[Marxism] UN Syria Commission clears YPG/J and SDF of ethnic cleansing charges

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Thu Mar 16 08:14:49 MDT 2017

---Original Message----- 
From: Louis Proyect via Marxism

> Frankly, human rights abuses are not uppermost on my mind in a 
> situation
where violence has become so generalized. There were human rights abuses
by Sandinista soldiers against Miskitos, while the Red Army was
positively barbaric as it swept westward against Hitler in 1945 ...
one can not be exactly sure what happens on the battlefield in the fog 
of war

Exactly. On the basis of what we know about the big picture, however, we 
can distinguish two sides in terms of the sheer level of human rights 

1. The Assad regime, responsible for some 95% of all killing in Syria, 
and even higher if we talking specifics such as torturing to death etc; 
and, at the same level in terms of the totalitarian nature of its 
barbarity, the Islamic State, though in terms of quantity only a midget 
in comparison with the regime.

2. All those forces fighting both, in which category I include the FSA, 
the Islamist brigades, the YPG/SDF, and, perhaps controversially for 
some, Nusra/JFS. All commit a certain level of human rights abuse, as 
would be expected in such a barbaric battlefield against such violently 
terroristic regimes, in the same way as does Hamas against a similarly 
all-encompassing violent oppressor in the Zionist regime; and the list 
could go on.

Nick on the other hand is doing great sleight of the hand stuff when, 
responding to my point that the report clears the YPG/SDF of 
*systematic* ethnic cleansing but does not clear it of various crimes, 
he says I am "keen to imply this is of a piece with the abuses by other 
forces", and Nick describes these "other forces" as "both the regime and 
some rebels", ie, making Nick keen to imply the crimes of "some rebels" 
are "of a piece" with the regime!!!!! He does this by talking of "the 
numerous instances of torture, summary execution, bombing of civilians 
including with chlorine and cluster bombs etc", by both!

Of course there was no use of "chlorine or cluster bombs" by any rebels 
in this report (and the entirely false accusation in a previous Amnesty 
report that chlorine was sued against Sheikh Maqsud was based on one 
photo with some yellow dye smudged on it), whereas they are used on a 
massive scale by the regime, alongside napalm, white phosphorus, vacuum 
bombs, barrel bobs, bunker busters,  ballistic missiles etc, yet Nick 
seeks to lump the rebels together with this regime. The "numerous 
instances" of torture in this report by "some rebels" included, just as 
with the YPG, *one* instance, allegedly in Aleppo of some one who tried 
to flee west. But Nick lumps this together with the regime which has 
been accused by the UN of torturing people to death in its dungeons at a 
level which amounts to "extermination," and there is copious evidence of 
at least tens of thousands tortured to death. Don't you think the *one* 
case of rebel torture is more "of a piece" with the one case of YPG 
torture?As for Nick's "summary executions", well wow! Here the report 
fucks up royally, and perhaps Nick can be excused for not reading the 
fine print, because the huge case of "summary execution" by "rebels" in 
this report was none other than the horrific slaughter of 128 *FSA 
captives* by the ISIS-aligned bandit group Liwa al-Aqsa, which the 
report mistakenly puts in under rebel crimes rather than ISIS crimes 
even though rebels were the victims.

So yes Nick I do put the crime of various rebel groups, including the 
YPG, on a par. Especially given *context* as you are keen to discuss. 
Nick notes that "The context of a militia in a poor, blockaded statelet 
should be taken into account" without seeing the apparent irony of 
shoving together rebels and regime - as if the Rojava statelet, free of 
regime bombing for the whole war, and under the permanent protection of 
the US airforce, can be compared "context-wise" with the situation of 
all the areas controlled by the rebels, al of which make Gaza look like 
a picnic except at the most intense moments of Zionist genocidal terror 
(the various 5-6 week "operations" which are akin the the last 6 years 
in Syria). Yes the context of various poor blockaded statelets being 
barrel-bombed into oblivion for years on end might be expected to 
produce more human rights abuse than in the relative calm and peaceful 
conditions in Rojava. Yet not much more according to the report.

