[The views and voice of the Syrian revolutionary left has been difficult to hear amidst the clamor of contending distortions by international media–whether Western, Russian, Chinese, or from within the Middle East. We are seeking more information from popular secular forces involved in the uprising–including more information about the revolutionary left forces. The following is an important statement and analysis by the Revolutionary Left in Syria, detailing the role and relations of the various forces within Syria and of the world imperialist and regional forces who have been attempting to seize control of the uprising. We will report further materials confirming and contextualizing this, as they become available. — Frontlines ed.]
“The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.” — from the Open Letter of the Syrian Revolutionary left
The resistance of the Syrian people has not ceased to grow since the revolutionary process began in March 2011. The struggle of the Syrian people is part of the popular struggles in Tunisia and Egypt, which has spread to other countries in the region.
Similarly, the Syrian revolutionary process is part of the global anti-capitalist struggles. The “Indignados” or “occupied” movements and occupations have taken their inspiration from the Arab revolutions. More than 700 cities in over 70 countries have resonated and for some still resonate of slogans and demands of a movement that demonstrates against poverty and the power of finance. In the same time, the resistance of the Greek people against the dictates imposed by financial agencies and notations is also a battle for dignity and social justice, but also the emancipation against the capitalist order and not its submission, joining the struggles of the peoples of the region.
The Syrian uprising, arising out of the global financial and economic crisis is also a revolt against the neoliberal policies imposed by the authoritarian regime, and encouraged by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).
The neoliberal policies were used to dismantle and to weaken increasingly the public services in the country, to the removal of subsidies, especially for basic necessities, while accelerating the privatization process, often in favor of the ruling and bourgeois classes linked to the political power.
The neoliberal reforms of the regime have encouraged a policy based on the reception and the welcoming of foreign direct investment, the development of exports and of the service sector, especially tourism. The repressive apparatus of this country has served as a “security agent” for these companies, protecting them of all disorders or social demands. This State has played the role of matchmaker for foreign capital and multinationals, while ensuring the enrichment of a bourgeois class linked to the regime.
The ills and consequences of these neoliberal policies in Syria are numerous. This includes the high rate of unemployment, particularly among young university graduates who cannot find opportunities in an economy now focused on low value-added jobs, and where skilled labor is scarce, or characterized by underemployment, a direct consequence of these measures.
The process of economic liberalization has created greater inequality in Syria. The poorest are struggling to get by because of a lack of employment opportunities, while the “middle class” is plummeting to poverty because their income did not follow the inflation, which rose to 17% in 2008. The unemployment rate was up to 20-25% before the beginning of the revolution, reaching 55% for the less than 25 years old (in a country where people under 30 are 65% of the total population). The percentage of Syrians living under the poverty line increased from 11% in 2000 to 33% in 2010 according to official figures. To this we must add that another 30% of the Syrian population was living around the poverty line, that is to say, with less than $ 2 per day.
In agriculture, the privatization of land suffered by hundreds of thousands of farmers in the northeast of the country due to the droughts in 2008 should not be seen as simply a natural disaster. Indeed, the growth and intensification of the exploitation of land use by large agricultural entrepreneurs (agribusiness), including land previously held for grazing, as well as the illegal drilling of wells and the establishment of selective water pipes fulfilling the requirements of new landlords – all facilitated by the corruption of the local government – have increased the agricultural crisis.
The economic liberalization’s policy of the regime almost reproduces the socio-economic situation prevailing before the Baathists took power in 1963: 5% of the population owns more than 50% of the national income.
Privatization processes have created new monopolies in the hands of people close to the regime being actually an integral part of the system of corruption and benefiting mainly the ruling class: the family Makhlouf, cousin of Bashar al-Assad. The latter would have accumulated more than 50% of the Syrian economic wealth.
Proletarian and exploited class struggle
The largest section of the Syrian revolutionary movement is issued of the proletariat and the rural and urban “middle class” who have been economically marginalized by the implementation of neoliberal policies, especially since the arrival to power of Bashar al-Assad in July 2000. It is this component of the current revolution that has joined armed groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Workers have also been target of the repression. Successful campaigns of general strikes and civil disobedience in Syria during the period December 2011 paralyzing large parts of the country also shows the activism of the working class and the exploited who are indeed the heart of the Syrian revolution. For this reason, the dictatorship has laid off more than 85,000 workers from January 2011 to February 2012, and closed 187 factories (according to official figures), to break the dynamics of protest.
Universities have also been centers of popular resistance. The University of Aleppo has witnessed massive demonstrations of students in May and previously as well. They were violently suppressed by the security forces who killed four people and arrested hundreds of others in May. Today not one week passes without the voices and chants from students of Damascus University are heard at the presidential palace only hundreds of meters away or demonstrations are witnessed in Deraa and Deir Al-Zur universities. Aleppo University suspended classes out of fear of the youth revolution, while bullets have outnumbered books at Homs University.
The students represent a quarter of all the martyrs in Syria since the beginning of the revolution in March 2011, according to the Syria Free Students Union (SFSU), which was founded on September 29, 2011 to struggle against the regime and to be a democratic, political and syndicalistic station in the life of the free Syrian students’ movement.
