Western military intervention in Syria would have calamitous consequences across the region, Britain's communists have warned.

  General secretary Robert Griffiths told the Communist Party's political committee on Wednesday evening that US-NATO plans were not motivated by any desire to help the Syrian people or stem the flood of refugees to Lebanon. 
  'It has long been US imperialism's strategy to establish control over the "Greater Middle East" region with its unequalled oil resources and vital transportation routes', he declared.
  Mr Griffiths pointed to the spread of US and NATO military facilities and forces across the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. But he warned that tipping the military balance against President Bashar al-Assad's regime would not only remove a critic of US foreign policy and the illegal Israeli occupation of Syrian, Palestinian and Lebanese land. It would also strengthen sectarian fundamentalists who - like their Saudi and Qatari sponsors - oppose democratic rights for women and religious minorities.  
  Britain's Communist Party leader also revealed that he had received an urgent appeal from Lebanese Communist Party deputy general secretary Marie Nasif-Debs.
  She urges action to stop British involvement in any military attack on Syria and Lebanon, which would almost certainly utilise the RAF base in Akrotiri, Cyprus.
  Mr Griffiths branded any attempt to claim legality for Western aggression in Syria, notably through the doctrine known as R2P ('Responsibility to Protect') as 'bogus hocus-pocus'.
  He insisted that the United Nations Charter only allowed the use of force by member states under, firstly, Article 51 for individual or collective self-defence against an attack and, secondly, when authorised by the UN Security Council in order to enforce international peace and security under Articles 24 and 25.
  'Without a Security Council resolution, the US and its NATO sidekicks have no right to bomb Syria, while the Syrian government alone would have the right to take military action to defend itself under international law', the CP general secretary argued.
  Britain's communists demanded that the UN inspectors currently in Syria be allowed to conclude their inquiry and report to their findings to the UN Security Council.
  'Even then, a decision to authorise US-NATO collective action would be potentially disastrous for women, Christians and Shia Muslims in Syria, as well as for the people of Lebanon who are trying to rebuild their country after decades of civil war and sectarian strife', Mr Griffiths remarked.
  The CP political committee also called for:
* Mass support for weekend vigils and demonstrations against military intervention in Syria.
* Maximum pressure on Labour Party leaders and MPs to uphold international law and oppose British involvement in military action.
* A big turn out for the Stop the War Coalition's AGM in London on September 14.
* Active opposition to the proposed march by the anti-Muslim self-styled 'English Defence League' through Tower Hamlets on Saturday.
The CP political committee also adopted resolutions on Syria and Egypt at its meeting on Wednesday evening.
The Communist Party of Britain condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria - whoever may be responsible.  At the same time the CPB totally opposes the deployment of chemical weapons being used as a pretext for war - as they were previously in 2003 in Iraq. As in 2003, military intervention is being actively prepared before any proof of responsibility has been established by the UN investigators and the UN Security Council. As in 2003, military intervention would be illegal under international law and the UN Charter. It would kill any hope of a negotiated settlement. It would inflict untold suffering on the Syrian people. It would also threaten a conflagration engulfing other countries across the Middle East, particularly Lebanon and Iraq. The proposed use of British sovereign territory, at the Akrotiri base in Cyprus, places a special responsibility on the British trade union and labour movement to mobilise the maximum opposition. The Labour Party must not repeat its mistakes of 2003 and should heed the opposition to war of Germany, China and Russia and a clear majority of the British people.
Events in Egypt reflect the need for the utmost vigilance to defend democratic and secular institutions and the critical importance of developing the class organisations within the working class and the working peasantry who form the great bulk of the population and continue to be the victims of neo-liberal policies and exploitation by landed wealth and the comprador bourgeoisie.  We salute the Egyptian Communist Party and its allies in their struggles to develop such organisation and to defend democracy. In June 2013, millions demonstrated their support for the slogan of 'Bread, Freedom and Social Justice'. Twenty-two million citizens signed the petition for action to halt the attacks on democratic, legal and civil rights by the Muslim Brotherhood and to prevent the establishment of a parallel state organised on coercive and sectarian lines. The potential revealed by this movement must now be mobilised to ensure an end to military rule, the defence of living standards and the holding of early elections.