[Marxism] Syria: Assessment and Prospects

mkaradjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Sat Dec 29 00:28:21 MST 2018

I agree with Chris that the writer's advocacy of "working with Turkey to
liberate eastern Syria from SDF" is way wrong. Other than that though,
there is much value in the perspectives of the rest of the piece.

Unfortunately, I don't think Chris's own prescriptions are much better than
the mistaken presciption of the writer on the eastern Syria question. Chris
notes "the YPG has responded to the threat of a Turkish invasion by asking
the Assad regime for help," and this "may just mean that a few of Assad's
troops are stationed on the border between Turkish-controlled and
SDF-controlled areas as a deterrent to a Turkish attack." While the Assad
regime "may try to restore its effective control over SDF-controlled
areas.," Chris hopes that the regime's 'weakness" may prevent it from
fulling restoring its rule over SDF-co0ntroled regions.

I think this is the wrong interpretation of "weak." The regime's "weakness"
has not prevented it from mass arrests and killings of ex-rebels who have
"reconciliated" elsewhere in Syria. It does not prevent it from imposing
its totalitarian tyranny elsewhere in Syria. However, it is "weak" in
relation to the mass of criminal militias, Russian-backed militias,
Iranian-backed forces, Shabbiha gangs etc, and the rivalries within its own
base. New revolts will break out, whether in the form of new revolutionary
outbreaks or a new ISIS surge (or another jihadist alternative), due to the
very nature of the regime which bred revolt, and later jihadism, in the
first place. But the SDF would be kidding itself if it thinks the Assad
regime would allow it to maintain its autonomous and democratic structures
due to its "weakness."

Of course I understand that the idea of a temporary alliance with Assad
being "a good idea" is now prevalent among Rojava supporters. Apparently
they see Erdogan as running a more terrible dictatorship than Assad. That
turns reality on its head to a rather enormous extent. It seems to me that
if the non-Kurdish populations in the northeast, especially the Arabs, are
really as supportive of the Rojava federation as supporters claim, then
there is potential for huge resistance to any Turkish invasion. It also
seems to me that the best way to lose a lot of those Arabs in the northeast
is to invite back Assad. That may be exactly the cue for them to jump ship.

It is of course a rotten decision to have to make. But it is well-known
that the PYD's softness on Assad did not begin now, but rather goes back to
the beginning of the uprising and has been part of the problem leading to
this juncture.

The other thing though is that both the Kurdish-led forces and the mostly
Arab rebels now supporting Erdogan may be equally being misled by Erdogan.
Erdogan has just now essentially welcomed the news that Assad troops have
arrived in Manbij, even though the SDF invited them as a block to Erdogan.
Erdogan said that it is "Syrian" (ie Assadist) territory; once Assad ejects
the YPG, he has no more problem in Manbij. Interesting for both FSA and SDF
to dwell on that for a moment.

And also interesting from the point of view of my assertion in my article
that T5rump's withdrawal is just as much an invitation to Assad as it is to
Erdogan. More, in my opinion.

