Labor Standard Logo

Syria in the Eye of the Storm:

Unconditional Opposition to U.S. Intervention—But At the Same Time, Support to the Grassroots Popular Uprising

by George Shriver, co-managing editor, Labor Standard

September 11, 2013 — On this inauspicious date, the U.S. government and its military machine still seem determined to find a way to launch missile strikes against Syria, even though popular opposition has been so deep that the Obama regime has had to back off temporarily from its interventionist goal.

The Michael Moore web site had an appropriate heading to summarize the burden of Obama’s “speech to the nation” on September 10: “Congressional vote [which] Obama was sure to lose is postponed as U.S. grasps at Russian plan to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.”

On the day before Obama’s speech the Bashir [Bashar?] al-Assad government in Syria had agreed to a Russian proposal that Syria’s chemical weapons be placed under international control. In his September 10 speech, while agreeing to this “diplomatic solution,” Obama expressed skepticism and emphasized that he would keep the threat of missile strikes in readiness.

Despite the hesitation of the moment, U.S. imperialism seems mindlessly driven toward having another war. Bogged down already in what many call “endless wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan; killing civilians, including U.S. citizens, with drone strikes from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia and elsewhere; sending U.S. “special operations” teams into more than 70 countries, invited or not; and maintaining military bases all over the world, in over 100 countries—this super-wealthy United States of America, the paragon of capitalism in its final phase of imperialism, is like a crazed dragon.

The Dragon Empire must keep expanding, unwinding its coils. Otherwise, it fears it will be doomed. It is horrified at the thought of being stymied, driven back, “losing a war”—as it lost in Vietnam after spending billions of dollars, destroying much of that Southeast Asian country with carpet bombing and the spraying of defoliants like Agent Orange (talk about chemical warfare!), and killing as many as 4 million Vietnamese, as well as 58,000 GIs.

But the U.S. imperialist military-economic machine, including its front man of the moment, Barack Obama, is extremely isolated in the world. The British people forced their government to bow out and say “No” to the war on Syria. Following the British lead, most of the other European “allies” of U.S. imperialism are saying “No.” (France, the former colonial ruler of Syria, is the exception; it smells the opportunity for re-colonizing that ancient Middle Eastern country, a relatively small country with a population of only about 20 million, and no significant oil reserves.)

As in Britain, popular opposition to this proposed war is almost universal around the world, including in the USA. Even the Pope—although he has no divisions—held a peace vigil of 100,000 people in Rome on September 7, and it was reported that Catholic bishops all over the world were likewise organizing peace vigils.

As a result of the widespread popular revulsion, the U.S. Congress is deeply divided, under pressure from public opinion. Some polls report that more than 70 percent of the U.S. public is opposed to an attack on Syria. One report on September 10 indicated that 242 congressional representatives were expected to vote “No” on attacking Syria, and only 40, repeat, only 40(!) were supporting Obama.

A wonderful cartoon appeared on the antiwar GI website “Military Resistance” showing the U.S. population as an angry dog, with Obama cringing around a corner and offering a dog biscuit.

Docile Dog

Despite the Obama regime’s isolation in public opinion, so strong is the urge toward war in the political-economic heart of the U.S. Empire that the beast may lash out at Syria in spite of the outcry against it all over the world and even inside its own belly.

An article in the August 29 Arizona Daily Star, the local corporate-owned newspaper in Tucson, gave information indicating why the businessmen of the USA, unlike the majority of the population, might find an attack on Syria beneficial to their profit margins. The newspaper was obviously trying to suggest, subliminally, that “our region” could get a boost from this war. The largest private employer in Tucson is the Raytheon Corporation, producer of the Tomahawk missile. The Daily Star described the Tomahawk, one of the missiles that might be used if up to 300 individual missile strikes were launched against Syria, as projected. Such missiles cost U.S. taxpayers “$900,000 to $1.4 million each, depending on version.”

If 300 of these cruise missiles were fired off—destroying innumerable Syrians as the missile themselves explode into nothingness—all those missiles would need to be replaced. The stockpile has to be rebuilt. That’s the kind of thing that keeps imperialist-militarist capitalism going. It would bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the coffers of the Raytheon capitalists, and other investors would surely profit as well. Raytheon shares were hitting “record highs” on the Dow Jones stock exchange, according to one report, which showed that a prospective war in Syria is so tantalizing to the taste buds of the “moneyed interests” that we must reproduce it here for our “non-moneyed” readers to see.


Raytheon shares hit record highs on Syria war talk

The producer of the Tomahawk cruise missile is expected to benefit from any US conflict against Damascus.

By Bruce Kennedy, Aug 30, 2013

Tomahawk MissileIt’s been a dramatic six months for Raytheon (RTN +1.37%). Earlier this year, shares of the defense giant were at a 52-week low, pressured by the federal sequestration’s effect on the U.S. defense budget, according to The Boston Business Journal.

But this week, with talk of a U.S. assault on Syria, Raytheon’s stock is up 50% to an all-time high. Shares closed Friday at $75.41.

Raytheon produces Tomahawk cruise missiles—Washington’s opening-volley weapon of choice in many recent conflicts and what analysts believe will be among the first shots fired if the U.S. intervenes in Syria.

A possible attack on Syria would likely signal new Pentagon orders of Tomahawks. Politico reports that the Pentagon purchases 196 Tomahawks annually — which is considered the “minimum sustaining rate” to maintain the weapon’s supply chain. But the website also notes that production of the missiles had to increase after hundreds of them were used during the 2011 air war against Libya.

If you account for those extra orders, notes Politico, “Raytheon has delivered 252 missiles this fiscal year and 361 last fiscal year.” If and when a conflict with Syria does break out, there will certainly be more demand for the Tomahawks—which a Navy official recently told moneyNOW cost about $1.2 million each.

“There’s a number that has to be available,” an unnamed defense lobbyist told Politico. “If they fall below that number, they’ll replace them.”

Raytheon would be only one of several defense companies to benefit from a war with Syria.

“For strike scenarios which rely primarily on bombs and missiles, we believe that Lockheed Martin (LMT +0.81%) and Raytheon would see the greatest benefit given the likely use of Hellfires, Paveways, and Tomahawks,” William Loomis and Benjamin Owens, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus, told blogger Ben Levisohn at Barron’s.

And the two note that, in the unlikely event of a full U.S. ground invasion of Syria, companies like Northrop Grumman (NOC +1.01%), L-3 Communications (LLL +0.83%), AeroVironment (AVAV +1.25%), and General Dynamics (GD +1.71%) would be among the U.S. defense sector firms most likely to benefit.


In this critical situation—with an unprecedented mobilization of public opinion against war on Syria—what is the role of our web site?

Events have shown that it is possible for the war drive to be held up, if not stopped altogether. The will of the capitalists is of course to keep raking in their profits—no matter if it means war. “War is also business,” as Trotsky succinctly observed on the eve of World War II.

The capitalists do not care what war costs to the rest of the world as long as their profits are assured. But if the rest of us, the “99 percent,” can unify and organize effectively, the will of the “1 percent,” the super-wealthy who benefit from imperialist capitalism—can be thwarted!

That is the primary role of our web site at this moment, to contribute to publicizing, organizing, mobilizing the opposition to the war drive against Syria. And I think we have been doing that to the best of our ability with our limited resources. Our home page has been featuring numerous calls for action against this proposed war.

But our web site has another, secondary role. And this is connected with our origins in the worldwide revolutionary socialist movement.

Our web site is a continuation of the print publication, Bulletin in Defense of Marxism (BIDOM), which was started by a veteran revolutionary socialist and labor activist, Frank Lovell. Besides Frank Lovell and his life partner Sarah Lovell, the editors of BIDOM included George and Dorothea Breitman, George Weissman, Jean Tussey, Evelyn Sell, and many other veterans of the 1930s and 1940s labor struggles in this country. They were also veterans of the fight of the International Left Opposition and contributed to the founding of the Fourth International under the leadership of Leon Trotsky. Trotsky, as is generally known, was from 1917 to 1923 co-leader with Lenin of the Russian Revolution, the first long-lasting attempt at rule by the working class to replace capitalism. This attempt, unfortunately, was isolated for the most part in a single relatively backward country, and over the course of decades underwent degeneration and, finally, in the 1990s, it succumbed to capitalist restoration.

The point is that our web site represents a historic current in the worldwide movement for a socialist revolution, for the reorganization of society globally to serve the human needs of the vast majority, not the private profit of a tiny minority of wealthy power-holders. As such, we do take sides.

The central aspect of the current situation in Syria has been the revolutionary upsurge among the people that began with the “Arab Spring” in early 2011, a mass popular uprising against the tyrannical and authoritarian Baathist capitalist regime in Damascus headed by Assad. The Assad regime’s response to the popular uprising, which its participants call “the revolution” (in Arabic, thawra), has been an unrelenting but so far unsuccessful attempt to suppress that uprising by military and police violence—killing 100,000 or more of the Syrian population so far.

The situation has been complicated by ongoing interventionist pressure from the U.S. imperial superpower and by jihadist elements sent into Syria by the U.S. –allied regimes of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc. It is also complicated by the support to the Assad regime delivered by Putin’s capitalist regime in Russia, the mullah-dominated capitalist regime in Iran, and its pro-capitalist allies, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The regimes in former colonial and semi-colonial countries remain stuck in the capitalist economic framework, although the capitalist classes in them are relatively small and weak and easily come under pressure from the vast majority of their populations, consisting of workers and peasants. Due to lack of effective leadership, the worker-peasant majority in most such countries has so far been unable to remove the feeble fetter of local capitalism (with the outstanding exception of Cuba).

