[Marxism] The ongoing civil uprising in Syria

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Thu Nov 26 06:07:31 MST 2015

Just as most reportage of the Syrian uprising against the Assad 
dictatorship in the imperialist media focuses on the role of "jihadists" 
and presents a false picture of a largely "jihadist"-dominated armed 
opposition in which democratic and secular armed rebels are marginal, 
weak and "fractured" at best, if not non-existent; so likewise an 
equally false picture is usually presented of the struggle being 
entirely military, with the civil uprising that launched the revolution 
in 2011 being allegedly long gone. In reality, the ongoing civil 
uprising is at the base of the Free Syrian Army and other armed groups 
that genuinely arose from the grassroots of the Syrian uprising and 
their connection remains vital to understanding the situation.

Without time to write an article on this very important issue, I simply 
gathered here some links and snippets from a number of only very recent 
articles on this issue. Obviously, what this means is that going back 
into the archives, many more could be gathered, showing the lie that the 
civil uprising does not exist. And these are only the articles - if I 
were to present here every minor report of every demonstration going on 
in Syria, we'd soon run out of bandwidth.


Syrian activists are repairing the fabric of civil society, even as it 
comes undone
Hania Mourtada 13 November 2015
Syria has seen the emergence of a powerful culture of resistance, from 
subversive graffiti to makeshift hospitals, which continues to operate 
despite the violent and politically fractured terrain.


The power of the state has already been contested, and we’ve seen the 
emergence of a powerful culture of resistance which continues to operate 
despite the violent and politically fractured terrain. When the uprising 
erupted, political truth-telling emerged out of the shadows and boldly 
re-entered the public sphere. People who once operated in underground 
meetings are now establishing organisations in broad daylight. In every 
town or village that fell out of Assad’s control, small civil society 
groups are working tirelessly to lay the foundations for democracy, 
justice and a pluralistic society.
Young people, in particular, are determined to show the world that they 
can build solid institutions from scratch and reinstate order in 
opposition-controlled towns. Centres concerned with women’s rights and 
women’s well-being have opened their doors, offering language courses to 
illiterate women and useful marketable skills to the young. Subversive 
graffiti, revolutionary pamphlets, magazines and radio stations, groups 
offering psycho-social support and makeshift hospitals are all 
initiatives made possible by Syria’s new and burgeoning civil society. 
Syrians are experimenting with what might be made possible. Areas that 
the regime has lost are filled to the brim with possibilities.


Total collapse of state services in certain provinces has paved the way 
for experimenting with self-governance. In those areas, civil society is 
not just protesting against the regime, it is also resisting radical 
Islamists, the corruption of local militias and ISIS. This new culture 
of resistance and political truth-telling cannot now be eradicated 
unless a large-scale massacre permanently wipes it out of existence. And 
this may very well be what Assad is striving for with his unguided 
indiscriminate bombs.


With Authorities Gone Local Councils Take Charge in Syria

FILE - Men transport a casualty after what activists said were 
airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad on a 
busy marketplace in Douma, near Damascus, Syria, Aug. 12, 2015.

Jamie Dettmer
November 11, 2015 7:33 AM
In rebel-controlled parts of war-torn Syria, where the forces of 
President Bashar al-Assad have been expelled, a new breed of local 
councilors has emerged, administering what relief they can and striving 
to provide civilians with basic services.
Across parts of Syria, 416 local councils are now functioning in towns 
and villages and are under the control of neither the Assad regime or 
Islamic State extremists.
In some towns, council officials have been elected in rudimentary-run 
For the councils to keep on running, they have to navigate complex 
politics and negotiate with armed groups, and they are always short of 
funds. Their work amid Russian and Syrian airstrikes and skirmishes on 
the ground often leads them to defy Islamist and other rebel militias 
who want to control civilian as well as military affairs


Why is Russia bombing my town?