Actually the worst rebel abuses are the firing of "indirect fire 
artillery systems, including improvised, locally manufactured “Omar” 
rockets" at targets in Assad-controlled cities (eg West Aleppo etc) 
which kill civilians. While virtually all pro-revolution activists and 
Syrian revolutionary civil society organisations condemn these attacks, 
again, what doe we expect in a brutal war in which 99% of the slaughter 
of civilians in these theatres of war is by the regime's warplanes and 
missiles of people in the rebel-controlled areas (eg former east 
Aleppo). Yes, in a war, armies shoot back, in the same way as Hamas and 
other Palestinian fighters shoot similarly improvised inaccurate rockets 
at towns in southern Israel, or as Hezbollah (back in ancient history 
when it was a resistance group) similarly did to Israeli civilians 
during Israel's onslaught in 2006. The more interesting issue is why do 
the rebels use these inaccurate improvised rockets made in back yard 
workshops? I guess because they are not being provided any useful 
military equipment by all the outside parties who everyone accuses of 
arming them.

Is the YPG similarly accused of firing rockets which kill civilians in 
ISIS-held towns which they are besieging? Well, no, because the US 
air-force does it for them. So, unmentioned in the report were the 200 + 
civilians slaughtered by the US air-force during the US-YPG siege of 

Nick claims I am wrong that the report only covers the period since 
mid-2016. Actually, a closer look suggests not really - sure, on the 
question of *systematic ethnic cleansing* the report goes back and says 
there is no evidence of that at any period going back several years. But 
the concrete violations it notes are very specifically only this period: 
all mentions of events before this period were only made when directly 
relevant to this period (eg, the siege of Manbij was early 2016, but the 
report discussed the issue of many displaced still not able to return 
now). In this period alone, the report notes further instances of local 
populations forcibly expelled under threats of violence of from towns 
who are still unable to return, destruction of property of expellees, 
forced conscription of minors (which it has in common with JFS), the 
torture case etc. If we went back over several years, I think Nick is 
well aware there would be much more.

Nick also avoids the issue of calling Gutman a "cruise missile leftist" 
without evidence (he says "on Serbia", re which I assume he is referring 
to Gutman's role in exposing the death camps in Bosnia in 1992, which 
the Bush administration insisted didn't exist, but I'm not specifically 
aware of him advocating cruise missiles) while simply brushing aside the 
fact that in Syria it is the YPG above all that is allied most directly, 
most massively, most systematically, with every aspect of the US 
intervention, simply saying "completely irrelevant is Mike aspersions 
about the PYD-led movement's
tactical alliance with the US." I don't condemn the YPG/SDF for this as 
such, although I think there is a big difference between emergency 
defence (as in Kobani in late 2014) and a long-term systematic alliance 
between the YPG and the US for offensive operations. The US air-force is 
slaughtering civilians and the ground force it is directly supporting is 
the YPG/SDF. On the ground, of course I still prefer a YPG/SDF victory 
when it is fighting a regime like ISIS, despite the US alliance; but 
that's because I don't bend to the mechanical BS "anti-imperialist" 
logic of putting a plus everywhere the US puts a minus, and using 
rhetoric like "cruise missile leftist" against people you don't like for 
no good reason.

But facts are facts: today, "cruise missile leftists" and 
right-interventionists would be arguing for exactly what the US is doing 
with the YPG/SDF and probably arguing for more of it. If that gets in 
the way of some ideological obsession about being "anti-imperialist" and 
ultra-pro-Rojava at the same time, well sorry facts get in the way. Not 
my problem. Let's try this little test Nick and other SA comrades: If 
the US was using systematically using its air-force the last 2.5 years 
in support of the FSA against the Assad regime, and sending its special 
forces to embed with the FSA, and setting up military bases in 
FSA-controlled regions, and some leftists were supporting this, would 
you call them "cruise missile leftists" and would you support the FSA or 
would you condemn them as "imperialist proxies"? 

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