[Marxism] Once again on GLW, Syria, HTS and YPG
chris_w_slee at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 16 06:21:59 MDT 2018
Michael Karadjis says:
"Now, if Chris sees Turkey as an imperialist power...then certainly, at very least Iran and Saudi Arabia are imperialist in the region, though I prefer the term sub-imperialist for all three."
My very tentative view is that Turkey is in a process of becoming an imperialist power.
Foreign investment by Turkish capital has grown rapidly in recent years, not only in the Middle East, but in Africa, Russia, etc.
Turkey is the strongest military power in the Middle East. It has invaded northern Syria and northern Iraq. It has troops in Qatar and Somalia.
Whether we call Turkey imperialist or sub-imperialist, it intervenes very aggressively in other countries. It supported rebel groups in Syria, but this support was conditional on these groups supporting Turkey's political aims. In particular, they had to support Turkey's campaign against Rojava and the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria - a campaign that began with proxy war and escalated into outright invasion.
"RKOB is correct that Turkey's plan to eliminate HTS is evidenced by 'the current attack of Zenki and Ahrar against the HTS in the north of Syria'."
Charles Lister (who seems well informed about the Turkish state's thinking) says Turkey wants to divide HTS and "co-opt" a section of it, rather than "eliminate" it as Michael claims.
"Chris speculates that HTS internal divisions may be at play - that 'one part of HTS is collaborating with Turkey to attack Afrin while another part of HTS is busy fighting Ahrar al-Sham.' Too byzantine, there is nothing to it Chris. The Turkish incursion into Idlib some months back did split HTS - HTS expelled the faction which had opposed leaving al-Qaida."
The expulsion of the al-Qaida faction does not exclude the possibility of further splits. There could still be divisions over relations with Turkey.
However I admit this just speculation.
From: mkaradjis . <mkaradjis at gmail.com>
Sent: Friday, 16 March 2018 3:09:33 AM
To: Chris Slee; Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Once again on GLW, Syria, HTS and YPG
"Currently the YPG is resisting the Turkish invasion of Afrin. Turkey
is increasingly acting like an imperialist power, so we can say that
the YPG is resisting Turkish imperialism. By contrast, the HTS is
offering no resistance whatsoever to Turkish imperialism."
Let me say to both Chris and Michael (RCIT): it will be a frustrating
journey trying to focus on who is resisting which "imperialism", and
it is not the decisive factor, because everyone is manouevering for
survival in Syria. Now, if Chris sees Turkey as an imperialist power
(because it "acts" like one, which does not sound very scientific to
me), then certainly, at very least Iran and Saudi Arabia are
imperialist in the region, though I prefer the term sub-imperialist
for all three. So if the YPG is resisting Turkish "imperialism", while
collaborating with US and Russian imperialism throughout the war, then
HTS has fought both US and Russian imperialism and Iranian
"imperialism", so not sure where that all gets us.
Chris says "When Turkish troops first entered Idlib province, they
were escorted by HTS members. HTS allowed Turkey to build bases in
the territory it controls on the border with Afrin, in preparation for
the invasion of Afrin." That is true. But that does not prove that
Turkey and HTS like each other. Rather, Turkey's main focus at that
point was the SDF in Afrin, so pragmatically left HTS for now; while
HTS, fighting a joint Assad/ISIS offensive in south Idlib and Hama,
also had a pragmatic interest in not confronting Turkey, at that
RKOB is correct that Turkey's plan to eliminate HTS is evidenced by
"the current attack of Zenki and Ahrar against the HTS in the north of
Syria". Chris tries to avoid this conclusion by saying that HTS has
previously attacked them and so they don't need Turkey's encouragement
to hit back. But at that moment, HTS was not attacking them, and they
chose that moment to "hit back" not out of a sudden desire to liberate
Idlib from HTS, but due to their role as Turkish proxies (in general,
I oppose the language of "proxies", but there is a case that Ahrar
al-Sham has become pretty much fully proxified; Zenki is a once proud
group that degenerated into roguishness a few years ago (and until
recently was part of HTS, due to rejection by most other rebel groups
in the north).
I think Chris is a little uncomfortable with these conclusions because
it suggests that some of the same groups attacking the SDFin Afrin are
also attacking HTS in Idlib, in both cases as allies or proxies of
Turkey. Supporters of the SDF like Chris prefer to see HTS/"Nusra"
attacking Afrin, because it makes them sound bad; I would prefer that
also, but reality is different, and we need to acknowledge it is a
good thing that HTS is not taking part in the Afrin Op. Chris
speculates that HTS internal divisions may be at play - that "one part
of HTS is collaborating with Turkey to attack Afrin while another part
of HTS is busy fighting Ahrar al-Sham." Too byzantine, there is
nothing to it Chris. The Turkish incursion into Idlib some months back
did split HTS - HTS expelled the faction which had opposed leaving
al-Qaida. In other words, HTS' split from al-Qaida 18 months ago was
consolidated. But the al-Qaida faction is more anti-Turkish
intervention in Syria, so they are not taking part in the Afrin Op
(and in any case, HTS put them in prison). It is the same HTS that is
fighting Ahrar and others in Idlib, and *not* fighting the SDF in
I somewhat disagree with RCIT on the question of the conflict in
Idlib. I agree that the pro-Turkish groups have been forced to go
along with the Astana deal and increasingly are squeezed into being
Turkish proxies, while HTS, correctly, opposes the deal. And as a
result, often HTS has been continuing the fight against Assad
(alongside some FSA, eg Jaysh al-Izza, which never stopped fighting)
when Ahrar al-Sham and some other groups were not fighting. The
refusal of Ahrar al-Sham to join the Hama offensive last April was a
big factor in HTS's ability to defeat it right across Idlib in June -
many FSA and even Islamist groups, and revolution-held towns, did not
fight to defend Ahrar against HTS; and the towns made their own
agreements with HTS to be "neutral" (as long as HTS kept out) rather
than seeing Ahrar as their saviour. That is despite Ahrar having come
to the side of the FSA and the revolution against HTS attacks in 2016.
Astana and proxydom changed all this.
However, I think RCIT is not fully seeing the other side of this. Once
HTS defeated its main military rival in June, it was in a position to
act even more in the way it acts when it can: as an oppressive force
against the revolutionary people of Idlib. What this has meant is the
reverse of last June: even though Ahrar al-Sham and Zenki are
attacking HTS for the wrong reasons, the population seems to be taking
advantage of that situation to rise up and help drive HTS out of their
regions and towns. Some towns have declared neither group is welcome
in their towns; in some places, people demonstrate against the
conflict itself (preferring they focus on the regime); but
overwhelmingly, people are just glad to get HTS oppression of their
backs. I think they will know how to deal with Ahrar and Zenki. As
always, the complexity needs to be seen in the context of the
continued existence of a revolutionary, if exhausted, population; the
armed groups are not all-powerful, but can be used.
More information about the Marxism