By Raed Fares November 6 at 8:27 PM



Kafranbel residents have worked hard to advance women’s rights since 
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces left the town three years ago. 
We have established centers to teach women skills such as reading, 
computing, emergency care and civil activism. We have children’s centers 
that give our youths some relief from war and take them off the streets, 
where extremists could reach them. We even have a radio channel, called 
Radio Fresh, that reaches many thousands of people and broadcasts a 
popular program stressing that Islam is a religion of love and peace.
Yes, we still have problems with extremism here, even after kicking out 
the Islamic State. Unknown attackers planted a bomb next to my car last 
fall. In January, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, 
attacked our radio offices and the Kafranbel Women’s Center. Jabhat 
al-Nusra militants also arrested and beat me in December, but they could 
find nothing to charge me with and they had to let me go. Extremists 
arrested the director of the women’s center in April, but we were also 
able to free him. Despite the difficulties, civil society remains strong 
in and around Kafranbel.
If civil activism in Kafranbel declines, though, I will blame Russia. 
One reason for our thriving civil society is that we are being defended 
by Free Syrian Army fighters who grew up in the town and are firmly 
committed to democracy. These fighters, who have received U.S. 
assistance, serve as a check on any extremist groups that try to cause 
trouble. Russia is bombing the pro-democracy fighters of Kafranbel most 
heavily, almost as if it wants the extremists to grow stronger. For this 
reason, Russia has emerged as an enemy of civil society here. Local 
activists have taken the rare steps of burning a Russian flag and 
protesting alongside local Free Syrian Army fighters to highlight this 


Going Home: An Interview with Tarif al-Sayyed Issa

Posted by: Aron Lund Thursday, October 22, 2015 1 Print Page

(report from post-liberation Idlib city - which the imperialist media 
and the imperial left usually claim is "run by the Nusra Front or some 
such lie)

What has your role been in Idlib since the army was driven out?

I left Faylaq al-Sham [the rebel brigade he was a member of which was 
part of the Jaysh al-Fatah coalition which liberated Idlib - MK] once 
Idlib was liberated. Others continued on toward Jisr al-Shughour and 
other towns, but I stayed in Idlib and returned to my humanitarian work. 
There was a lot to do. We had to quickly get aid into the city, set up 
an administration, and try to activate civil society.
During Ramadan, we prepared 7,000 meals and handed out thousands of food 
baskets. We distributed seven tons of dates in some of the poorer 

When you say we, who do you mean?

I am still employed by Sanabel al-Kheir, the aid group we created a few 
years ago. I am part of its five-person steering committee. As a member 
of Sanabel, I work on the ground with several big aid organizations. 
They include the Ataa Relief and Development Association, which is a 
Syrian charity registered in Turkey, the White Hands, which is also 
based in Turkey, the IHH, which is a large Turkish charity, and the Aid 
Coordination Unit, which is part of the National Coalition and is backed 
by the Western countries.
Among the other aid groups active in Idlib, there is one named Violet 
and an Irish one called Goal. These organizations have all been approved 
to work in the city and we trust them. The armed groups have no real 
humanitarian work of their own. Some of them claim to run their own aid 
operations, but it’s really the aid groups that do all the work.

So far, the armed groups have not interefered with the humanitarian 
work. The Fath Army leadership has made it clear to them that this could 
lead to the international aid groups pulling out. It is a sensitive 
situation since the Nusra Front is active in the area and it is linked 
to al-Qaeda, while the population depends on donations from nations at 
war with al-Qaeda. There was an incident early on when some members of 
the Nusra Front interfered by trying to control the distribution of 
flour, but this was stopped immediately. After that, the Fath Army 
decreed that the armed units cannot be involved with the aid work.

Are you also politically active?

I am still part of the Muslim Brotherhood, of course. In the 
Brotherhood, we have a committee for each Syrian province and I am one 
of the members of the Idlib committee.
Part of my job now, as I see it, is to convince people of the need for a 
civilian leadership. I go around mosques and other places, meeting 
people and trying to explain to them that the country will never get up 
on its feet again without a strong civil society. I have met with all 
the workers’ unions in Idlib, with the professional associations, and so 

Full: http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=61724

The self government revolution thats happening under the radar in Syria
Comments 33

By Frederic C. Hof July 26
With Iran circling the wagons around an ever-shrinking Syrian statelet 
nominally headed by Bashar al-Assad, a key question is coming into sharp 
focus: Who might ultimately replace the ruling clan if Tehran cannot 
keep its clients afloat? The answer is both complex and hopeful: 
Self-government at local levels is taking root in Syria and forms the 
basis for what should come next.
One of the few uplifting experiences to be had in any Syrian context 
these days is to meet with young Syrian activists, as I recently did in 
Gaziantep, Turkey. A young lawyer said something striking: “This is not 
just a revolution against Bashar al-Assad. It is a revolution for 
self-government. Replacing Bashar with someone else issuing decrees from 
Damascus — even someone much better than Bashar — is not acceptable.”


