Archive for the ‘Nouveau Parti Anti-Capitaliste’ Category
There are further calls to arm the Syrian opposition from the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste,
“Nous devons obtenir la livraison de l’aide indispensable (vivres, soins, équipements, armes) aux représentants des collectifs syriens qui se battent pour la démocratie, la justice sociale et la dignité nationale dans le respect de toutes les composantes du pays. ”
We must ensure that indispensable aid – food, medicine, necessary equipment, arms – is delivered to representatives of the Syrian collectives battling for democracy, social justice and national dignity and who respect the diversity of the country.
September the 5th.
Jacques Babel (a member of the NPA responsible for international work and in particular coordinating work with and in the Arab region).
At the end of August (that is prior to the latest threat of intervention) an important on-line debate on the left on the Syrian opposition took place organised by the US Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD).
The issue of arms played an important part in this in the discussion.
Michael Karadjis has thoroughly put the case that there are strong reasons to back democratic forces on the ground,
Throwing the whole Syrian uprising into the “jihadi” camp undermines the very forces within the revolution that confront this reactionary trend on a daily basis (see for examples of popular demonstrations, slogans, declarations etc. against these currents and their actions here, here, here,here, here and elsewhere).
His position is summarised as, while ”defending the right of Syrian revolutionaries to obtain arms, he believes that the ongoing militarisation of the conflict favours both Assad and the Islamists; therefore he thinks a ceasefire would be in the best interest of the revolution, allowing a revival of the mass movement that initiated the revolt against the regime.”
Salameh Kaileh begins from the standpoint of the Syrian Revolution. He states that, “rebels should find other ways to get weapons, and must establish real army forces capable of struggle until victory.”
Others roundly attack any idea of intervention, direct, or indirect. Michael Eisenscher calls for an arms embargo.
CDP Co-Directors, Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy, conclude.
“Consistent with our strong opposition to any kind of military intervention in Syria by the U.S., or other foreign powers, we also oppose providing air cover or establishing no fly zones. We do believe, however, that the democratic opponents of the Assad dictatorship have the right to get guns where they can, while resisting all attempts by those who provide arms to acquire political and military influence in return.” We continue to defend this right, and we agree with Karadjis that merely receiving arms from foreign countries has never been the “final determinant” of a revolutionary movement’s politics. But we also recognize that since none of the governments in the region or in the West actually favour a mass popular democratic victory, they are extremely reluctant to offer the democratic opposition significant weaponry. Moreover, like Karadjis, we do not call on the United States to arm the rebels, because we are unwilling to take responsibility for the way that the U.S. government will inevitably use any offer of weapons to attempt to manipulate the struggle and buttress its ongoing reactionary role in the Middle East.
Joseph Daher (of the the Syrian Revolutionary Left Current - closely inked to the NPA) argues that there are groups in Syria that meet the description of those favouring the democratic opposition. Daher’s own Blog is here. It contains this statement, there are “two fronts in Syria right now: the jihadists on the one hand, and the regime on the other.” There are not a lot of posts on display with which to gauge the grouping’s influence.
Daher, the NPA, and many others (such as their British comrades in Socialist Resistance, Workers Power and teh International Socialist Network, appear to place their hopes in the ‘Local Coordination Committees‘.
The Committees’ site is important.
It includes, amongst many others, links to articles from International Viewpoint and the British SWP.
Their profoundly moving declaration includes this statement,
As we insist, in the present very special circumstances, on the direct right of the Syrian people to affirm its right of self-determination before the international community, we assure that all calls based on the ground of “droit d’ingérance,” “devoir d’ingérance,” “humanitarian intervention” or “responsibility to protect” should not hinder the aspiration of the Syrian people to cause peaceful change by its own forces; or lead to dealing with the Syrian people as yet another sphere of influence in the game of nations.
The recalcitrance of the Syrian regime to meet its international obligations in terms of respect of human rights and international humanitarian law, may require, in this particular moment, that the international action contemplated above be supported by the sending of a United Nations observers mission, to be approved by a resolution of the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The mandate of the observers mission must emphasize prevention and assistance in building appropriate political conditions to achieve a peaceful democratic transition in Syria. The observers mission must comprise civilian components holding nationalities of countries known historically for their neutrality, and under the direct supervision of the Secretary General of the United Nations, in cooperation with the League of Arab States. The observers mission’s staff members must be in such numbers as to allow them to be present in or reach any town or village at any time, to monitor and report to the United Nations Secretary General, on any violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as on progress of the political process to achieve a peaceful democratic transition pursuant to appropriate constitutive procedures as shall be solely determined by the Syrian People.
We affirm the priority of using dialogue and peaceful persuasion, including the use of non-coercive and non-violent measures. Yet we have no illusions as to the Syrian regime’ obstinate responses and its attempts to buy time. Experience has shown that the granting of time has not rendered the Syrian regime less resolute in committing yet further violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Such time costs the Syrian people more killing and destruction. Every day that passes means more people killed, and Syria finds itself even more remote from any possibility to find political solutions.
There is no mention of arms.
