Syrian people’s just rebellion needs people’s war–not FSA, Assad, or imperialism

[The conflict in Syria has been the subject of much  twisted coverage by the US and EU and its surrogates, by supporters of anti-US bourgeois nationalists, by partisans of Russian imperialism against US hegemonists, by advocates of the regional power of the Iranian Islamic Republic, and by “pragmatic opportunists” who wink at the role of Saudi Arabia/Bahrain/GCC.  Many people, outraged at the mass suffering and mass killing of Syrian people, have been justifiably confused, especially as the issues have been distorted by imperialist and reactionary medias which serve these interests.  And to confuse even more, many of the reactionary medias proclaim themselves as anti-imperialist, though careful reading reveals these to be promoting one reactionary power versus another.

We recently received the following statement and analysis of the situation in Syria from revolutionary Maoists in Brazil.  Views of revolutionary internationalists have too rarely been heard on this issue, and so we present these views as a good counterpoint to the prevailing revisionist and reactionary accounts.  We believe these comrades in Brazil have done significant groundwork toward the analysis needed. 

There are some aspects of this analysis which require more work and debate, in our view.  In particular, their argument that People’s War–if defined as China’s revolutionary military strategy–is universally  applicable to all countries, is a view we do not share.  Our understanding that the Maoist strategic conception of People’s War, (as summarized by the phrase, “surrounding the cities from the countryside”), only applies to feudal, semi-feudal, colonial and semi-colonial societies, where repressive power in the countryside is sufficiently weak that people’s revolutionary war, seizing and expanding significant liberated areas is an accurately applied historic strategem.  In other countries, where reactionary state power is effectively deployed everywhere, a long period of amassing revolutionary political forces through primarily political , not military, struggle, must precede the armed struggle for state power.  These general categories and strategies have often been taken literally, without detailed investigation and analysis, at great and disastrous cost to revolutionary forces.  The need for detailed study of concrete conditions is especially indicated by the ongoing changes in capitalist-imperialist production, distribution, and state power–and the distribution and growth of people’s forces.

But some use the term People’s War, not in the sense of the “countryside-overtaking-city” strategem, but synonymous with people’s armed struggle for power in all variety of circumstance–as a statement of principle, in opposition to the revisionist and social-democratic notion of the “peaceful, electoral” road to power.  In this sense, People’s War (where the masses take up the gun against reactionary power, and where the gun is led by revolutionary politics) is a universal revolutionary principle.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Proletarian and oppressed peoples of the whole world, united!

Statement of the Revolutionary Front in Defence of the People’s Rights, RFDPR, Brasil, on the present situation in Syria

DOWN THE IMPERIALIST ALLOTMENT IN SYRIA!

LONG LIVE THE PEOPLE’S WAR OF THE PEOPLES IN ALL COUNTRIES!

“The combat to imperialism and reaction without the inseparable combat to opportunism is nothing but empty phraseology”.

Lenin: “Imperialism and the splitting of socialism”.

The nation of Syria has been suffering a bloody imperialist plundering war in the shape of  a civil war. Assad’s armed forces and the so-called free army of Syria are the contestants of this inter-imperialist dispute for the Syrian territory. Syria has been converted into a new treachery for the anti-imperialist world resistance and the newest enclave of the inter-imperialist struggles.

At the present conditions of this struggle development any result will not bring any advance for the Syrian people and nation; it will only deepen the imperialist dominance over the country and oppression on the people since until now an independent and organized intervention of the armed masses has lacked of a proletarian vanguard even very little constituted.

The March 2011 revolt was a spontaneous mass uprising against a fascist regime led by Bashar al Assad and it is part of an overwhelming wave of people’s rebellions that happened all over the North of Africa and Middle East. The mass rebellions awakened in those countries, despite being developed in an unconscious form and not having a proletarian leadership, have the same root: they are antifascist, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist ones.

The revolt is a just rebellion against a bureaucratic comprador regime at the service of imperialism mostly Russian that has been controlled for decades by the Assad dynasty.

