[Marxism] Report on Syria Opposition

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Tue Sep 17 18:57:26 MDT 2013

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jeff" <meisner at xs4all.nl>

 First thanks Jeff for engaging in constructive, pro-revolution debate.

> I have only two points where I would
> perhaps differ (or at least would have expressed myself differently):
> On Tue, September 17, 2013 15:21, Michael Karadjis wrote:
>> Perhaps from the point of view of imperialism, for whom all of those
>> vaguely Islamist moderates would still be considered enemies of
>> imperialist interests (would even "moderate Islamists" be as 
>> dedicated
>> to protecting the Israeli annexation of Gaza as Assad has been?
> Right, but you could have gone further and included not only the 
> "moderate
> Islamist" camp but the so-called "democratic-secular" forces in that
> remark. To the best of my knowledge there is no one in Syria on EITHER
> side of the conflict who expresses anything other than general 
> hostility
> to Israel. That hostility is based on not only their continued 
> occupation
> of Syrian territory but on solidarity with the Palestinian people 
> (with

Of course I completely agree. To some extent, expressing it this way was 
aimed both at those on the left who continue to chatter on ignorantly 
about "imperialist-backed Islamists" or even "imperialist-backed 
jihadists," to emphasise the contradictions in their Islamophobic 
discourse being paraded as anti-imperialist; but also to the imperialist 
media's pursuit of "moderates".

But in fact, the very next part of what I wrote after the above 
basically underlines your point, though perhaps I could have made it 
more clearly where I wrote:

"and also, since for the US "moderate" doesn't just mean secular, but 
pro-imperialist, the fact of 30% secular fighters is no guarantee of
serving imperialist interests. As Dempsey stated on August 19, no one in
Syria represents US interests."

> Also:
>> 4. The "Salafist/jihadis" who have a global agenda, meaning the two 
>> Al
>> Qaida linked groups, Al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and 
>> Syria.
>> The former is largely Syrian, despite its global agenda, the latter
>> heavily Iraqi...... They represent a counterrevolution just
>> as the regime does.
> I really disagree with the last characterization, however this may 
> well be
> a matter of semantics. I know there are some on the left that are 
> happy to
> use the term "counterrevolutionary" merrily as an ephithet, but I 
> wouldn't
> have lumped Michael in with that crowd. Or you can see world events as
> being solely defined by the "class struggle" and all forces being on 
> "one
> side or the other," in which case "counterrevolutionary" and 
> "right-wing"
> become synonymous. Again I don't think Michael subscribes to such a
> simplistic view.

Right, I don't. Perhaps it is just semantics. Note that I only made this 
characterization about the most reactionary wing of the hard-line 
jihadists, not about the larger group of "hard-line jihadists" who have 
a Syrian agenda and who work more cooperatively with the mainstream FSA 
despite their sharp differences.

You say it is better to describe them as:

> "taking advantage" of the Syrian revolution for the purpose of 
> advancing a
> -- yes -- right-wing Islamic agenda which is not a legitimate part of 
> the
> Syrian revolution. And if they were actually standing in the way of a
> revolutionary government from taking or consolidating power, then 
> perhaps
> the term "counterrevolutionary" would apply, but that could only be so
> sometime well into the future.

While I take your point, and your definition sounds good, and I'm not 
wedded to the term "counterrevolutionary", for me the issue is not so 
much their hard-line "Islamist" ideology (which in any case would also 
condemn the nationally-oriented Salafists of the SIF), because I agree 
that it is the momentum of mass struggle, of revolution, which will 
decide whether or not salafists can impose their repressive agenda.

Rather, it is the strong tendency of this group of jihadists - the 
Al-Qaida aligned groups - to indulge in sectarian attacks and massacres. 
Certainly far less than the imperialist media makes out, as they 
highlight every instance in an attempt to damn the revolution as a whole 
(and then the left does the same and imagine that in doing so they are 
criticizing the imperialist media). But certainly far more than any 
other sections of the resistance. In particular, over the last few 
months. They often use the excuse that killing civilians is "revenge" 
for Hezbollah's sectarian intervention on Assad's side to seize Qusayr; 
more recently, they use the excuse of "revenge" for the chemical 
massacre. Their official ideology also is explicitly anti-Alawi and 
anti-Shia, they basically promise them the grave. Certainly, sectarian 
attacks are counterrevolutionary by definition.

In addition, in the north they have been waging a vicious war against 
the Kurds, driving thousands into Iraq, and elsewhere they have clashed 
with the FSA and the "soft Islamist" groups all over Syria, including 
murdering an FSA leader. In Raqqa, yes they helped the resistance seize 
the town, but they later drove the main moderate Islamist, FSA-aligned, 
group, Ahfad Al Rasul, out of town after bombing their headquarters. 
They've done little overall to liberate anything, but instead prefer to 
come from the back and take over areas already liberated by the FSA.

It is in this sense, rather than just purely their ideology, that I call 
them counterrevolutionary, but again, I've got no great attachment to it 
one way or another. The regime is the counterrevolution.

Finally, I agree with your point about distinguishing Al Nusra from the 
far more reactionary, murderous and foreign-dominated ISIS, and perhaps 
my characterization mainly means the latter in practice:

> Furthermore, even if their ideologies are indistinguishable, I'm not 
> sure
> I'd lump the Nusra front (mainly composed of Syrians) with ISIS, in
> regards to their dynamics. Even if their ideologies are 
> indistinguishable
> (and this would apply, to a lesser degree, to forces such as the MB) 
> their
> origins in the uprising means that they inherit a dynamic due to the
> underlying social forces and conflicts (aka class struggle) from which 
> the
> uprising began. Their composition means that their forces will tend to 
> act
> in accordance with those interests regardless of the regressive 
> ideology
> that defines them externally. And this is all the more true given that
> many of their recruits simply chose to join a better funded and 
> supplied
> fighting group rather than waiting for an impoverished FSA unit to
> scrounge up a rifle for them.

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