Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Socialists and Syria

The commentary below is a contribution to the discussion of the Syrian crisis from Stephen Morgan. It is a bit long but given the importance of this issue and the complexities of the situation (some socialists support Assad, some support the Opposition) we think it is important and useful to try to understand the nature of the civil war, what the perspectives are for its future and where socialists should stand on the issue. This blog has stated in the past that socialists and workers must oppose both sides in this war.  This commentary looks at why that must be the case.

by Stephen Morgan

When the threat of military air strikes by the US emerged, many on the left took the correct position of seeing this as an act of naked Imperialist aggression, warning that it could be a prelude to full-scale military intervention on a scale similar to Iraq. They also voiced legitimate doubts about the reliability of the information which was being used, the credibility of the allegations that it was Assad's troops and not the Opposition, which carried out the atrocity and that the whole issue of Assad's chemical weapons arsenal could be little more than a cynical repeat of Bush's lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.

However, while this analysis is in broad terms correct, clearly the Syrian civil war is a more complex question than previous situations which can only provide very generalized analogies to help guide us. Hopefully this article will contribute to a debate on the left on what positions socialists should take.

The complex situation in Syria has thrown up some thorny issues for the left. Understandably, there is some confusion on what positions to adopt vis-a-vis the alleged chemical attack, military intervention, the nature of the Assad regime and the role of Russia. The civil wars which have raged in Libya and in Syria aren't clear cut situations where sides can be quickly taken, such as was the case in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's, when the opposition to Franco was overwhelmingly made up of workers committed to socialist aims.

Similarly, it isn't possible to draw comparisons between Assad and the Bolsheviks during the civil war in Russia, when the Bolsheviks were fighting to defend the first workers' state from a royalist-led counter-revolution, backed by some 17 armies of foreign intervention. Unlike the Soviet state, there is nothing progressive in the Assad regime. The only analogy is that Assad rules like Stalin.

Added to this there are emotional issues, which can sway judgement when there aren't clear cut responses or practical alternatives from a socialist point of view. When Benghazi was surrounded by Gadaffi's troops and the threat of a horrendous massacre caused panic among its population, offering up some theoretical formulas on Imperialist wars in the modern epoch seemed rather hollow and abstract when considered from the standpoint of tens of thousands of men, women and children facing eminent death at the hands of a brutal and vengeful dictator. As a consequence, some on the left for honest humanitarian motives, lapsed into a false position of supporting a NATO intervention and ended up helping Imperialism's attempts to establish a client state with the aim of securing important oil and gas resources for Europe.

Now with regards to Syria, many on the left find themselves in opposition to one another for similar reasons. Understandably, the horrible pictures the alleged gas attack by Assad's forces provoked feelings of outrage and anger and, in the absence of alternatives, feelings of impotence led some on the left into supporting a US strike as a deterrent and a retribution. 

Moreover, the character of the Assad dictatorship and the fact that most on the left see themselves as champions of democracy and supporters of people's revolution, has meant that many support the opposition, despite the fact that its character has changed since its beginnings as an authentic popular uprising for justice and democracy. Many on the left continue to support the Syrian opposition, critically or uncritically, regardless of the fact that it has degenerated into military groups, which are either the Imperialist-backed, pro-capitalist, secular forces of the Syrian National Coalition and FSA, or jihadists around Al Qaeda aiming for the establishment of an ultra-reactionary form of fundamentalist, Islamic state based on sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing.

Perhaps some on the left are also confused because the issue of war for oil is not so obvious with regards to Syria as it was in Iraq or Libya. Syrian oil production is small and of no strategic or commercial interest to Imperialism. But that doesn't mean that oil isn't the underlying motivation. The civil war in Syria was originally confined within its borders, but it has now begun to spread into the Lebanon and Iraq. These two countries could quite easily disintegrate. As the war takes on an increasingly sectarian character across the region it can quite easily spill over into the Gulf states too. The revolution in Bahrain is an example of the inherent instability in the area.

