[Marxism] FSA extortion and smuggling?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 17 07:24:23 MDT 2014

In an article that appeared in The Hindu 
Vijay Prashad states: "the FSA has gone in two directions — toward 
extortion and smuggling, and toward coordination with the Islamist 
rebels for territorial gains."

The charge of extortion and smuggling apparently rests on a single 
article that appeared in the Telegraph by someone named Ruth Sherlock. 
Since Sherlock (no relation to Holmes as far as I know) was reporting 
from southern Turkey, it is a little difficult to understand how much 
knowledge she has about reality on the ground inside Turkey.

More importantly, if you read her article carefully, it would seem that 
some of the men involved in criminal activity are not exactly FSA but 

	One officer, Ahmed Hamis, had been a representative in the Supreme 
Military Council for the Jisr al-Shugour area in Idlib province and had 
fought honestly against the regime, Mahmoud said. “Then a foreign 
sponsor started supporting him with money and weapons. He broke away to 
form a small gang.

	“He has a lot of weapons but he hasn’t run one battle against the 
regime. He has no time for that because he has his own business, 
smuggling diesel and setting up checkpoints to levy taxes,” he said. “He 
also deals in kidnappings. If they catch a government soldier they’ll 
sell him back to his family.”

So "he broke away". Is the FSA responsible for the criminality of former 
members? I have no doubt that some brigades have succumbed to FARC type 
activity but even in the case of Colombia it is difficult to reduce the 
guerrillas to "criminal gangs" in the face of a protracted war in which 
the need to buy weapons and ammunition sometimes involves behavior that 
falls short of a romanticized Maoist fantasy.

After all, according to the wikipedia entry on Vijay Prashad, he regards 
the FARC to be at the receiving end of "the animus of US imperialism" 
because they continue to resist "its hegemony". Maybe if the FSA got 
involved in cocaine distribution networks, they'd get a clean bill of 
health as well. Who knows?

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