The popular movement is still active
The popular movement in Syria has not withdrawn from the streets, universities and workplaces despite the crackdown and multifaceted regime’s violence, both political and military. More than 40,000 martyrs have fallen under the criminal and repressive Assad regime since the start of the uprising, while more than 200,000 have been arrested, 30,000 more people find themselves imprisoned and 65,000 disappeared. We must add to this sad news about 2.5 million people displaced inside the country and some 300,000 refugees in neighboring countries.
However, the movement continues its struggle against the regime. The main forms of organizations have been through population coordination committees at the level of villages, neighborhoods, cities and regions. These popular coordination committees are the real spearhead of the popular movement mobilizing the people for demonstrations. They also developed forms of popular self-management based on the organization of the masses in the liberated areas from the yoke of the regime. Revolutionary People’s Councils, most often elected have been established to deal with liberated regions proving that it is the regime which causes anarchy and not the people.
The Syrian revolutionary process is a real popular and democratic movement that mobilizes the exploited and the oppressed classes against the capitalist elite linked to the global order – very similar to their counterparts across the Arab world. The movement began peacefully calling for reform, but the regime has responded with violence and repression in all directions. Some sections of the Syrian population then decided to organize armed resistance to defend themselves against attacks from security services and thugs, known as the shabihas of the regime.
The Syrian people’s armed resistance expresses their right to defend themselves against the repression of the regime and has allowed for the continuation of the popular resistance in some regions faced with the attacks of the regime. Some revolutionary councils were formed throughout Syria, as well as coordinating committees and armed political action. A code of good conduct, which calls for the respect for international law and against sectarianism, has also been signed by a large number of armed groups belonging to the armed popular resistance against the regime.
Composed of deserters and civilians who took up arms, the armed popular resistance has real roots in the popular insurrection.
The Syrian people continue to repeat their rejection of sectarianism, despite the regime’s attempts to light this dangerous fire which it has used in various forms since the takeover by the Assad clan in 1970. The popular movement has reaffirmed its united struggle, developing a sense of national solidarity that transcends social and ethnic and sectarian divisions.
The major Western imperialists powers, and other world imperialist powers such as Russia and China, as well as regional ones such as Iran and Turkey, in their entirety and without exception, continue to try to implement a Yemeni-type solution in Syria – in other words, to cut off the head of the regime, the dictator Bashar Al Assad, while keeping its structure intact, as was witnessed during meetings between U.S. and Russian officials, or at the international conference in June 30 in Geneva. The only sticking point is the Russian position of still trying by all means to keep Assad in power, but Russia may sacrifice this in the near future to protect its interests in Syria. The United States in turn has repeatedly expressed its desire to preserve the structure of the military and security services intact.
The great powers do actually not see any interests in the collapse of the regime. This regime has helped stabilize the borders with Israel and has worked with the Western powers repeatedly in the “war against terrorism” launched by former President George W. Bush, and in the wars against Iraq in 1991, and in 2003 the regime has participated in the “interrogation” of prisoners by the Western powers, not to mention military intervention in Lebanon in agreement with the Western powers and Israel to crush the Palestinian resistance and the Lebanese left in 1976. The neoliberal policy has accelerated extraordinary since the rise to power of Bashar al-Assad in 2000, and the regime had also opened Syria to many Western and the Gulf investors before the beginning of the revolution. These policies have plunged more than half of the population in misery and poverty.
The regional reactionary powers, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the lead, are trying to divert on their side the Syrian revolution, to lead it on the path of their own limited objectives for their own interests in the region and not those of Syrian people. The reactionary leadership of these countries wants to intervene in Syria to contain the revolutionary process and restrict the political, social and economic consequences of these revolutions. In the same time, they encourage a religious discourse and a confessional vision of the conflict, while financially supporting armed groups whose behavior is confessional in contradiction with the message of popular unity of the Syrian revolution. These reactionary powers are trying in Syria and elsewhere to prevent the spread and deepening of the revolutionary processes that threaten the established order and strive instead to put an end to it.
The Syrian people, nevertheless, resist and continue its struggle to build a new Syria. The revolution is permanent!
Permanent revolution means to oppose and overthrow the dictatorial regime of Assad while opposing global and regional imperialisms which attempt to hijack the Syrian revolutionary process for their own interests against those of the Syrian people. It is for this reason that we reject and condemn all foreign intervention in Syria, whether by the Western and Saudi/Qatari axis, or the Iranian/Russian axis that supports the regime in its repression against the popular movement and in all its financial and military capabilities.
The continuation of the revolution is also in the desire to build a free, democratic, secular and revolutionary Syria that seeks to eliminate all inequality and social discrimination, ethnic, gender and religious, to support the right to self-determination of the Kurdish people, to respect the religious and ethnic minorities, and to ensure all democratic and political freedoms.
The revolution will be permanent because it is also committed to make every effort to liberate the occupied Golan, to support the rights of the Palestinian people for the return of refugees and self-determination in the territory of historic Palestine, and to assist other peoples of the region in their struggle against their dictators and imperialism.
It is necessary that all progressive and democratic forces are support the Syrian popular movement and the Syrian revolutionary left involved in the struggle against the dictatorial regime. That is why we invite you to articulate and express clearly your support and solidarity with the Syrian revolution and the Syrian people revolting.
Viva the popular Syrian revolution
Damascus, September 23, 2012
The Syrian Revolutionary left
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org