The Syrian people,martyr of the rivalries and agreement of imperialist powers

12339269_916795411738008_7244158041749286779_oThe French state responded directly following the terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015 in Paris. The French warplanes bombed the city of Raqqa, occupied by Daech, also known as the Islamic State (IS), on November 15. The aggregate bombings led to the “total cutoff of water and electricity” inside the city, according to Hamoud al-Musa, a member of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently currently in southern Turkey.[1]

Strengthening the intervention of the coalition in Syria

France has increased its airstrikes since the attacks of November 13, and now mobilizes 3500 soldiers, deploying in the eastern Mediterranean the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, therefore tripling since November 23 its capacity for action.

Before November 15, the first strikes in Syria by the French military aviation against Daech were held in September 2015, near the town of Deir Zor. The French authorities have justified these bombings by targeting “sanctuaries of Daech, which trains those who attack France,” adding “we are acting in self-defence.”[2] Since September 27, four sets of strikes took place in Syria as part of “Chammal’s Operation” against Daech. This operation has been underway since 2014 as part of the international coalition led by the United States that was formed in September 2014 to intervene in Iraq, at the request of the government in Baghdad, and in Syria where it has so far refused any collaboration with the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, at least officially. Bringing together some sixty countries including the UK, France, Arab countries and Turkey, the coalition has ruled out until today the possibility of intervening on the ground but sent soldiers train Iraqi and Kurdish troops and special forces. Less than a dozen of its members conduct air raids (around 8300 for a year, of which more than 80% by the United States).

France has called on other Western states to join in its “war against Daech.” Britain has joined the campaign after the British Parliament voted in favour of air strikes in Syria against Daech on December 2nd. British aircraft actually conducted several hours after this vote its first air strikes in Syria against oil installations controlled by Daech.

It was then the turn of the German parliament, the Bundestag, to vote in favour of the draft of Angela Merkel on December 4. The project voted stipulates the deployment of a maximum of 1,200 soldiers, which would make it the biggest mission of the Bundeswehr abroad, and the participation of six Tornado aircraft for reconnaissance missions in Syria and the participation of a frigate on the side of French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

Six countries (USA, France, UK, Canada, Australia and Jordan) are involved today in Iraq and Syria. Denmark and the Netherlands are involved in Iraq. Other states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates) on the opposite conduct strikes only in Syria. The three Gulf monarchies are nevertheless less active in Syria since their involvement in March 2015 in Yemen to support the Hadi government troops allied to Saudi Arabia against an opposition dominated by the military networks led by the former dictator Abdullah Al-Saleh and the Houthis, supported by Iran.[3] Washington, including the Harry Truman aircraft carrier expected in the Mediterranean Sea soon, has 3500 soldiers in Iraq, and most probably special forces will be sent as well for missions in Iraq and may be Syria.

More cooperation with Putin’s Russia

At the same time, France also called for more collaboration with the Russian state, which declared after the terrorist attacks in Paris that the crimes of November 13 confirmed the correctness of the Russian policy in Syria.

On November 26, 2015, the French and Russian governments announced their decision to “coordinate” their strikes against Daech in Syria, and in particular to target the transport of petroleum products. Oil smuggling is one of the main sources of funding of Daech, which derives, according to estimates, $ 1.5 million in revenue per day. France and Russia also agreed to intensify their exchange of information and to guarantee that strikes are not aimed at those “who struggle against Daech” referring to groups of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighting the Assad regime and Daech.

As a reminder, a report published by the Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria,[4] wrote that since the beginning of the Russian military, September 30, until November 15, 80% to 90% of Russian strikes have not targeted areas controlled by Daech, while more than 520 civilians were killed by the Russian airstrikes and about 100,000 were forced to leave their areas because of Russian bombing. This is without forgetting the bombing of popular markets and the destructions of dozen of hospitals, of bread factories, etc…

Moscow might have targeted more djihadists after the attacks in Paris but continues to bomb massively areas not controlled by Daech, mostly islamist forces, FSA groups and civilians. For example on November 28, 2015, the Russian military aviation destroyed in central Idlib province an aid dispensary containing a bakery that produced over 300,000 pounds of bread per month and a well providing safe-drinking water to an estimated 50,000 people.[5] Many popular neighborhoods in Aleppo and in the region of Idlib and Aleppo were the targets of Russian bombing.[6]

Imperialist divergences and tensions

The agreement of the imperialist states to fight “against the terrorism” of Daech has nevertheless not reduce disagreements and rivalries between different regional and international imperialist actors.

