By Judith Orr
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Big powers row over military intervention in Syria at United Nations talks

This article is over 8 years, 6 months old
Issue 2473

The world’s rulers were debating plans for Syria at the United Nations in New York as Socialist Worker went to press.

David Cameron wants Britain to join the US air strikes in Syria and do a deal with Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad to beat the sectarian Islamist group Isis.

Yet two years ago he was arguing to bomb Assad’s forces.

The Western powers have come to see Isis as the greater problem and want Assad onside to beat it.Yet Isis is a product of the conditions left by the West’s last war in Iraq. 

The renewed bombing there has not stopped Isis forces gaining ground.

Russia—a long time backer of Assad—wants to see him maintain his rule and strengthen its own ability to shape events in the region. 

It has escalated the build-up of its military forces in Syria in recent weeks.

France carried out its first air strikes over Syria last weekend. 

The conflict in Syria began in 2011 with a popular revolt against Assad’s regime. Any policy that maintains Assad’s rule ignores the millions of ordinary Syrians who have fought and suffered under his regime. 


But the Western powers are only worried about their influence in the region.

Cameron has also announced that British troops will be sent to Somalia, for “peacekeeping” duties. 

Up to 300 are also set to be sent to South Sudan.

Cameron admitted part of the motivation for intervention was to stem the exodus of migrants from the region. 

Labour’s foreign secretary Hilary Benn claimed on Monday of this week that “safe zones” within Syria are a solution. 

Yet these would have to be policed and that would involve somebody’s troops on the ground. 

Benn also called for “effective action to end the threat” from Isis. 

This vague assertion shows Benn may push for Labour to back whatever military intervention Cameron might propose.  

But no intervention by the West will help those who have suffered under Assad’s barrel bombs or Isis’s guns. 

Anti-war activists need to be ready to mobilise to stop a new war in Syria. 

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