[Marxism] The Syrian Double Revolution and the EuroLeftist Double Impotency

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Sat Jan 4 20:20:06 MST 2014

The Syrian Double Revolution and the EuroLeftist Double Impotency

Posted by Leil-Zahra on 1/04/14 . Categorized as English

Since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution many radical Leftist groups 
and networks, both on the international and local levels in Europe and 
around the world, have engaged in a heated debate on wether to support 
the revolution or not, on wether it was a revolution or an imperialist 
conspiracy. The European counterargument against the revolution had a 
quite-telling approach that was different from many in the rest of the 
world. It wasn´t just the usual claim that the Assad regime is one of 
the last-standing anti-imperialist forces. That claim became weaker in 
Europe after the aggravation of the regime crimes accompanied with 
hard-to-deny evidence on its brutality continuously coming out from 
Syria. Many within the European Left over and over affirmed that they 
will not support what is happening in Syria until they find 
revolutionary forces worthy of their support. The difference in approach 
was in the claim that there was no third option that is "revolutionary" 
and that poses a substitute to both the Assad regime and the Islamist 
militias. This approach wasn´t only problematic in its privileged 
laziness in not doing the needed effort to find these networks in Syria, 
but also in its White-tailored presets for what is a "better future" for 
the Syrians. It is the cliché and banal dichotomy of Secular vs. 
Islamist, something very reminiscent of Huntington´s "Clash of 
Civilizations". It also bears a certain condescending patronization on 
who is worthy of demanding an end to a certain terrorist regime and who 
is not. This is a very dangerous approach. It is a clear double-standard 
in the alleged radical Leftist agenda, and a quite revoking one. Any 
people, whether we agree with them or not, who are living under such an 
oppressive and violent regime, has the right to overthrow it. Whether 
they have a plan that meets our aspirations on what is to come next, or 
not, it is their full right and own choice to rebel. We can be critical 
and actively disagree with their agenda, but we should never justify or 
whitewash the crimes of the regime against them. Refusing to support 
certain anti-regime actions or groups that do not meet our politics is 
needed and important, but this should not be mistaken for a support to 
the regime forces or undermining rebellious efforts of other groups and 
individuals. This is not problematic on the Syrian question only. It is 
a clear call for reflection on the mentality and approach of a big 
section of the European Left. This is where the debate is urgently 
needed. The strictly Eurocentric definition of the world, of politics, 
and even of revolution itself. The European Left has made a brand out of 
Revolution. It was taken under a European copyright and it gets bestowed 
on some and denied to others. It is given and could be taken away. Alas!

With over 170 days of siege on the El-Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp 
in Syria, and over 30 people there murdered by the regime forces with 
the weapon of starvation, Assad´s credibility as a pro-Palestine leader 
crumbled. It is no longer easy to justify his crimes against El-Yarmouk, 
nor paint him as the Palestine-loving fairy. It became harder and harder 
for people to look the other way. The humanitarian approach was gaining 
grounds before the revolutionary agenda. While El-Yarmouk suffered for a 
pretty long time, and its rebellious residents joined the revolution 
very early on, it took starvation and the usual postcard of dying 
children to get the world´s attention; especially the world of 
Palestine-solidarity networks in Europe and beyond. Starvation can´t be 
justified as a bomb that allegedly took a wrong turn, nor it could be 
blamed on certain anti-regime militias. It was no longer easy to keep 
the eyes closed! Though this only undermined one of Assad´s PR points, 
it still didn´t provoke the needed reaction. The Palestinian refugees in 
the El-Yarmouk camp, like many Syrians, are dying of hunger. The regime 
is using starvation as a weapon. Clear? Now action is needed!

The denial of life-saving medicines and vaccines is also being used as a 
weapon. For example, Polio vaccines are denied or given in amounts much 
less than the needed ones to zones out of the regime control. This is 
not a matter of a UNICEF-style activism of sick children on a postcard 
like some claim. And it is not a matter of the World Health Organization 
taking its responsibilities and duties seriously, plus putting the funds 
it has into action. This is another evidence, just like the refugee 
question, on the corruption of the international relief agencies. On the 
amount of money wasted and on diplomatic and bureaucratic protocols that 
are respected more than life itself. Health is being used as a weapon, 
as a repressive measure that is destroying the lives of many and will 
most probably leave life-long life-devestating impacts. There is a 
revolutionary obligation to actively put an end to this and as soon as 
possible. This is in no way different than fighting against a 
nuclear-power facility or a multinational that endangers the lives of 
many and that of the future generations, except maybe in its pressing 

Much of the European Left´s counterargument against the revolution was 
demanding proof from the Syrians on their worthiness of support, asking 
them to demonstrate that they are "revolutionary enough". Maybe it was 
never put so bluntly, but that is the essence of it. It was never enough 
that there are people dying, and that there are thousands in detention 
camps; it was never enough that the population is being forced into 
murderous exodus or being deprived of basic needs. The European Left 
wanted its "revolutionaries". They continuously negated the presence of 
any substantial forces fighting the regime and posing an option other 
than religious fundamentalism.

