[Marxism] Syria: On US arms to a few moderate FSAers and a few others signing a truce with ISIS

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Tue Sep 16 06:50:16 MDT 2014

Since this issue of several local FSA groups signing a non-aggression 
pact with the local ISIS was also raised on this list, I’m sending some 
discussion I made on the GL list about the same subject. Since it was in 
response to a post sent by Sukla Sen which also took apart some of the 
false claims about this, I’m also including some of that useful post.


Thanks for the articles dissecting this Assadista and conspiracist crap 

But I want to make a more general point. The FSA are not America’s 
puppets, to simply dance to the tune of the master. No USA armed the FSA 
in their heroic 3-year fight against a fascist tyranny, and no USA armed 
them in their year-long fight against ISIS. For the last year, tens of 
thousands of FSA fighters have borne the brunt (alongside further tens 
of thousands in various mainstream Islamist militias) in this 2-sided 
war against the allied double fascisms. The entire time, the regime and 
ISIS did not attack each other, but both focused on destroying the 
revolutionary forces. The US gave them jack.

The Idlib-based Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), a coordinated 
network of FSA units in that region, virtually single-handedly drove 
ISIS out of north-west Syria in January. With no help from the US.

In this context, revolutionary fighters are entitled to make truces and 
non-aggression pacts with whoever they feel like. That’s a question of 
tactics, of pragmatism, of avoiding exhaustion etc. If several FSA 
groups near Damascus (the articles suggest four groups, only one of 
which appears to be sizeable, the southern branch of the SRF) sign a 
non-aggression pact with ISIS, that’s their freaking business. In fact, 
some other FSA units have similarly signed temporary truces with the 
regime in recent months. That’s also their business. “Revolutionaries” 
in the West have no business judging fighters going through hell on the 
basis of what truces they are forced to make.

Question: why does “the left”, an essentially meaningless term on such 
issues, scream blue murder when some FSA units sign a tactical truce in 
one area with ISIS, but don’t do the same when some other FSA units sign 
tactical truces with the regime? Indeed, the same leftists probably 
think the latter is a good thing.

After all, it cannot be based on any objective weighing up of the nature 
of the regime and ISIS; because objectively speaking, leftists have 
always understood that it is those possessing capitalist state power, 
that systematically use the most horrific weaponry against the people, 
that are a greater problem than the similar crimes at a far lower-tech 
level carried out by groups of semi-state goons like ISIS. Certainly, 
ISIS shows of their low-tech barbarism in a way designed to shock and 
sicken. But a regime that has tortured at least 11,000 to death in its 
dungeons (just during the war years, not to mention all the 10s of 1000s 
before that), that has been hammering Aleppo with barrel bombs non-stop 
for a year, that turned Homs into Hiroshima, that fires long-range 
missiles at apartment blocks, that has destroyed hundreds of hospitals, 
that gasses hundreds of sleeping children to death with sarin, that is 
guilty of mass rape, that is responsible for 53,000 disappearances (most 
of which are on top of the 191,000 killed) etc, that has flattened the 
whole country – that surely, by any objective basis, doing any kind of 
deal with this kind of regime is worse than doing one with ISIS, no?

Just one example from right now – 120 civilians, one third children, 
killed in regime airstrikes on Douma in working-class Damascus suburbs 
in just 4 days: https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/6570.html

So why does “the left” disagree? Simple, because, like everything else 
about this conflict, “the left” is in full agreement with imperialism, 
while imagining, as always, that when they say the same as the 
imperialists they are being “anti-imperialist.”

So, for years, imperialism has refused to arm the FSA using the excuse 
that any arms they get will inevitably end up going to the “jihadists”; 
likewise “the left” right through the war had insisted that any arms the 
FSA might get would inevitably end up in the hands of the “jihadists”, 
so they warned the imperialists not to send any arms, as if imperialism 
had any such intention, and in saying the same thing they imagined they 
were being “anti-imperialist.”

Fast forward to now, US imperialism is leading a war on ISIS, not on the 
Assad regime. That is the first thing that is difficult for leftists to 
get their heads around. The “left” agrees with imperialism that ISIS is 
worse than the regime, but it wants to imagine that imperialism thinks 
otherwise, despite the actual war in their face.

Secondly, as part of this war, the US aims to train and arm a very small 
number of highly “vetted” rebels to use as a battering ram against ISIS. 
That is, the US aims to change some small part of the FSA from a popular 
uprising against the regime and also ISIS into merely a “Sawha” against 
ISIS. The US states this explicitly. I know “leftists” don’t like 
reading what doesn’t agree with them, but Obama and all the other US 
leaders have made crystal clear that the arms and training will be to 
defeat ISIS *and not the regime*.

