Syria and the Law 160

The legal position is perfectly clear. Syria has a recognised government, that of President Assad, represented at the United Nations. That government is legally entitled to call on Russian military assistance. Russian military action against ISIL is therefore legal.

By contrast, US and French military action has neither the sanction of the Syrian government nor the sanction of the United Nations Security Council. It is therefore plainly illegal.

Neo-con propagandists have attempted in the last fifteen years to promote a new doctrine known as the “responsibility to protect”. This is identical to intellectual justifications of Imperialism from sixteenth century Spain through to Victorian England and Imperial Russia. It holds that misgovernment of less developed nations justifies military action against them by more developed countries out of humanitarian concern. It runs directly to the established international law of non-interference and the need for Security Council sanction of military action. The “responsibility to protect” is not enshrined in any generally accepted international treaty – certainly nothing that overrides the provisions of the UN charter – and is not accepted by the large majority of the countries in the world. It is not customary international law and remains a propaganda phrase, not a legal concept.

Finally, I should add that on precisely the same arguments, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is, beyond any doubt, illegal.

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160 thoughts on “Syria and the Law

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  • Old Mark

    ‘Russia has actually responded to those blatant and cynical provocations in a way that was quite unexpected by Washington and its little Nazi friends in Kiev. Instead of launching a swift invasion of Ukraine, overthrowing the junta, and restoring democratic government, Putin chose to do as little as possible. It turned out that overt intervention by the Russian armed forces was unnecessary; instead, it sufficed to allow some volunteers to go and help their Russian compatriots in Donbass defend themselves, and to provide some minimal humanitarian and military supplies.’

    Tom Welsh- you are quite right to characterise the violent ouster of Yanukovitch and his replacement by a pro Western figurehead as provocative to Russia, but it is wrong to call Putin’s support for the rebels as ‘minimal’- the ‘volunteers’ in some documented instances are led by Russian Army officers; ththe argument that these officers are on extended leave from duties inside Russia clearly doesn’t wash. It seems probable also that the amount of military hardware ‘lent’ to the rebels exceeds the ‘minimal’ by any normal usage of that term.

  • Mary

    Repeating this for the nth time!

    The Zionist Plan for the Middle East:
    A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties
    By Oded Yinon

    The following essay represents, in my opinion, the accurate and detailed plan of the present Zionist regime (of Sharon and Eitan) for the Middle East which is based on the division of the whole area into small states, and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states. I will comment on the military aspect of this plan in a concluding note. Here I want to draw the attention of the readers to several important points:

    1. The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha’aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the “best” that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: “The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part” (Ha’aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.

    2. The strong connection with Neo-Conservative thought in the USA is very prominent, especially in the author’s notes. But, while lip service is paid to the idea of the “defense of the West” from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power. In other words, the aim of Sharon is to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.

    3. It is obvious that much of the relevant data, both in the notes and in the text, is garbled or omitted, such as the financial help of the U.S. to Israel. Much of it is pure fantasy. But, the plan is not to be regarded as not influential, or as not capable of realization for a short time. The plan follows faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890-1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe. Those aims, especially the division of the existing states, were carried out in 1939-1941, and only an alliance on the global scale prevented their consolidation for a period of time.


  • Salford Lad

    There are many players with different agendas in the overthrow of Bashir Assads’ Govt,
    Turkey wish to suppress the Kurds and grab the oil rich area.
    Saudi Arabia and Qatar wish to install a compliant regime to enable a gas pipeline to degrade Russian near monopoly of gas to Europe. This is in line with Washington interests.
    Israel wish to consolidate their hold on the Golan Heights and exploit the oil/gas deposits there. They are also willing provocateurs in the inter religious wars of the Middle East, which distracts otherwise belligerent neighbours. Destroying Syria and inserting a stooge President, breaks the crescent connection between Hezbollah of Lebanon and Iran, their implacable foes
    Finally for Washington, Syria is but a chess piece in the GREAT GAME picture of world domination, economic and military, as per Zbigniew Brezinskis’ The Grand Chessboard’ and Sir Halford Mackinders’ Heartlands Theory.
    The Great Game has not changed .
    Control of the trade routes and resources of the Central Asian heartlands, is ultimately the geopolitical target of Washington. Syria is a stepping stone.
    Vladimir Putin has drawn his line in the sand in Syria. He is aware that if ISIS overthrow Bashir Assad’s Govt , the next target of this Washington proxy army is the soft underbelly of Russia, Kazakhstan. Turkmenistan ,Krygistan,Uzbekistan,Tadjistan
    These countries have major Muslim populations and ripe for Wahhabi extremist agitation, directed by the USA and financed by Saudi Arabia.
    China will also be affected by disruption of the high speed rail Silk Road trade routes and will not stand idle. The Silk Roads bypass the US Navy control of the Maritime sea-route choke points.
    Syria is now a major turning point for who controls the world order. East or West.
    WW 3 has been in motion for some time, disguised by Washingtons use of NATO and other proxy armies to threaten Russia.
    The saying on the street in Moscow is that the US will fight Russia to the last Ukrainian, European and Arab.
    We live in interesting times

