[Marxism] Anatomy of the Islamic State

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Dec 1 07:33:46 MST 2014

On 12/1/14 7:12 AM, Prashad, Vijay via Marxism wrote:
> The Marxist, November 2014.
> http://cpim.org/sites/default/files/marxist/201403-vijay%20prashad.pdf
> Vijay.

Vijay: "Al-Nusra joined a variety of jihadi groups that had already 
begun to suffocate the civil rebellion of 2011 and the anemic Free 
Syrian Army (made up of defectors from the Syrian armed forces). The
jihadis brought a tenacious energy to the fight. They did not need 
frontlines and heavy artillery required by the Soviet training received 
by the Syrian armed forces and their defectors. These were fighters who 
knew close combat and relied upon fast moving Toyota trucks to move 
swiftly across Syria’s uneven topography."

Reply: "They did not need frontlines and heavy artillery required by the 
Soviet training received by the Syrian armed forces and their 
defectors." The FSA *got started* from defections from the Syrian Army 
but rapidly evolved into a network of militias that drew from ordinary 
people with no military training. If you ever get a chance to see 
"Return to Homs", you will get a good idea of who fought in that city 
lost to the Baathist counter-revolution. The film is focused on the 
efforts of a star soccer player and his friends from high school who 
used AK-47's against tanks.

Vijay: "Al-Nusra and the Islamic State had no problem in recruiting 
fighters. From 2011 onwards, Assad has opened his prison doors to 
release many who had jihadi backgrounds. The civic rebellion was overrun 
by these jihadis, who were more adept at organisation and armed struggle."

Reply: Adeptness at organization and armed struggle are not what gave 
them an advantage. It was instead the funding from conservative Sunni 
elites. An excerpt from a NYT op-ed dated Aug. 9 2012 should give you a 
sense of the contending forces:

	By 2 p.m. the tank convoy heading for Aleppo seemed to have changed 
course, which meant that the shelling might lighten up a little bit, but 
the sound of sniper fire had not abated. Nevertheless, in less than a 
half-hour a group from the F.S.A. showed up.

	The leader was named Amjad, a young man with a degree from a midlevel 
technical institute who owned a clothing store in Saraqib’s souk until 
it was burned and looted by the regime’s army. He was quiet, his eyes 
shining. He seemed a bit sad. He didn’t shake my hand but bowed out of 
respect and sat down with the group.

	While we talked, the planes returned, flying low over the skies of 
Saraqib. We heard the sound of a bomb but the conversation didn’t stop. 
Their arsenal was no match for the weapons of the regime’s army. The 
success they had achieved on the battlefield against Mr. Assad’s army 
depended on their bravery. The commander of the group didn’t speak at 
first but soon got involved in the conversation.

	“We’re a group of autonomous battalions that don’t obey a central 
command structure. And we’re out here working on our own. Most foreign 
support goes to the Islamists,” he said. “We have sold our sisters’ and 
our wives’ gold in order to buy ammunition and defend the town.” He was 
afraid of what might happen if they gave up and the regime survived. 
“Young men will turn toward fundamentalism and extremism. The Syrian 
people have already been subjected to impoverishment. And after a year 
and a half the Syrian people have begun to take care of themselves, now 
that the world has abandoned them. I worry that things could get even 
worse,” he added.


More information about the Marxism mailing list