The thin layer of local capitalists in the former colonial or semi-colonial countries have so far maintained their rule, although the mass uprisings of the Arab Spring certainly indicate an urge among the masses to move beyond capitalism, which has been a dead end, offering no prospects in life to most of these worker-peasant populations. Over the long term the imperialist capitalists in the most economically developed, industrialized countries (the Group of Seven—USA, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada) help maintain the local capitalists while at the same time competing against them and seeking ways to replace them and turn the clock back to the era of direct colonial rule by the European, North American, and Japanese “mother countries.”

In the case of Russia, we see a wrenching mixture of imperialist, monopoly-capitalist, semi-feudal, and even some surviving post-capitalist economic elements, but in essence Russia is now caught in the spider web of the worldwide capitalist economic system, with the capitalist classes of different countries competing with one another, on the one hand, while simultaneously cooperating to maintain this obsolescent world system, on the other.

Despite the complexities of the situation, its most important aspect for revolutionary socialists is the persisting surge of the popular revolution among the mass of the population in Syria—especially since the revolutionary aspect is ignored and unreported by all the other actors on the scene.

Indeed, in my view, the main aim of direct U.S. intervention in Syria is to prevent the grassroots popular movement from coming to power. A historical parallel would be the Teddy Roosevelt-Rough Riders-San Juan Hill “glorious” intervention by U.S. imperialism in Cuba in 1898. The fact is that in 1898 the revolutionary war of the Cuban people, led by such figures as José Marti and Antonio Maceo, was on the verge of succeeding and throwing out the Spanish colonial rulers. The U.S. imperialists intervened, not to give “humanitarian” aid to the fighting Cuban people, but to replace the Spanish colonial masters by U.S. colonial rule—which lasted, directly or indirectly, from 1898 until Batista was overthrown in January 1959. And the U.S. Empire still holds onto part of what it grabbed in that “heroic” venture—Guantanamo Naval Base.

To sum up, an essential task for our web site—in addition to the primary one (which it is carrying out) of promoting and mobilizing opposition to the proposed U.S. war on Syria—is to publicize the little-known information about the grassroots, popular revolutionary aspect of the situation in Syria. The sources for such information are varied. They include International Viewpoint, web site of the Fourth International, with which we have been in solidarity historically, as well as the web site <socialistworker.org”>, but also such unexpected sources as the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the American Friends Service Committee of Western Massachusetts. A prime source of information is the Syrian web site <syriafreedomforever>.

In a revolutionary struggle we do take sides. Our web site ought to continue posting a whole series of items about the revolutionary aspect of the situation, and as a sample of that, let me conclude by reproducing a number of such items.

The first was publicized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation:


Item One—
Syria: It’s Still a Revolution, My Friends

By Mohja Kahf

Thursday, September 5, 2013, 10:52am

Kahf PhotoNo matter what your position on the potential U.S. strikes on Syria (I’m against), all I ask is, DON’T be a hater who denies the existence of the grassroots youth who began the Syrian revolution out of hope for real freedom and out of their rising expectation for real change, hope that had nearly died in the fifty-year police state that has ruled Syria. Try to remember to have some compassion for a Syrian who might be in the vicinity, before you mouth off in the abstract on the issue; we face news every day of our friends and our relatives being killed and imprisoned. Take time to get to know about a few of them, the Syrian rev youth activists who started it all, in hundreds of towns across Syria, before you speak about Syria based on what happened in Iraq or Lebanon or Country X.

In SYRIA, this is a REVOLUTION (and yes I understand it meets the technical definition of a civil war, yes it does, AND, yet, still: This is a Revolution). In SYRIA, a Revolution has been happening, and the will to freedom that began it will not simply be erased; it is a bell that cannot be unrung in the hearts of young Syrians. It is a consciousness change. That is why Syria is not now and will not become, despite all the [chaos] that has ensued inside the revolution, “like Iraq” (and by the way, I marched in the United States against the Iraq War, and over the years have written and published pages of poems based on the unimaginable sufferings narrated to me by Iraqis).

In SYRIA, a broad spectrum of twenty-somethings across every province were inspired by Bouazizi’s self-immolation, by 26-year-old Asma Mahfouz’s call to Tahrir, by the movement for Khaled Said, a young activist murdered by Egyptian police in 2010, NOT by some U.S. president’s call for regime change as in Iraq. By the will to “live like human beings,” as one after another has told me when I have met them and asked for their stories. ASK for their stories, please. They will TELL you what motivated them to risk their lives as they did. Syria’s revolution youth hit the streets out of grievances they have EXPERIENCED, in their own bodies, in their own lives; this revolution was not begun by some Syrian version of Iraq’s Chelebi, nor by established oppositionists, but by geographically widespread rural and small-town women and men of ALL sects, young people whom the CIA never even heard of, coming together in a new spirit. They are nobody’s proxies, no matter how much outside agendas want to make them somebody’s proxies.

And please, do not create a callous denial narrative that erases the masses of mainstream Syrians in this revolution, as if they don’t count, in favor of the Salafist extremists who are trying to take it over from its fringes as, thousands of miles away, you run screaming “Taliban! Al Qaeda!” wringing your hands but not knowing in the slightest the measure of their (nasty) influence. Do not abandon those revolution youth — whether they are still in the civil resistance or have joined the secular, mainline armed resistance — who are now themselves beset by the Salafists even while still fending off the brutal regime. For example, I just Facebook-chatted with a friend inside, one of the original protesters, who refuses to flee Syria, and incidentally he is Alawite, who has received death threats by name from the regime, and from the Nusra front on the other hand.

Above all, do not become so ethically ugly as to deny the massacres the regime has committed against civilians, or become a dictator-defender. Bashar is a Butcher; let’s establish that as a common fact between us, no matter your other views. I have spoken out against atrocities committed by the rebel sides; they ARE heinous, AND they in no way come close to the horrors committed by the regime, which vastly outguns all the rebel sides. So the “symmetry” thing, where you say “oh, they’re all about as bad as each other” is ethically reprehensible. If you don’t have time to educate yourself, at least refrain from that moral repulsiveness, please. Do not commit the inhumanity at this time of getting on a devastated Syrian’s last nerve, by denying our bloodied dead, or our desperate need for justice.

Here are some links for further reading:

Please write for the release of nonviolent Syrian prisoners of conscience HELD OVER A YEAR, many over two years, by cutting and pasting the text under each picture in this album, on a Revolution page that ALSO reports prisoners held by extremist groups on the rebel side.

(Photo: Rukn Eldeen, Damascus, Syria, November 20, 2012. Rallying around the nonsectarian, secular democratic values of the Syrian Revolution.)


Item Two:
Interview with Yasser Munif: Inside the Syrian Revolution and What the Left Must Do

[interview by Jeff Napolitano of American Friends Service Committee, Western Massachusetts]
[posted on Syria Freedom Forever – سوريا الحرية للأبد ]

[The following photo is the signature graphic used on the web site <syriafreedomforever>, and after the photo, we repeat the headline and byline for the sake of clarity.]

Syria Freedom Photo

Interview with Yasser Munif: Inside the Syrian Revolution and What the Left Must Do

[interview by Jeff Napolitano of American Friends Service Committee, Western Massachusetts]

Posted on September 7, 2013 by syriafreedomforever

Dr. Yasser Munif, professor at Emerson College, has recently visited Syria, witnessed the revolution there, and has spoken and written about it (including an interview with scholar Nigel Gibson at Jadaliyya.) He talks about what he saw, the troubles facing revolutionaries in Syria, the very oppositional distinction between revolutionaries and jihadists, and more. And he talked about the Left’s perception of what’s going on, and how so many are getting it wrong on Syria.

Listen to the interview on the following link:

http://afscwm.org/2013/09/05/syrianrevolution/

Full transcript of the interview, thanks to Linda Quiquivix:

YASSER MUNIF: This summer I actually spent two months in Syria, in northern Syria, the liberated area, and it was a very humbling experience. I learned a lot and I saw a popular revolution, an ongoing popular revolution. People are rebuilding institutions, they are managing their cities after the fall of the state and the regime, and it is a very challenging task to do because there are no resources, there is no funding, and there are permanent attacks by the regime. Those areas I’m talking about in the north are liberated: there are no clashes on the ground. But there are constant airstrikes and missiles are launched on these cities.

So people are coming up with creative solutions: they are creating political institutions. There are local councils in each one of those cities and they meet on a weekly basis. They discuss everything in the city and they try to solve their problems.

And so there are millions of people who hear the media in the West and elsewhere talking about civil war and so on, and most of these people reject those labels. They believe there is a popular revolution in Syria. It’s true that it’s at a critical period and there are challenging tasks ahead of them, and there are jihadists who are trying to undermine their work, and obviously the regime.

JEFF NAPOLITANO: And the jihadists are often sort of clustered in or considered part of the “rebels” but they are, as you say, quite distinct from the revolution itself.

YM: Right. It’s been about three or four months now. The revolutionaries are actually fighting on two fronts. On the one hand there is the regime, on the other hand there is the Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda-created groups, the jihadists. And the jihadists are actually arresting, torturing, killing many activists — people who have been resisting since day one. Most of the Al-Qaeda-created groups are not really fighting the regime. They are staying in those northern parts. They are letting the Free Syrian Army and other factions to fight the regime and they come behind them and take over whatever liberated cities or villages there are. So they’re very vicious. As I said, they’re arresting activists. Anyone who criticizes them is arrested, tortured, sometimes killed. Right now they have more than 1,500 activists in their prisons.

