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: http://www.rabble.ie/2016/10/19/what-do-the-people-want/
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