[Marxism] Iraq and Syria: The struggle against the multi-sided counterrevolution

Andrew Pollack acpollack2 at gmail.com
Wed Jun 25 10:09:59 MDT 2014

correct link:
The one you provided takes you to the Edit Blog page.

On Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 12:05 PM, Michael Karadjis via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> Iraq and Syria: The struggle against the multi-sided counterrevolution
> https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=
> 151&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2
> As a coalition of Sunni-based forces, including the Islamic State of Iraq
> and Sham (ISIS), took the major northern Iraqi city of Mosul and then most
> of the Sunni heartland in the north and west of Iraq, regional and western
> capitals went into crisis mode: the entire post-US occupation stabilisation
> had collapsed in a heap.
> And the coalition leading this revolt consists of none other than the same
> forces which led the Iraqi resistance to US occupation throughout the
> middle years of the last decade. Yes, once again the arch-reactionary ISIS
> itself has revealed its brutality, with reported mass killing of captured
> soldiers, a crime against humanity; in the same way that monstrous acts,
> such as bombing work queues and Shiite mosques, were carried out during the
> anti-US resistance by al-Qaida in Iraq (ie, what became ISIS); horrific
> repression is partly to blame for breeding horrific reactions. In both
> cases however, this most violent and irrational element does not define the
> movement, still less explain its strength.
> These events involve both Syria and Iraq, with their long, relatively
> open, border occupied on both sides by ISIS. The rise of ISIS can be
> connected to two momentous events: the American Guernica on Iraq 2003-2008,
> and the vast multi-sided Iraqi resistance to that invasion and occupation;
> and the vast popular revolution in Syria, and the Assad regime’s Guernica
> to suppress it over 2011-2014. In both cases, the victims have been
> overwhelmingly Iraqi and Syrian Sunni Arabs – the vast Sunni majority in
> Syria, and the significant Sunni minority in Iraq.
> It is in the context of this overwhelming disaster faced by the Sunni
> masses of Syria and Iraq, and mass resistance to it, that ISIS has been
> able to grow, representing the most extreme and most sectarian reaction to
> this dual blitzkrieg.
> Iraq and Syria: the forces ranged against both regimes and ISIS
> It is important to understand, however, that in neither Syria nor Iraq is
> ISIS the only opposition, among the disenfranchised Sunni masses, and the
> popular masses more generally, to the sectarian-based capitalist regimes in
> power. While the media focus has been about “regime(s) versus ISIS,” in
> reality, in both countries, there are three main forces in contention:
> 1. The Bashar al-Assad and Nuri al-Maliki regimes. Both are
> sectarian-based regimes: the Assad regime is a “secular” totalitarian
> regime heavily based among the elite of the Alawite religious minority; the
> Maliki regime is a sectarian, semi-theocratic, Shiite regime closely
> aligned with both the former US occupier, that facilitated its rise to
> power, and with the Shiite theocracy in neighbouring Iran.
> 2. The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), the most extreme Sunni
> sectarian and theocratic movement in the region, which has set up its own
> semi-state over parts of Syria and Iraq. A descendant of al-Qaida in Iraq,
> ISIS was disowned by al-Qaida last year for being unnecessarily and
> embarrassingly barbaric (though in fact the disagreement went back as far
> as 2005). It represents an “opposing counterrevolution,” formed partially
> from within the ranks of the uprisings.
> 3. In between, a vast opposition to the regimes which is also distinct
> from ISIS, in open war with it in Syria, and on and off at war with it in
> Iraq:
> In Iraq, this consists of a range of “Sunni tribes” and other Sunni
> militias which have, over the last year or so, alternatively been fighting
> the regime alongside ISIS, or fighting against ISIS. This includes Sunni
> militia that were part of the Iraqi resistance to US occupation, whether
> pro-Saddam Baathist, Islamist or otherwise nationalist; and Sunni groups
> that were mobilised by the US and Saudi Arabia into the “Sawha” (Awakening)
> movement that helped defeat al-Qaida in 2007-8, but have since become
> disenchanted with the Shiite sectarian regime they had been drawn into
> propping up.
> In Syria, this consists of all the armed manifestations of the Syrian
> revolution, from the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA, based heavily among the
> Sunni but not entirely, including some Alawite and Christian brigades and
> officers), moderate Islamist groups like the Mujahideen Army in the north
> and the al-Ajnad Union in the south, the Islamic Front, a loose coalition
> ranging from moderate to hard-line Islamists, and Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN),
> the official wing of al-Qaida in Syria, which however is markedly less
> hard-line than ISIS since their split in May 2013. While a favourite
> western media discourse is “rebel in-fighting,” in reality this does not
> exist at all; rather, all these forces act in unison in their war against
> both the Assad regime and ISIS; it is the war of all of them against ISIS
> that wrongly gets labelled this way.
> These two struggles are related but different. The Syrian struggle began
> as a multi—sect democratic uprising which however has tended to become more
> Sunni in composition largely due to the class realities in Syrian society;
> the Iraqi struggle is explicitly Sunni against an explicitly
> Shiite-sectarian regime, and evolved out of a nationalist resistance to US
> occupation. The more advanced sectors of the Syrian revolution still hope
> to win non-Sunni support for a rising against then regime, no matter how
> unlikely that may now be; by contrast, the Iraqi revolt only aims to
> liberate Sunni regions – the ISIS-led attempt to conquer Shiite-dominated
> Baghdad or any other Shiite region would by definition by a reactionary and
> sectarian action.
> What accounts for strength of ISIS?
> What then accounts for the particular strength of ISIS, given that most
> accounts do not credit ISIS with superior numbers of troops to other
> resistance movements (indeed in Syria at least ISIS is vastly outnumbered,
> perhaps 10 to 1, yet in the second half of 2013 had taken control over much
> rebel-held territory before being expelled in January 2014)?
> Full: https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=
> 151&action=edit&message=6&postpost=v2
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