So as you can see, there are two fronts in Syria right now: the jihadists on the one hand, and the regime on the other. And that’s why many people believe that the jihadists are in some way or another actually allied to the Syrian regime. Al-Qaeda is actually selling oil to the regime. The pipeline has to go through the region controlled [inaudible] between Al-Qaeda-created groups and the regime to get that oil to reach the coast.

So things are much more complex than they seem here in the U.S. where most of the time you read articles about “Al-Qaeda” and “Al-Qaeda,” and Al-Qaeda is actually not part of the revolution. It is anti-revolutionary.

JN: Right, the dominant debate in Congress it seems is, “Well, if we bomb Syria (and the fear isn’t actually bombing Syria) the fear is who is going to come to power if we bomb Syria.” So that’s sort of what the dialogue is. There are apparently many people in Congress, Republicans particularly, who seem to think that the problem with bombing Syria is just that Al-Qaeda is going to take over the country, as opposed to the fact that bombing the country is just not a good idea.

One of the popular myths (or I don’t know if it’s a myth, but you tell me), or impressions is that the rebels or revolutionaries (they’re not referred to as “revolutionaries,” they’re referred to as “rebels”) is that the folks that oppose Assad and the regime are in favor of a strike on Syria. Is that the case?

YM: You know, from far away I can’t really tell. I think that the population is split, many people are against. I think that some people, because of the destruction and the violence and the killing, they’re seeing the strike as a “way out,” but I don’t think that they are necessarily the majority. People have learned in the past 30 months that no one is really allied to their cause or cares about the Syrian population, that the Syrian people don’t really have any friends (because some people talk about the “Friends of Syria” and so on) and they understood that the West — Europe and the U.S. — are not necessarily in favor of the victory of the revolution. Actually, people know that — you know, when you talk to the average person in Syria in those liberated areas — they tell you that whenever they’re losing any territory or region when they’re fighting against the regime, they receive weapons; whenever they are winning, the weapons stop coming. And the reason why this is, is because the West and the U.S. want to see this war go on as a stalemate because that’s in their interest. They’re not necessarily in favor of the regime, and they’re not necessarily very favorable for the revolutionaries, or what they call “Al-Qaeda” to win. So the best thing for the U.S. has been so far to keep this conflict going. And that’s also in the interest of Israel, they don’t necessarily want to see the revolutionaries to win. And actually, for many Israeli politicians and U.S. politicians, they are in favor of a weakened Bashar in power.

JN: I’m really curious because nobody ever talks about this, or at least not in popular media in the United States, in fact most of the stuff that I read on the Left is about why it’s a bad idea to bomb Syria, but they don’t actually talk about what the revolution actually looks like.

And you’re talking about rebuilding institutions, and I’m sort of reminded the thing that I studied when I was in graduate school was the Spanish Revolution — the republican revolution that was fueled by the anarchists and the socialists in the 1930s — and they, too, were also struggling on sort of a war with two fronts: one being the fascists, and one the Communists, but that’s a different story. But what I was struck by are the descriptions of what the Revolution actually looked like in Spain, and sort of the egalitarian society that sort of just sprouted there. What does the revolution look like on the ground in Syria?

YM: The revolution is very complex, it’s very multi-layered, there are actually different things happening and going on. The most dominant part, let’s say, is the popular revolution, but there is also an ongoing semi-Cold War between the U.S. and its allies on the one hand, and Russia and its allies on the other. There is also a conflict between Iran and its allies on the one hand, and Israel and the Gulf on the other. So there are all these different layers of this conflict, but the most dominant one — and that’s what many Syrians believe — is the popular revolution. And I think this is very important to understand.

And another reason to compare the Syrian revolution to the Spanish War as you were saying is that every leftist, every progressive has an opinion about what is happening in Syria, as was the case with the Spanish Revolution many years ago. And most of the left, unfortunately, is taking the wrong position. They’re understanding the Syrian revolution in a very binary and reductive way—-

JN: Is this the U.S. left or even the left in Syria?

YM: Even the left in Syria, the Arab left, and the U.S. and European left is split. For the most part, they are understanding this conflict as a war between, on the one hand, the U.S. and [on the other hand] people who are against the U.S.: “anti-imperialists” according to some people, so that would include Hizballah, Iran, Syria, and they believe that Syria has been helping Palestinians and so on. They have a very ignorant understanding of Syrian history and how violent the Syrian regime has been for the past 40 years, and how many times they betrayed the Palestinian struggle, and so on. And so in some ways those leftists or progressives are actually embracing the Bush doctrine: the either/or, where you don’t have any kind of complexity in your position—-

JN: The “either you’re with us or against us?”

YM: Yes, the binary, the reductive way of thinking about the revolution. And I think this is very detrimental. It’s sending the wrong message to the Syrian people. Many Syrians believe that the left by default is for the regime. Recently we have seen demonstrations in New York and other cities with people demonstrating against the war, but also holding and carrying pictures of Assad.

JN: In Boston, for example, just the other day I saw pictures. There was a prominent picture in the Boston Globe in an article against the protests and they focused on a group of people in the crowd who were waving Syrian flags that had Assad’s picture emblazoned in the middle of it, and portrayed the entire march as not just being against the strike on Syria, but being in favor of Assad. But I know from inside knowledge from some of the organizations that sponsored it, that that was antithetical to the message of what they were trying to get across.

YM: Right, right. And the left is — *that* left (I don’t want to generalize) — that part of the left is losing its credibility. People either in the U.S. or in the Arab world or in Syria won’t necessarily get the message that this is really a message against the war. They’re going to see the pictures of Assad and understand that this is really propaganda, it’s not really against the war.

I think that the left has a real task ahead of it. It has to really formulate a new position, a more coherent position. A position where one can be at the same time against the war and also against dictatorship. And as long as they don’t do that, I think that they won’t have any kind of credibility. People in Syria will see that as almost a license to kill because the Syrian regime has been actually broadcasting those demonstrations on Syrian State TV, showing how much it is popular in the West and that people are demonstrating in the streets of New York and other cities showing those pictures of Assad. Actually the Syrian regime is not even able to organize such demonstrations or rallies in Syria, so it was very happy to see that emerging in many parts. And many of the people who are demonstrating actually don’t know anything about the reality that Syrians are living, and their struggles, and their fights, and their everyday resistance, and what they’re trying to build, and the creativity in what they’re doing.

I think that one is very humbled when you go to Syria and see what people are doing. And I think there is also racism, and just denying any kind of agency to the Syrians and saying, “this is all a conspiracy, the U.S. has been planning this since the beginning, it is conspiring against Assad,” and so on. And that means that the Syrians don’t have any agency, they can’t really think for themselves, they can’t really make a revolution, and so on. And I think that this is a big mistake that the left is doing.

JN: So I have the prescription that the General Secretary of the American Friends Services Committee put out in a letter to the President and to Congress, and what she calls for — and you let me know what you think of this — but what she calls for is a comprehensive arms embargo to all parties of the conflict, that the only solution in Syria is a political solution, and that we urge (“we” being the AFSC, “we” being the population of the United States), urge to provide full support to the efforts of Lakhdar Ibrahimi, the joint UN-Arab League envoy, and to press for a rapid convening of a Geneva II Conference, and that the U.S. should seek a transition that builds on existing institutions rather than replacing them, and does not alienate those people who have served the government or the army. So that is the top of my organization that prescribes those as what we should do from here. What would you think about that, and what do you think that we should do? “We” being the U.S. population, the left in the U.S.

YM: I think the most important thing to do (for the progressive movement and for people who really care about the Arab revolution and they want to see them go somewhere, and support them, and show their solidarity) is basically move away from the alliances with different states, and build a social movement that supports the Syrian population.

And that solidarity of support can take many different forms. It can be through reporting: actually a responsible journalist who goes to Syria and sees what is happening on the ground, and tries to take their job seriously. And not only report the in-fighting and the military aspect of the revolution because I think that’s only the tip of the iceberg and that’s the most visible part, but this is not the most important part. I think what is happening in Syria is much more than that. There are many revolutions going on in every field: the political, the cultural, the social, the economic. People are really creating new institutions with new ideas, they are trying to tackle the most difficult problems and try to solve them. And so I think that’s part of what could be done.

People need doctors, they need engineers, they need any type of activist that could help them. All this type of solidarity, basically trying to replicate what people have been doing in Palestine: trying to build a global solidarity movement that transcends the state-centric kind of politics that has been taking place in the past 30 months only revolving around governments, and states, and armies, and so on. I think that’s the most powerful message that we can send to the Syrian population: building an alternative social movement that’s global, and that really understands the complexity of the Syrian revolution and doesn’t reduce it to “jihadists” and “Al-Qaeda,” and understand that there are these different layers. Progressives and leftists should really push for the revolutionary part, and not just repeat this narrative of the “conspiracy” that just reduces it to what we’ve been seeing in the media.


Item Three: 
“In Syria They Use the Term ‘Revolution’”

[by Reem Salahi, from the Huffington Post, August 26, 2013]

[We have followed the styling and formatting of this article as presented by the Military Resistance web site www.militaryproject.org.]

