12 myths and facts about Syria

1.     Myth: There is evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons.

Fact: Despite vague claims of having proof, not only does the U.S. government have no evidence, it has worked hard to suppress any real investigation into what actually happened in suburban Damascus on Aug. 21. Washington pressured Damascus through the UN to grant permission for an inspection of the area, assuming that Syria would refuse. As soon as the Syrian government granted the permission within 24 hours, the U.S. tried to get the investigation canceled, claiming that it was too late.

2.     Myth: The use of chemical weapons by Bashar Assad’s government is not surprising and Syria will use them again if is not “punished.”

Fact: The Syrian government had no incentive to use chemical weapons and every reason not to. It is widely recognized that the government had made significant gains in the civil war and that the rebels were losing ground. Why would the Syrian government use chemical weapons when it knew that it would likely trigger a U.S. military attack? The opposition rebels, on the other hand, had strong motivation to use chemical weapons and blame it on the government because it is their only chance to reverse their fortunes in the civil war by inviting Western military intervention.

3.     Myth: Only the Syrian government could have used chemical weapons because the rebels would have lacked the capacity to do so.

Fact: The “evidence” provided equates proof of the use of chemical weapons (by someone) with proof that it was the Syrian government that used them. In fact, several states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the U.S. have long been directly involved in the Syrian conflict, supporting the Syrian rebels with funding, arms, equipment and training. Any of these parties could easily have facilitated the launch of chemical weapons within Syria in areas long under the control of the rebels. Unlike nuclear weapons, launching chemical weapons does not require a great amount of technological capacity. In May 2013, Carla del Ponte, member of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, stated that there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that the rebels had used the nerve agent Sarin. Del Ponte said that her panel had not seen any evidence of the Syrian government forces using chemical weapons.

4.     Myth: If the United States and its imperialist allies prove that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, a U.S. bombing will be legal.

Fact: The UN Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, makes it illegal for any member nation to attack another, except in the case of self-defense. “Punishing” another member state, even if that were the real motive, would not legally justify a U.S. attack on Syria. The Obama administration, despite its pretense to legality and morality, is proposing to bomb Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, which it knows it cannot obtain.

5.     Myth: U.S. Congressional approval would make a U.S. bombing of Syria legitimate.

Fact: The U.S. Congress has no more jurisdiction over Syria than the Syrian parliament has over the United States. If another country’s parliament voted to bomb the U.S., would President Obama and the U.S. Congress consider the bombing legitimate? Obama’s consultation with Congress is intended to give a veneer of legality to a gross violation of international law.

6.     Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is intended to protect civilians.

Fact: A U.S. attack on Syria will claim countless victims, including civilians. The history of the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan proves that its military interventions kill thousands of civilians. Washington politicians and the generals consider civilian victims to be “collateral damage” and callously state: “We don’t do body counts.” The majority of the victims of ongoing U.S. drone bombings in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia have been civilians.

7.     Myth: The Syrian people are united against the Syrian government.

Fact: While the rebels have some popular support, a significant part of the Syrian people, including many Sunnis, Alawites and Christians, support the state. In fact, support for the rebels has eroded in rebel-controlled areas due to their atrocities and criminal activities. Without popular support, it would not have been possible for the Syrian state to still stand and, in fact, gain the upper hand in the civil war.

8.     Myth: The Syrian people support a U.S. bombing.

Fact: Opposition groups such as the Syrian National Council, whose leaders are handpicked by Washington, are enthusiastically calling for a U.S. bombing campaign. But these groups do not even represent the Syrian rebels, much less the Syrian population at large. It is hard to imagine any people supporting the bombing of their country. This is particularly true of the Syrian people who have witnessed the catastrophic effects of U.S. bombings in their neighboring country, Iraq.

9.     Myth: The U.S. government is opposed to weapons of mass destruction.

Fact: The U.S. government is opposed to its adversaries owning weapons of mass destruction, or any weapons for that matter. The U.S. owns over 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is the only country to have ever used nuclear bombs, twice. It has used ammunitions tipped with depleted uranium in Yugoslavia and Iraq. It has provided its garrison state, Israel, with white phosphorus, a weapon Israel used in its 2008-2009 massacre of civilians in Gaza.

10.  Myth: The U.S. government is only now considering intervening in Syria.

Fact: The U.S. has long pursued the goal of regime-change in Syria. On April 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, John Bolton, then undersecretary of state for arms control, stated: “Iran, Syria and North Korea should heed the lesson of Iraq.” The Syrian government, despite its inconsistent and contradictory record, has not been a Washington client. For that reason, Washington has sought to overthrow the Syrian state for decades. Throughout the civil war, the U.S. has funneled arms and funds to the Syrian rebels through its client states neighboring Syria, Turkey and Jordan, with much of the finances coming from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ultra-conservative, repressive absolutist monarchies.

11.  Myth: The goal of U.S. intervention is not regime change.

Fact: Despite President Obama’s oft-repeated claim, the ultimate goal of bombing Syria would be nothing but regime change. The U.S. hopes that an intense bombing of Syria will change the balance of forces in favor of the rebels, resulting in the overthrow of Bashar Assad’s government. If Washington achieves this goal, it will then be in a stronger position to pursue regime change in Iran. Ultimately, the U.S. government wants nothing but compliant client states in all of the Middle East, a region with immense resources of oil and gas.

12.  Myth: U.S. intervention in Syria is unrelated to the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fact: Obama’s intervention in Syria is nothing but a continuation of the same goals that drove the Bush administration to occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. The false pretext for U.S. intervention in Iraq was weapons of mass destruction while the false pretext for U.S. intervention in Syria is chemical weapons. The real motive behind both interventions is to expand the domination of the U.S. Empire to maximize the profits of oil giants and corporations.

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