No doubt times have changed since this statement was made two years ago. But the NPA’s case includes an argument is that weapons should have gone to these bodies then.
We have also few means to gauge the real importance of these groups.
But the side-bar ”LCC in the news” lists their (‘a group of anti-regime activists’) declarations on unfolding events.
There are reports that the Pentagon is preparing more serious attacks than thought - here.
The situation is increasingly unclear, though Jihadists are now openly attacking Christian targets. .
Perhaps this is one reason some on the left who back the Syrian Revolution are starting to flail about.
Louis Proyect posts this,
From documentary film-maker Ben Allinson-Davies:
The Free Syrian Army are hugely different to the al-Qaeda-linked fruitloops that so many leftists, regime apologists, and unsavory, sneering internet experts (most of whom have restricted their research to listening to the incoherent, generic ramblings of Syrian expat Syrian Girl Partisan for a few minutes) would have you believe. I didn’t see a single jihadist or hardline Islamist during my travels across Idlib. If the closest I can get to finding one is a fighter from Tunisia who took his religion seriously, then it doesn’t cast the media coverage of the Syrian genocide in a good light at all. It seems like they parrot reports which parrot reports which come from shady sources with affections for the Assad regime – notorious ‘journalists’/shills like Cockburn, Fisk, and countless others.
When they’re not fighting, they’re living with their families in neat, respectable looking homes (despite shortages, family homes are still where the heart is for everyone) where children toddle around playing, and relatives and friends come and go for a meal, a glass of tea, or a chat – many spend much of their time looking after their children, using radios and the internet to coordinate and plan their next moves (again, the picture of fabulously armed, US-backed rebels really doesn’t add up at any point whatsoever), and enjoying family life.
Is this Enough?
An important interview with Joseph Daher, a member of the Syrian Revolutionary Left Current, in International Viewpoint today makes the following point,
What is your response to some on the left who assert that the Syrian opposition are proxies for Western imperialism and the oil rich Gulf states?
The problem with some of the Western left, especially the Stalinists, is that they have been analysing the Syrian revolutionary process from a geo-political perspective, ignoring completely the socio-economic and political dynamism on the ground in Syria. Many of them also consider Iran, Russia, or Syria to be anti-imperialist states struggling against the USA, which is wrong on every aspect. Our choice should not be to choose between on one side the USA and Saudi Arabia and on the other side Iran and Russia, our choice is revolutionary masses struggling for their emancipation.
The background to this is the assessment that the democratic and social revolution against Assad, through local coordinating committees, continues.
We have to understand more generally the crucial role played by the popular committees and organisations in the continuation of the revolutionary process, they are the ultimate actors that allow the popular movement to resist. This is not to undermine the role played by the armed resistance, but even they are dependent on the popular movement to continue the battle, otherwise without it we would not stand a chance.
In this respect the role of the Islamists has been challenged,
The Syrian revolutionary masses have increasingly opposed the authoritarian and reactionary policies of these groups. In the city of Raqqa, which has been liberated from the forces of the regime since March 2013, many popular demonstrations occurred against the authoritarian actions of Jabhat al Nusra and ISIS in the city. Similar demonstrations took place with masses challenging this kind of behavior in Aleppo and other cities.
It should be said as well that Jabhat al Nusra has not hesitated to strike deals with the Assad regime, for example the regime is paying more than $150 million Syrian lire [AU $2.4 million] monthly to them to guarantee oil is kept pumping through two major pipelines in Banias and Latakia. Jabhat al Nusra fighters have also been involved in other businesses.
The Syrian National Council, instead of defending the principles of the revolution and doing everything possible to develop the democratic components of the FSA, have let these groups, which are and were part of the counter-revolution since their establishment, to develop without condemning them and actually providing them with cover. These groups, just like the Syrian regime want to divide the Syrian people into sectarian and ethnic entities. The Syrian revolution wants to break the sectarian and ethnic division.
Different leftist forces have been involved in the Syrian revolutionary process since the revolutionary process began. We can find numerous smaller leftist groups and youth in Syria participating in the revolutionary process, in popular committees on the ground, organisation of demonstrations and of the provision of services to the population. The left has mostly been engaged in the civil work, in opposition to the armed work.
From the very beginning, despite our modest capacities, we, the Current of the Revolutionary Left has not once faltered in our engagement with the revolution, calling for democracy and socialism. We have struggled alongside the people and all democratic forces for the victory of this great popular revolution, just as we struggle for the formation of a socialist workers’ party.
The Labour Representation Committee makes this, very different, assessment of the forces opposed to Assad.
The tragedy for the Syrian people is that what began as a mass movement for democracy, as part of the wider Arab spring, has been largely hijacked by western-backed and Gulf-funded anti-secular and anti-democratic groups, some linked to Al Qaeda and extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism, as Owen Jones recently pointed out (Independent – Owen Jones). The success of such forces could lead to a wholesale sectarian bloodbath.