Of course, once again the left agrees that it is better to fight ISIS 
than the regime. But since “the left” hates the FSA worse than either 
ISIS or the regime, they have to find a spanner in the works. Since they 
have slandered the FSA since Day 1 as “US-backed jihadists,” they jump 
at both the proposed US arming of some FSA units, and this truce between 
some other FSA units and ISIS, somehow without realising that these are 
totally contradictory positions which make their “US-backed jihadist” 
theory of the FSA positively UFOish.

They think they have a difference with the imperialists here because 
imperialism has supposedly found at least some FSA moderates to arm 
against ISIS, whereas “the left” prides itself on being even more 
essentialist, racist and Islamophobic than the imperialists: they “know” 
there are, and can be, zero moderate FSA rebels. In reality, the 
difference is tiny: the reason the US is proposing to arm and train such 
tiny numbers is precisely because for the most part imperialist 
strategists are on the same page as “the left.”

A few important quotes here. First on the size of the vetted Sawha:

“Rough estimates, presented by military officials to key congressional 
committees in closed-door briefings last week, called for using $500 
million to train a *2,300-man force*—*less than the size of a single 
brigade*—over an 18-month period that probably *won’t begin until next 
year*, according to officials” 

There you go, a 2,300 man force, so not the 60,000 strong FSA. So leaves 
rather a lot of of FSA that do not get US arms or training, and who may 
form truces with ISIS, or may not, and may continue fighting on two 
fronts without help from the US etc. If $500,000 sounds like a lot of 
money to arm a mere 2300 rebels, it is: the point is, don’t forget the 
“training.” The FSA, of course, says been on the battlefield 3 years, 
they need arms, not “training” 
while others that have done some of this “training” report that they 
learnt nothing they didn’t know; rather, the US officers  "just wanted 
to see us, see what our thinking is" 

Second quote, about the aim:

“Pentagon and State Department officials told key congressional 
committees that the purpose of the military-led training-and-arming 
effort would be limited to enabling the moderate opposition to hold the 
ground it now controls and to *fight against extremists*, rather than to 
enable the moderates to mount offensive operations against the Assad 
regime, according to officials” 

As former US ambassador Robert Ford explained recently, “One prominent 
American observer says it is folly to think that we can aid the moderate 
armed fighters to topple al-Assad. *But toppling wasn't our goal before 
and shouldn't be now*.” Certainly, extra arms can help the opposition 
“put pressure” on Assad to form a “new” expanded government, like just 
happened in Iraq, whose first aim would be to expel ISIS from Syria, so 
therefore “as we boost aid to the moderate armed rebels, we must 
condition that help on their reaching out to disaffected regime 
supporters and developing with them a common political stance for a new, 
negotiated national unity government, **with or without al-Assad**” (my 

Over on marxmail, one poster, Ron Jacobs, sent a message that claimed 
that once those favoured by the US start getting arms, they will become 
puppets and do whatever the US wants them to. That is of course 
debatable. But the curious thing was that he didn’t seem to understand 
that he was totally contradicting himself when he then sent another 
message with this news of the non-aggression pact between certain FSA 
units and ISIS near Damascus.

Let’s see – the US is at war with ISIS, not Assad; the US aims to train 
and arm a small group to fight ISIS, not Assad; then a group of FSA 
brigades sign a truce with ISIS. I’m sorry, but common logic tells you 
that this example indicates that these FSA groups are telling the US to 
get stuffed. They are precisely not doing what they are told. But I’m 
not sure why leftists are just not getting this elementary logic. I’m 
sure its deliberate self-delusion. Possibly that was not Ron’s meaning, 
I can’t read his mind. But this illogic is definitely the explicit 
thinking of a lot of left commentators on this issue.

Of course there are other aspects here – just because 4 FSA groups 
signed a truce with ISIS, this does not mean that these 4 groups are 
part of the “vetted” groups that the US aims to arm and train – they are 

A further point is that, while Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN) is the Syrian wing 
of al-Qaida and is certainly no likeable organisation – it is a 
sectarian organisation that the FSA has already had its own problems 
with and which it will no doubt have to deal with at a later time - it 
is also very, very different to ISIS. It does not lop off heads. It does 
not threaten minorities with genocide. It does not slaughter hundreds of 
POIWS at a time. Throughout the entire past year, JaN has been fighting 
alongside the FSA and the Islamic Front and other soft-line Islamists 
against both the regime and ISIS. However, ever since late 2012, a key 
US war aim has been to turn the FSA into a “Sawha” against JaN 
and even after its break with ISIS, the US continues to view JaN as, if 
anything, worse than ISIS, perhaps precisely because it really does 
focus on fighting the enemy rather than just slaughtering the wrong 
religion as part of a conservative state-building project (ie, ISIS). 
The US still insists on this; I don’t know how many noticed the UN 
resolution “against ISIS” was also explicitly directed against JaN! 
Totally sneaky, and in a Syrian context at this particular moment, 

Hence the quote in one of the articles below, where it quotes SRF leader 
Jamal Maarouf saying that he would not fight Al-Qaeda as it was not his 
problem and that he would welcome "anyone who fights against the regime 
inside Syria." Of course, the article pretends he is talking about ISIS. 
But this quote was from earlier this year, precisely when the SRF was 
the leader of the war on ISIS and drove it right out of Idlib and Hama. 
It is therefore obvious he was referring to actual al-Qaida, ie, JaN. So 
who would have asked him to fight JaN in exchange for arms? Obviously, 
the US. As a result of which, he got no arms. No US puppet.