“Living In The U.S., I Had Long Stopped Using The Term ‘Revolution’ To Describe The Situation In Syria”
“Yet In My Time In Syria, Not A Single Person I Met Used Any Other Term To Describe It”
“Not A Single Person I Met Used The Term ‘Civil War’. I Was Told Time And Again That A Civil War Requires Two Sides”
“In Syria, There Was Only One Side — The Government — That Unilaterally Waged War Against Its People”

Indeed many Syrians suspected that there was a partnership of sorts between the “Islamiyeen” and the Regime.

“While the Regime constantly targets FSA military posts,” explained a Syrian man from Kafranbel, “it never targets the Jubhat or Dawlat’s military posts.”

08/26/2013 by Reem Salahi, The Huffington Post

“We won’t kneel and we won’t kneel.  Bring your airplanes and your guns.  But we won’t kneel oh Bashar.  This Revolution is a revolution of glory.”

I hadn’t been to Syria since August 2010, seven months before the start of the Revolution.

In the ensuing two and a half years, I watched from afar, torn between the idealistic rhetoric of a glorious revolution and warnings of Western imperialism and intervention.

Even before arriving in Syria, it was clear the Syria of 2010 was long gone.

On my flight to Southern Turkey, I sat next to a Free Syrian Army fighter.  While I was going into Syria as a witness, he was going to fight, leaving his home, comfortable life and prosperous businesses behind. As we deboarded, I wished him safety.

“I’m content,” he responded, “I either die as a martyr or I live to see Syria free. Once Bashar is ousted, I’ll let the politicians take it from there.” In 2010, I could have never imagined speaking to another Syrian — a fighter much less — about martyrdom, freedom and the ouster of Assad.  But this was the Syria of 2013.

I entered Syria through Atmeh Camp, the largest camp for internally displaced Syrians. Housing approximately 20,000 Syrians, Atmeh is primarily funded by private donors and organizations.

Unlike Za’atari in Jordan and Killis in Turkey, no government runs this or the other camps in Syria as evidenced by the pure dysfunction and abject poverty of the camps.

While many, if not most, in the camps are there to escape death and destruction, I was surprised to learn that others were there because they could no longer afford the daily costs of living.  I was told that at least in the camps there was food (even if some of it was spoiled) and some basic humanitarian assistance.

Since the start of the Revolution, the Syrian currency has plummeted in value. Where in 2010, one U.S. dollar was valued at 45 liras, at present it’s valued at approximately 215 liras.  Prior to going into Syria, the Turkish currency exchanger joked: “next time you should bring a suitcase to carry your Syrian liras.”

The devaluation of the Syrian lira coupled with international sanctions and the government’s destruction of its own industries has resulted in unprecedented unemployment rates.

In the areas I visited in northwestern Syria, most of the businesses were closed or destroyed.  The lucky few with functioning businesses supported dozens of family members.

 And the unlucky many who lost their businesses lived off life savings or even moved to one of numerous camps in Turkey or Northern Syria.

Life in the IDP camps is brutal. The heat, dust, insects and filth coupled with the destitution of the refugees create a fester-pool of anger and hopelessness. In true Darwinian style, survival in the camps is for the fittest or at least, the most cunning — those first in line for distribution, those with connections to the camp management or those with businesses that charge upward of three times as much on goods as prices in Syrian cities.

Four and five year olds speak with the same frustration as adults, condemning both Assad, who destroyed their towns and brutalized their families, and the Revolution, which failed to deliver its promises of freedom and democracy.

None of the glories of Revolution are apparent in the camps and no person pontificated on the dangers of Western intervention.  Rather, the refugees shooed flies, cursed Assad, cursed the Revolution and then cursed the world that had turned a blind eye to their misery.

Traveling into “liberated” (i.e. rebel-controlled) Syria, I was initially struck by the appearance of normality.

Olive groves bloomed, kids played on the street and food and drink stands peppered the roadways. Absent were the pictures and statutes of Bashar and his father Hafez al-Assad that I had come to expect from my many trips to Syria.  Also missing were the regime flags and any other sign of Baathist rule.

The deeper we went into Syria, though, the more abnormal things became.

Tinted and unlicensed SUVs with the insignia of a Free Syrian Army (FSA) or Islamist brigade were readily prevalent.  Men with guns strapped to their backs wearing military fatigues and long beards rode on motorcycles.  Demolished factories and bombed stores were more frequent sights than open and functioning stores.

And FSA checkpoints secured the entry and exit points of most towns. As we drove deeper into Idlib Province, I found myself thinking of Dorothy’s line in the Wizard of Oz: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Entering Kafranbel — a small yet internationally-known town due to its witty posters and weekly protests — I was awestruck by the painted walls with messages of “rEVOLution”.

RevolutionThe media center was abuzz with foreign journalists and local activists as they prepared their posters for the Friday protest. The English and Arabic posters as well as the drawings depicting Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin were calculated to speak to local and global audiences.

The activists spent hours strategizing how best to express their dissatisfaction with the U.S.’s failure to provide anti-aircraft missiles and heavy weaponry that could strike down government planes that terrorized the “liberated” areas.

Yet in the subsequent days, I experienced the more honest banality of life.

Despite not having a physical presence in the “liberated” areas, the government still controlled the utilities and cut the electricity for 20 or more hours a day as both a carrot (a reminder that it remained in power) and a stick.

There was no phone service and Internet was rare; jobs were even rarer.

At times, it seemed that the only activity was in the sky from helicopters transporting soldiers or dumping loads of explosives on “liberated” towns or in the hospitals that assumed the consequent casualties.

Banner“They All Spoke Of The ‘Thawra’ (Revolution). Indeed They Spoke Of Little Else”

As we lazily sat around during the long hot summer days drinking one cup of sweetened tea after another and doing little else, I was surprised to hear Syrians state they had “no time.”

I soon understood that it was not the physical demand for time but the lack of mental clarity for solutions to the intractable conflict that had left Syrian towns with no formal governance and little resources; their residents, without exception, were left psychologically scarred and emotionally taxed.

As one young man expressed to me: “everyone wants to train me in transitional justice and documenting human rights abuses but no one has offered to train me on how to overthrow the Regime.

“It’s been over two years and I still don’t know how to do the very thing that got me involved in this Revolution in the first place.”

Unfortunately there is no manual on Ousting Dictators for Dummies and I too was at a loss for a solution.

Other activists expressed regret that there had not been a revolution of thought — a period of enlightenment and education — before this Revolution of action.  When faced with the overwhelming feat of creating a civil society from scratch, addressing the growing physical and psychological needs of the people and avoiding death by government missile or bullet, it was true; there was very little time.

Living in the U.S., I had long stopped using the term “Revolution” to describe the situation in Syria.  Yet in my time in Syria, not a single person I met used any other term to describe it.

It didn’t matter whether I was talking to a mother or an FSA fighter or an activist.  It also didn’t matter if I was talking to someone who supported the Revolution or was critical of it.

They all spoke of the “thawra” (Revolution).  Indeed they spoke of little else.

Similarly, not a single person I met used the term “civil war” to describe the situation in Syria. I was told time and again that a civil war requires two sides. In Syria, there was only one side — the government — that unilaterally waged war against its people.

“While I Had Previously Visited Other War Zones, I Had Never Experienced The Terror Of Having One’s Own Government Wage A Full-Scale War Against Its People”

It is hard, if not nearly impossible, to describe what it’s like to be indiscriminately targeted for death or mutilation.

While I had previously visited other war zones, I had never experienced the terror of having one’s own government wage a full-scale war against its people.

Early one Thursday morning while in Kafranbel, I awoke to heavy shelling.

My Syrian host, who was now accustomed to the shelling, urgently told me to hide in the bathroom underneath the attic. 

“The government is warning us not to go out to the demonstration tomorrow,” she explained.  “They are definitely going to shell us tomorrow.”  While she had worn her pajamas to sleep that night, she often slept in her clothes in case she had to flee.

In Saraqeb, I was told that it was not the shelling that scared its residents; it was the military planes and explosive barrels that frightened them.

“The first shell is the most dangerous,” told me a Saraqeb resident. “You don’t know where it will land. After the first shell, you run indoors for protection and it’s much safer.

“There’s nothing to protect you from explosive barrels though. They can wipe out an entire building and even a street. If you go indoors, the whole house will fall on you. So now, every time we hear a helicopter or military plane overhead, we go outdoors and watch it. We have a higher chance of survival if we are outdoors.”

As this man spoke, I remembered a picture on Facebook of a group of Syrian men and young boys pointing at the sky with mixed looks of anger and horror.

Residents had only recently returned to Saraqeb when I visited, after months of fleeing to neighboring towns or hiding in the surrounding mountains to escape the government’s incessant shelling.

The broken streets, destroyed alleyways and decimated buildings were a testament to the government’s onslaught.  Saraqeb’s main street was lined with bags piled seven feet tall full of sand to protect the storefronts from shrapnel.  Like the other cities and towns I visited in “liberated” Syria, there were no government soldiers, no pictures of Bashar or government flags.

The only reminder of Baathist rule came in form of Russian shells, scud missiles and explosive barrels dropped from the skies above.

“It Was Clear That The Syrians Did Not Welcome These Foreign Islamists And Viewed Them As An Evil”

Saraqeb is a city of two revolutions — one against the Syrian government and the other against the “Islamiyeen,” the jihadists and al-Qaeda linked fighters.

Because of Saraqeb’s size and strategic location at the junction of two major highways going to Aleppo, both Dawlat al-Islamiyya fil Iraq wal Sham (Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS)) and Jubhat al-Nusra converged to control it.

Yet where these fighters had succeeded in controlling smaller towns like Binish, they were met with resistance in Saraqeb.