This war, or coming war, is indeed about oil. It is about maintaining the stability of a whole region, under the domination of American Imperialism. Furthermore, the disruption of oil supplies would plunge the world into an economic crisis far deeper and wider than the current one or even the last Great Depression, creating social unrest which could threaten the very basis of world capitalism. Obama made his motives quite clear in an interview with PBS on August 28, when he said that the military attack on Syria is about the United States “core interests,” which included stopping terrorist attacks, defending Israel and most importantly, “the free flow of energy throughout the region that affects the entire global economy.”

However, there are those on the left who have sided with Assad. Often this is because he has always paraded himself as the leader of Arab nationalism against Israeli and US Imperialism and has verbally espoused support for “socialism” in the past, much like Gadaffi did. But, unfortunately, in doing so, they have sided with a reactionary, sectarian dictator, whose adherence to the cause of the Arab masses is little more than cynical demagogy for political gain. Assad has never pursued a single policy which has seriously threatened Israeli security or US interests in the region. His help to terrorist groups hasn't changed the balance of forces one little bit and, despite animosities, the Imperialist powers preferred to keep him in power before now, on the policy of “better the devil you know than the devil you don't.” Originally, even Israel didn't support the movement to unseat him, because as they said, they could at least do business with him through secret diplomatic channels.

As another reason to support the tyrant, others on the left have pointed to the fact that the war has descended into sectarian and ethnic warfare and they claim that minorities were at least protected under Assad's old regime. The same argument is, of course, used by supporters of Mubarak in Egypt, who point out that Christian Copts were better protected before the revolution. But the fundamental reason why ethnic and religious attacks has reared its head is because the Assad regime itself was based on sectarianism and Assad is pursuing a sectarian, Alawite war against the Sunni majority.

Under Assad, Syria was run for the benefit of the minority Alawites, who constitute 10% of the population and who governed and exploited a Sunni population, which make up 70% of its people. Like Mubarak, Assad's dictatorship suppressed sectarian and ethnic divisions, because he feared any disorder could threaten his regime, not because of any progressive tendencies. He leaned on other ethnic and religious groups as a political counterweight to the Sunni majority. Assad's real attitude to minorities in Syria was graphically illustrated by his treatment of the Kurds, who were forcefully “Arabized”. All aspects of their culture were suppressed, their language was banned and teaching of their history was forbidden in schools, while Kurdish farmers were dispossessed by the state and their lands distributed to Bedouins.

Furthermore, by aligning themselves with Assad, some on the left have also unfortunately found themselves on the side of Russian Imperialism, which is cynically supporting Assad for its own interests in the Great Powers game in the region. Unfortunately, some on the left think that the Russian regime is still in some way progressive and anti-Imperialist, because it comes into conflict with the US. But Russia is a right-wing capitalist regime ruled by oligarchs and bureaucrats, which has crushed underfoot the legitimate demands of national minorities in the Caucasus and manoeuvres in the Middle East, much like US Imperialism does in Central America. Modern Russia is not just a super power, but the world's second-largest Imperialist nation, whose aims are the defence of the interests of its ruling elite in the global arena.

Russia has long supported the Assad regime, not only because it provides Russia's fleet with its only Mediterranean seaport, but, together with Iran, Syria constitutes a Shiite buffer zone, which stops Al Qaeda-linked, Chechen rebels and other Muslim jihadists in Russia's North Caucasus from having an easy supply route from Iraq. Its alliances with Syria and Iran also protect its domination of the Black Sea and acts as a counterweight to NATO member, Turkey and Western Imperialist expansionist ambitions in Georgia and other countries bordering southern Russia.

What are the perspectives and Imperialism's aims?

