More than two years after the mass uprising of the Syrian people began, the regime of Bashar al-Assad is still in power–but at a devastating cost. More than 94,000 people are dead, according to United Nations figures, while nearly 4 million have been displaced internally and 1.4 million externally, by the regime’s war against the Syrian people.
SWC’s position on Syria has not changed despite all this since my first open letter in the spring of 2012(https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/open-letter-to-the-stop-the-war-coalition-stwc-or-real-solidarity-is-needed/). It is really a shame and in many aspects a treason of the principle of internationalism, while ignoring the sacrifices of the Syrian people in their struggle for freedom and dignity.
Again I repeat all my points I had made in this first article, and especially the principle that StWC has not respected “no to foreign military intervention and the right of Syrian people to determine their own future.”
I agree on the need to oppose to foreign military intervention, but this means in my understanding from all sides, which has never been done by StWC. This signifies not only condemning the foreign interventions of the West, which are rather small in all truth in all aspects, and its regional allies, but also the foreign interventions of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah directly assisting and participating in the regime in its repression and its massacres. The current battle in the city of Qusseir, near the Lebanese border, and in the area of outside of Homs the pas few weeks have shown the deep participation of Hezbollah soldiers in the massacres of the regime against the Syrian people.
I agree with the STWC to oppose the imperialist’ agenda of their government, but that does not mean to describe the Syrian uprising as a western imperialist conspiracy, which it has continually done and no change has happened since my last open letter. It is possible to oppose foreign intervention and bring support to the popular movement.
I have condemned many times the countries which call themselves “friends of Syria” that are manoeuvring for their interests and against the Syrian people. Some of them want to impose a solution from above (as happened in Yemen) maintaining the structure of the regime, supported by the allies of the regime, Iran and Russia. This solution is and has been actually favored and pushed forward by the USA and Western countries as we can see with the recent attempts to bring back the 2012 Geneva agreement, which calls for a Yemeni Solution, in orther words maintaining the structure of the regime. Others, led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, want to transform the revolution into a sectarian war, out of fear that an extension of it would threaten their power and their interests. They are financing extremist Islamist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, which have a sectarian and reactionary ideology, and often try to reduce the role of the people’s committees, sometimes by violence. The position of the United States reflects this situation: refusal to provide weapons to the groups linked to the Free Syrian Army, while agreeing that arms should be sent by the Gulf states to the extremist Islamist groups that are not linked to the Free Syrian Army.
The Syrian revolutionary people are aware of these plans and this is why they have constantly opposed any imposed decisions on their future not fulfilling their aspirations.
On May 17th 2013, Friday’s demonstration was called the independence of the Syrian decision and protesters held slogans throughout Syria saying “We will not accept conditional support we want the independence of the Syrian decision “. Few months ago, large demonstrations and numerous declarations rejected the proposal of dialogue with the regime by the president of the Syrian National Coalition, Moaz Khatib. During the demonstrations on February 8, placards proclaimed “we will only negotiate about the departure of the regime”. The people refuse outside maneouvres that would maintain the structure of the current regime.
Despite all this, StWC and personalities close to it have not changed their political discourse regarding Syria.
George Galloway, a regular speaker in StWC, who is supporting the regime since the beginning of the revolution despite denials, has very recently declared that Assad is “quite a man” because “he opposes Israel, Britain, America and Qatar, and therefore that he is not in any doubt which side I am on“(http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3576/galloway_assad_must_be_quite_a_man). Will this new declaration prevent him of speaking in StWC meetings, an organisation that claims to support the right of the Syrian people to determine their own future? I am not sure unfortunately, and this despite the struggle of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, which is and has been completely ignored by StWC since the beginning of the revolution in March 2011, treating it as a conspiracy.
Not convinced? Please check the speakers of the new meeting of the StWC taking place in London on May 21 2013 in SOAS. I condemn completely the choice of the two speakers invited by StWC : Dr Issa Chaer and Professor Kamal Majid.
