[Marxism] Syria: Slaughter in Idlib (re: How Much Does the Pentagon Pay for the YPG?)

mkaradjis . mkaradjis at gmail.com
Thu Feb 27 18:36:37 MST 2020

> "The strongest armed group in Idlib today is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a very
reactionary group with a history of persecuting religious minorities. Thus
the war in Idlib is now a conflict between what academic Gilbert Achcar
calls 'two counter-revolutionary poles' ".

You got to get out of the habit of citing authority. Gilbert also voted
to give the Isaac Deutscher prize to the ultra-toxic Roland Boer. He is
not always right.

Me: More importantly, you need to avoid quoting people out of context. When
using this phrase, which he has used for years, Gilbert is talking in
sweeping terms about the entire Arab Swing period, including in Syria, but
that is not a tactical prescription for every theatre of war. Gilbert does
believe what he calls the '3rd pole' - the democratic forces - are more or
less crushed in Syria, and while this is increasingly true, I think he
simplistically jumped to that conclusion earlier than was warranted. Even
then, however, it is not possible to quote his sweeping formula as a "line"
on the slaughter in Idlib right now, which is essentially how your article
came across, and how it used his quote out of context. I accept your regret
about omitting reference to forces still resisting HTS as well as Assad,
but even if put in this does not appear to be the position of SA/GLW.

I happen to be on a list-serve with Gilbert and others who deal with Syria.
Gilbert does not often throw in his opinion, but the titles of last few
links he has sent were:
The fall of Kafranbel; Investigating airstrikes on hospitals in Syria; US
visa denied to researcher who exposed Assadist chemical lies;Too little,
too late: Where Turkey undermined the rebellion; Syria: Fall of Saraqeb
delivers Assad a strategic and symbolic prize. AS these were not his
personal writing, I think it is OK I send the name of the articles here.

It is fairly obvious where he stands on these issues: on Assad's conquest
of Kafranbel and Saraqeb, its bombing of hospitals, on Assadist and
"anti-imperilaist" lies about Assad's chemical warfare etc; Turkey's role
is rightly condemned overall, but indeed "too little too late" is a perfect
description of its current standing up to Assad in Idlib.

If we talk about "two counterrevolutionary poles" in Idlib, even if we
could be that simplistic, then how do we understand that Assad's string of
conquests in the last month - Maraat al-Nuuman, Saraqeb, Atareb, Kafranbel
- have all been precisely the centres of democratic resistance throughout
the war. It is no coincidence that Assad and Putin, while pretending to be
most concerned about HTS, have mercilessly bombed these towns throughout
the war, and that they were first on the list to be conquered. Actually,
their continued existence till now contradicts Gilbert's own more extreme
analyses on the destruction of the democratic opposition, but it is clear
where he stands.

Does this mean however that, now these towns have been overrun, and thus
the domination of HTS over what is remaining is even stronger, that the
current massacre can be reduced to a conflict of counterrevolutions? That
would be an extremely undialectical and simplistic, and in context,
politically immoral, position to take. One side has an airforce and a
foreign invader that is bombing hospitals, schools, refugee camps, refugees
on the road, entire cities into dust. One side has driven some 2 million
people into camps along the Turkish border. There is no "neutrality" here.
If you want to use the "clash of counterrevolutions" thesis in a more
logical way, I would say that if HTS had massive armed forces and an
airforce with an awesome array of barrel bombs, cluster bombs and the rest,
and it was invading the Alawite-dominated coastal provinces or besieging
and bombing central Damascus, driving a couple of million Alawites into the
sea, then we could make a comparison with what Assad is doing in Idlib. A
situation, that is, with the same reality as Hamas breaking out of Gaza
with its airforce and besieging, conquering and carpet bombing Tel Aviv and
Jaffa, driving the Jews into the sea.

On Saraqeb this is a quote from the article Gilbert sent:

“We wanted a free Syria for all Syrians but they wanted an Islamic state.
We continued against all the odds: we challenged the regime, Ahrar al-Sham,
Islamic State and al-Nusra. In the end the jihadists took over but we left
our city with dignity knowing how much we endured to keep Saraqeb free.”

More information about the Marxism mailing list