Perhaps the first thing to say is that its not just a confusing picture for us on the left, but also for the capitalist class and the main Imperialist powers. The bourgeoisie and its strategists, both internationally and domestically in the US, is divided and unclear about what position to take and what to do with regard to the crisis in Syria. It is a complex and dangerous situation for Imperialism. War is the most unpredictable of all phenomenon and it is particularly so if you have no clear aims and objectives, upon which to base the limits or extent of your involvement. Once war has begun it has to be finished and that may entail taking actions which were never originally envisaged or intended. So they move ahead empirically, attempting to maximize the returns on the least investment in war, just as in business.

The civil war is quite rightly viewed as a Pandora’s' box and the consequences of blowing the lid off  with cruise missiles is something the majority of the capitalist class would prefer to avoid at this moment. Indeed, many nations are unhappy at America's attempts to continue to play the role of world policeman, when it isn't seen to be representing or protecting the interests of the rest of the international bourgeoisie. The US is looked on as something of a crooked cop, contemptuous of international laws and unaccountable for its actions, which could threaten the well-being of them all.

A section of the ruling class fears that deeper chaos in the Middle East provoked by US intervention will destabilize the region and also the world economy. Some of the capitalists fear for their profits should the US intervention lead to a new oil crisis. Moreover, a large part of the ruling class, including some in the military, are clearly wary of getting bogged down in another expensive, political and military quagmire, like Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the same time, the divisions in the ruling class reflect the massive opposition among the world's population, as well as the people of the US itself, towards a new war. This is a dangerous phenomenon for the bourgeoisie. In reality, the majority of people have learned to distrust their rulers and to question their motives. If, at a time of economic crisis, such anti-war sentiments coalesce with the anger felt at the capitalists and bankers, there is the possibility of serious social unrest in the West - “Don't Occupy Syria, Occupy Wall Street and Washington!”

Thus sections of the bourgeoisie, both internationally and in the US, fear that the cure proposed by Obama could be worse than the disease. They are cognisant of the fact that even a limited military strike could also further radicalize and destabilize the whole Middle East with unforeseeable consequences. That is not to say that one wing of the bourgeoisie is more progressive than the other, only that the criminals are divided over how best to rob the bank and whether explosives need to be used.

The hawkish wing around Obama and the military-industrial complex, however, believe that action now would be a better way to avoid the risk of further Middle East instability. The question of whether or not Assad used chemical weapons is a red herring. If it had not been this, they would have found another excuse to intervene. As far the Obamaites are concerned, the situation in Syria is getting out of control. Assad's forces have made major advances recently and given the weaknesses of the FSA, there was a danger that he might even defeat them.

The US cannot afford to let Assad to win. The civil war has transformed the Alawite ruling clique into a radical and unpredictable force dependent more than ever on Iran and Hezbollah. Victory for Assad would give both Iran and Hezbollah a huge boost and consolidate an anti-US, “Shiite arc” which sweeping across the Middle East from the Levant to the Persian Gulf under the central clasp of Tehran.

But on the other hand, a victory by the opposition in Syria is also fraught with dangers. There is no knowing what the balance of forces would be in the opposition between moderates and extremist jihadists in the event that Assad's regime fell. There is already a danger that the FSA could crumble and the main opposition to Assad will become entirely dominated by Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups, which have already become the most effective military units. Even if the secular FSA forces were finally victorious, the outcome would be a weak state which could easily fall into the hands of the jihadist rebels. Units of the FSA have already fought battles with the fundamentalists and there is no doubt on both sides that in the event of victory a showdown between them would be inevitable.

Moreover, the jihadists are far better equipped and more highly motivated by their fanatical beliefs. In these circumstances, Al Qaeda and affiliates could carve out a significant “caliphate” traversing Syria and Western Iraqi. It would be a new launching pad for attacks on the West and would destabilize the whole region.

