War in Syria – what for?

by Karl Müller

On 4 December of this year, only three days after the German government’s decision, the German “Bundestag” voted yes  on another “Bundeswehr” commitment in a war region, this time in Syria. All members of the faction of Die Linke and most parliamentarians of the faction Bündnis 90/Die Grünen voted against it.
The official rationale for the war commitment is that Germany, after the Paris attacks on 13 November and on the basis of the “mutual defence clause”, invoked by France according to Article 42, paragraph 7 of the EU Treaty, also wanted to act their part, to join the global coalition of more than 60 states against the IS terror in Syria and in particular to support France in its fight.
The “Bundestag’s” decision, however, is leaving many questions unanswered which are to be addressed in the following:

  • Why did the German government and the “Bundestag” not wait for a decision of the UN Security Council if there would be a resolution according to chapter VII of the UN Charter permitting the usage of military means against the IS? Russia has been working towards such a resolution since end of September. Is there no real interest in working together with Russia? Is it more about enforcing separate political goals in Syria and the Middle East? Goals directed against Russia?
       The background of the downing of the Russian fighter jet by the Turkish Air Force is unclear. One theory is that the downing was done in agreement with the US, by forces that make every effort to prevent a joint effort with Russia against the IS.
       Why are the German government and the German “Bundestag” again willing to ignore all concerns with respect to the constitution and international law, only to join helter-skelter in that war?
  • The highly moralising language of German politicians in their reasoning for this new military commitment is conspicuous. One example is the German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen. In an interview with the Deutschlandfunk on 1 December 2015, she declined cooperation with the Syrian government and the Syrian president because “we will not cooperate with responsible persons who have blood on their hands”. Such wordings are grotesque, considering with whom the German government has gone to war in the past and now is about to goagain. It is now generally known that there are masses of blood on the hands of the US government. Statements like that of the German minister arouse suspicion: Are we told the truth? Or are we deceived once again, like so many times about the war missions of the past 20 years?
  • Which are the true political goals and stakes of waging the war in Syria? Since a couple of years there have been numerous analyses regarding the geo-political and energy-political interests and conflicts concerning Syria and the whole Middle East. On 21 March 2014, even the US Forces’ Armed Force Journal published an article by an army major, Rob Taylor, under the title “Pipeline politics in Syria. You can’t understand the conflict without talking about natural gas” and reporting on corresponding facts. Major Taylor is instructor at the US American Command and General Staff College, FT. Leavenworth.
  • Also in Germany, many people are doubting the purpose and the meaningfulness of the “Bundeswehr” mission. Nobody denies the necessity to do something against the IS and to stop its bloody actions. But the German government’s strategy is still not comprehensible for many people. In an interview with the newspaper “Main-Echo”, Jürgen Rose, ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the “Bundeswehr” and long-standing critic of German missions abroad, did not principally exclude military action against the IS, however, he stressed in view of the attacks of November 13: “First it should be stated that the attacks were committed by French and Belgian citizens. And as a rule, I would say: They were acts of organised political crime. And it is not the military but the legal system, the police and possibly secret services which are responsible for their control. In previous cases, these means have been most successful. Military actions, however, have always increased terror risks. In this context, the CDU politician and author Jürgen Todenhöfer speaks about ‘terrorist incubators’”. On 1 December, the German magazine stern writes in an article headed “Why war for peace does not work”: “14 years after the beginning of the Afghanistan mission, history seems to repeat itself. Has nobody learned from the errors?” On 2 December, Spiegel Online titles: “Anti IS coalition: ‘There is no exit strategy’.” The article states: “A cooperation of the hostile Syrian factions [is] not more than a vague hope; western ground troops excluded; a military victory against the IS thus far from a realistic hope: Why did the West start its air raids, why is Germany now willing to join in and when should the mission be considered a success and ended? Critics think that the responsible persons simply do not have an answer to these questions. ‘The air strategy is pure actionism for the sake of action’, NATO insiders say. ‘There is no exit strategy; there is not even a decent starting strategy. Actually there is no strategy at all.’”
       Then we would be dealing with gamblers who will, without hoping for success in fighting IS terrorism, achieve only destructions, human victims and even more terror in our countries.
       Or are the true motives hidden from our sight? Just like the true interests and goals are not disclosed?
  • Why are the claims of the German peace movement ignored again?
       It is, however, a sign of hope that the peace movement has joined forces in a “Coalition for action: No “Bundeswehr “mission in Syria” which came together  on 3 December at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin under the motto “No German military in Syria! For a political solution!”                    •

No to the “Bundeswehr’s“ deployment to Syria

Experiences in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya and also in Iran in former times should have initiated some thinking processes. However, to date there has been no realistic analysis of the causes for the conflict, the causes for the utter failure of the policies of intervention and intrusion, nor has the social and political situation after the ending of the authoritarian regimes been analysed. Nobody asks for the causes and resources of the ongoing support of the IS; they are not clarified and consequences are not drawn.
The “Bundeswehr” deployment to the Middle East which reaches far beyond Syria that has been planned now by the German government, is a political mistake. It will be very hard to correct that mistake; since neither can there a military or political objective be identified nor a limitation of time and place. By means of my rejection today I am voicing my hope that the German government is going to point the way to a clear correction of course.

Source: Extract from the statement of Member of Parliament Klaus Barthel (SPD) on 3 December 2015 on the planned “Bundeswehr” deployment in Syria. ( http://klaus-barthel.de/meldungen/nein-zum-syrien-einsatz-der-bundeswehr)

(Translation Current Concerns)