[Marxism] Syria: Assessment and Prospects

Chris Slee chris_w_slee at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 30 00:00:49 MST 2018


Michael Karadjis criticises my statement that "...the Assad regime is weak, so it may not be capable of restoring its rule in northeast Syria".

Michael says:  "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.'"

My tentative comment ("MAY not be capable...") was in part based on Zaineddin's report that: "In Daraa, the regime hasn't even entered the towns it recaptured yet.  Thus, the regime's control of areas is mostly a mirage".

But I am certainly not making a definite prediction that the regime will refrain from trying to restore full control over northeastern Syria.  They would certainly like to do so.

As far as I am aware, the only thing that has happened so far is that some troops from Assad's army, and some Russians, have entered the small town of Arima, which is about half way between al-Bab (controlled by the Turkish army and its proxies) and Manbij (defended by the Syrian Democratic Forces).

This deployment is compatible with the goal of defending Manbij from a Turkish attack.

But of course it is early days yet.  A lot depends on what Russia wants to do, and will allow Assad to do.

Michael criticises the view of many Rojava supporters that Assad is a lesser evil than Erdogan.  He says the opposite is the case.

Many Syrian Kurds, being aware of the oppression of Kurds in Turkey, and also being aware of what has happened to Kurds in Afrin, see things differently.  So too do members of religious minorities, such as Christians and Yazidis, who fear religious persecutions at the hands of Turkish-backed Sunni-sectarian groups.

I do admit that if the SDF collaborates too closely with the Assad regime, this could alienate many Sunni Arabs.

Chris Slee

________________________________
From: mkaradjis <mkaradjis at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, 29 December 2018 6:28:21 PM
To: Chris Slee; Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Syria: Assessment and Prospects

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<mailto: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



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