The Yankee imperialism has taken advantage from the situation, as for instance in all Arabic countries rebellions, manipulating the mass struggle, deviating them from the revolutionary path, to guarantee their interests in the region. The intelligentsia services for the imperialist coalition forces have formed and armed a mercenary army self-named Syria’s Free Army –SFA, directed commanded by their agents with the aim of changing the Syrian regime. Thus the USA wants to change the Russian control over Syria, breaking with the relationship with Hezbollah, surround and isolate Iran and prepare the grounds to attack it.

All this complex plan in the Middle East and North of Africa is part of a new war of imperialist plundering and allotment against the peoples. The Yankee imperialism, still being an unique and hegemonic superpower in the world, has declared its objective to create a map of a “New Middle East”, that is, a Middle East totally controlled by the USA, without the influence and interference of other imperialist powers and mostly without the people’s armed resistance of the masses.

The Yankee imperialism, amidst a deep and protracted crises, hit by the people of the world, mostly in the main front of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the people’s wars in India, the Philippines, Turkey and Peru, with its hegemony questioned by the inter-imperialist struggle, is more and more at the verge of an unprecedented war.

In this context, the events in Syria are firstly and mostly part of the contradiction between oppressed peoples/countries and imperialist powers; secondly, the inter-imperialist contradiction that could convert into the principal contradiction. This one happens through the dispute for the control of colonies and semi-colonies accumulating and being able to develop into a direct confront in the form of a new world imperialist war. Continue reading

Syria: The Chaos of the Armed Movement and the Organisation of the Syrian Revolution

[As we continue to seek more information about, and verification of, the politics and developing alliances and unity of Syrian opposition forces, we received this report on important issues and developments of the armed people’s struggle against the Assad regime.  While it is focused mainly on internal developments, the Syrian people’s debate over rejecting or requesting military assistance from outside is not discussed or examined.  We look forward to information on this cardinal issue. — Frontlines ed.]

from Yassari, Edition 11, by the Left Coalition in Syria – Mid-September 2012

The introduction of arms to the Syrian revolution, after months of peaceful struggle, did not come out of the blue, nor was it simply an emotional reaction. There were some parties who, from the beginning, called for arming the revolution and advocated violence. However, it was surely the increasing violence used by the authorities that made peaceful youth, who completely believed in a peaceful movement, change their minds, especially when the regime involved the Syrian army in a war against citizens at the end of July 2011, and when they adopted increasing tactics of killing and humiliating the people in Syria from August 2011.

There is no point, therefore, regretting the move from peaceful demonstrations, or fearing this significant step now. There is not even any point discussing it now. We have moved from the phase that the revolution started with, the peaceful spontaneous demonstrating of ordinary people, to the revolution of all methods, with demonstrating and fighting taking place together. Since we have reached this phase, it is important now to study the problems, as the revolution is now in need of planning, by learning from previous lessons and organising all elements.

Sensitive issues need to be addressed here. First, how to organise the armed struggle (connecting groups and finding clear strategies of how to develop this struggle). Secondly, how to coordinate between the armed movement and the popular movement, especially since the armed struggle has stolen all the attention and popular demonstrations have become marginal. Third, we need to think of how to organise and control the free areas, which are not under the control of the authorities anymore.

The armed people in Syria are actually separate groups who all call themselves “Free Army” (this is dangerous because it is a vague phrase which anyone could use) – some of them defected from the Syrian army (these are the main foundation), some are sectarian, and the rest, the majority, are ordinary people, with no experience in working with wars and weapons, and therefore they only undertake defence, and when they attack instead, lots of mistakes take place. They have made mistakes, but they haven’t learnt from them. The main mistake has been basing themselves inside residential neighborhoods, and staying there until the regime forces attack and destroy them, which has had a very negative effect on the popular movement there and almost stopped it in some areas. “Liberating” areas without considering the strength of the regime’s forces means aggravating the struggle instead of developing it. What is important now is to focus on attacking the sensitive centres, the army on their way to control cities, and the locations where rockets and cannons are based. Continue reading

Syria: To oppose, or not to oppose?

