[Marxism] Rojava revolution - seven years on

Chris Slee chris_w_slee at hotmail.com
Fri Aug 9 06:24:20 MDT 2019


I agree with Michael Karadjis that it is important to be as accurate as possible.  This includes being aware of conflicts amongst the different reactionary forces in Syria.

Michael claims that "the distinguishing feature of HTS was rejection of the growing Turkish hegemony over many of the Islamist and non-Islamist/FSA rebels in the region".  In fact HTS's relationship with Turkey is a mixture of conflict and cooperation.  For example, HTS has criticised Turkey's deals with Russia, but it has allowed Turkey to set up "observation posts" (military bases) in areas it controls.

I should also clarify that when I said that Idlib province is "dominated by reactionary Islamist groups such as HTS, Ahrar al-Sham etc", I did not mean that all rebel groups in Idlib are of this type.  I meant that reactionary Islamist groups are the most powerful rebel groups in the province.

Michael says:

"For most fighters in any case, all our Kremlinology is largely irrelevant. They fight a genocidal regime because it is in their interests to. They join whichever brigade - FSA, Islamist, jihadist, Turkish-controlled or not, based on who has the strength, the money, the weapons in their area....They [fought], previously, to overthrow the regime as they rightly saw it as the worst impediment to democracy, and knew they could deal with secondary, weaker impediments later. Now they fight merely to defend their region from the genocide regime reconquering them. They deserve our support."

Thus Michael calls the Assad regime "the worst impediment to democracy", while other forces (presumably including the former Jabhat al-Nusra) were "secondary, weaker impediments". 

I don't think this is a useful distinction.  Though militarily weaker than the Assad regime, Jabhat al-Nusra was also anti-democratic and extremely oppressive.  It was Jabhat al-Nusra that crushed the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and imposed forced religious conversion on the Druze of Idlib province.  It is necessary to oppose both the regime and those rebel groups that oppress the people in the areas they control.

Refering to the bombing of hospitals etc by the Assad regime and Russia, Michael says:

"I struggled to find any evidence of solidarity with the civilians being massacred....in these last two GLW articles Chris sent to the list. I found none." 

It is true that in my article to which Michael refers I did not talk about the casualties of Assad's bombing.  However I did say:

"Idlib was an early centre of rebellion against Assad, and large anti-Assad rallies late last year showed that the population remains hostile to the regime".

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/syria-assad-fails-recapture-idlib

This implies that I am against Assad's attempt to reconquer Idlib.

Michael says:

"Instead we read about 'al-Qaida' and utopia in Rojava in the northeast, in an apparently disconnected reality."

I have never talked about Rojava as "utopia".  If, as Trotsky said, there can be no socialism in a single country, still less can there be socialism in part of a country.

However in northeastern Syria there is an attempt to build a society with equal rights for women, and equality for all religious and ethnic groups.  This should be supported.

Chris Slee




________________________________
From: mkaradjis . <mkaradjis at gmail.com>
Sent: Saturday, 3 August 2019 3:46 PM
To: Chris Slee <chris_w_slee at hotmail.com>; Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Rojava revolution - seven years on

When we write about important events, such as a revolution and war that has been in world headlines for 8 years, knowing what we're talking about is important, especially if you want to be taken seriously.

Chris rightly corrects Dave's false claim that Idlib is dominated by "al-Qaida". Probably not Dave's fault, as I understand, the SA membership mostly relies on the wooden, Stalinoid-style Apoist media for, er, information on Syria, and the PYD and its fronts routinely call all Islamists "al-Qaida", kind of neocon style.

Chris says that something he calls Jabhat al-Nusra/HTS has "seemingly" broken from al-Qaida. Chris, as someone who seems to follow events in Syria from a somewhat broader perspective, surely you know that in August 2016 - 3 years ago - Nusra broke with al-Qaida, changed its name to JTS, then several months later, JTS joined 5 other groups - some jihsdist like them and some not - to form the miltary coalition known as HTS. The formation is Islamist, but not jihadist, by definition, though the jihadist JTS is the dominant group.

Incidentally, there remains a tiny pro al-Qaida group that spli with JTS at the time. Some of its leaders are in HTS prisons. The US recently bombed tghem in Idlib.

Ironically for the SDF, the distinguishing feature of HTS was rejection of the growing Turkish hegemony over many of the Islamist and non-Islamist/FSA rebels in the region. As Turkey was seen as bargaining over the Kurds with Assad via Erdogan's new mate Putin, including selling out Aleppo, many rebels joined HTS in order to continue fighting Assad at all times, rather than accept their fight being turned off and on according to Turkey's interests.

Meanwhile, other FSA groups rejected Turkish hegemony, wanted to maintain the fight against Assad, but would not join HTS. The most prominent is Jaysh al-Izza, which plays a leading role in holding back Assad, especially in Hama.

For most fighters in any case, all our Kremlinology is largely irrelevant. They fight a genocidal regime because it is in their interests to. They join whichever brigade - FSA, Islamist, jihadist, Turkish-controlled or not, based on who has the strength, the money, the weapons in their area. Western leftists joining the war on terror by calling them "al-Qaida" would be of supreme indifference to them,  but like, don't expect them to identify as "leftists" in the circumstances. They fight, previously, to overthrow the regime as they rightly saw it as the worst impediment to democracy,  and knew they could deal with secondary, weaker impediments later. Now they fight merely to defend their region from the genocide regime reconquering them. They deserve our support.

In any case, the Assadi-Russian massacre over the last few months is a massacre of civilians. Hundreds have been killed, literally dozens of hospitals and schools bombed, markets, bakeries, you name it. It is a world class crime going on as a global imperialist power massacres brown people in an oppressed country.

I struggled to find any evidence of solidarity with the civilians being massacred (not with the fighters) in these last two GLW articles Chris sent to the list. I found none. Appalling, but sadly not surprising. Instead we read about "al-Qaida" and utopia in Rojava in the northeast, in an apparently disconnected reality. A utopia, of course, fully protected by a massive US intervention force, while "anti-imperialists" pay no attention to this fact and instead still fantasise that the US is behind the Syrian rebels, always a fantasy but today a grotesque lie.

Five years ago when SA/GLW discovered the Rojava revolution I thought it was a good thing. Sad how rapidly we turned it into a sectarian shibboleth. Old habits die hard I guess.



On Sat, 3 Aug. 2019, 1:32 pm Chris Slee via Marxism, <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu<mailto:marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>> wrote:
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There are some points in the article by Dave Holmes that we could quibble about.  He refers to "al Qaeda", whereas Jabhat al-Nusra/HTS has seemingly broken with al-Qaeda.

But this does not change the fact that, ever since Jabhat al-Nusra crushed the Syrian Revolutionaries Front in 2014, Idlib province has been dominated by reactionary Islamist groups such as HTS, Ahrar al-Sham etc.

Chris Slee






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