The destruction of a Russian military plane on November 24, 2015 by the Turkish military at the Syrian border demonstrates these tensions. Russia responded by intensifying its bombing along the Turkish border and other areas between Aleppo and Idlib. The Russian military aviation particularly concentrated its bombing on Azaz and Bab al-Salama crossings on the Syrian and Turkish border to prevent the passage of trucks and other. The aim is mainly to prevent the presence of various opposition groups in this region. But if the bombing campaign continues with the current pattern, as explained by scholar Aren Lund “it could have a significant impact, not only on battlefield dynamics, but also on the civilian population in the border area, which includes several million internally displaced persons. Any indiscriminate bombing of convoys and congested border checkpoints would directly affect the well-being of people in northern Syria, the majority of whom depend on cross-border trade and humanitarian aid for their survival. A year ago, the Aleppo area alone contained nearly 1.8 million internally displaced civilians and more than 1.2 million people in the Aleppo-Idlib region received food aid in October 2015 before Russia stepped up its bombardment of the border traffic.”[7]

Moscow has also imposed a series of economic sanctions against Ankara, which includes the freeze of investment projects and the ban on imports of agricultural products. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would start looking for alternatives to Russian energy, promising that his country will not collapse under the Russian sanctions. Turkey imports from Russia 55 percent of its natural gas and 30 percent of its oil. “It is possible to find different suppliers,” Erdogan said, referring to Qatar and Azerbaijan.[8] In early December, following a visit to the emirate of Qatar, President Erdogan announced signing an agreement with Qatar for the supply of liquefied petroleum gas in addition to the establishment of a Turkish military base in Qatar.[9] The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has nevertheless appealed for dialogue with Russia to decrease tensions.[10]

At the same time, there have been increasing fighting these past few eeks in the Northwest region of Syria between a coalition called the Army of the Conquest (Jaysh al-Fatah), composed of reactionary Islamic forces and a few small groups of the FSA, but dominated by Jabhat Al Nusra and Ahrar Sham, which have the support of Turkey and Qatar, facing the newly formed Kurdish-majority alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) supported by the United States, to fight the “terrorism represented by the Islamic State, its sister [organizations] and the criminal Baath regime”.[11] This new group is dominated by YPG (armed wing of the PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK), while other groups (Syriac and FSA groups like the army of revolutionaries “Jaysh al-thuwar”[12]) within it play until today an auxiliary role. The SDF was established in October of this year to provide a legal and political cover for American military support for the PKK in Syria.[13]

Fighting between the two groups, which both sides accusing the other of having started the war, concentrated in the area between Idlib and Aleppo, close to the strategic crossing point of Azaz, which controls access to the city Aleppo to the border with neighbouring Turkey.[14] During the fighting, the SDF troops would have benefited from Russian air strikes (until today it’s not known if it was made intentionally or not), which have not targeted PYD forces, whose fight against the IS was hailed by President Putin.[15]

The USA decided this summer to support the Syrian PKK, the PYD, because it considers the group as the most effective actor to fight Daech. This decision came after the failure of the US administration to train and sponsor battalions of FSA on the conditions that they would ready to fight only Daech and not the Assad regime. The USA is hoping that other FSA groups will join the SDF alliance, but the policies of the PYD, particularly of non-conflict with the Assad regime, support for Russian intervention in Syria, and also violations of Human Rights and abuses in some areas against Arab civilians,[16] prevent any trusty relationship to be established.[17]

On the other side the Turkish state does not want to see the influence of the PKK in Syria extend all along the border with Turkey and it therefore supports the coalition of the Army of the Conquest, dominated by Jabhat Al Nusra and Ahrar Sham. The latter two groups, but especially Jabhat Al Nusra, have since 2013, launched many attacks against the forces of PYD and committed human rights violations and abuses against Kurdish civilians.[18] This is not to mention the members of the Syrian coalition allied with the Turkish government and the monarchies of the Gulf and has repeatedly shown their Arab chauvinism no different from the Assad regime. The current president of the Syrian coalition Khaled Khouja even said that the victory of the AKP in the parliamentary elections of November was a ray of hope for the Arab peoples,[19] despite the violations of democratic rights, crackdown on various sectors of the opposition and especially against the Kurdish population of the ruling party AKP.

