Top 5 Reasons To Oppose the Strikes on Syria

Girl in protest in Amman to allow Syrian refugees into Jordan
By Rami El-Amine
Sep 4, 2013


The Obama administration has said it will take military action against Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack that it has yet to present any evidence of, let alone who carried it out. Some in the administration were even saying that the alleged attack may not have been ordered by Syrian President Bashar Al Assad but a rogue element in the regime. The Al Qaeda affiliated groups in the Syrian opposition, now the strongest groups militarily, are not only capable of but have allegedly carried out a chemical attack in the past.


Such an attack, no matter how limited, would be illegal under international law without approval of the UN Security Council (UNSC). The U.S. insists it doesn't need UNSC approval and is not even putting it to a vote. The British government, the main U.S. ally, was unable to win approval for military action from its parliament. Even the Arab League, which includes Saudi Arabia and Qatar--the main funders and backers of the Syrian opposition--is divided and has been unable to issue a statement of support. This is why the administration decided to obtain Congressional approval, although it has also said, if necessary, it will carry out the attack without that approval. Even with Congressional approval, an attack would still be illegal.


If the U.S. attacks Syria, it will be the 6th Country (Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya) the U.S. has intervened in militarily in the past 10 years alone. Every one of these interventions turned into a (drone) war and, in some cases, an occupation in which hundreds of thousands were killed and many more injured. The U.S. has spent billions on these wars and sacrificed thousands of U.S. soldiers and yet these countries are less stable and equal than they were before the U.S. intervened. An average of 700 Iraqis, mostly Shi’a, have died every month since April from bombs placed in crowded public areas. The inability of the government to secure large parts of the country means that we could see a similar situation in Afghanistan once U.S. troops completely withdraw in 2014.


A military attack on Syria will lead to the death, already at more than 100,000, and immiseration of even more Syrians. There is a chance that the regime’s chemical weapons storage sites, which are located in or near urban centers, will be hit by a U.S. attack or a rebel offensive that is sure to follow such an attack. Those who aren’t killed or injured will have their homes or livelihoods destroyed, adding to what has become one of the largest refugee populations in the world. There are now roughly 2 million externally displaced refugees, half of whom are children, and close to 5 million who are internally displaced. Thus nearly a third of the population has been forced from their home. Even the threat of an attack will increase the number of refugees if it hasn’t already.


U.S. military intervention will further destabilize an already unstable region and could lead to a regional war that would have a detrimental effect on the world. The sectarian divisions the U.S. exploited--particularly between Sunnis and Shi’a-- to maintain its occupation of Iraq have enveloped the entire region and brought Iraq to the verge of a civil war. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have used their petro dollars and media empires to spread and deepen this sectarianism to mobilize jihadists from around the world to come to fight the “Iran backed” (code word for Shi’a) Assad regime. This has not only led to Sunni attacks on Christians, Shi’a, and Alawis in Syria but to what could be called pogroms against the Shi’a in Pakistan and Iraq. A series of car bombings targeting Shi’a in Lebanon followed by bombings of Sunni mosques have raised the spectre of another bloody civil war. Israel, likely the main source of the chemical weapons allegations, has already bombed Syria and continues to push for war on Iran.


First and foremost, the millions of dollars that were going to be spent on bombing Syria could be used to provide real safe havens and relief for the millions of Syrian refugees, as Sweden demonstrated when it granted blanket amnesty to Syrian refugees and their families. Secondly, there needs to be an immediate arms embargo on Syria by all sides. Thirdly, a peace conference needs to be convened where all sides are brought to the table. This has yet to even be attempted. For a more detailed list of what the U.S. can do, see Phyllis Bennis’s article “Striking Syria: Illegal, Immoral, and Dangerous


  1. Sign the petition:
  2. Call and write your Congressperson and mobilize others to do the same. While a bipartisan team of warhawks is falling in line behind Obama’s push for war, some are still undecided, and now is a critical time to let your representative know you stand firmly against U.S.-led war in Syria. To access all the information you need to call your Congressperson, simply follow this link:
  3. Take action. Organize in your communities, talk to your neighbors, take to the streets! By building strong movements here at home, we best position ourselves to stand in solidarity with people in Syria and throughout the region at a difficult time, while working towards the long-term goals of ending endless U.S.-led war and militarism and winning peace with justice.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the entire War Times project

Rami, former editor of Left Turn magazine (RIP)  is an empire and Islamophobia-resisting techno geek, labor activist, and proud mitwehly. Follow him at @relamine

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