There are today hundreds of local councils throughout non-Assad parts of 
Syria. Some operate clandestinely in areas overrun by the so-called 
Islamic State. Some operate in areas where the Assad regime — with Iran’s 
full support — unloads helicopter-borne “barrel bombs” onto schools, 
hospitals and mosques. Some operate in neighborhoods subjected to 
Iranian-facilitated starvation sieges. These local councils are 
supported by a vast network of civil society organizations — the kinds 
of voluntary professional associations that undergird Western 
democracies. All of this is new to Syria. It is the essence of the 
Syrian Revolution.
CONTENT FROM Ryder Leave supply chain management to the experts
Outsourcing supply chain roles requires active business management and 
engagement. By Ryder

This combination of local councils and civil society organizations is a 
cocktail of bottom-up, localized efforts. The women and men risking all 
for their neighbors are heroes. Yet these heroes are literally unsung. 
Everyone in Syria knows of Assad and his rapacious family. Many in Syria 
know the names of exiled opposition figures and leaders of armed groups 
inside the country. Yet those who represent Syria’s future political 
elite are largely unknown. Getting these battle-tested leaders into 
Syria’s national political mainstream is essential


WOMEN KEY to Syrian Future RAED FARES plus other CIVIL STRUGGLE stuff 

21 novembre 2015
By Redacteur_ST
« Women have the most critical role in rebuilding Syria and raising the 
next generation of Syrians, » said Raed Fares, a community leader in 
Idlib whose plethora of projects aim to strengthen Syrian civil society 
through a combination of awareness, education and inclusivity


Syria Deeply: Aside from the continuation of your weekly protests in 
Kafranbel, what other kinds of community projects do you have going on 
at the moment?
Well, yes, our weekly protests are ongoing, but their number has 
decreased a great deal. People are afraid of large gatherings, which 
have been, and are, targeted by airstrikes. But we have many other 
The biggest project we have going is our radio station, called Radio 
Fresh FM. We broadcast 24 hours a day with different kinds of 
programming – news updates, women’s programming, children’s shows, 
breaking news updates and warnings about nearby airstrikes or incoming 
airstrikes. We warn civilians when there are regime or Russian 
helicopters flying in the sky. We let people know which direction they’re 
headed. The station is actually one of the most listened to channels in 
all of Syria. We have more than 400,000 returning listeners – which is a 
huge number.
The radio also has a few subsidiary projects. There are three affiliated 
magazines and a training center for media activists, journalists and 
presenters – all of which is facilitated under the auspices of the 
We also have a women’s division that is led by Ghalia Rahal, whom 
Reuters recently presented with an award for courageous journalism. She 
is now running seven women’s centers across the south of Idlib that 
provide vocational training, education, language and computer classes, 
etc. The point of these centers is to get women out of the home and into 
public life, to get them more actively engaged.
Women have the most critical role in rebuilding Syria and raising the 
next generation of Syrians – that’s the idea behind the project.
We also have educational projects aimed at getting kids more involved in 
their schools and promoting the importance of psychosocial therapy.
We built a small soccer field in Kafranbel – kids are playing on it from 
sunup to sundown. When they’re playing, everyone is screaming and 
yelling – it’s the one time of the day they can’t hear the roar of the 
jets overhead, or gunfire nearby.
These are all projects focused on awareness, but we also have projects 
focused on the provision of services. We brought running water back to 
Kafranbel and the surrounding villages. The goal with these projects is 
to provide people in serious need with the services they simply aren’t 
getting, in addition to building the credibility of alternative 
institutions so that people are more willing to work with us on and in 
our other projects.
Syria Deeply: So what’s your goal in facilitating all these projects?
Raed Fares: The goal is to build a homeland. Everybody knows that we 
live on a farm owned by Assad’s family. Our goal is to destroy that farm 
and build a homeland in which Syrians can truly live.