Maher Arar

Maher Arar

Human rights activist Maher Arar is the publisher of Prism Magazine, and first came to public attention after he was rendered by US authorities to Syria, his native country.
 The opposition movement inside and outside the country must walk a fine line between independence and intervention.
 Maher Arar, Al Jazeera, 11 Jul 2012

Clashes between rebel fighters and government forces have wrought great destruction [Reuters]

Deciding whether or not to oppose Syria’s rulers has been the recent dominant preoccupation of many anti-imperialist and left-leaning movements. This hesitant attitude towards the Syrian struggle for freedom is nurtured by many anti-regime actions that were recently taken by many Western and Middle-Eastern countries, whose main interest lies in isolating Syria from Iran. However, I believe a better question to ask with respect to Syria is whether the leftist movement should support, or not support, the struggle of the Syrian people.What I find lacking in many of the analyses relating to the Syrian crisis, which I find oftentimes biased and politically motivated, is how well the interests of the Syrian people who are living inside are taken into account. Dry and unnecessarily sophisticated in nature, these analyses ignore simple facts about why the Syrian people rebelled against the regime in the first place.A brief historical context is probably the best way to bring about some insight with respect to the events that are unfolding in front of our eyes today. Before doing so, it is important to highlight that, unlike many other Arab countries, Syria is not a religiously homogenous Middle-Eastern country. I am mentioning this because it is through religion that the majority of Arabs identified themselves for centuries. As it stands today, Syria’s population is composed 74 per cent of Sunnis (including Kurds and others), 12 per cent Alawites (including Arab Shia), ten per cent Christians (including Armenians) and three per cent Druze.

Syria earned its independence from the French in 1946. As has always been the case with any occupying and imperial force, France worked diligently to ensure that Syrian minorities were placed in top government and military positions.  The Alawites’ share of the pie was the military. By the time France left Syria, Alawites became well entrenched in this crucial government institution.

After two decades of military coups and counter-coups, it was no surprise that Hafez al-Assad, an Alawite and minister of defence at the time, seized power in a bloodless coup in 1970. Within a few years he was relatively able to bring about economic and social stability – which made him a hero in the eyes of the majority of Syrians, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Continue reading

Syria’s My Lai

05/28/2012

The Houla Massacre Marks a New Level of Violence

Some 109 people were killed on Friday night in the Syrian village of Houla after regime troops, responding to attacks by the Free Syrian Army, bombarded the village with tank and mortar fire. This image is taken from a video said to be of the burial of the victims on Saturday of 92 people, including 32 children.

By Ulrike Putz  in Beirut

With at least 109 dead, including dozens of children, the weekend massacre in the Syrian village of Houla could go down in history alongside such brutal post-World War II massacres as My Lai and Srebrenica. In Syria, it will likely trigger a new wave of violence and reprisals.

My Lai. Sabra and Shatila. Srebrenica. And now Houla. The sheer intensity of international outrage over the Friday-night massacre means that the village in northeastern Syria could very well join the towns in Vietnam, Lebanon and Bosnia-Herzegovina as short-hand for the murder of defenseless civilians in the post-World War II era. According to the United Nations, at least 100 people were killed in the attack, many of them young children. On Sunday afternoon, the UN Security Council condemned the killings and blamed the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for the slaughter.

China on Monday joined the long list of countries to denounce the violence. “China feels deeply shocked by the large number of civilian casualties in Houla, and condemns in the strongest terms the cruel killings of ordinary citizens, especially women and children,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin.

The death toll from the attack continued to rise on Sunday, with several of the 300 people wounded succumbing to their injuries. The number of dead is now thought to be 109 villagers. In addition, some 3,000 people took to the streets of Damascus to protest against the bloody government attack, according to activists. Security forces reportedly fired into the crowd, killing two. Houla, it would seem, is not yet over.

But global disgust has not brought an end to the violence. At least 24 people were killed in the central city of Hama during bombardments on Sunday night, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Eight of those killed were reportedly children. The bombardment came after several attacks on Assad forces by fighters with the Free Syrian Army, though reports of the violence have yet to be independently verified, Reuters reported.

With a number of the wounded having succumbed to their injuries over the weekend, the death toll now stands at 109, including dozens of children under the age of 10.

