Peace in Syria: without Assad

7223270-3x2-940x627LeftEast editor Ilya Budraitskis conducted this interview with Swiss/Syrian revolutionary activist Joseph Daher, first published in Russian on Open Left on October 17.

Article first published on:

The attempt at an agreement between Russia and the USA failed dramatically. What were the reasons? Is there any chance that this type of peace talks on the level of «great powers» can bring real peace to Syria? Do you think that any sustainable ceasefire or even peace process is possible with the participation of Assad? 

First, the ceasefire was poorly respected on the ground even when implemented, especially by the Assad regime and its allies, but the main reason why it failed was that this ceasefire did not address the political roots of the problem in Syria: the Assad regime. The agreement provided for greater military coordination between Russia and the United States in the “war on terror” in Syria, targeting the jihadist groups of the Islamic State and Fateh al-Sham (the former Jabhat al-Nusra), by the establishment of a Joint Implementation Center. The agreement did not denounce the interventions of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah and other various Shi’a fundamentalist militias alongside the Assad regime, while it did not to mention any political transition to a democratic system and the departure of the dictator Assad and his criminal clique. This political agreement concretely led to the stabilization of the Assad regime under the pretext of the so-called “war on terror” for the political interest of the USA and Russia. That is why this agreement was rejected by large sections of the democratic opposition, whether armed or peaceful.

Any political transition to put an end to the war and move towards a democratic system must include the departure of the dictator Assad and his clique in power. Otherwise the war will continue and provoke more catastrophes in terms of human lives. In this transition, all war criminals must be held accountable for their crimes, including and first and foremost Bashar al-Assad and his clique. Continue reading

“Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon’s Party of God”


Hezbollah provides a new, grounded analysis of the controversial and misunderstood Lebanese party. Where previous books have focused on aspects of the party’s identity, the military question or its religious discourse, here Joseph Daher presents an alternative perspective, built upon political economy.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Lebanon and dozens of interviews, as well as new archival and other primary sources, Daher’s analysis confidently positions Hezbollah within socio-economic and political developments in Lebanon and the Middle East. He emphasises Hezbollah’s historic ties with its main sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, its media and cultural wings and its relationship with Western economic policies.

Further chapters examine the party’s policies towards workers’ struggles and women’s issues, and its orientation towards the sectarian Lebanese political system. Hezbollah is a well informed and fresh analysis of a topic which remains central to our understanding of one of the world’s most tumultuous and politically unstable regions.


– Gilbert Achcar, SOAS, University of London
”Most appraisals of Hezbollah from a left-wing perspective have focused, often solely, on its role in the fight against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, thus serving the party’s own mythology. This merit of this iconoclastic book is that it endeavors to analyse Hezbollah from a historical materialist perspective.”

– Adam Hanieh, SOAS, University of London
”Daher has written an insightful and timely analysis of Hezbollah, situating the party within a fascinating account of the wider Lebanese political economy. An important contribution that sheds much light on contemporary politics in the Middle East.”

To order the book in the  UK:

and in the USA:

About The Author

Joseph Daher completed a Doctorate in Development Studies at SOAS, University of London, and teaches at Lausanne University, Switzerland. He is the co-editor of Penser l’émancipation (La Dispute, 2013) and co-author of The People Demand: A Short history of the Arab Revolutions (Counterfire, 2011). He is founder of the blog Syria Freedom Forever, and a Syrian/Swiss leftist political activist.

Trembling with indignation at every injustice

vue-generale-hopital-al-quds-apres-bombarde-dans-quartier-rebelle-sukkari-alep-28-avril-2016_0_1400_904From Afghanistan to Syria, via Yemen and the occupied Palestinian territories, attacks by the armed forces of imperialist States and their regional followers against hospitals, medical workers and patients have become almost routine in recent years.

Although international humanitarian law officially protects medical facilities and schools, those provisions, like others, are constantly trampled across the globe. On May 3, 2016, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution reaffirming the obligation to protect hospitals and medical staff in war zones. This of course remained a dead letter. The impunity of the major international and regional powers is total. Present during the adoption of the resolution, Joanne Liu, International President of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), actually denounced that “four of the five permanent members of the Council, to varying degrees, participated in coalitions responsible of attacks against health facilities over the last year: in the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan to that conducted by Saudi Arabia in Yemen or to that conducted by the Syrian authorities with the support of Russia”. For MSF, these systematic attacks against civilians constitute a deliberate strategy of States engaged in the so-called “war against terror.” Hypocrisy is complete at all levels. Continue reading

What Do The People Want?

Syria fills our screens and timelines with the results of sieges, Russian jets and barrel bombs leveling Aleppo and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the far-right is on the rise in many European countries, as they scapegoat those fleeing this hell . Rabble’s Shane Ragbags talks with Swiss-Syrian academic and activist Joseph Daher, author of Hezbollah – The Political Economy of Lebanon’s Party of God. He chats about Syria and the fate of a protest movement that inspired others like the Movement of the Squares in Greece, the Indignados and Occupy. 

