The so-called “Friends of Syria” conference convened in Istanbul last Sunday marks a major escalation in fomenting civil war and preparing for direct imperialist intervention. What is envisioned and is being actively prepared is a bloodletting that will eclipse the death toll thus far in the Syrian conflict and a war that has the potential of triggering a global conflict threatening millions.
Led by Washington and its principal NATO allies—Britain, France and Germany—together with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the reactionary Persian Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey, the conference produced two substantive developments.
The first is the announcement that Saudi Arabia, together with the regime in Qatar, is creating a $100 million fund to place Syria’s “rebels” on their payroll. This formalizes the status of the armed groups known collectively as the Free Syrian Army as a mercenary force in the pay of the right-wing Gulf sheikdoms allied with US imperialism.