Close-Range Shots

According to activists, the Friday night slaughter in Houla came at the hands of Syrian security forces and other fighters loyal to the Assad regime. UN observers, who visited the village on Saturday morning, confirmed that evidence — such as tank shells found at the site — indicates that regime troops are behind the violence. Images produced during the UN visit intensified the global revulsion: more than 30 of those killed are children under the age of 10. Some of the pictures show children who appear to have been executed with close-range shots to the head.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle joined the chorus of condemnation on Saturday, saying in a statement that “it is shocking and horrifying that the Syrian regime refuses to cease using brutal violence against its own people. Those responsible for this crime must be brought to justice.”

Given the presence of UN observers, the Syrian regime was unable to deny, as it often does, the events that took place in Houla, located not far from the rebel stronghold of Homs. Instead, Damascus claimed that it carried no responsibility, with state television reporting that “terrorists” were behind the bloodbath.

Since the uprising in Syria began some 15 months ago, foreign journalists have been largely prevented from entering the police state, making it difficult to verify reports coming out of the country. Information from Syrian activists, on which most media outlets depend, have furthermore proven unreliable in the past. Continue reading

Syria’s Assad’s in trouble, so Ahmadinijad tears a page from the US’ Gaddafi playbook

Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, left, and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, center, in 2007, a more confident mood before the "Arab Spring"

 

[Iran’s Ahmadinijad has not yet abandoned the alliance/partnership with the embattled and troubled Assad regime in Syria, and may have hopes it can yet be saved.  But, there are moves afoot to foster relations with whatever emerges in a post-Assad Syria.  In this maneuvering, there is a memorable whiff of the  US’ abandonment of Mubarak in Egypt, and Gaddafi in Libya, at the onset of their popular challenges, and of the insertion of external dynamics in domestic rebellions–a move now adopted by Iran and applied to Syria.  All these contrary and competitive moves are described by the New York Times, the leading narrator for US imperialism. — Frontlines ed.]

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In Shift, Iran’s President Calls for End to Syrian Crackdown

By , New York Times

September 8, 2011

For years, posters celebrating the decades-old alliance joining Syria and Iran festooned the streets and automobiles of the Syrian capital — the images of Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad embroidered with roses and daffodils.

But that alliance is now strained, and on Thursday, President Ahmadinejad of Iran became the most recent, and perhaps the most unexpected, world leader to call for President Assad to end his violent crackdown of an uprising challenging his authoritarian rule in Syria.

When the Arab Spring broke out, upending the regional order, Iran seemed to emerge a winner: its regional adversary, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, was ousted from power and its most important ally, Syria, was emboldened.

But the popular demands for change swept into Syria, and now, as Mr. Assad’s forces continue to shoot unarmed demonstrators, Iran sees its fortunes fading on two fronts: its image as a guardian of Arab resistance has been battered, and its most important regional strategic ally is in danger of being ousted. Continue reading

Syria: If Assad’s Days are numbered, who will shape the “people’s power”?

[In Syria–as the diverse, persistent, determined, and broad people’s uprising has seemingly brought the brutal Assad regime to the brink of collapse–many allies of the regime have moved toward opposition (but not all).  And a number of reactionary and predatory forces, such as the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, are putting on “democratic and reformist clothing” (a very weird and uncomfortable fit) and joining the calls for Assad to go.  Will the opposition develop the cohesion, democratic unity and revolutionary spirit to obtain victory and push forward to get rid of the Assad power, or will the weaknesses in the opposition enable reactionaries and phony allies to hijack the struggle at what may be its greatest moment?  In Egypt and Tunisia the seeemingly victorious opposition continues the struggle to define their unity and struggle, largely against similar obstructionist and reactionary forces.  In Libya, a similar contention continues against extremely difficult odds.  What shape will this struggle take in Syria in the days to come? — Frontlines ed.]

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‘Assad tired, fears Mubarak’s fate’: Pressure piles on Syria

Aug 9, 2011 Syria’s neighbours are increasing the pressure on the government to end the ongoing crackdown on protesters. Several Arab nations have recalled their ambassadors from the country. Turkey has also joined the growing chorus against President Assad, demanding an end to the violence. It comes as government forces intensify the assault on opposition strongholds, with tank and artillery fire. More than 300 people have reportedly been killed in Syria over the past week, the bloodiest in the five-month uprising against the regime. Assad earlier pledged democratic and political reforms, which he says will take time to implement. Political analyst Patrick Hayes believes the President is on the verge of stepping down from power…