[Marxism] Once again on GLW, Syria, HTS and YPG

mkaradjis . mkaradjis at gmail.com
Fri Mar 16 06:59:06 MDT 2018


"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."

Look, I agree that the Turkish regime is a bag of shit, but I think
there is a tendency to exaggerate our pet hate. For some it is Iran,
for others it is Saudi Arabia (Saudi-phobia is the respectable-left
Islamophobia), and I guess for some it is Turkey.

Turkey has only been able to invade northern Syria and northern Iraq
because in all cases it had the full support of both US and Russian
imperialism and the tacit support of both the Syrian and Iraqi
regimes, based on deals. None of those cases showed anything about
Turkish "strength". Turkey was able sweep ISIS out of the
Azaz-Jarablus-al-Bab region because it was operating together with the
local anti-Assad Arab population of that region and their local rebel
formations. Another deal with Afrin - despite Assad's rhetoric, it was
clear along this was only aimed at pressuring the SDF into giving up,
never to actually aiding it against Turkey.

Compare that to Iran. It has thousands of its own troops, and heads
thousands and thousands more troops from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan
and Pakistan organised on a sectarian basis, in both Iraq and Syria.
It owns the Iraqi regime in a joint-venture with the US. Yet it is
also not omnipotent. It provides thousands of the ground troops needed
by the Assad regime to smash the rebels, but neither the Iranian-led
jihad nor Assad's own rabble would have had anything like the success
they've had if not for the imperialist Russian airforce terrorising
the whole country from the sky - and no other power has fought against
the Iranians (Trump's rhetoric aside, actual US-Iranian collaboration
stepped up in Syria in 2017).

But where Israel doesn't want Iran around in the south near the Golan,
Russia let's Israel take pot shots when it pleases. Once Assad is
fully victorious, I predict Russia will have the upper hand if it
decides Iran needs to be kicked out.

Much the same, re both the strengths and the weaknesses, could be said
about the Saudi role in the region.

On Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 11:21 PM, Chris Slee <chris_w_slee at hotmail.com> wrote:
> 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.
>
> Michael says:
>
> "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.
>
> Michael says:
>
> "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.
>
> Chris Slee
>
>
>
> ________________________________________
> 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
>
> Chris:
>
> "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
> point.
>
> 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
> Afrin.
>
> 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.
>




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