On one of my trips to Saraqeb, I stopped at a bakery and was met with the stares of approximately twenty male foreign fighters eating ice cream no less.

While I placed my order, a young foreign fighter wearing a turban, black eyeliner, military fatigues and an array of weapons interrupted me and told the Syrian storeowner in classical Arabic, “You are exploiting us with your ice cream prices.” The unarmed owner, far outnumbered by his foreign clientele, responded without fear, “Don’t tell me that I am exploiting you. I need gas to operate the generator so you can buy ice cream. When you lower the price of gas, I will lower the price of my ice cream.”  The foreign fighter muttered something about the coming of the Islamic era and walked out.

Through that interaction and others that I witnessed, it was clear that the Syrians did not welcome these foreign Islamists and viewed them as an evil, only second to the Syrian Regime and its allies.

Indeed many Syrians suspected that there was a partnership of sorts between the “Islamiyeen” and the Regime.

“While the Regime constantly targets FSA military posts,” explained a Syrian man from Kafranbel, “it never targets the Jubhat or Dawlat’s military posts.”

None of the Syrians I spoke with knew the exact nature of the relationship between the Regime and the “Islamiyeen” but they strongly believed the Regime wanted them in Syria.

“They substantiate the government’s story that it is fighting terrorists,” explained one man.

“But rather than targeting them, the government shells us, its own people.”

The “Islamiyeen” also became the international community’s scapegoat for declining to intervene in Syria or provide weapons to the moderate FSA.

“What, the Islamiyeen are only about 9,000 fighters while the FSA are about 100,000 fighters!” told me the same man.

“Yet America only talks about the Islamiyeen as if everyone else in Syria doesn’t count.”

And of course, the “Islamiyeen” have little loyalties to the Syrians in the “liberated” areas and justify their extremist views and harsh dealings on archaic notions of religion and religious statehood.

The Dawlat (ISIS) kidnapped a young Syrian videographer and activist I had met a day earlier because he wore a Metallica shirt and expressed irreligious sentiments in his private videos. To this day, his whereabouts remain unknown.

As I left the bakery, I jokingly asked my Syrian hosts if we had accidently driven to Afghanistan rather than Saraqeb.

“Don’t worry,” one of them responded, “they are not welcome here and we won’t let them stay in Syria once the Regime falls.”

Had I been told in 2010 that the next time I visited Syria, it would be in the midst of a two and a half year Revolution, I would have surely scoffed.

Or in the face of that uprising, the Regime would kill over 100,000 (and counting) of its own citizens using chemical and other lethal weapons, and injure, maim, imprison and displace millions more.

That the seemingly apolitical and often physically unfit Syrian men of 2010 would come together in the ensuing two and a half years to form poorly-trained and poorly-equipped FSA brigades.

And indeed these men would fight government soldiers and tanks to “liberate” the towns and cities I visited in Northwestern Syria as well as other areas throughout Syria.

Or that the young women sitting in the cafes and students attending universities were soon-to-be hardened activists who would risk life and limb to stay in Syria, rather than travel abroad, and develop psychosocial programs for internally displaced families or free weekly magazines promoting democracy and civil society or schools for children who had not attended in over two years.

Nor could I have imagined the international community’s reaction would be calculated inaction in the face of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah’s unabashed financial and military support of the Syrian Regime.

And had I known in 2010 that in seven months Syrians would rise up to demand freedom, chanting revolutionary slogans: “We won’t kneel and we won’t kneel. Bring your airplanes and your guns.  But we won’t kneel oh Bashar.  This Revolution is a revolution of glory”, I would have paused — even for a moment — to bid farewell to a country that would be forever transformed and to those who would rise up only to find ultimate freedom in death.

But as the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20, and now in 2013 I finally know.


Item Four:
The Woman in the Syrian Revolution

The woman in the Syrian revolution, viewed by revolutionary women

[This item was posted on September 7, 2013, by syriafreedomforever, which included the following graphic.]

Revolutionary WomenFrom demonstration to demonstration they started to get to know each other. The common link between them was their sense of responsibility toward their country usurped by the tyrannical regime that has spent all its years in power to serve its own interests. This is what motivated them to form a working group to provide support, by all means at their disposal, to the revolutionary movement that aimed to overthrow the regime.

They participated in the weekly peaceful demonstrations alongside men of their city Salamyeh. When, in August 2011, the regime decided to stifle the free voice of the city in a violent campaign of mass arrests that affected most peaceful activists in Salamyeh, they organized women’s demonstrations to advocate the overthrow of the tyrannical regime and demand the release of their detained sons. They organized sit-ins and protest rallies in most streets of the city, the most famous being the sit-ins in the central public square of the city just before Mother’s Day in March 2012. Their demand for the release of the detainees was not appreciated by the director of the security forces of the area, who responded fiercely by going with shabbiha to beat and arrest all those who tried to prevent or defend the protesters.

After tightening the repression and surveillance of the city and the increase of the risk of arrests, the women of the coordination of the city of Salamyeh had to find another way to make their voice heard to the world and to all of the sons of the nation by organizing sit-ins in solidarity on a weekly basis at their homes with all the children of the Syrian revolution and to write statements that explain their position regarding the events in Syria in general, and of the city of Salamyeh in particular. Statements were read during sit-ins, published on the Internet through their own page, and distributed to the citizens of the city after printing.

They were the first to take action in solidarity with the women prisoners on strike in Adra prison and devoted a statement to them. They had also issued a statement following the prefabricated terrorist attack by shabbiha in Salamyeh against the committee offices, next to the house of the director of the security services of the area, which cost the lives of dozens of innocent civilians. Their latest release denounced the indiscriminate shelling of the city of Salamyeh that cost the lives of innocent persons in the city, including men, women, and children. They condemned the massacres committed by the regime in all Syrian cities brandishing placards dedicated to these cities and that focused on “the unity of the Syrian blood” and warned of the sectarian attempts by the regime to divide Syrians that certainly does not fool and mislead them, neither them nor the citizens of the city. Among the most important slogans that they chanted during the demonstrations we can find: “The girls of Salamyeh want freedom, reject sectarianism, and aspire to a civil state.”It is because they have experienced living together in a free city whose social fabric is a beautiful mosaic that includes most of the components of the Syrian people. Only in Salamyeh there are Ismaili, Sunni, Alawite, Christians, and Adygeas. Even if their proportions are unequal, these communities constitute the beauty of citizenship that unites them in the love of their great motherland Syria and their small town Salamyeh.

The women of the coordination of the city of Salamyeh by commitment and responsibility to all citizens without exception participated with activists of the city among the free rebellious youth in relief actions when their city was filled with affected refugees from other Syrian cities because of the criminal and treacherous regime. They offered what they were able to, to welcome them and meet their needs.

Amel, one of the active women in this group said: “We participated in the funeral processions of our martyrs, although generally for women to go to cemeteries is not a customary practice in our city. We wanted to break archaic customs, including this one. Each of us considered the martyr as a son, brother, or father; any martyr is the son of the city and not just of his family.” She added: “What distinguishes this group of rebellious women is the team’s spirit with which they work to achieve their objective, which is also the objective of the revolution throughout Syria, that is to overthrow the dictatorial regime based on cliques and clans and the establishment of a civilian democratic state for all the Syrian people with all its components.”

Another woman, Yasmine, said that what distinguishes our movement is its peaceful character. However, the regime, by committing several massacres against civilians in many parts of Syria, has forced people to take up arms to defend themselves. The formation of the Free Syrian Army pushed us to take a clear position on this issue. This is what we did because we are in favor of a free army organized with a single command in accordance with the political leadership of the revolution and whose objective is to establish a democratic, pluralistic civil state to serve all Syrian people, and which assumes the task of protecting civilians and working for emancipation and the overthrow of the regime according to a thoughtful and responsible strategy.

Another woman, Ahlam, says: “We categorically reject all phenomena foreign to the society and hide both foreign agendas and agendas removed from the aspirations of the Syrian people, acting under different names and in the form of extremism that only serves the regime and give the latter arguments to hit the revolution and terrorize the population.” She continues: “As a group of women, we believe that the establishment of a free and modern state cannot be achieved without the existence of [women’s] citizenship. It is our responsibility today to prepare a new phase in the life of Syrian women, that a woman will enjoy the full rights of citizenship in a new society. Our revolution is not only a revolution against a corrupt regime and against archaic and obsolete laws that do not guarantee justice to women; it is also a revolution against all the customs and habits that have delayed women [held them back] and prevented them from a full and effective participation in the construction of the state and society.

Long live the revolution!
Freedom for all prisoners!
Women’s group of the coordination of Salamyeh
September 5th 2013


Item Five:
Syrian Anarchist Challenges the “Rebel vs. Regime” Binary View of the Resistance

[This interview by Joshua Stephens was posted on Truthout on Friday, September 6, 2013]

AnarchistAs the U.S. intensifies its push for military intervention in Syria, virtually the only narrative available swings from the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad to the role of Islamist elements within the resistance. Further, where dissent with the US position appears, much of it hinges on the contradiction of providing support for Al Qaeda-linked entities seeking to topple the regime, as though they represent the only countervailing force to the existing dictatorship. But as Jay Cassano recently wrote for the tech magazine Fast Company, the network of unarmed, democratic resistance to Assad’s regime is rich and varied, representing a vast web of local political initiatives, arts-based coalitions, human rights organizations, nonviolence groups, and more. (The Syria Nonviolence Movement created an online, interactive map to demonstrate this intricate network of connections.)

