By Dave Sewell
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Western powers cynically use massacre in Syria to further their own interests

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Issue 2548
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, at the emergency session of the security council yesterday
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, at the security council yesterday (Pic: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

The world’s imperialist powers are arguing about how to turn a massacre in Syria with poison gas to their advantage—and make the lot of Syrians even worse.

An emergency session of the United Nations (UN) Security Council was convened yesterday, Wednesday, in response to an atrocity that killed over 70 people including 20 children.

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley gave a chilling warning that Donald Trump’s administration may be “compelled to take our own action”.

After Syrian regime forces bombed the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, a northern province that is the last major stronghold of Syrian rebels, dozens of people began choking.

Local medic Abdulhai Tennair said many of the injured died on the spot or on the way to hospital.

“Children arrived dead,” he told US news channel ABC. “They were found under the rubble.”

One woman treated across the border in Turkey said, “We couldn’t stand up. I felt dizzy and sick. I suffer from shortness of breath. I couldn’t breathe.”

The World Health Organisation said that victims’ symptoms were consistent with use of nerve gas.


The Syrian regime and its ally Russia claimed the gas came from a rebel stockpile hit by regime bombs. This is almost certainly a lie.

The regime used sarin nerve gas in 2013. Despite then officially disarming its chemical weapons the following year, it was reported to have used them again in its slaughter of eastern Aleppo last year.

Dictator Bashar al-Assad’s counter-revolution was the main culprit for the violence that has killed 400,000 and displaced millions since 2011. But the warmongers and hypocrites at the UN Security Council have no solutions to Syrians’ suffering.

Permanent Security Council members Britain, the US and France and allies including temporary council members Italy, Sweden and Ukraine are already bombing Syria.

Though ostensibly targeting Isis, these are aimed at bolstering western influence in Syria—at the cost of hundreds of civilian deaths so far.

US president Donald Trump condemned the “heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime” and blamed the supposed inaction of his predecessor Barack Obama.

One of his first actions as president was an executive order to ban any refugees from Syria or six other mainly Muslim countries from entering the US.

French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged Trump to go further with a commitment to remove Assad from office. It’s a commitment Britain’s Tories were more than happy to make.

Could our rulers ease Syria’s torment? Only by pulling out and leaving it alone
Could our rulers ease Syria’s torment? Only by pulling out and leaving it alone
  Read More


Theresa May called for a “transition”. “We cannot allow this suffering to continue,” she said in Saudi Arabia, where she is in talks with the Saudi regime blockading Yemen into famine.

May wants to step up Britain’s arms sales to the Saudis, just as it sold arms to Assad even after the Syrian civil war began.

So far there is little confidence to go to war with the Russian-backed regime.

But May and others have called for an investigation into the regime’s weapons with a long term view to getting rid of it. This is the same script that was used with former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Even before the devastating invasion and occupation from 2003 on, sanctions and bombing to enforce a no-fly zone killed many thousands of Iraqis.

If our rulers want to help Syrians, one single measure would be to open the borders to Syrian refugees.

The only solution for Syria lies in a revival of the revolutionary process that swept the Arab world in 2011. And the best way for people in the West to help Syrians is to keep our rulers’ bloody hands off.

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