Dr Issa Chaer is a Syrian academic and member of the Syrian Social Club based in England. This organisation supports the murderous Syrian regime and has described the revolutionary process in Syria as a conspiracy from the first moment as explained on its Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/النادي-الاجتماعي-السوري-في-بريطانيا-SSCC-In-The-UK/362958673721220). It also has posted message of support to the dictator Al Assad, including the call to vote for Bashar al Assad in November 2012 (http://friendsofsyria.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/vote-for-bashar-al-assad/). Its representatives go in various TV programs to defend the Syrian regime.
To come back to Dr Issa Chaer, he has continuously defended the Syrian regime and has declared for example in 2012 that he sees “President Assad as the person who is now uniting the country from all its backgrounds, all factions and all political backgrounds, and I think anybody who calls for President Assad to step down at this stage; would be causing Syria an irreversible destruction” (http://www.presstv.com/detail/233521.html). He has repeated this propaganda on many other occasions since then. In this article « Can Syria Avoid the Fate of Libya and Iraq? Interview with Issa Chaer, by Carlos Martinez (MRZine) « (http://globalfaultlines.org/2012/10/05/can-syria-avoid-the-fate-of-libya-and-iraq-interview-with-issa-chaer-by-carlos-martinez-mrzine/) he lists the reasons of raising sectarianism Syria, without even speaking about the biggest user and producer of sectarianism in the country: the regime (for more info on this subject, please check this article https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/sectarianism-and-the-assad-regime-in-syria/). The regime is the main responsible and perpetuator of sectarian feelings and relationships inside Syria today, in addition to its allies Iran and Hezbollah. The Assad regime has for the past 40 years encouraged and implemented policies dividing the people along sectarian and ethnic lines to rule the country.
He goes on also on the usual lie of the anti imperialist nature of the regime ( please check previous articles on this subject), while Israel just declared that Assad was preferable than the rebels (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0%2c7340%2cL-4381028%2c00.html) and it was their man in Damascus.
The second speaker is and has also not supported the demands of the Syrian people for freedom and dignity, but on the opposite portrayed the events in Syria as a conspiracy as well. Professor Kamal Majid, presented as a communist, a well-known commentator in the Arab media, and the vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, declared in a conference in July 2012 in London that “the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are now spreading terror and sectarian division across Syria, as part of the imperialist plan to replace the Syrian government with a puppet state, à la Libya, which will do the bidding of the Americans and Zionists”. He added that « Hafez al-Assad was not with the imperialists and had a long history of resisting imperialism”. He concluded with a call to support Syria “Not because the Ba’athists are being battered by imperialism, but because their defeat will pave the way for a pro-Western and pro-US regime, and constitute a huge setback for the Arab and Palestinian causes”. (http://firstname.lastname@example.org/msg01027.html and http://londoncommunists.blogspot.ch/2012/05/solidarity-with-syria.html). ¨
All the arguments against these views have been argued in the firt open letter to StWC (https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/05/24/open-letter-to-the-stop-the-war-coalition-stwc-or-real-solidarity-is-needed/) and in an answer to Tareq Ali, who has since now modified his initial views (https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/response-to-tareq-ali-what-is-really-happening-in-syria/).
The usual same conspiracy’s propaganda that follows the exact same words than the Syrian regime’s propaganda.
Is it on lies and conspiracy theories the StWC wants or thinks convincing people and young students to progressive and anti imperialist thoughts? Is this the way we build campaigns of so called solidarity? Is this the way we struggle against imperialism? I have serious doubts and on the opposite I think you are serving imperialism a great service. Yes because by not defending a popular movement struggling for freedom and dignity, you let the full space for the imperialists, opportunists, reactionary and sectarian groups to try to manipulate the revolutionary process, in which as I explained above have not been successful because of the resilience and the courage of the Syrian revolutionary masses.