Meanwhile, the writing and dispatches of Syrian anarchists have been enormously influential in other Arab struggles, with anarchists tortured to death in Assad’s prisons memorialized in the writing of Palestinians, and at demonstrations for Palestinian political prisoners held in Israel. Two key features of this unfolding warrant close attention: the manner in which anarchists in the Arab world are increasingly staging critiques and interventions that upend the contradictions held up as justification for U.S. foreign policy, and the ongoing conversations between anti-authoritarian movements in the Arab world that bypass and remain unmediated by Western reference points. Whether Syrian anarchists’ insistence on self-determination as a central organizing principle can withstand the immediate reality of violence or the leverage of foreign interests remains an open question.

Nader Atassi is a Syrian political researcher and writer originally from Homs, currently living between the United States and Beirut. He runs the blog Darth Nader, reflecting on events within the Syrian revolution. I talked him into chatting about its anarchist traces, and the prospect of U.S. intervention.

Joshua Stephens for Truthout: Anarchists have been both active in and writing from the Syrian revolution since the get-go. Do you have any sense of what sort of activity was happening prior? Were there influential threads that generated a Syrian articulation of anarchism?

Nader Atassi: Due to the authoritarian nature of the Syrian regime, there was always very little space to operate before the revolution began. However, in terms of anarchism in the Arab world, many of the most prominent voices were those of Syrians. Despite there being no organizing that was explicitly “anarchist,” Syrian bloggers and writers with anarchist influences were becoming increasingly prominent on the  “scene” in the last decade or so. Mazen Kamalmaz is a Syrian anarchist who has written a lot over the last few years. His writings contain a lot of anarchist theory applied to contemporary situations, and he was a prominent voice in Arab anarchism long before the uprising began. He’s written a good deal in Arabic, and recently gave a talk in a cafe in Cairo titled “What is Anarchism?”

In terms of organizing, the situation was different, however. In the tough political landscape of an authoritarian regime, many had to get creative and exploit openings they saw in order to organize any type of movement, and this led to a de facto decentralized mode of organizing. For example, student movements erupted in Syrian universities during the second Palestinian Intifada and the Iraq War. This was a type of popular discontent that the regime tolerated. Marches were organized to protest the Iraq War, or in solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada. Although many members of the mukhabarat infiltrated those movements and monitored them closely, this was a purely spontaneous eruption on the part of the students. And although the students were well aware how closely they were being watched (apparently, mukhabarat used to follow the marches with a notepad, writing down what slogans were being chanted and being written on signs), they used this little political space they were given to operate in order to gradually address domestic issues within the regime-sanctioned protests about foreign issues.

One of the most daring episodes I’ve heard of is when students at Aleppo University, in a protest against the Iraq War, raised signs with the slogan “No to the Emergency Law.” (Syria has been under Emergency Law since 1963.) Such actions were unheard of at the time. Many of the students who spontaneously emerged as charismatic organizers from within those protests before the uprising, began disappearing very early on in the current uprising. The regime was wary of those activist networks that were created as a result of those previous movements and thus immediately cracked down on those peaceful activists that it knew may be a threat to them (and at the same time, it became more lenient with the jihadi networks, releasing hundreds of them from prison in late 2011). Aleppo University, as it so happens, has a very well known student movement in favor of the uprising, so much so that it has been dubbed “University of the Revolution.” The regime would later target the university, killing many students in the School of Architecture.

You recently wrote on your blog about possible U.S. intervention as a sort of corollary to Iranian and Russian intervention on behalf of Assad, and Islamist intervention in revolutionary movements. Much as with Egypt recently, anarchists seem something of a signature voice against two unsatisfactory poles within mainstream coverage—a voice preoccupied with self-determination. Is that a fair understanding?

Yes, I believe it is, but I would clarify a few things, as well. In the case of Syria, there are many who fit that description; not only anarchists, but also Trotskyists, Marxists, leftists, and even some liberals. Also, this iteration of self-determination is based on autonomy and decentralization, not Wilsonian notions of “one people” with some kind of nationalist, centralized self-determination. It is about Syrians being able to determine their own destinies not in the nationalist sense, but in the micro-political sense. So for example, Syrian self-determination doesn’t mean one track which all the Syrians follow, but each person determining their own track, without others interfering. So Syrian Kurds, for example, also have the right to full self-determination in this conception, rather than forcing them into an arbitrary Syrian identity and saying that all the people that fall under this identity have one destiny.

And when we talk about parties, such as the regime, but also its foreign allies, and the jihadis who are against Syrian self-determination—this is not because there is one narrative of Syrian self-determination and jihadis are against it. Rather, they want to impose their own narrative on everyone else. The regime works and has always worked against Syrian self-determination because it holds all political power and refuses to share it. The Islamists work against Syrian self-determination not by virtue of them being Islamists (which is why a lot of liberals oppose them), but because they have a vision of how society should function, and want to forcefully impose that on others, whether those people consent to it or not. This is against Syrian self-determination, as well. The allies of the Assad regime, Iran, Russia, and various foreign militias, are against Syrian self-determination because they are determined to prop up this regime due to the fact that they’ve decided their geopolitical interests supersede Syrians deciding their destiny for themselves.

So yes, the mainstream coverage always tries to portray people as belonging to some kind of binary. But the Syrian revolution erupted as people demanding self-determination from the one party that was denying it to them: the regime of Bashar al Assad. As time passed, other actors came onto the scene who also denied Syrians their self-determination, even some who fought against the regime. But the position was never simply to be against the regime for the sake of being against the regime, just as I presume that in Egypt, our comrades’ position is not being against the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] for the sake of being against the Ikhwan. The regime took self-determination away from the people, and any removal of the regime that results in replacing it with someone else who will dominate Syrians should not be seen as a success. As in Egypt, when the Ikhwan came to power, those who considered them an affront to the revolution, even if they weren’t felool [Mubarak loyalists], kept repeating the slogan “al thawra mustamera” [“the revolution continues”]. So too will it be in Syria if, after the regime is gone, a party comes to power that also denies Syrians their right to determine their own destiny.

When I interviewed Mohammed Bamyeh this year, he talked about Syria as a really interesting example of anarchism being a driving methodology on the ground. He pointed out that when one hears about organization within the Syrian revolution, one hears about committees and forms that are quite horizontal and autonomous. His suggestion seems borne out by what people like Budour Hassan have brought to light, documenting the life and work of Omar Aziz. Do you see that influence in what your comrades are doing and reporting?

Yes, this comes back to how anarchism should be seen as a set of practices rather than an ideology. Much of the organizing within the Syrian uprising has had an anarchistic approach, even if not explicit. There is the work that the martyr Omar Aziz contributed to the emergence of the local councils, which Tahrir-ICN and Budour Hassan have documented very well. Essentially these councils were conceived by Aziz as organizations where self-governance and mutual aid could flourish. I believe Omar’s vision did breathe life into the way local councils operate, although it is worth noting that the councils have stopped short of self-governance, opting instead for focusing on media and aid efforts. But they still operate based on principles of mutual aid, cooperation, and consensus.

The city of Yabroud, halfway between Damascus and Homs, is the Syrian uprising’s commune. Also a model of sectarian coexistence, with a large Christian population living in the city, Yabroud has become a model of autonomy and self-governance in Syria. After the regime security forces withdrew from Yabroud in order for Assad to concentrate elsewhere, residents stepped in to fill the vacuum, declaring “we are now organizing all the aspects of the city life by ourselves [sic].” From decorating the city to renaming the school “Freedom School,” Yabroud is certainly what many Syrians, myself included, hope life after Assad will look like. Other areas controlled by reactionary jihadis paint a potentially grimmer picture of the future, but nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that there are alternatives. There’s also a hardcore network of activists located all over the country, but mainly in Damascus, called the “Syrian Revolutionary Youth.” They’re a secretive organization, and they hold extremely daring protests, oftentimes in the very center of regime-controlled Damascus, wearing masks and carrying signs and flags of the Syrian revolution—often accompanied with Kurdish flags (another taboo in Syria).

In the city of Darayya in the suburbs of Damascus, where the regime has waged a vicious battle ever since it fell to rebels in November 2012, some residents have decided to come together and create a newspaper in the midst of all the fighting, called Enab Baladi (meaning Local Grapes, as Darayya is famous for its grapes). Their paper focuses both on what is happening locally in Darayya and what is happening in the rest of Syria. It’s printed and distributed for free throughout the city. [The] principles [of] self-governance, autonomy, mutual aid, and cooperation are present in a lot of the organizations within the uprising. The organizations that operate according to some of those principles obviously don’t comprise the totality of the uprising. There are reactionary elements, sectarian elements, imperialist elements. But we’ve heard about that a lot, haven’t we? There are people doing great work based on sound principles who deserve our support.

How do you think U.S. intervention would ultimately affect the makeup or dynamics of the revolution?

I think, in general, intervention has affected the uprising very negatively, and I think U.S. intervention won’t be any different. But I think how this specific intervention will ultimately affect the makeup or dynamics of the revolution depends on the specific scope of the U/S. strikes. If the U.S. strikes the way they are saying they are going to, that is, “punitive,” “limited,” “surgical,” “symbolic” strikes, then this won’t leave any significant changes on the battlefield. It may, however, give the Assad regime a propaganda victory, as then it can claim that it was “steadfast against U.S. imperialism.” Dictators who survive wars against them have a tendency to declare victories simply on the basis of surviving, even if in reality they were on the losing side. After Saddam Hussein was driven out of Kuwait by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and others, he remained in power for 12 more years, 12 years that were filled with propaganda about how Saddam remained steadfast during “the mother of all battles.”

