Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Call to Arm the Syrian Opposition: Which?

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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 hereherehere,herehere 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.

It concludes,

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.


Written by Andrew Coates

September 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Very good question.


    September 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm

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