Canada and Syria: Canada’s quandary over what happens post-US election

In mid-November, Canada hosted an international meeting on Syria. None of the participants were identified | Three articles

By PAULINE EASTON

The Government of Canada co-hosted with the Netherlands a meeting in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, from November 11 to 13, to “discuss the situation in Syria.” At the meeting Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion called for international cooperation in Syria. The meeting was attended by the “Syrian political opposition” and Syrian “civil society” – what Dion calls legitimate opposition groups in Syria.

Taking place immediately following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. war president, the meeting revealed Canada’s quandary over what happens next, now that the line of march of the U.S. on Syria has been upended. Nonetheless, Dion spoke about the “complexity” of the situation and the need for a “political resolution” in a big charade to perpetuate the fraud that the U.S. and forces linked to it like Canada and NATO are interested in negotiations and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria, when in fact their “negotiations” have proven to be aggression to achieve their aim of regime change.

The contradictions within the U.S. ruling class on how to achieve U.S. imperialist hegemony over the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are very sharp. . .

The irony is that this is not the route that a Donald Trump U.S. presidency has indicated it will take, which leaves Canada and its co-plotters against the peace in limbo. The coming period will witness how they will either accommodate themselves to the new reality or pursue the course they are on. The contradictions within the U.S. ruling class on how to achieve U.S. imperialist hegemony over the countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are very sharp, reflecting the inter-imperialist contradictions amongst the oligopolies which benefit from trade as well as aggression and war.

Despite Dion’s angst about what comes next post-Trump, he asserts that Canada will play a “constructive role” with the U.S. What will this mean? Will Canada go with whatever the new President of the U.S. decides, albeit “constructively?” Will Canada continue to cultivate its role as a “determined peacebuilder” no matter what the new U.S. President does in Syria and with Russia? Does the persona that the Trudeau government has been projecting for Canada internationally, which attempts to justify aggression and regime change in the name of “responsible conviction” and “responsibility to protect,” have a role to play within Donald Trump’s unfettered rule of the U.S. oligopolies using police powers to get the deal he wants for the United States?

To hide Canada’s dirty work in Syria, Dion specifically says “there can be no progress in the absence of diplomacy and, ultimately, of a political solution.” He must be in total shock with the election of Donald Trump. Dion’s charade is sure to blow up in his face because Donald Trump says progress can only be made by cutthroat deal-makers, not those who he implies are namby-pamby diplomats and about whom he has nothing gracious to say.

Dion says “Canada continues to urge an immediate cease-fire and the renewal of serious negotiations involving the legitimate opposition groups.” Donald Trump wastes no time persuading anyone about who is “legitimate” and who is not “legitimate.” Either an adversary is worthy in making the deal or they will be eaten alive. What will happen to Dion’s “legitimate” opposition groups, presumably the ones that he hosted in Mont-Tremblant, is anyone’s guess.


Plotting against the peace

By Margaret Villamizar

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion called for “international cooperation” in the wake of the U.S. election, at an international meeting on Syria at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. He presented matters in Syria as a “complex situation” and the result of various ethnic and religious differences. It is these differences which the imperialists are doing their utmost to exploit so as to set the peoples of the region at loggerheads. All of it is done in the name of upholding the rights of these groups, which merely reveals how worn out is the discourse which denies citizenship rights by conflating them with considerations based on skin colour, national origin, race, religion and beliefs.

To speak about the resistance movement as a cause of destabilization is unconscionable.

Of the “terrorist groups” Dion blames for destabilizing Syria he specifically lists Hezbollah in the same manner as ISIS to hide that Hezbollah is in fact a political party of the Lebanese people that leads a powerful resistance movement which blocks Israeli aggression and expansion and current attempts to take over the Syrian Golan Heights and Lebanon itself. To speak about the resistance movement as a cause of destabilization is unconscionable. Hezbollah has played a role in defeating ISIS in Lebanon and in Syria which undermines U.S. attempts to impose regime change.

Dion also calls the Syrian government “the Assad regime.” This is a police method used to criminalize a “bad thing.” By detaching it from the social/political relations people in Syria enter into, the Syrian government becomes whatever Dion wants it to become. In this vein, Dion asserts that “the Assad regime” “long ago lost the moral legitimacy to govern but it is supported by powerful forces, namely Russia and Iran.” Of course this dismisses the Syrian people and what they decide altogether and reduces everything to the need for police action by “good” outside forces to restore stability and peace and order.

The criminal narrative about who is to blame for destabilizing Syria constitutes nothing short of a plot against peace at a time the imperialists have trampled in the mud the postwar definition of what constitutes aggression. Dion continues to turn reality completely on its head stating: “The actions in Aleppo [Syria] of this regime and its backers – which also include Hezbollah and Afghan Shia militias – and the ongoing bombings and the absence of a ceasefire have made peace negotiations impossible since April.”