On Sat, Dec 29, 2018 at 4:05 PM Chris Slee via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> Dr Zaineddin (see below) is an apologist for the Turkish state.  He
> advocates "working with Turkey to liberate eastern Syria from SDF".  In
> other words, he wants a repetition of the Turkish invasion of Afrin on a
> larger scale.
> The YPG has responded to the threat of a Turkish invasion by asking the
> Assad regime for help.
> What this will mean in practice I am not sure.  It may just mean
> that a few of Assad's troops are stationed on the border between
> Turkish-controlled and SDF-controlled areas as a deterrent to a Turkish
> attack.  (Presumably Turkey would not want to start a war with Assad regime
> and its Russian backers).
> On the other hand, the Assad regime may try to restore its effective
> control over SDF-controlled areas.
> This would be a bad outcome.  But as Zaineddin notes, the Assad regime is
> weak, so it may not be capable of restoring its rule in northeast Syria.
> Chris Slee
> ________________________________
> From: Marxism <marxism-bounces at lists.csbs.utah.edu> on behalf of MM via
> Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
> Sent: Saturday, 29 December 2018 12:00:06 PM
> To: Chris Slee
> Subject: [Marxism] Syria: Assessment and Prospects
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> I’m not familiar with the speaker here (Dr. Zaineddin) but this Twitter
> thread offers a summary in English of what seems like a very important
> speech; hopefully others who know Arabic or who have been able to follow
> things more closely can weigh in with additional context or perspective:
> [Quote:]
> This is an excellent speech by @DrZaineddin on the current state of
> affairs in Syria. In this thread, I'll try to summarize the main points in
> English.
> In the beginning, the Syrian people were struggling against a dictatorial
> regime and the regime's allies were supporting it from behind. Now the
> allies were forced to enter directly and fight the people on behalf of the
> regime.
> To think that the situation is entirely in the hand of outside actors, and
> the internal decision of Syrians is now irrelevant, is wrong. The regime
> wanted to attack Idlib recently but it was the military preparations of the
> rebels which ultimately deterred the offensive.
> In Ghouta and Daraa the regime used traitors/"frogs" to make the military
> conquest of rebel-held areas easier. In Idlib, all the rebels came together
> and decided to snuff out the people who wanted to reconcile with the
> regime. 100s were arrested.
> After this, the morale of the regime fighters hit rock bottom, Hezbollah
> announced it wouldn't participate and ultimately the regime was forced to
> cancel the offensive. This was due to the internal resolve of Syrians.
> The next point of discussion is the loss of territory by rebels. At one
> point they had 70% of Syria, today they have 15%. Someone could say: "if we
> didn't win when we had 70%, how can we hope to win with just 15%? The
> matter is decided and we lost.”
> As for the loss of formerly besieged areas, the transfer of rebels from
> there to the North might be positive, because now they can get supplies and
> continue to fight. Also, note that the rebels having 15% doesn't mean the
> regime has 85%. It has 54% and the rest is with SDF & IS.
> Even this 54%, the regime doesn't have real power and control. Russia,
> Iran, Hezbollah, and 100s of various militias are the ones really in
> control on the ground. The actual regime has no ability to make decisions.
> In Aleppo, there are bloody battles and turf wars between the...
> ...various militias. In Daraa, the regime hasn't even entered the towns it
> recaptured yet. Thus, the regime's control of areas is mostly a mirage.
> The rebels have 15% but it's not just Idlib, they also have most of Aleppo
> province and parts of other provinces. It's an area larger than some
> countries such as Qatar, Bahrain or UAE. If they invest in this area, they
> can enjoy the fruits of it.
> The next topic is the international situation. Years ago, various
> countries gave statements saying "Assad must go" etc. Now many of those
> same countries are saying "Assad should stay" and are restoring diplomatic
> relations with the regime.
> However, this is all a media mirage. If them saying "Assad must go" had no
> effect on whether Assad stays or goes, why would them saying the opposite
> have any effect? It's all just statements and doesn't translate to anything
> on the ground.
> Plus, many countries were supporting Assad secretly and are now supporting
> him openly. This doesn't change anything. The Syrian people were the ones
> who decided that Assad must go, not any country, and these countries saying
> Assad should stay doesn't impact their decision.
> Russia achieved military victories for the regime, but it failed in
> translating these into political victories. It tried to get the EU to
> recognize Assad and give the regime reconstruction money, but the Europeans
> refused because they know it was the regime that caused refugees.
> The regime media made a big deal out of a few buses of refugees from
> Jordan returning to regime-held areas, but it wasn't more than a few dozen
> people and as soon as they arrived the men were arrested for military
> service. A few 1000 returned from Lebanon and their fate was a…
> ...mix of arrest, execution, and homelessness, because the regime had