If the strikes end up being tougher than what is currently being discussed, for one reason or another, and they do make a significant change on the battlefield, or do significantly weaken the Assad regime, then I think the potential negative effects will be different. I think this will lead to a future Syrians won’t have a hand in determining. The U.S. may not like Assad, but they have many times expressed that they believe that regime institutions should remain intact in order to ensure stability in a future Syria. In short, as many have noted, the U.S. wants “Assadism without Assad.” They want the regime without the figure of Assad, just like what they got in Egypt, when Mubarak stepped down but the “deep state” of the military remained, and just like what happened in Yemen where the U.S. negotiated for the president to step down but for everything [else] to remain largely the same. The problem with this is Syrians chanted, “The People Demand the Downfall of the Regime,” not just Assad. There is consensus across the board, from U.S. to Russia to Iran, that no matter what happens in Syria, regime institutions should remain intact. The same institutions that were built by the dictatorship. The same institutions that plundered Syria and provoked the popular discontent that started this uprising. The same institutions that are merely the remnants of French colonialism. Everyone in Syria knows that the U.S.-preferred candidates for leadership roles in any future Syria are those Syrians who were part of the regime and then defected:  Ba’athist bureaucrats turned neoliberal technocrats turned “defectors.” These are the people the U.S. would have rule Syria.

Syrians have already sacrificed so much. They have paid the highest price for their demands. I don’t want all that to go to waste. In the haste to get rid of Assad, the symbol of the regime, I hope the regime is not preserved. Syria deserves better than a bunch of ragtag institutions and a bureaucracy built by dictators who wished to keep the Syrian people under control and pacified. There should be no reason to preserve institutions that have participated in the looting of the country and the killing of the people. And knowing that that’s what the U.S. desires for Syria, I reject any direct involvement by the U/S. If the U.S. wants to help, it can start by using diplomacy to talk to Russia and Iran and convince them to stop the war, so that Syrians themselves can determine what is the next course of action. But U.S. intervening directly is outsiders determining the next stage for Syrians, something I believe should be rejected.

What can folks outside of Syria do to provide support?

For people outside, it’s tough. In terms of material support, there’s very little that can be done. The only thing that I can think of that’s possible on a large scale is discursive/intellectual support. The left has been very hostile to the Syrian uprising, treating the worst elements of anti-regime activity as if they are the only elements of it, and accepting regime narratives at face value. What I’d ask people to do is to help set that record straight and show that there are elements of the Syrian uprising that are worth supporting. Help break that harmful binary that the decision is between Assad or Al Qaeda, or Assad and U.S. imperialism. Be fair to the history and sacrifices of the Syrian people by giving an accurate account. Perhaps it’s too late, and the hegemonic narratives are too powerful in the present to overcome. But if people start now, maybe the history books can at least be fair.


Item Six:
On Interventions and the Syrian Revolution

[The following two items became known to us from the web site <marxmail.org>.

[Item Six is from the blog “Darth Nader,” run by the same Nader Atassi interviewed in Item Five. It was posted on August 27, 2013]

[For the full text of the second of these two, go to: http://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/self-organization-of-the-popular-struggles-in-syria-against-the-regime-and-islamist-groups-yes-it-exists/]

On Interventions and the Syrian Revolution

The Syrian revolution is a revolution that began as a struggle for self-determination. The Syrian people demanded to determine their own destiny. And, for more than two years, against all odds, and in the face of massive repression and destruction from the Assad regime, they persevered.

In the course of the revolutionary process, many other actors have also appeared on the scene to work against the struggle for self-determination. Iran and its militias, with the backing of Russia, came to the aid of the regime, to ensure the Syrian people would not be given this right. The jihadis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and others, under the guise of “fighting the Assad regime,” worked against this right as well. And I feel the same way about any Western intervention.

Some would argue that we have come a long way from that, that it isn’t even about self-determination anymore, but rather, simply stopping the killing. This is a position I cannot support. If it was simply about stopping the killing, then I would’ve supported the jihadis when they came in, because, no one can deny, they were the best armed and the best equipped to challenge the Assad regime. But I didn’t, and many others didn’t, because we knew that despite their ability to challenge the regime, they did not share the goals of the Syrian people. They wanted to control the Syrian people, and stifle their ability to determine their own destiny. Because of this, they were counter-revolutionaries, even if they were fighting against the regime.

And now in the face of a possible Western intervention in Syria, I hold the same position. Many would say I’m being ideological, and that I should just focus on stopping the killing; but those people are ignoring that, even on pragmatic terms and within their own line of reasoning, their argument holds no sway, after repeated US insistence that “these will only be punitive strikes” and they “do not intend to topple the regime.” What indication is there that these strikes will do anything to stop the killing, or “solve” the Syrian crisis?

I don’t care about sovereignty. Syria has become a land for everyone but Syrians nowadays. The myth of Syrian sovereignty is not why I oppose Western intervention. Neither is the prospect of the destruction of Syria, for it has already been destroyed by this criminal regime. I oppose Western intervention because it will work against the struggle for self-determination, that is, against the Syrian revolution.

Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. I have no doubt about this. And this could have been prevented if the Syrian resistance was actually given weapons that could have tilted the balance against the regime. But foreign powers sat on their hands, not wanting Assad to win, but not wanting the resistance to win either. They couldn’t give weapons to the Syrian people to defend themselves, they said, who knows whose hands they might end up in? They might accidentally end up in, say, the hands of Syrians who wanted to determine their own destiny despite foreign interests!

So we’ve come full circle. No one armed the Syrian resistance, so they were killed by the regime, or forced to put up with jihadi infiltration. So Assad used chemical weapons against the Syrians, and the West wants to respond to teach Assad a lesson, a response that still guarantees that Syrians have no say in the matter of their future. And the regime will probably live through any “punitive” Western intervention, and the killing will probably not stop.

But despite all that, the Syrian revolution, and, at its heart, the Syrian people’s struggle for liberation and to determine their own destiny, will live on.


Item Seven: 
Self-Organization of the Popular Struggles

[To repeat, for the full text of the following item, go to: http://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2013/09/08/self-organization-of-the-popular-struggles-in-syria-against-the-regime-and-islamist-groups-yes-it-exists/]

For more than two years, the majority of observers have analyzed the Syrian revolutionary process in geopolitical terms, from above, and ignored the popular political and socio-economic dynamics at the bottom. The threats of a Western intervention have only reinforced this idea of an opposition between two camps: The Western states and the Gulf monarchies on one side; Iran, Russia, and Hezbollah on the other. We refuse to choose between these two camps, we refuse this logic of the “least harmful [evil]” which will only lead to the loss of the Syrian revolution and its objective: democracy, social justice and the rejection of sectarianism. Our support goes to the revolutionary people fighting for its freedom and emancipation. Indeed, only a people fighting will allow [and make possible] not only the fall of the regime, but also the creation of a secular democratic state and the emergence of social justice. A society respecting and guaranteeing each and everyone’s right to practice their religion and respecting their equality without discriminating against them on the basis of religion, ethnic background, gender, etc.

Only masses developing their own mobilization potential can realize change through their collective action. This is the abc of revolutionary politics. But this abc, today, faces a profound skepticism from numerous leftist milieus in the West. We are told that we are taking our desires for realities, that there may have been an early revolution in Syria two years and a half ago, but that things changed since then. We are told that jihadism has taken over the fight against the regime, that it is no longer a revolution but a war and that there is a need to choose a camp to find a concrete solution.

All the “debate” on the left is polluted by this “campist” logic, often accompanied by conspiracy theories that blur the fundamental differences between the left and the right—and especially the far right. When a journalist testifies what he or she saw on the ground, in this or that region under rebel control, and when this testimony dismisses the dominant explanations on the jihadist hegemony, he or she is ignored. Some even imply that those tales are part of the media lies, that aim to make the opposition look presentable to justify an imperialist intervention and thus that we cannot credit it [his or her depiction].

We asked Joseph Daher, Syrian revolutionary activist, member of the
Revolutionary Left Current in Syria, currently living in Switzerland, to explain the state of the popular movements in his country, specifically the self-organization of the masses in the liberated regions, the struggle against sectarianism and against Islamists. The conclusion that comes out of this is clear: yes, the revolution is still alive in Syria, and it needs our solidarity.


Item Eight: 
Syria Wadah Khanfar Guardian Sep2 2013

[This article was posted on the web site “Military Resistance,” and we have reproduced the styling and format it used.]

Syrians Want Rid Of President Assad, But Without US Bombs:
“This Strong Desire To Eradicate The Regime Will, For The Most Part, Never Be Translated Into Support For American Military Intervention”
“Most Important Of All, There Are Fears That American Air Strikes Will Open The Way For Future U.S. Meddling In Syrian Affairs”
“What Is Now Required Is That The U.S. And Western Countries Allow Syrians To Accomplish Their Revolutionary Objectives By Themselves —To Eradicate The Regime With Their Own Hands”

2 September Wadah Khanfar, Guardian News and Media Limited

The Arab world has longed to get rid of the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad for years. In their minds it represents absolute evil.

Future generations will remember the savage massacres perpetrated by the Syrian regime and the images of women and children who were slaughtered.

But this strong desire to eradicate the regime will, for the most part, never be translated into support for American military intervention. That is because of misgivings and mistrust concerning US motives.

President Obama’s address last Saturday was loaded with emotions. He used the phrase “moral responsibility” to justify punishing the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons against civilians.