I am really disappointed by StWC’s position, which has abandoned its basic principles.
The fact that the Syrian revolution lacks any real international support did nevertheless not demoralize the Syrian revolutionary people, who continue their struggle despite the terrible repression. As written on a placard of a young Syrian revolutionary protester in Aleppo in March 2013 : “We should win not only for the Syrians but so all the people who believe in freedom and change don’t loose their faith”.
Let’s all learn from this and stand in solidarity with the Syrian people that are fighting not only for them but for us too, our struggles are linked as internationalists with revolutionary aspirations for radical change of societies.
This is why I support the Global day of solidarity with the Syrian Revolution on May 31st 2013. The campaign calls for a day of Solidarity during which groups in various cities around the world will organize protests, cultural events, and other symbolic actions in public squares and in front of Syrian embassies as well as on-line. Groups based in different countries will choose the most effective strategies to support the Syrian revolution reminding the world that:
– The massacre of the Syrian people must stop now!
– Assad must step down and be brought to justice.
– All Countries or groups must end all financial and military support to the Syrian Regime.
– All Syrian regime embassies must be closed down. No complicity with the Assad regime in any way.
– The Syrian representative must be expelled from the United Nations
– Aid must be sent to all Syrian refugees and internally displaced.
For more info and to get involved see: https://www.facebook.com/events/176697015820498/?fref=ts
Viva the Syrian Revolution and glory to our martyrs
I sent this letter to the Week;y Worker (I have also posted this letter in STWC, Couterfire and other left activist Facebook groups)
I sent this letter to the Weekly Worker (I have also posted this letter in STWC UK, Counterfire and other left activist Facebook groups, as well as tweeting it at Amnesty International and STWC UK)
‘Syria solidarity’ – Letter to the Weekly Worker
I’ve been researching the Syria situation since spring 2012, and have been unconvinced by the presentation of the situation from mainstream, corporate media, as well as the obscene responses from sections of the left: horrific incidents were being ignored and apologised for by the majority of the organisations that claim to be left of centre.
I’ve been meaning to write a letter for a number of weeks, to show appreciation for the coverage of the Weekly Worker in comparison to the leftwing newspapers that have adopted pro-Assad regime positions. Yassamine Mather’s and Moshé Machover’s discussion regarding Israel’s role in the Syria situation (‘Netanyahu attempts to provoke new confrontation’, May 9) and Peter Manson’s article regarding red lines, chemical weapons and the US role in Syria (‘Toxic weapons and revolutionary illusions’, May 2) were of interest to me, since they encouraged a discussion of the situation, rather than demanding a position that supports either the ‘rebels’ or the regime.
When I was in Lebanon recently, I went to Bekaa Valley, near the Syria border, and spoke with refugees and local people desperately affected by the crisis in Syria. There are thousands living under sheets, not receiving the aid you might expect, and children are being left to just deal with it. Four million people are reported to be displaced; hundreds of thousands of people are dead or missing. Refugees are in absolute crisis, since they are facing closed borders. When they get to a refugee camp, there is hardly any aid there for them. Many people still live in places like Aleppo, and continue to try and get on with their lives, amid the destruction and constant shelling, because they cannot go anywhere.
The majority of the British left is more concerned about being perceived as ‘pro-imperialist’ if it shows any solidarity with the revolution or any opposition to the oppressive and murderous Assad dictatorship. Groups such as the Stop the War Coalition show little concern for the Syrian people, and appear to suggest that Assad should remain in power.
On May 31 there will be an event in solidarity with the Syrian revolution at the University of London Union. It will host a live video-link with activists from Syria and the film, Battle of Aleppo, will also be shown. It is a controversial choice, since it was made by Pierre Piccinin da Prata, who has been quoted making sympathetic comments in relation to a Nato intervention. However, there’s no doubt that the film will be worth watching – it does attempt to draw public attention to the anguish of the Syrian people, while an indifferent world looks on.