Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Note on Syria

While this blog has not supported Bernie Sanders and his campaign this is a very thoughtful and balanced piece on the very complicated situation in Syria and the Middle East, and we share it for our readers' interests. Admin

From Themos Demetriou, Cyprus’

Before making hasty judgments, revolutionaries in the West should step back and ponder the horrors Middle East populations find themselves in.  Revolutionaries should of course make correct, accurate and balanced analyses of all other political forces and powers but they cannot stay aloof in any conflict, especially in a civil war, unless they have the possibility to take power themselves. 

If the choice is between ISIS and Assad or even between American financed ex-al Qaida ‘rebels’ the answer is a no brainer.  One does not have to buy the Socialist Assad spin – this Assad especially based his authority mainly on neo-liberal policies with fair success for an emerging middle class.  But the fact is that Syria was a stable country until the US financed, organised and armed Islamic militia posing as ‘democratic’ rebels.

Especially repugnant is the dismissal of Rojava as Assad’s allies.  The three Kurdish cantons in the North of Syria is probably the nearest we had ever to Revolutionary organisation of society in the Middle East.  The two eastern cantons were effectively crushed and brought under US control after US proxy troops (the Peshmerga) withheld support to the defenders of Kobani until they were exhausted under the attack from Isis.  The support the Peshmerga provided in Kobani was like Lenin’s proverbial support of the hangman’s noose.

The Western canton of Afrin was crushed by Turkey with the quiescence of Russia, its new potential ally.  Turkey is now poised for a long-term occupation of Afrin if not outright annexation.  The Kurdish question, which with Rojava was moving away from nationalist discourse, is again being pushed hard towards unmitigated nationalism.

Where does this leave Revolutionary Theory?  Clearly there is no country in the Middle East at this moment capable of carrying out a Socialist Revolution capable of sparking a World Revolution.  The Arab Spring was a possibility but there was no revolutionary programme to carry it through.  Sadly, its turning point was the overthrow of Qaddafi by western backed ‘rebels’ and western bombs, which some naïve revolutionaries hailed as the overthrow of a dictator.  Now Syria is the theatre of a crisis that far from promising revolution is pregnant with the possibility of a generalised conflagration.

We are powerless to save the situation directly in Syria.  But we can affect what is happening in the West and fight against the West’s intervention in the Middle East.  We can support and help Syriza in Greece (2015), Bernie Sanders in the US (2016) and Corbyn in Britain (today).  I don’t see how we can intervene in Russia, something I would support if we could.  But simply fulminating against Assad and Putin can have the effect of just obfuscating the responsibility of the US and the West for the Iraq war, the creation of ISIS, the catastrophe in Afghanistan, the slaughter in Syria and Yemen.

Having said that, at the level of analysis we should be clear and precise.  But we need not be at each other’s throats when we differ.  In fact, it would be a very poor analysis if the discussion was limited within a close circle of uniformly minded individuals.  It would be a recipe for isolation within a small – very small – echo chamber.  

Unfortunately, the Left is very prone to that.

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