the chemicals without special suits or even gloves, which would leave them susceptible to nerve agent being absorbed through the skin.
These inconsistencies and problems are similar to the inconsistencies in horror stories of Iraq under Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi’s Libya, where numerous baseless accusations were made against these governments which culminated in their destruction and replacement by occupation and balkanization among terrorist forces.
The First World left, which took up many of those lies and inconsistencies then, has now taken up the attacks against the Syrian government, without evidence and without learning any lessons from the past. Anarchist, Trotskyist and “Maoist” groups, whose position on Syria for the past several years has been to fetishize the women depicted as part of the social-democratic and pro-imperialist ‘Rojava Revolution’, are now denouncing the Syrian government as “reactionary”, “comprador” and “mass-murdering”. These misleaders hate the one force that is standing up for the Syrian masses against Western-backed terrorists and reactionary separatists. They agitate in favor of imperialism and against self-determination. This is true whether they outright state their preference for imperialist takeover or play games by saying that the question is ‘not binary’. Looking at the situation objectively, the question is indeed binary. If the Syrian government is overthrown, the Syrian masses will be placed under imperialist control, with policing duties handed to al-Nusra and Daesh. For that to not happen, the Syrian government has to prevail. It is shameful that the only political group within the U.S. to truly grasp this has been the ‘alt-right’. The Western ‘left’ has failed entirely once again and has shown that it is totally incapable of playing a productive role in the world.