[Marxism] Syrian Coalition: Assad Squandered Syria’s Sovereignty to Israeli, Russian and Iranian Aggressors

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 19 07:44:23 MDT 2015

On 10/19/15 9:32 AM, Mark Richey wrote:
 > You could say much the same thing about many regimes in the region,
 > or elsewhere, such as Egypt, or Pakistan.  How does that justify
 > massive foreign armed intervention, together with violence
 > particularly directed against ethnic and religious minorities?  That
 > is your implication.  Have Libyans seen a more humane economic system
 > put in place?

You're right. Iran, Russia and Hezbollah are to be condemned for 
propping up a ghoul like Assad.

 > Also, there is very little evidence that the jihadists are critics of
 > the Syrian economic model.  When interviewed, such as in the recent
 > interview of the chief of al-Nusra, they only call for murder of
 > Assad and Hassan Nasrallah, of Lebanon, and also of the Alawite
 > population ('hundreds of missiles on Alawite cities.') in general.
 > Pure sectarian/ethnic/religious hatred.

I advocate the approach of the grass roots movement that the FSA 
defended, not any Salafist group. Here is an indication of the kind of 
society they were trying to build before Syria's Pinochet decided that 
the baby had to be strangled in its cradle:


Matar brought me to a mosque that sits next to one of the mass graves. 
Inside, there were heaps of clothes, boxes of Turkish biscuits, and 
crates of bottled water. An old bald man with a walrus mustache studied 
a ledger with intensity while a group of old men around him argued about 
how much charity they could demand from Taftanaz’s rich to rebuild the 
town. This was the public-affairs committee, one of the village’s 
revolutionary councils. The mustached man slammed his hands on the floor 
and shouted, “This is a revolution of the poor! The rich will have to 
accept that.” He turned to me and explained, “We’ve gone to every house 
in town and determined what they need”—he pointed at the ledger—“and 
compared it with what donations come in. Everything gets recorded and 
can be seen by the public.”

All around Taftanaz, amid the destruction, rebel councils like this were 
meeting—twenty-seven in all, and each of them had elected a delegate to 
sit on the citywide council. They were a sign of a deeper transformation 
that the revolution had wrought in Syria: Bashar al-Assad once subdued 
small towns like these with an impressive apparatus of secret police, 
party hacks, and yes-men; now such control was impossible without an 
occupation. The Syrian army, however, lacked the numbers to control the 
hinterlands—it entered, fought, and moved on to the next target. There 
could be no return to the status quo, it seemed, even if the way forward 
was unclear.

In the neighboring town of Binnish, I visited the farmers’ council, a 
body of about a thousand members that set grain prices and adjudicated 
land disputes. Its leader, an old man I’ll call Abdul Hakim, explained 
to me that before the revolution, farmers were forced to sell grain to 
the government at a price that barely covered the cost of production. 
Following the uprising, the farmers tried to sell directly to the town 
at almost double the former rates. But locals balked and complained to 
the citywide council, which then mandated a return to the old 
prices—which has the farmers disgruntled, but Hakim acknowledged that in 
this revolution, “we have to give to each as he needs.”

It was a phrase I heard many times, even from landowners and merchants 
who might otherwise bristle at the revolution’s egalitarian 
rhetoric—they cannot ignore that many on the front lines come from 
society’s bottom rungs. At one point in March, the citywide council 
enforced price controls on rice and heating oil, undoing, locally, the 
most unpopular economic reforms of the previous decade.

“We have to take from the rich in our village and give to the poor,” 
Matar told me. He had joined the Taftanaz student committee, the council 
that plans protests and distributes propaganda, and before April 3 he 
had helped produce the town’s newspaper, Revolutionary Words. Each week, 
council members laid out the text and photos on old laptops, sneaked the 
files into Turkey for printing, and smuggled the finished bundles back 
into Syria. The newspaper featured everything from frontline reporting 
to disquisitions on revolutionary morality to histories of the French 
Revolution. (“This is not an intellectual’s revolution,” Matar said. 
“This is a popular revolution. We need to give people ideas, theory.”)

Most opposition towns elect a delegate to one of the fifty or so 
district-wide councils across the country. At the next level up is the 
Syrian Revolution General Command, the closest thing to a nationwide 
revolutionary institution. It claims to represent 70 percent of the 
district-wide councils. The SRGC coordinates protests and occasionally 
gives the movement political direction: activists in Taftanaz told me 
that they sometimes followed its suggestions concerning their publications.

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