For this reason, the CIA has already begun training and arming FSA units in Jordan with the help of the Gulf states in an attempt to build up a counter-power to Al Qaeda. But US Imperialism is hesitating about supplying the FSA with substantial weaponry for fear that it will fall into the hands of the jihadists. Supplies from the Gulf states to conservative Muslim militias appear to have found their way into the hands of more radical groups. Moreover, many FSA groups cooperate with the jihadists and many of their fighters have joined them simply because they have more weaponry to fight Assad. Therefore, there is considerable hesitation about beefing up the FSA. Ironically, this in turn pushes more of the secular forces into the arms of the well-equipped jihadists and Obama's backtracking on the recent military strike has also angered some FSA fighters, who have turned to the fundamentalists out of disillusionment.

There has been some talk about trying to cultivate a “Sunni Awakening” in Syria such as in Iraq, which drove Al Qaeda out of its geographical power base and debilitated it for a number of years in the country. However, it looks unlikely that this would work in Syria. It is true that Syrian people have a secular tradition and have driven out the jihadists in certain areas, but the Sunni Awakening in Iraq was based on the authority of local tribal leaders and it was executed with substantial help from the US occupying  forces on the ground. Neither of these two factors exist in Syria. To attempt it would mean that the US would have to put “boots on the ground”, at least in the form of large numbers of special forces.

And there is also the Kurdish question. The Kurds in northern Syria have declared a virtually independent entity called Western Kurdistan, with plans for elections to a constituent assembly. They are fiercely secular in tradition, although being Sunni Muslims. While Assad is attempting to manipulate the situation, battles have begun between Al Qaeda and the Kurds, as well as FSA forces, which aim to ethnically cleanse the area and take control of its oil and gas resources and its lucrative border routes.

If Al Qaeda was to carve out a caliphate stretching from eastern Iraq into Syria, Iraq itself could collapse and its own Kurdistan northern region could declare independence and amalgamate itself with Syrian Kurdistan. The government in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq has already proposed sending its Peshmerga guerrillas to Syria to defend its brethren. The idea of a Greater Kurdistan is something the US opposes, fearing again that it could destabilize the region, with Kurdish peoples occupying areas from Iran through Iraq, Syria and Turkey. In particular, it doesn't want to offend its key NATO ally in the region, Turkey with its massive and resistive Kurdish population, whose battles for independence could overlap with the developments in Syria/Iraq. 

Furthermore, the issue of terrorism isn't entirely a red herring. The US and the West fears that the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Al Qaeda and be used against civilian targets at home. Such a type of civilian gas attack already happened in Japan in 1995, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult unleashed a sarin on the Tokyo metro killing 12 people and injuring 5,000, and this was despite the fact that only a small amount of the gas was used and that it was delivered in an amateurish way. The effect of a major terrorist attack on the metro in New York or London, or at some major public event, killing hundreds or thousands, would have a traumatic effect on the population, probably greater than that of 9/11. In a more socially volatile period like now, another massive atrocity could undermine people's confidence in the ruling class even further and be another factor adding to the destabilization of society in general.

Secondly, there are geopolitical factors linked to economic ones, which, in this case, is the aim of isolating and encircling Iran, which appears on the brink of becoming a nuclear power, a development which could further destabilize the region, especially if conflicts between Israel and Iran got out of hand. Undoubtedly, the fall of Assad would seriously weaken Iran as a major Imperialist power in the region. That is why the other regional Imperialist powers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel are in favour of overthrowing Assad's regime entirely. Secretary of State, John Kerry recently admitted that the Gulf States had offered to foot the entire bill for an all-out military assault by the US. 

The FSA also hoped that Obama's plan to launch a strike against Assad would open the possibility of taking Damascus in a similar way the rebels did in Libya. But such a move would necessitate a huge military commitment in Syria, especially given Assad's sophisticated air defence systems given to him by Russia. However, Syria is not Libya. While a stalemate also existed in Libya, the opposition forces were far more united than in Syria and Al Qaeda or other jihadists had minimal influence. Therefore, the Imperialists faced far less complications and the NATO bombardment was able to tip the balance in favour of the opposition, once a co-ordinated attack on Tripoli had began. Even if the US were to back the secular forces in Syria to the hilt it is unlikely they could carry out an overthrow of Assad. The only way they might be able to do that would be if they were backed up by massive numbers of US troops, eventually necessitating a full-scale ground invasion.

