Socialist Worker

The Middle East is on the brink of a major imperial clash

Issue No. 2591

An Israeli F16, like the one that was shot down by Syrian missiles after a bombing raid against Iranian forces

An Israeli F16, like the one that was shot down by Syrian missiles after a bombing raid against Iranian forces


Israel took the Middle East one step closer to a major war last weekend. One of its bombers was shot down while on a mission over Syria.

So it launched what one of Israel’s top generals called “the biggest and most significant air attack the air force has carried out” in Syria since 1982.

It was the culmination of a frightening escalation of fighting between competing powers.

They are vying for control of the Middle East in the wake of the Syrian civil war.

Israel is gearing up for war against its biggest rival Iran, which has used the Syrian civil war to extend its power in the region.

It claimed last Saturday to have shot down an Iranian drone that had entered its airspace—then launched a bombing raid in revenge. It was one of more than 100 airstrikes that Israel has carried out in Syria since 2011.

After Syrian missiles shot down one of the Israeli jets, an Iranian spokesperson promised a “relentless response” to any more aggression.

Yet Israeli generals only threatened more attacks. They claim their airstrike on Sunday wiped out half of Syria’s air defences. An Israeli general later said he expected more direct fighting with Iran.

An Israeli war against Iran would mean horror for ordinary people across the Middle East—and could easily spread well outside of Syria’s borders.

But that threat of war offers just a glimpse of the devastation that the fighting over Syria could become.

Imperialist wars in the Middle East are responsible for the hell in Syria

Thirteen different countries have bombed and invaded Syria since its civil war began, including the two biggest imperial powers—the US and Russia.

All those involved are manoeuvring for influence in the wake of the carnage. Any one of these conflicts and proxy wars could spiral out of control.

For instance, supposed allies the US and Turkey are trading threats over northern Syria. Turkey invaded last month against the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia.

The US has said it would “defend” its forces in Syria from attack. Turkish president Recep Tayip Erdogan issued a threat in response.

“To those who say ‘if they hit us, we will respond with force,’ it is clear that they have never experienced the Ottoman slap,” he said.

Imperialist wars in the Middle East are responsible for the hell in Syria.

The US’s failed invasion of Iraq in 2003 created chaos across the region. In its wake, all the major powers piled in to crush the Syrian revolution and see who could come out on top.

Far from the “stability” they all claimed to be creating, the imperialist powers brought unimaginable horror to ordinary people across the Middle East.


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