The US and Turkey have been discussing for months to work together against Daech present in these regions close to the Turkish and Syrian border, but there has been no progress until today on this issue.

We see again that the rivalry between different imperialist and sub imperialists powers, which in this case are all supposedly considered “Friends of Syria”, also fuel rivalries already present in the field, and unfortunately especially between Arabs and Kurdish. It is absolutely necessary to recreate solidarity from below beyond ethnic divisions between Arabs and Kurds as we have seen at the beginning of the popular uprising in 2011 and after, or more recently in September 2015 in the district of Aleppo Sheikh Maqsoud during a demonstration of unity between Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians against the Assad regime and Daech and singing the famous slogan “the Syrian people is one and united.”[20]

Always the same objective: put an end to the revolutionary process

Despite their rivalry, imperialist interventions share a common purpose: to liquidate the revolutionary movement initiated in March 2011, stabilize the regime in Damascus in keeping at the head its criminal dictator (for a short and medium term at least), and try to militarily defeat the IS.

The evolution of events has indeed benefited the Assad regime and its allies Russia and Iran. The French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also declared December 5, 2015 that it no longer planned the departure of Bashar al-Assad before a political transition in Syria, adding that “the fight against Daech is decisive but will be fully effective only if all Syrian and regional forces unite. ” John Kerry, Foreign Minister of the United States said they could imagine a collaboration between the army of the Assad regime and the military forces of the opposition, the FSA, to work against extremist organizations such Daech without the departure from Assad.

In addition, Russia has also intensified its intervention on the ground by delivering T-90 tanks to the Syrian regime to support the progression of Assad’s troops south of Aleppo.[21]

Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, the two most important allies of the Syrian regime, have also displayed on November 23, 2015 in Tehran their total agreement to reject all “external attempts to dictate” the future of Syria. For his first visit to Iran for eight years, Vladimir Putin visited at his arrival the residence of the Supreme Leader Khamenei. Russia and Iran have strengthened their ties in recent years with major economic and military cooperation, as we can notice with the recent contract on the delivery, by the end of the year by Russia to Iran, of S-300 air defence missiles. Before his visit to Tehran, Putin also lifted the ban on sale and delivery of technological equipment related to nuclear power, in accordance with the nuclear agreement of July between Iran and the major powers, including Russia. Moscow can now sell and deliver to Iran materials and equipment to “modernize” the Iranian nuclear site at Fordo and for Arak nuclear reactor, according to a presidential ukase issued by the Kremlin. Moscow also authorizes “the export from Iran of enriched uranium, of a volume greater than 300 kg, in exchange for the transfer to Iran of natural uranium.”

The western states on their sides have moved closer to Russia and only rhetorically condemn some of its bombing, while not really opposing it. At the same time Russia and Israel have announced their intention to develop and deepen their military cooperation.[22]

As we have seen above the Russian air force continues to bomb popular neighborhoods and civilian infrastructure in Syria while the international coalition did not wait very long to make its first blunder on December 7, 2015 with the proliferation of raids since November 13. At least 26 civilians, including 7 children, were killed in a village in north-eastern Syria, al-Khan, whose periphery is controlled by the IS after strikes by the coalition led by the USA, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia continues to want dominate the Syrian opposition by organizing the “conference for the unification of the opposition” in Riyadh, which brings different civilian and military (groups links to the FSA, but also Ahrar Sham[23] and the Army of Islam[24] both guilty of numerous violations and abuses of human rights against democratic forces and activists, while having a reactionary political program that calls for the establishment of an Islamic State) Syrian opposition movements between the 8 and 10 of December to establish a joint document and select a negotiation team to go and negotiate with the Assad regime for a political transition. In the organisation of the conference, Saudi Arabia gave the Syrian coalition, allied with Turkey and the Gulf monarchies, the greatest representation with about 40 (including several under the independent label, but actually coalition members) persons invited on a total of 103.[25] The other guests are armed opposition forces represented by 19 figures and 63 personalities from different currents of the opposition, including the National Coordination Body, personalities of the Cairo Conference, the movement “Building the Syrian State” of Louay Hussein, independent personalities, businessmen and men of religion, including Osama al-Rifa’i of the Syrian Islamic Council, a personality close to the Sunni conservative bourgeoisie of Damascus before his departure in 2011.[26]