But, both hawks and doves in Washington realize that another Iraq/Afghanistan-style invasions isn't desirable and a similar Syrian adventure would end in another costly disaster. However, that doesn't rule out that once war has started, even in a limited form suggested by Obama at the moment, it could snowball into an ever-increasing commitment in the future. Head of the US Defence Staff, General Martin Dempsey stated recently that eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons would require “a no-fly zone with air and missile attacks with hundreds of aviation, submarines and other tools.” He added that “thousands of Special Forces and other ground troops would be needed to attack and secure key sites.” At a certain point, like NATO in Libya, the US would have no choice but to ramp up its action and commit itself to regime change.

This is something the US wants to avoid. They know that a US occupation of Syria would provoke a huge wave of anti-Imperialist sentiment across the Arab world among both Sunnis and Shiites. It would play into the hands of Al Qaeda and Shiite groups like Hezbollah. Not only would terrorism increase in the West, but support would grow for fundamentalist movements aiming to topple secular regimes, which co-operate openly with the USA, like Egypt, Yemen and Jordan and quite possibly destabilize other countries in North Africa like Morocco.

It is entirely possible that countries could implode and new regional wars would break out, especially as tensions between the Shiite and Sunni wings of Islam intensify. Large numbers of Iraqi Sunnis could gravitate towards the jihadists if sectarian warfare with Shiites intensifies and Iraq could break up, with a radical Shiite cleric, like Muqtada al-Sadr taking over in Baghdad, who has close links to Iran, giving Tehran a new ally on its southern flank.

Uprisings could also break out among the Shiite minorities in the Gulf states like the
revolution in Bahrain in 2011. All the world's key oil producing areas in the Sunni-ruled Gulf states are populated by Shiite minorities. Were the Saudis and others to carry out atrocities or attempt the ethnic cleansing of these areas, that could provoke Iran to intervene. In these circumstances the world's oil supply could be threatened and the US would be forced to act. It would probably mobilize its 5th fleet in the Persian Gulf and threaten Iran with attack by cruise missiles. Israel too might threaten to bomb Iran. In these circumstances, Russia could not stand aside and a stand-off could occur between the superpowers, of a type not seen since the Cuban missile crisis.

It is a lose-lose situation for Imperialism. Therefore, the basic policy of the US in the Middle East at the moment is containment and the continuation of the fragile status quo, in fear of unforeseeable eventualities, which it could not control. That is why they have also floated the idea of a “peace conference”, in order to reinforce the current impasse, in the absence of a viable alternative.

However, it will be extremely difficult to bring together the various sides in the conflict and their different Imperialist backers. There are some 1,500 different militia units operating in Syria, most of whom follow no central command and which are unlikely to see the SNC/FSA as a representative body. Furthermore, such a peace conference would not include representatives of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups, which are the most effective forces. Getting the belligerents to agree to a ceasefire will be extremely difficult and enforcing a ceasefire virtually impossible. Al Qaeda wouldn't be involved and, even so, their aim is not essentially the overthrow of Assad, but the creation of a Caliphate of which his removal is just a part.

The US hopes that in a continuing stalemate, the war will exhaust all sides rendering the situation relatively harmless or contained within the boundaries of the old Syrian state. But with the growing strength of Al Qaeda the war is likely to continue regardless of any conferences. Given this “dammed if I do, dammed if I don't dilemma” Imperialism may turn to a solution based on a balkanization of Syria, rendering the splintered parts of the country more “manageable.” The undeclared plans of the US could include splitting Syria into mini-states based on the current share of territories. At present, Assad controls an area roughly stretching from the south up to Damascus and the north western Mediterranean coast. The Kurds control northern Syria, the FSA-aligned forces and the jihadists control a large part of eastern Syria, including parts of Aleppo and Al Qaeda controls most of the area bordering on Iraq.