> either bombed their home or seized it and given it to a militia. There's
> international recognition that the refugee situation won't be solved as
> long as Assad is in power. Russia failed to change this.
> Next point is the reduction in popular support for the revolution among
> Syrians. This is natural, after 8 years of war. The reduction was caused by
> the suffering inflicted by the regime, but also by mistakes and bad deeds
> done by some rebels.
> The amount of suffering inflicted on the Syrian people over the last 8
> years, if it was inflicted on a mountain, the mountain would have crumbled
> into dust. The real story is one of patience and perseverance. Till now,
> you have millions of people in N Syria who refuse to...
> ...return to the regime no matter what. It's not strange that the rebels
> haven't won. But what's strange is that the regime hasn't won either,
> despite the huge amount of support it got from the outside and the amount
> of force and violence it used against the Syrian people.
> Many dictatorships are supporting the regime because the revolution scares
> them. A revolution of a million martyrs, which refuses to bow down and
> surrender, is something that should be taught in the history books for
> eternity.
> Next subject is the military situation. The regime's situation isn't good.
> It's support base has lost many of its young men, so now the regime is
> trying to force men from "reconciled" areas to fight for it. It's having a
> difficult time with this.
> As for the rebels, their main issue throughout the revolution was lack of
> unity. This has improved somewhat with the establishment of the National
> Army in N Aleppo, and the National Liberation Front in Greater Idlib.
> Between them they have 100,000 fighters.
> Currently, due to the Turkey-Russia agreement over Idlib, there's a
> reduction in fighting. The rebels need to take advantage of this by
> preparing for a future battle with the regime, and also by working with
> Turkey to liberate Eastern Syria from SDF. This can be a great victory.
> Next is the political situation. The various conferences in Astana,
> Geneva, Sochi, etc are a waste of time. The HNC has been filled with
> stooges and does not represent the Syrian people. Nothing these conferences
> or committees decide has any weight or value.
> The struggle with the regime isn't about a law or constitution, as the
> regime doesn't respect those. For example, years ago the regime repealed
> Emergency Rule but continued to apply the same policies anyway! The regime
> itself has to go, then there can be a new constitution & laws
> As for elections, we already had elections under the regime many times,
> and Assad always wins 99%. If people are still too scared to criticize the
> regime openly in regime areas, how can you have a free and fair election?
> Negotiating over the constitution and elections is dumb.
> Next and final topic is: what can we do now? The example of the revolution
> right now is like that of a man who was stuck on an island, and tried to
> swim to the mainland, and is now stuck halfway in deep waters and in the
> middle of waves. He can't stay put, and going back…
> ...would make his effort so far a waste. He has *no choice* but to
> continue to try to reach the mainland with whatever means he can. The
> revolution must continue. This is the starting point of the discussion.
> If there are mistakes, they should be corrected, but we should avoid
> self-flagellation. Saying things like "we're failures, we don't deserve
> freedom" etc is counterproductive. The Syrian Revolution exposed the world
> for what it is. Various Arab countries who talk about being…
> ...against Iran, the so-called Resistance axis who claim to be against
> Israel, they all were exposed as liars. Militarily, the rebels resisted
> against Russia and Iran and should be proud of that.
> If Russia wanted to attack an Arab state today, and that state has planes
> and tanks and missiles and everything, the war wouldn't last more than 1
> week or 10 days. But the rebels have been resisting Russia, Iran, and
> Hezbollah.
> One the most important tasks right now is raising the next generation of
> Syrians. Now for the first time, many Syrians are able to teach their kids
> about the crimes of Hafez and Bashar. This generation will not accept the
> oppression of the regime.
> Syrians shouldn't just look at the revolution as "politics." Rather they
> should view it as a moral stance, and make supporting it part of their
> personality and culture. Some rebels committed crimes, but the scale isn't
> even close to the same as those of the regime.
> Lastly, the rebels need to win the battle of will and desire. If they lose
> this battle, the battle of weapons will have already been lost. We saw this
> in places like Daraa and Ghouta when low morale led to regime victories.
> This is the responsibility of every Syrian in his or her family,
> workplace, school, neighborhood, etc. They should be an upright example
> make people say, "the revolution brought us good.”
> This extends first and foremost to rebel factions, local councils, police
> and other institutions and rebel-held areas. They must work to get rid of
> theft and corruption. This will help to raise morale and love for the
> revolution among Syrians.
> https://twitter.com/604yousuf/status/1078765439906385922
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