This analysis is based on the following,
As Sami Ramadani pointed out in the July edition of Labour Briefing: ‘During the past two years, an assortment of terrorists flooded in from Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Europe. Some are flown to Turkey to receive their arms and funds, an effort coordinated by a specially set up CIA HQ in Turkey. Saudi rulers generally back the Wahhabi Salafis and pro-Saudi secular forces associated with the Lebanese right wing, while Qatar backs the Muslim Brotherhood. However, Qatari and Saudi funds were given freely, especially during the 18 months of the fighting, to anyone who wanted to fight in Syria or defect from the regime. Qatar’s dictatorial rulers alone have spent $3 billion within two years in its efforts to topple Assad’s regime.’ (Labour Briefing – Battleground Syria).
We note, with great interest, that the Novueau Parti Anticapitaliste, (part of the Fourth International that Publishes International Viewpoint) has this to say about what should have been done to avert these developments.
Mais nous réaffirmons que les grandes puissances occidentales, en refusant de livrer les armes que réclament depuis tant de mois les structures collectives de lutte dont s’est doté ce peuple, portent aussi une lourde responsabilité dans la perpétuation du régime assassin, tout en contribuant au développement de courants obscurantistes religieux qui constituent un second ennemi mortel pour le peuple syrien.
But, we reaffirm that the principal Western Powers, by refusing the supply arms – demanded for months by the Syrian people’s collective structures of struggle – bear a heavy responsibility in sustaining the murdering regime. This has equally contributed to the development of religious obscurantist currents, who are mortal enemies of the Syrian people.
This call for arming the Syrian opposition has not unnaturally caused waves inside the NPA – see here,
All the evidence points to the Labour’s Representation Committee being right and the NPA/International Viewpoint having wildly exaggerated the strength of democratic and left forces in the Syrian opposition as it is presently fighting.
Behind this are wider differences inside the Arab left.
Nicolas Dot-Pouillard in le Monde Diplomatique noted last year that
“..unlike Egypt and Tunisia, the Syrian revolt has not had unanimous support from the Arab left. There is a split between those who sympathise with the protestors’ demands and those who fear foreign interference, both political and military”
….unconditional supporters of the revolution do not seem to be in the majority either. Most of them are on the far left of the political spectrum, usually Trotskyist (the Socialist Forum in Lebanon, the Revolutionary Socialists in Egypt) or Maoist (the Democratic Way in Morocco). They have links with sections of the opposition, such as Ghayath Naisse’s Syrian Revolutionary Left. Since spring 2011 they have taken part in occasional demonstrations in front of Syrian embassies and consulates in their own countries. There are also some independent leftwing intellectuals who support insurrection, like the Lebanese historian Fawwaz Traboulsi. They demand the fall of the regime, and rule out dialogue. Even though they champion peaceful popular protest, they believe the rebels have the right to resort to force of arms. Far left supporters of revolution distance themselves from the Syrian National Council (SNC) (5), one of the main opposition coalitions, because they believe its links with countries such as Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia could compromise the independence of the popular movement.
..the majority of the Arab left are maintaining a prudent distance from the Syrian uprising. They condemn its militarisation, which they say only benefits radical Islamist groups and the foreign fighters flocking to Syria. They criticise the sectarianism of the conflict, pitting first Alawite then Christian minorities against a Sunni majority radicalised by repression, which they fear will lead to unending civil war. And they worry about the regional and international balance of power. With Iran and Syria set against the Gulf monarchies, and Russia and China against the US, Syria has been put on the front line of a great international war game. The left tends to favour Iran and Syria, and Russia and China, rather than those they oppose.
For all their courage one gets the impression that the leftist forces in the Syrian opposition, not to mention any armed activity, are small in number. Has the “prudence” of those who did not joint them been proved wrong? The LCC’s judgement would indicate that it has not.
Dot-Pouillard’s conclusion remains valuable,
the position that much of the Arab left takes on Syria reflects its own clash with political Islam. That is why parties that normally claim to be “revolutionary” and “progressive”, even if they are not necessarily Marxist, are, paradoxically, hoping for a negotiated solution and gradual transition in Syria, for fear of disillusionment in the future.
One could add that those forces – from Counterfire to the Stop the War Coalition (StWC) – on the European left that once saw progressive aspects in political Islam are particularly in disarray.
Their allies in the Muslim Initiative are now engaged in protesting for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – here the ally of a key player (the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood) in the anti-Assad alliance.
More openly the Muslim Association of Britain – which jointly organised with the StWC the big demonstrations against the invasion of Iraq – has this to say,
We call on all activists and workers to support the revolution in every field and arena, everywhere; and to pressurise the political establishments to take firm action against the tyrannical Assad regime.
Dr Omer El-Hamdoon – MAB President said, “Out thoughts continue to be with the Syrian people, who have faced more than two and a half years of oppression; and more recently this chemical attack.”
“It is about time the international community takes firm action to put an end to the killing and destruction that it taking place in front of our eyes.”
As a group closely aligned to the Muslim Brotherhood we await with interest an protest from the MAB against a Western armed response.
Or perhaps its ‘anti-imperialism’ was always a matter of variable geometry.