Since Assad lacks the troops to win outright (and it is why he has turned to Hezbollah for reinforcements) the US may be hoping that he would settle for a mini-Syrian state under his power. If they can get the FSA to accept a similar arrangement, the US and the Gulf states could then pour in resources to a secular, mini-opposition regime, in order to create a buffer against the further expansion of Al Qaeda and to give the US a base to attack the jihadists. The Imperialists may be contemplating an agreement whereby the rebels of the FSA relinquish control of Damascus, in return for Assad handing over Aleppo as a capital for a new “FSA” state. However, getting both sides to agree to that is very unlikely. In fact, any peace conference would be little more than a war conference; a conference on how the war should continue at a comfortable level for Imperialism, both American and Russian without causing a conflagration. 

From the standpoint of socialists the situation is grim. Despite being a horrible caricature of socialism, the collapse of the Soviet model has left a political vacuum, which has been filled by Islamic fundamentalism in its various forms. Anti-Imperialist struggle, which was left-wing in nature in the past, is now shrouded in a black cloak of medieval, reactionary ideas. Instead of class struggle, sectarian and ethnic warfare dominates. 

At the beginning of the revolution in Syria women played a key role alongside the men, but as the uprising degenerated into a male dominated war, the position and role of women was one of its first casualties. It is always women who suffer most when reaction takes an upper hand in society in whatever form.

The consequences of the civil war, with hundreds of thousands of men joining up to fight, means that the burden of caring for the family and children in conditions of chaos and destruction largely falls onto the shoulders of the women, who end up playing the role of mothers, providers, defenders and nurses. Moreover, as in all wars, women become the easy victims of atrocities, rape and murder.

Socialists must demand that all women are also given guns to defend themselves and their children and those women who wish to fight in the civil war should be given the equal right to take up arms. We should also demand that in the areas and refugee camps, the militias and the charities and government agencies which provide food and shelter should also set up crèches, schools, clinics and staffed canteens and laundrettes to relieve women of their burdens and to allow them to play an active role in the politics of current events. Ultimately, the liberation of women is linked to the task of turning this civil war into a class war against the bourgeoisie and Imperialism and establishing a socialist society, where people of different sexes, sexual orientation, race, ethnic background or religion are guaranteed equality of rights.

The working class in these conditions has been driven underground or virtually dissolved into the mayhem. But the smoke of war has hidden important changes in the objective situation in North Africa and the Middle East, which have taken place in the last period and which should give us some optimism for the future.

The working class has always been small in the Arab world compared to other regions, but an offshoot of the recent boom has been an enormous growth in its numbers and potential power. If we just take a cross section of countries in the region we can see how predominantly peasant economies have now become newly industrialized societies. The share of industrial workers in the overall workforce is 32% in Tunisia, 31% in Iran, 26% in Turkey, 23% in Libya, 22% in Palestine, 20% in Jordan, 19% in Morocco and 16% in Syria. Let's remember that when the socialist revolution took place in Russia in 1917, only some 13% of the workforce were industrial workers.

Furthermore, despite the complications, which have unfolded in the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, they remain proof of the power of the masses and the possibility for peaceful revolution. The working class played a key role in the revolution in Tunisia and in Egypt, it was the massive strike movement of 2006, which broke the fear barrier and paved the way for the revolution. In Egypt, the working class is still only at the beginning of discovering its identity and power, much like workers in the early years of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. This is truer in the rest of the region, where the working class doesn't yet see itself as a class separate from the rest with its own interests and aims. That will inevitably change as Egypt and Tunisia is showing.

In all revolutions and civil wars, reaction and revolution are interwoven in the processes. It will most likely need the exhaustion or resolution of the conflict in Syria, in one way or another, before class issues can come to the fore and the need for workers' unity will start to overcome ethnic and sectarian barriers.

