[Marxism] Juan Cole - Russia winning the war against the Syrian Revolution?

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Sat Feb 27 16:26:44 MST 2016

At 14:13 27-02-16 -0500, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
>This fucking idiot Juan Cole refers to the Muslim Brotherhood being one 
>of the main forces trying to overthrow Assad

I'm not fond of his liberal political leanings, but I wouldn't call Juan
Cole an idiot. I believe that he uses "Muslim Brotherhood" as code for
moderate/democratic Islamic forces, as opposed to Jihadist forces (though I
don't think the dividing lines are that clear). Regrettably, he thereby
ignores democratic and left forces in the FSA which wouldn't generally be
described as Islamic. But reducing the playing field to those
classifications includes most of the fighting forces, and the whole point
of his article is to examine the military balance and prospects. So I'd
give him a break in terms of his use of shorthand in that regard.

Unfortunately I'm afraid the picture he paints might be rather accurate:

>Unless things change radically on the battlefield, there is no longer any 
>prospect any time soon of a rebel victory. The implications of this 
>situation are that the regime has survived and the rebels are on the ropes. 
>This configuration could change in the future, but for now, the insurgency 
>is on the ropes.
>.... In essence, Putin has managed to divide the opposition into those 
>willing to observe a cessation of hostilities and those who are not, or from 
>whom Russia would not accept such an offer.

Facing the overwhelming Russian air force, I don't see any way the rebels
could ever achieve the military victory they were on the verge of last
summer. The fate of Syria really now is determined by international
players. The only favorable option I can think of is if Russia were forced
to withdraw (though I can't imagine how), and that again would only be a
result of international pressure/agreements. In the meantime, the rebel
groups are going to be facing untenable choices, and inevitably taking
contrary stands (such as the division with al-Nusra, the strongest single
rebel fighting force, their Jihadist ideology notwithstanding). The
strategy of the Russians (who appear more sophisticated than Assad!) is to
divide the rebels thereby weakening all of them, and if possible to even
cause fighting among them which I don't think will work, but could if they
are able to force some rebels to accept international mediation while
others are slaughtered. :-(

So ironically what began as an indigenous revolution which expressed the
wishes of the vast majority, has indeed been transformed into pieces on the
geopolitical chessboard that the Stalinist (etc.) left has always reduced
the revolution to. None of the revolutionaries can now proceed without an
orientation to the international constraints, and the best outcome would be
if they could find themselves on the same page in that regard. The current
"cessation of hostilities" is already a step away from that inasmuch as
al-Nusra is now in the crosshairs of all international forces, and the
other rebels can choose only between repugnant options.

- Jeff

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