Why has a long-term ceasefire not been permitted to take hold? Why have there been no peace talks since last April?

Why has a long-term ceasefire not been permitted to take hold? Why have there been no peace talks since last April? This is a significant issue for those who want peace. But it is dismissed out of hand because, in the most facile childish manner, Dion simply blames it on all those who are not under the direct command and control of the U.S. forces. He does not acknowledge the attempts for a ceasefire which were undermined by U.S. attacks just as the ceasefire was set to come into force. Nor does he recognize the unilateral ceasefires put in place by the Syrian and Russian forces. Are these not facts? Instead, any force which is not under U.S. command and control is made the problem, while actions of the U.S. and its allies are not even talked about.

Dion went so far as to add climate change into the mix in an attempt to obscure what is going on, claiming that “the beginnings of the conflict in the Arab Spring of 2011 […] also coincided with a sharp increase in food prices, which itself coincided with damaging weather patterns for food production, which themselves coincide with the warming of the planet.” In other words, it is not the clash between the conditions and the authority as a result of social relations which are blocking the path to progress that are the cause of the conflict. In the name of being a “determined peacebuilder” Canada is fanning the flames of an even greater war. The problem is that it now must contend with a Donald Trump presidency and how to adjust itself accordingly.

On the basis of such a pitiful rendering of the forces that are colluding and contending in West Asia, Dion sought to end the meeting by laying the blame on anything but the U.S. imperialist desire for regime change to establish its hegemony over this strategic region of the world.

How to sort out the crucial questions of war and peace is a matter for the peoples of the world as never before.


The Mont Tremblant meeting and its peculiar participants

From November 11-13 in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, the governments of Canada and the Netherlands co-hosted a meeting of “special envoys” from 15 countries, along with representatives of the “Syrian political opposition,” the United Nations and “Syrian civil society,” as well as “leading academics,” to discuss the situation in Syria. Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion also held meetings with representatives of the “Syrian opposition” and “civil society” to “hear their proposals for accelerating the cessation of hostilities.” No mention is made of who the special envoys, “leading academics” or anyone else were.

In his remarks at the closing of the meeting Dion referred to those gathered as “the brain trust and critical advisers on the resolution of one of the world’s most pressing, seemingly intractable and horrifying crises.” He added that it was important to “reflect not only on how to mitigate the current turmoil but also on options for a peaceful resolution in Syria.” He indicated that the meeting “offered a … space for engagement.”

The meeting took place just following the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President. Dion set the context stating that he was “sure that the election of a new U.S. president has flavoured much of your thoughts and your conversations here as it has for many. Given the major role the United States plays in the region, this is natural.”

“The impact of the new U.S. administration will, of course, take weeks and months to unfold, and there are still large unknowns,” Dion said, adding: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada will play a constructive role with the United States, both bilaterally as well as multilaterally, including in the search for peace in Syria.”

The government informs that discussions at the Mont-Tremblant meeting “focused on the conditions for a permanent cessation of hostilities, including by the Assad regime, which is backed by Russia and Iran and for the resumption of peace talks.” (TML emphasis.) It is worth noting that one of the big issues has been the fight by the U.S. and its allies to make a condition of the peace talks that President Assad step down or be removed, what they call “political transition.”

Dion delivered closing remarks entitled “Canada Determined Peacebuilder.” In his remarks he claimed that the fight in Syria and Iraq is against powerful forces destabilizing the world today. He named “Daesh, al Qaeda, al Nusra, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups” as one force and the Syrian government as well as Russia and Iran as the others. Singling out the Syrian government, which he disparagingly calls “the Assad regime,” Dion asserted that it “long ago lost the moral legitimacy to govern.”

He concluded by calling for international cooperation in the “complex situation” now facing Syria and the entire region which he described in the following manner: “I already mentioned the backing of Russia and Iran to the benefit of the Assad regime. But there are also Turkey’s concerns about certain Kurdish groups, which are shared by others in the region. There is tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is feeding distrust between too many Sunni and Shia communities. And there are tensions between Russia and much of the West playing out now from Eastern Europe down through the Mediterranean.”

Dion closed by laying the blame for the situation on anything but the role of the U.S. and its allies in trying, come hell or high water, to carry out regime change in Syria. “The beginnings of the conflict in the Arab Spring of 2011– in addition to root causes related to the democratic deficit and the struggle for rights – also coincided with a sharp increase in food prices, which itself coincided with damaging weather patterns for food production, which themselves coincide with the warming of the planet,” he asserted.

Source: TML Weekly, December 3, 2016 – No. 47

 

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