We shouldn't be overwhelmed by the virulence of reactionary elements in the situation. There is a silenced majority among the Syrians, both in the country and in the refugee camps, many of whom have lost faith in both Assad and the current Opposition. Some support certain factions because of the lack of any alternative and some because they provide them with food, electricity and shelter. The foreign fighters of Al Qaeda and similar groups have little roots in the local population either of a cultural or religious nature. Syrians have a tradition of secularity and tolerance. When the revolution first broke out it spread to other communities and elicited sympathy from the Kurds, Druze, Christians and even from Alawite students in Aleppo and Damascus.

Socialists have no sides to take in this war than that of the people. The role of socialists is to speak for the silenced and to offer a perspective of what can replace war and what can rebuild Syria. When the war ends, those who have suffered and those who have fought will be demanding recompense for all they lost or sacrificed. Capitalism cannot give them that. Once the dust settles people will look for political solutions and will begin to act in their own interests. In Libya, the working class has begun to awaken with strikes in the oil industry and other sectors. This will happen in Syria too. Syria has a rich tradition of class struggle, which has been hidden from view. In 1936, the working class in Syria brought the country to standstill with a general strike against French rule which lasted two months and involved all ethnic and religious groups in Syrian society across the length and breadth of the country, eventually leading to independence.

Once the war ends, people will expect a new society changed from top to bottom. They will demand the entire reconstruction of the country and a share in its wealth. But under capitalism, the rebuilding of the country will be based on what is profitable and not what is needed, leaving millions without homes, jobs or infrastructure. Only a socialist plan of production under democratic management by working people could harness the total wealth of the country for the good of all and offer a just and equitable transformation of society.

A Socialist Syria, leading to Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa could transform society both in Syria and throughout the region. One can only imagine how society would look if Sheiks, Generals and mullahs were overthrown and Imperialism was chased out of the region, its business interests nationalized and the rich resources of the Arab world put to work for the masses and not the profits of a few. 5,000 years ago, there were civilizations of plenty stretching from the Pyramids to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Surely with modern science and technology, it would be possible to create a new golden age in the cradle of civilization.

* No to Imperialist intervention!
* No to Assad - down with the dictator!
* No to Al Qaeda - drive out the jihadists!
* No to sectarianism – equal rights for all ethnic, religious and linguistic groups!
* No to the pro-capitalist, pro-Western, Syrian National Coalition and FSA leaders!
* Disarm all army and militias units – for a genuine People's Army under democratic control!
* End liberalization, – re-nationalize privatized industries and put nationalized industries under under democratic workers' control and management!
* A national plan of production to rebuild the economy, including a massive programme of public works to provide jobs and to build and repair homes, schools, hospitals and the country's infrastructure on the basis of need, not profit!
* For a Democratic Socialist Syria and Socialist Federation of the Middle East and North Africa!

1 comment:

Richard Mellor said...

The following comment was sent to us from Denis Drew in Chicago.

Census on Obama’s 1st Term: Real Median Income Down $2,627; People in Poverty Up 6,667,000; Record 46,496,000 Now Poor

The poverty line quoted in the article was $18,284 for a family of three. As we all know — and the press might wake up and report — said official federal poverty line is based solely on a 1955 formula (adopted in 1968 when it was already slipping out of relevance) of three time the price of an emergency diet (dried beans only please, no expensive canned) the true number in poverty must be at least double …

… the official line being off by about two and a half.

A realistic poverty line for a family of three would be more like $45,476 in 2012 dollars going by the 2001 Ms. Foundation book Raise the Floor (table 3-2 on p.44 — counts only $8,786 for medical insurance since it is a decade old book).

Raise totals up from a comprehensive list of expenses, including taxes to get its figure. (Raise provides extensive explanations for its minimum needs parameters in Appendix B, citing Solutions for Progress — allots $3,000 to yearly medical expenses even if the family has insurance paid.)

Denis Drew