Interview with Joseph Daher On the Syrian Democratic and Revolutionary 

Posted on November 17, 2015


Nevertheless, many individuals and small groups, although very much 
weakened, exist in some areas among local coordination popular groups. 
Pockets of hope and resistance still exist in Syria and are composed of 
various democratic and progressive groups and movements opposing all 
sides of the counter-revolution, the Assad regime and Islamic 
fundamentalist groups. They are the ones still maintaining the dreams of 
the beginning of the revolution and its objectives: democracy, social 
justice, equality and no to sectarianism. They can be found in Aleppo, 
Rural Aleppo, Idlib and Rural Idlib, in Rural Damascus, etc… You can 
find many examples on my blog Syria Freedom Forever of popular 
The revolutionaries in these areas organise through popular councils at 
the levels of villages, neighbourhoods and regions. The popular councils 
have actually been the true spearheads of the movement that mobilized 
the people for the protests and organisation of daily life in areas 
where the regime disappeared.  The regions liberated from the regime 
developed forms of self-organisation based on the organization of the 
masses. Youth and other form of coalitions also exist in Syria with 
varying types of activities.
Last Summer, protests were organised in the rural areas around Aleppo, 
Damascus and elsewhere like in the city of Idlib.  In the small town of 
Al-Atarib in rural Aleppo, held by the Al Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra 
there have been several demonstrations against its authoritarian 
practices. Thousands of people marched in the town of Saqba, in rural 
Damascus, for the aims of the Syrian revolution on 7 August 2015. A week 
later a group of women there protested for release of political 
prisoners held by the Army of Islam organization. They have been 
protesting for the past few months. Dozens held a sit-in at the office 
of the local council of Douma near Damascus in July after a 
councilperson was abducted.[4]  In the end of June, A demonstration was 
organized in the city of Idlib after the Friday prayer and demanded that 
the city’s administration hand over to the people, the private military 
headquarters of Jaysh al-Fatah led by Jabhat al-Nusra outside the 
On November 10, 2015, civil disobedience actions were organised by 
activists protesting against the kidnappings of revolutionaries by 
Jabhat Al-Nusra in the neighborhoods of Aleppo. On October 18, 2015, a 
campaign of solidarity of revolutionaries in Douma was organised with 
the Palestinian People and the Intifada. In October 6, 2015, a 
demonstration was organised by the revolutionaries in Aleppo against 
Jabhat Al-Nusra and demanded that it exit Aleppo. In September 25, 2015, 
Kurds, ‪‎Arabs, ‪‎Assyrians & ‪Turkmen marched against IS and Assad 
crimes in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud in ‪Aleppo.
Last Summer (2015) in the province of Suwayda, mostly inhabited by the 
Druze community, various popular protests were organized against the 
regime’s policies and lack of services. Demonstrations and protests 
continued following the assassination of Sheikh Wahid Bal’ous, who is a 
Druze Sheikh who defended them.   Bal’ous who was known for his 
opposition to the Syrian regime and to the Islamic fundamentalist 
forces. Demonstrators protested in front of several regime buildings and 
smashed a statue of the former Syrian regime dictator Hafez al-Assad. 
Sheikh Wahid Bal’ous was a very popular figure among the Druze 
population and was leading a group called “Sheikhs of dignity”, which 
was committed to protecting the Druze in the province and was also 
fighting the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Al-Nusra. Sheikh Wahid Bal’ous 
was also opposed to the Syrian army’s recruiting of men originating from 
Suwayda, to be sent to fight outside the province.
Regarding the three cantons of Rojava, many interesting things are 
occurring on many aspects (women’s rights, minority participation, 
secular institutions, etc…), especially in a war situation. These 
experiences of autonomy are moreover positive for a Kurdish nation 
oppressed for decades, especially as I support the self determination of 
the Kurdish people in Syria and elsewhere.


And this, on how important the physical destruction of all such 
alternative centres of power and authority by the Assad regime's years 
of aerial slaughter has been to the survival of the regime:
The Assad Regimes Hold on the Syrian State
Kheder Khaddour
Paper July 8, 2015

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