That, however, did little to convince many Arabs.

Few have felt this moral responsibility in their dealings with the US, which has been losing credibility with the Arab public for decades.

An entrenched image of American double standards and political bias against Arab interests has taken root; especially with regard to US bias towards Israel and America’s longstanding support for tyrannical Arab regimes.

This image was reinforced even more strongly after Washington’s “war on terror” and its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

While Obama’s election initially seemed appealing, with his promises of new policies in the Middle East, he missed the opportunity in his very first test in dealing with the Palestine question. 

He retreated from his demands for an end to Israeli settlement of Palestinian land – a demand he had personally made – and backtracked on a promise to close Guantánamo detention facility.

And under Obama the US continued to cause heavy civilian casualties through its use of drones against targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, quashing Arab hopes of any serious change in policy.

And there are other reasons why Arab doubts over US air strikes on Syria are justified.

First, the US “red line” policy over chemical attacks came very late; long after the Arab red lines.

The expected US attack is therefore related to its desire to end a long run of setbacks to its international prestige.

Obama knows that any silence over the crossing of his red line would expose the US before the world as weak and incapable; America needs to carry out this attack.

For the Arab world, Syria crossed all red lines over two years ago.

Between the two lines, more than 100,000 people were killed; more than a million were turned into refugees; and residential districts were destroyed.

Every kind of weaponry was used against civilians, including jets and Scud missiles.

The second reason to question America’s seriousness is that an attack would be limited in terms of targets and duration. It will not aim to topple the regime. Syrians and Arabs are asking: what happens after this attack?

Yes, the regime may hesitate to use chemical weapons in future; but it would not hesitate to kill by other means.

In other words, it would continue to kill according to the American criteria, and the Syrian people would continue to pay a heavy price.

Most important of all, there are fears that American air strikes will open the way for future US meddling in Syrian affairs.

Intervention may be extended to include the use of unmanned aircraft to attack “suspects” in Syria, or to try to impose a new political outcome on both sides of the conflict, which would risk causing disarray.

Already, many Arabs question the credibility of any US role in building a stable democratic Syria.

The military coup in Egypt was a major cause for concern, calling into question America’s position towards political Islam, and democracy itself.

The US has refused to describe the enforced removal and detention of President Morsi as a coup, despite the killing and wounding of thousands of civilian protesters by Egyptian security forces.

Given the continuing revolutionary fervour in the region, in which the Islamists play a leading role, America has shown complicity in Egypt’s coup by continuing to fund its army.

Hence a wide section of Islamic-linked Syrian revolutionaries will never welcome any major role for the US in the country’s future.

It was clear from the very beginning, when the Syrian regime first drenched itself with the blood of civilians, that its swift departure would prevent, not inflame, sectarian polarisation in the country, and would move Syria towards democratic change.

At the time, none of the al-Qaida-aligned jihadist groups were present.

Yet American policy was uncertain, based on doubts over the rights of religious and ethnic minorities in Syria; the future of the country after the fall of Assad; and guarantees of no threats to Israel’s security.

Parallel to the west’s overly cautious approach was the support given by Russia and Iran to the regime, which allowed it to continue its massacres, confident that it would not be held accountable.

Throughout the two-year terror in Syria, American intervention has been mostly negative. The US pressured Arab states in the region to prevent the delivery of advanced weaponry, especially anti-aircraft missiles, to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This was on the pretext that such weapons could fall into the hands of extremists, despite attempts by the FSA to reassure the Americans. Indeed the US demanded that the FSA fight the jihadist factions, which would have inflicted huge damage on the revolution and risked its total disintegration.

Yes, the international community needs to take a strong stand over the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against its people.

It must be said though that a strong moral stand should be taken against all killing of civilians, whatever the means.

What is now required is that the US and western countries allow Syrians to accomplish their revolutionary objectives by themselves – to eradicate the regime with their own hands.

The west should not prevent them acquiring the means to decide the struggle militarily, and should encourage them to continue trying to build Syria according to the rules of real democracy, without excluding or marginalising any party or group.

The Syrian people have proven their remarkable bravery in the struggle against tyranny; given the chance, I’m convinced they will demonstrate a similar level of responsibility in building a new democratic nation.


Item Nine: 
Socialists in 2012 on the Ongoing Struggle Against the Regime in Syria

 [The source of this last item, from a year and a half ago, is International Viewpoint (IV Online magazine—IV446), March 2012.]

This translation of a statement from the Syrian Revolutionary Left, a group of Marxists inside and outside Syria that in January published the first issue of a monthly newspaper, was published by the New Socialist webzine on the 19th of February 2012. The introduction is taken from NSW.

The popular movement against the Assad regime continues. We are publishing a translation of a statement from the Syrian Revolutionary Left, a group of Marxists inside and outside Syria that in January published the first issue of a monthly newspaper. We hope that this will allow more people who read English to become aware of the revolutionary socialist presence in the struggle in Syria.

We realize that the statement contains language that, in English, may sound outdated to some readers — for example, using “the masses” to refer to the ordinary people of the country. However, it’s important to appreciate that this is not the case in the context of Syria today and in the original Arabic. Also, in this statement “sectarianism” refers to the Assad regime’s practice of pitting the country’s different ethno-religious communities against each other in order to maintain its rule (the regime tries to present itself as the protector of Christians, Kurds and Alawite Muslims against the Sunni Muslim majority) — NSW

The Barbaric Regime Will Not End the Determination of the Syrian Revolutionary Masses!

Since the beginning of last month (January), the killing and destroying machine of the ruling regime accelerated, with the proposition of the Arab plan which asked for the withdrawal of the tyrant in favor of its Vice President. The army and the militias have actually stormed numbers of cities and villages.

This bloody regime took advantage of the endless discussions of the Security Council — that the Russian and Chinese governments used their veto to prevent from passing a resolution condemning the regime — to trigger the barbaric attack on the neighborhoods of the city of Homs. They have committed a new massacre on February 3 and 4, which adds to the long list of massacres of the determined and revolutionary masses. The barbarity of the ruling regime requires a strong condemnation by the forces and vivid people of conscience struggling for justice and freedom; these latter should appeal to take legal action against the perpetrators of these crimes. Despite the enormous suffering and sacrifices of the masses, this murderous regime has suffered a huge defeat when it tried to crush the revolution and break the will of the revolutionary people.

The masses, by their great revolution, write the lines of the most prestigious page of the history of heroism, abnegation, courage and honour there is to confront one of the worst regimes in the region, in terms of crimes and terror. They know intuitively and from experience that the regimes concerned by the Syrian case are here only through the prism of their narrow selfish interests or for the long term. They know as well that they are not moved by the sacrifices and suffering of the Syrian people. The masses rely only on their own strength and their will to force the bloody Assad regime to fall. They also know that the increasing participation of the masses in the revolution, reaching the undecided and the timid, the more they rise and extend the forces of the revolutionary movement brandishing the banner of freedom, equality and social justice, the more it strengthens the support, preventing the fall into the dark problems of sectarianism which the regime and counter-revolutionary forces encourage. If this happens, the revolutionary process would have eased the suffering and sacrifice, while provoking the downfall of the regime. This will then offer the prospect of building a new free Syria, democratic and pluralistic, based on equality between all citizens, without discrimination on the basis of gender, race or religion.

We must prevent a repetition of the massacre of Homs and all the others perpetrated by the ruling regime. This is the reason why we tell this rotten regime that it faces the Syrian people in all its components and not neighborhoods of cities or a city and a village here and there. We answer to this regime that the uprising will continue in all locations. The people struggling against the dictatorship (which has no restrictive sectarian characteristic) are all the Syrians in their great struggle for freedom. This is why the regime has failed to break the revolutionary movement, especially on a sectarian basis, which the revolutionary dynamic rejects. The regime will continue to fail in this regard because our people are one and united in its fight against the ruling clique.

The general strike at the end of last year, although it was limited, has shown that it can paralyze the economic and military levers of the regime and help to stimulate the revolutionary political consciousness of the masses. Today, while a movement of civil disobedience was announced for three days in protest against the massacre of Homs, we do not just call on all leftists to call for and participate in it effectively. We also demand to monitor and implement the strikes (with political, economic and social demands), for civil disobedience and to encourage the inclusion of all revolutionary forces which are the only ones capable of paralyzing the material levers of the system and the savagery of its repression.

Syrian revolutionary militants, let’s continue the expansion of strikes and the disobedience movement to paralyze this bloody regime by our common struggles, by the mere energy of the revolutionary people of Syria, which is unlimited, and continue building self-managed committees and local councils to deal with the affairs of the revolutionary masses, because this dictatorial regime is tottering, despite its false claims about its infallibility.

With the solidarity and the unity of the Syrian people and their heroic resistance, we will make possible the overthrow of the Assad regime.

Workers, peasants, students, unemployed and officials, oppressed and tortured in Syria, all together let’s work for the mass general strike at the national level.

Glory to the martyrs of the revolution, victory to the Syrian people, united, united.

Damascus February 5, 2012

Translation by Khalil Habash.

Published on the New Socialist webzine.

Other recent articles in International Viewpoint:

Syria

Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution! - March 2012
The point of no return - February 2012
One year on - January 2012
Unite for the success of the mass national general strike: The strike of dignity! - December 2011
The revolution continues - December 2011
Arab Revolutions
Debt Swap is not an Alternative to Cancelling Odious Debt - March 2012
“We affirm our solidarity with women in the revolutionary process” - March 2012
Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution! - March 2012