Article originally published on the following website:
People see all the foreign powers intervening in Syria and understand it as a “proxy war”, a new Cold War. What is happening?

The majority of observers have analysed the Syrian revolutionary process solely in geopolitical terms, from above, and ignored the popular political and socio-economic dynamics at the bottom. It is important to remember that the Syrian revolution is part of the uprisings which have shaken the entire Middle East and North Africa(MENA) since 2010. Those in Syria have been fighting like people in the other countries of the region; for freedom and dignity – against the authoritarian regimes and the religious fundamentalists who are opposed to these objectives.
Between all powers, there is a near consensus around certain points: to liquidate the revolutionary popular movement initiated in March 2011, stabilize the regime in Damascus and keep at the head its dictator Bashar Al-Assad for the short-to-medium term. Their objectives are also to oppose Kurdish autonomy and try to militarily defeat jihadist groups such as Daesh(ISIS). The assistance of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have been absolutely indispensable for regime survival at all levels : political, economic and military.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are the states that want the most to see the fall of the Assad family, but not of the regime and its institutions. The monarchies of the Gulf have wanted to transform this popular revolution into a sectarian civil war because they fear a democratic Syria and a propagation of the revolution in the region that would threaten their power and interests. As a reminder, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar enjoyed good relations with the state before the uprising in 2011.

At the same time, we must denounce the role of Western states, which have never assisted the Syrian people, including when it comes to welcoming Syrian refugees. This has included preventing military equipment, such as anti-aircraft defences, from reaching the democratic opposition. The USA’s aim is to leverage an agreement between the regime (or a section of it) and the opposition linked to Western, Turkey and Gulf elites, represented by the Syrian National Coalition. This “Yemen-type solution”, their lesson from Iraq, maintains the structure of old regimes and guarantees the neoliberal and imperialist order that prevailed prior to 2011.  Continue reading

Trembler d’indignation devant toutes les injustices


Vue générale de l’hôpital Al-Quds après qu’il a été bombardé, dans le quartier de Sukkari à Alep, aux mains de l’opposition syrienne, le 28 avril 2016 / AFP/Archives

De l’Afghanistan à la Syrie, en passant par le Yémen et les territoires occupés palestiniens, les attaques contre les hôpitaux, les travailleurs médicaux et les patient-es sont devenues quasi systématiques ces dernières années par les forces armées des états impérialistes et leurs relais régionaux.

Le droit international humanitaire protège bien officiellement au niveau juridique les infrastructures médicales et les écoles, mais ces dispositions, comme bien d’autres d’ailleurs, sont constamment foulés au pied à travers le globe. Le 3 mai 2016, le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU a adopté une résolution réaffirmant l’obligation de protéger les hôpitaux et le personnel médical dans les zones de guerre, mais qui reste bien sûr lettre morte. L’impunité des grandes puissances internationales et régionale est totale. Présente lors de l’adoption de la résolution, Joanne Liu, Présidente internationale de Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), avait en effet dénoncé que « quatre des cinq membres permanents de ce Conseil ont, à des degrés divers, participé à des coalitions responsables d’attaques contre les structures de santé au cours de cette dernière année : à celle dirigée par l’OTAN en Afghanistan, à celle menée par l’Arabie saoudite au Yémen, ou à celle menée par les autorités syriennes avec le soutien de la Russie». Pour MSF, ces attaques systématiques contre les civils constituent une stratégie délibérée des États engagés dans la soi disant « lutte contre le terrorisme ». L’hypocrisie est totale à tous les niveaux. Continue reading

Solidarity of besieged Yarmuk refugee camp to besieged Khan al-Sheih camp

أطفال #مخيم_اليرموك المحاصر يتضامنون مع #مخيم_خان_الشيح ضمن وقفة وجه خلالها أطفال اليرموك رسائل تضامنية إلى أطفال وأهالي #مخيم_خان_الشيح المحاصر

Children of besieged Yarmuk refugee camp in solidarity with the besieged Khan al-Sheih camp

The Palestinian camp of Khan al-Sheih has been exposed to violent bombing of Assad regime and Russian forces and to a blockade. Assad regime and Russian attacks have claimed the lives of innocent Palestinian refugees, including children and women, in Khan al-Sheih camp.

Demonstrations in solidarity with Aleppo -مظاهرات تضامنا مع حلب

مظاهرة احرار مدينة الحراك بريف درعا ضمن جمعة بوتين مجرم حرب – Demonstration in the city of Bosra Sham, Deraa Province, in solidarity with Aleppo and condemning Putin and Assad as war criminals

رسالة من أهل بصرى شام :لا ندعو للعنف.. لا نمجد الحرب … ننبذ التطرف القتل والإنتقام

Message from the people opt Bosra Sham: “We don’t ask for violence.. we don’t glorify war.. we reject extremism, murder and vengeance”.


وقفة إحتجاجية لـ ثوار حلب في جمعة #بوتين_مجرم_حرب

Sit in of revolutionaries in Aleppo on Friday “Putin is a war criminal”, September 30, 2016


Sit in Douma – اعتصام مدينة #دوما ضد التدخل #الروسي في #سوريا September 30, 2016