Now news is hitting international fronts on Syrian activists kidnapped 
by Islamist forces. There is no more hiding of the division between the 
Islamist militias and the revolutionary groups in the anti-Assad camp. 
This division made it crystal clear that there are voices who are 
fighting both, that there are people who are a threat to Assad and to 
the Islamists. The threats-turned-attacks of the Islamists against many 
activists within the anti-Assad camp undermines the oversimplified 
binary of Assad vs. Islamists. The "third option" paid for the spotlight 
dearly, with threats to their lives. The voices from local committees 
and grassroots networks denouncing both the Assad regime and the 
Islamists trying to hijack the revolution intensified in the recent 
period. It is now much harder to ignore and marginalize them, let alone 
claim they don´t exist and that it is only Al-Qaeda militias in the 

They have names and their photos are circulating the Internet, activists 
who are either detained/kidnapped by the regime or by the Islamists. The 
press releases and communiques of grassroots organizations concerning 
these detentions/kidnappings, and the violations of both the regime and 
the Islamists are available, and are either translated or awaiting 
translation (hint hint). The European Left is as always invited to email 
these networks and communicate with them. It is a chance to get to know 
them, to hear their stories, and to listen to what they have to say. 
then decide! Once again, it is not the duty nor the obligation of the 
Syrians to explain themselves to the world. They have enough on their 
hands to deal with, they are leading a double-revolution. A revolution 
against the Assad regime, and a revolution against the Islamists 
attempting to take over. A revolution to overthrow a regime, and a 
revolution to fight another repressive regime in the make. A double 
revolution with all what it entails of fighting sieges, lack of basic 
needs, its injured, its refugees, bombs, armed militias, detentions, 
torture, kidnappings, lack of freedom of movement, crackdown on freedoms 
in both the regime areas and the Islamist-controlled ones, desperation.. 
etc. Individuals who don´t only have to worry about what is happening in 
Syria and their own lives but carry the weight of what is happening to 
Syrian refugees all over. The Syrian people are not only being killed in 
Syria! They are being devastated, sometimes to death, in Jordan and in 
Egypt, hunted down in Lebanon, drowning at the shores of Italy and 
Greece, and suffering at the borders Moroccan borders with the Spanish 

Here is your proof, signed with detention reports and kidnapping news. 
Here is the list of names for your revolutionary talent show. Here is 
your revolutionaries denouncing and criticizing both Assad and the 
religious fundamentalists. Here are the people who you claimed over and 
over do not exist, the attacks they are now suffering took them into a 
whole new level of attention. You can no longer hide in your weakness 
claiming there is no one to talk to and no one to work with. Not that 
this lame excuse ever stood ground! Even if this was not a revolution, 
even if this was "just a civil war", there is still much to do. Even if 
this was "just a Syrian issue", something "for them to work out", there 
is still much to do. Syrians are at the borders of Europe. Syrians are 
dragging their injured and waiting with bleeding bodies at the borders 
of Europe. The last phrase is not an attempt at a poetic sentence. It is 
the crude and graphic reality! Syrian families are with their injured 
awaiting access into Europe with literally open and bleeding wounds that 
require urgent medical attention. Syrians are freezing to death in 
refugee camps, while international relief agencies organize endless 
conferences, and while governments make one useless PR maneuver after 
the other. This is not a "Syrian issue", this is Fortress Europe and the 
dominant North at its best. This is no longer about Syria only, this is 
about the system we repeatedly claim to fight.

There is so much to be done. And it is not charity we are talking about, 
nor the corrupting relief mentality. It is radical and revolutionary 
work that is needed. It is stepping out of the narrow Eurocentric vision 
of semantics into political action. It is not only Assad and the 
Islamists who are killing the Syrian people, it is international systems 
like the EU border regime and the international relief mafias to name 
but a few. This is not about Syria, and this is not "just a faraway 
civil war". They are dying right here, on EU borders, and they are in EU 
immigrant detention camps. If it is not for Syria, and out of belief in 
the Syrian revolution, or even in the right for every people, wether 
they meet our shades of color or not, to rebel, it should be out of 
coherence with our political beliefs. Our fight on the EU front is 
needed. This is a people who has risen against a brutal dictatorship, 
only to see that they have a whole world to overcome. A world of 
international meddling, whether in the form of Islamist militias, or 
international relief, or leftist patronization. A world of closed 
borders and complicit governments that once again put their profit over 
life. A world of apathy. This is what the Syrians and the Palestinians 
in Syria are facing. Questions that are not only related to Syria, but 
related to international and intertwined local struggles.

Today it is harder than ever for the European Left to claim that the 
anti-Assad camp is void of people who fit the Eurocentric and classist 
definition of people worthy of solidarity. They are there, and there 
names and faces are all over the place. It is also hard to deny that 
there is a force seen as a threat by both Assad and the Islamists. It 
also became hard to push Syria into faraway geographic oblivion since 
Syria is now right here drowning at EU borders. What is left to see is 
how the European Left will react now that it has less and less excuses 
to justify its revolutionary impotence not just on Syria, but on its own 
fronts that are also implicated in the Syrian question

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