[Marxism] Fwd: The origins of the criminal Assad dynasty

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jan 19 08:58:33 MST 2017

The Syrian revolution has been the most divisive issue on the 
international left in decades. Support for similar uprisings in Tunisia, 
Egypt and elsewhere was near unanimous, but many baulked at showing 
solidarity with the movements in Libya and Syria. Some argue that along 
with Iran, the Syrian regime is the last holdout against US imperialism 
in the region, and should be championed on that basis. Others initially 
supported popular demands for democratic and economic reform, yet now 
insist on defending the regime as a necessary, albeit imperfect, 
anti-imperialist counterweight to the Americans.

This has led many on the left to adopt positions that deny the agency 
and revolutionary potential of the Syrian people, and has led many to 
articulate deeply Islamophobic arguments to discredit the anti-Assad 
forces on the ground.

The purpose of this article is not to explain why this is a fundamental 
betrayal of the most basic premise of the left, which is to support 
struggles of workers and the oppressed for economic and political 
rights. That has been done elsewhere, most notably in the outstanding 
book by Leila Al-Shami and Robin Yassin-Kassab, Burning Country: Syrians 
in Revolution and War.[1]

Rather, I seek here merely to re-establish some basic facts about the 
Syrian Ba’ath regime, particularly focusing on its most “radical” 
period. I argue that the Ba’ath were never socialist and that Hafez 
al-Assad was utterly uninterested in the cause of Arabism, socialism, or 
Palestinian liberation. To do this I will explore the conditions of his 
rise to power and the counter-revolutionary nature of his subsequent 
intervention in the Lebanese civil war.

For those who need no convincing on these fronts, I hope this piece can 
add something to your historical knowledge regarding the last period of 
radicalisation and revolution in the Middle East.


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