  • fred

    “Kurdistan is not a state in international law just as Scotland is not. The existence of any autonomous regional powers is a complete irrelevancy in this issue.”

    No not just as Scotland is, defence is not devolved to Scotland, it is to the Kurd region of Iraq, the Iraqi army can not enter The Kurd regions unless asked. But as you say it’s irrelevant as America has been sanctioned by the Iraqi government so they are covered anyway.

    Article 51 is unambiguous, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” so Article 51 supersedes Article 2. ISIS is armed, they are a threat to Iraq, Iraq has the right of self defence and that right trumps Syria’s right to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • RobG

    All day the media have been banging on about Corbyn and his statement that he wouldn’t press the nuclear button. The usual arguements for the nuclear deterrent have been dusted off: it’s kept the peace (untrue), it stops us being attacked (untrue), it makes the world more stable (untrue).

    Then, this afternoon, Russian planes have started striking targets in Syria, where American planes have been bombing for a year now – but strangely this doesn’t seem to have effected ISIS much – and despite all the BS about ISIS, the US and Russia are firmly on opposite sides of this war. There is now a very real possibility that US and Russian forces will come into direct conflict, something that would have been a nightmare scenario during the Cold War; but don’t forget, folks, both sides still maintain a huge nuclear arsenal.

    As Craig outlines in his post, the law is firmly on the side of Russia in all this, and Russia has now told the Americans to stay out of Syrian airspace. The problem is, America is run by neo-con loons, many of whom eagerly await the Rapture.

    We might be in for a bumpy ride over the coming weeks and months.

  • Mary

    Kuenssberg doing her best to push Jeremy Corbyn’s buttons today. ‘Will you push the button?’ What disgusting stuff and nonsense.

    Corbyn row over anti-nuclear stance

    Trident missile is fired during a test launch (image)

    Jeremy Corbyn faces criticism from senior colleagues after saying he would not fire nuclear weapons if he was prime minister.
    49 minutes ago

    From the section UK Politics

    Related content

    Live Reaction to Corbyn on Trident

    Corbyn’s ‘no’ changes debate

    Trident: UK’s nuclear weapons

    Kuenssberg interviews Corbyn

    Is there a nuclear button?

    In full: Laura Kuenssberg interviews Jeremy Corbyn
    7mins 41secs

    He should tell these shills to get lost.

  • twoleftfeet

    RoS, I respectfully disagree, there is nothing wrong with having Hezbollah support. Up until they came to Assad’s aid they were purely a Lebanese defence force that was primarily geared up to stop Israel stealing land south of the Litani. Despite claims they are involved in international terrorism no claim has been substantiated.
    So far as Putin is concerned, we have to consider what other nations response would be to a coup on their doorstep, especially with regards the nature of it.
    I found this very interesting:

    Btw, neither Putin nor Assad would be described as my favourite politicians but thhe fact remains that both of them are talking much more sense than the usually silver tongued Obama.

  • Ishmael

    Re me- “If they really don’t like what Russia is doing”

    ‘Marry “Breaking
    Syria crisis: Russia ‘begins air strikes’
    14 minutes ago”

    Ps (though it goes without saying) I don’t like what Russia is doing, ‘Russia’ shouldn’t like it. I don’t know think any sane humane can like Killing, machines of death, etc. It’s still vomit feeling to me and i’m glad I feel this way reading this.

    Though I think as much as I can add is, At least it’s not the same total insanity that led to this situation. That was stomach tuning AND insane.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Much more concerned now about a war between Russia and the West since Putin;s pilots are flying sorties for Assad.

    Just one mission, and Washington is angrily complaining about not having been consulted, and told to stay out of the way.

    Does Moscow so trust Washington that it would tell it what is planned, given Washington’s funding and training of anti-Assad forces?

    I think not, for fear all, epecially Isis, will be told, allowing them to take counter measures, and even mount surprise defenses.

    Washington and its NATO allies want nothing but war.