From: mailto:GreenLeft_discussion at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Monday, September 15, 2014 6:16 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] Two Reports on a "Truce" between 
"Moderate" Rebels and the ISIS in Syria: Suppressio Veri Suggestio 

[Reproduced below are two reports on the alleged truce concluded
between the "Moderate" rebels and the ISIS in Syria.
The first report is circulated by the Genocidal Assad's PR network in
India, with evident glee; the caption says it all: 'Syrian "Moderate"
Rebels and Islamic State Jihadists "Make Peace". What Will Obama do
The second report is hosted on a major Russian (English language) 
Before taking up an instructive comparison between the two, we'll draw
attention of the readers to a few other pertinent facts.

I. The website hosting the first report is generally known for dishing
out fairly outlandish and highly slanted propositions. But, one may
argue that it's a matter of subjective assessment.
So, what is even more significant in the current context, is that in
the very recent past the website had hosted report to the effect that
"(t)he former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward
Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and
the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria (ISIS)." (Source:
Posted on July 16.)
It bears mentioning that this was also circulated by the Assad
regime's PR network in India, on August 18, with a significant level
of elation.
It, however, was pointed out that this appears to be just a grand hoax
as the report does not mention mention to whom Snowden made his
revelation and, far more importantly, till date all Snowden
revelations were unfailingly shared with the Guardian and and the
Guardian religiously carried these, while in this case there is no
corroborating report from the Guardian.
The exposure could not elicit any meaningful response.

II. Another mail circulated, on July 5, by the same network proclaimed
from the rooftop that "America's newest poster boy [is] Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi". (Source:
dated July 2014.)
Just compare this with: "[Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi] became the United
States' second-most sought-after terrorist, after Ayman al-Zawahri,
the leader of Al Qaeda. The United States government has offered a $10
million reward for information leading to his capture." (Source:
dated July 5 2014.)

III. Yet another mail circulated, on August 23, by the same network
asserted: "For my part, I have always said that there was no
difference on the ground between the Free Syrian Army, Al-Nosra
Front, the Islamic Emirate etc ... All these organizations are
composed of the same individuals who continuously change flag. When
they pose as the Free Syrian Army, they fly the flag of French
colonization and speak only of overthrowing the "dog Bashar." When
they say they belong to Al-Nosra Front, they carry the flag of al
Qaeda and declare their intention to spread Islam in the world.
Finally when they say they are the Islamic Emirate, they brandish the
flag of the Caliphate and announce that they will clean the area of
all infidels. But whatever the label, they proceed to the same
abuses: rape, torture, beheadings, crucifixions." (Source:
<http://www.voltairenet.org/article185085.html>, dated August 18.)
Even if we for the moment opt to ignore the sheer absurdity of the
claim, how can there be a "truce" now ending the ongoing war between
the two camps if they were in fact one and the same!? And, what's
there to be elated about it!?

Now let us come to the two reports proper.
The first report opens with the following:
"*Well, Well, Well, what do we have here?*

"*According to a new report by Agence-France Presse (AFP) "Syrian
rebels and jihadists from the Islamic State have agreed a
non-aggression pact for the first time in a suburb of the capital
Damascus, a monitoring group said on Friday."*

"What will the Obama administration do now?"

Then it further informs:
"The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that moderate and
Islamist rebels had signed a ceasefire deal for the first time in a
suburb of the capital Damascus. "The two parties will respect a truce
until a final solution is found, and they promise not to attack each
other because they consider the principal enemy" to be Assad's
government and his forces."

Compare with the second report:
"The moderate rebels who signed the deal include four distinct groups,
including the US-backed Syria Revolutionary Front, reported Charles
Lister, an analyst at the Brookings Institute. The SRF was considered
moderate enough to merit the West's support and a part of the Free
Syrian Army, a loose coalition of secular and moderate groups fighting
to topple the Assad government with the blessing of Washington."

So the impression conveyed by the first report that ***all*** the
"moderate" rebels have signed a truce with the ISIS is conclusively
negated by the second report.
Even if we opt to disregard any doubt about the veracity of the report
about the truce, this changes the scene quite substantively. There are
many more "moderate" groups who are no party to the truce.]
The two articles:

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