  • Ishmael

    “Jeremy Corbyn faces criticism from senior colleagues after saying he would not fire nuclear weapons”

    WTF…”senior colleagues” …

    There are just no words…Just having them is immoral. The physiological effects on society must be catastrophic, let alone any notion of use.

    We all live in the shadow of horrible death on any given day. and apparently we not only must do this but show willingness to….

    What can you say to this…? They have all become wraiths, forces of no being, they make this a sick world. Who can believe these are human beings? This is just so wrong it screams insane people….

  • John Spencer-Davis

    30/90/2015 6:33pm

    Now, do we all feel safer with David Cameron facing Russia, who is apparently ready to use nuclear weapons if he has to, or would we all feel safer with Jeremy Corbyn in charge, who wouldn’t Hmmm…

    Kind regards,


  • Ishmael

    WMD’s owned by schizophrenic ‘democracy promoters’…Who will save us for western leaders?

    Any physiological testing must show these people are not sane human beings. How come we are not kept safe from them? In any other area of life they’d be locked up…

  • Republicofscotland

    To point out the sycophantic tactics of the players involved in the scramble for control of the Middle East region, one need look no further than US president Obama’s recent deal with Iran.

    Whilst Obama and Rouhani were busy having an accord on several economic matters to do with relaxing embargos. The US president through his coalition partner Saudi Arabia was bombing, what they called rebels, in the Yemen.

    Meanwhile Iranian president Rouhani sent military supplies and aid to the Iranian allied Houthis, the so called rebels, who are fighting Saudi Arabia and its puppet appointed president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi,who has fled the capital.

  • Ishmael

    Just saying they would do this openly shows they are insane, Sorry but it does. Can you imagine the effects on young people around the world just hearing this rhetoric?

    They have no empathy or compassion left…And that’s clearly dangerous.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)


    “The Resident Invigilator will soon be awarding points for comments.”


    No, I don’t think so.

    Surely you don’t object to me telling another commenter that his/her post was good or interesting?

  • Republicofscotland

    “Now, do we all feel safer with David Cameron facing Russia, who is apparently ready to use nuclear weapons if he has to, or would we all feel safer with Jeremy Corbyn in charge, who wouldn’t Hmmm…”

    John Spencer-Davis, Ishmael……MAD!

    No not you John, or Ishmael, MAD, as in Mutually Assured Destruction. A doctorine that surely only the mad would sign up too, I’m sure there’s more than one or two Dr Strangeloves, floating around in militaries of the world today, who wouldn’t give a second thought to pushing the big red button.

    The logic of they have them, so must we, kind of falls apart when you see, other nations without them get along just dandy, it kind of makes a mockery of the deterrent theory.

    Of course the must have them brigade, feel comforted in fact that if they launch so will we, and that a demonic sort of satifaction, can be taken from, knowing your fellow human beings half way around the world, are vapourising just as you are.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Don;t you love the lies Washington and NATO are spreading about the Russian attacks on Homs which they say has nothing to do with Isis when we were told in August, with pictures provided, about it falling to Isis!

  • Republicofscotland

    Continuing on the nuclear theme, Jeremy Corbyn’s defence secretary Maria Eagle somewhat contradicted him on the matter of Trident.

    To add to the melee, Hilary Been shadow Foreign Secretary, shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham and Business Secretary Angela Eagle also had a go at Mr Corbyn on the matter of Trident.

    The Labour party are heading for a huge internal collision over Trident, who will prevail the pro or anti Trident faction?

    More to the point can or will Jeremy Corbyn survive the fallout, whichever way it goes.

  • John Spencer-Davis

    30/09/2015 7:25pm

    He really needs to keep it simple.



    Kind regards,


  • Daniel

    “Kurdistan is not a state in international law just as Scotland is not. The existence of any autonomous regional powers is a complete irrelevancy in this issue.

    It is illegal to attack anyone in Syria without the permission of either the Government of Syria or the UN Security Council. It is straightforward, and indeed set out in the long UNGA Resolution John posted above. Fortunately international law is not defined as “whatever Fred understands.”

    Well said.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    This is a Turning Point. A Moment in History..a little bit more than a chink of light in the darkness

    Why is it not Us in The UK who are turning The Page? We have The Experience. We Have The Quality. We Have The Love.

    Why is it Russia?

    We could have done it…If we had just told The Truth..instead of allowing
    these evil neocons to nearly destroy us…They have destroyed almost

    Maybe its The World Slowly Turning.

    We are All Different. Different Cultures – Yes That’s OK…We Can Get Along Being Different.

    We Don’t Need The Fat American Controller Dictating To Us.


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