The PYD has not been invited because of the opposition of Turkey and has organised an alternative meeting with other small Kurdish, Arabic[27] and Assyrian opposition groups in in the city of Rumeilan (Al-Malikiyeh), in northeast Syria, to affirm that they “deserve” as much as others to participate in the development of a transitional political scenario for the country.

Daech and Jabhat Al-Nusra were not invited in Ryad as well.

Conclusion

The popular resistance and the aspirations of the Syrian people on the field are completely ignored and moreover combated.

For example, in the small town of Burkmal, east of the city of Deir Zor, occupied by the IS, acts of popular resistance by its inhabitant-es have been increasing in recent weeks against members of Daech, including with demonstrations and the displaying over a school of the flag of the Syrian revolution, hated by Daech, while simultaneously a secret FSA group, murdered four fighters of Daech in the city.[28] In the city of Minbej in the countryside of Aleppo and its surroundings, several demonstrations were held against the repression of the IS of local populations. Member of the IS, including a judge of the religious courts established by the IS, were assassinated on numerous occasions.[29] In the city of Raqqa and Deir Zor province, a secret FSA group named, white shroud, conducts limited guerrilla attacks on military units of IS.[30]

As was saying one activist from the city of Raqqa after the attacks of November 13 in Paris, the city “has become a stage in the international vengeance”.[31] He added ” “If a plane explodes above Egypt, Raqqa is bombed,” Musa said. “If a Jordanian plane falls, Raqqa is bombed; after the explosions in Paris, Raqqa is bombed”. “Another activist from the city of Raqqa, from the group Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, tweeted his frustration, saying that “We are against the UK strikes on Raqqa. All the world is bombing Raqqa, UK will not make any change in the situation”. They added: “The world all the time want to bomb Raqqa and they forget about 500[thousand] innocent people inside the city”.[32] A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s southern also declared that Britain was focusing on the wrong enemy, adding “the Assad regime is the cancer which Isis grow out of. So without erasing Assad from power … that will not make a big difference. Daesh and Assad are two faces of one coin”.[33]

Internationalist solidarity is much needed for the revolutionaries in the region. An internationalist solidarity that involves of course the rejection and denunciation of all imperialist and other interventions against the Syrian popular uprising and its objectives (democracy, social justice, equality and non sectarianism) and which bring only more deaths and destructions, but also affirm and give our support to the people in struggle against the different forms of the counter revolution for their liberation and emancipation.

Joseph Daher

December 9, 2015

[1] http://syriadirect.org/news/‘raqqa-city-has-become-a-stage-for-international-revenge’/

[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2015/09/27/france-frappes-syrie-aviation-francaise_n_8202194.html

[3] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/yemen-et-les-interventions-imperialistes-reactionnaires/

[4] http://www.vdc-sy.info/index.php/en/reports/1447972413#.VlLxZiTA1sv

[5] http://syriadirect.org/news/50000-people-without-access-to-drinking-water-after-reported-russian-airstrike-hits-well/

[6] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/rami-jarrahs-report-from-aleppo-the-fight-against-terror-or-not/ ; https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/massacre-by-russian-airstrikes-in-rural-idlib/

[7] http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62207

[8] https://en.zamanalwsl.net/news/12879.html?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

[9] http://m.gulfnews.com/news/mena/turkey-to-establish-military-base-in-qatar-1.1630691

[10] http://www.24heures.ch/monde/europe/turquie-trouver-fournisseurs-russie/story/25907093

[11] http://syriadirect.org/news/15-opposition-groups-in-idlib-aleppo-join-sdf-forces/

[12] https://hasanmustafas.wordpress.com/2015/11/16/an-analysis-of-jaish-al-thuwar-the-army-of-revolutionaries-a-component-of-the-syrian-democratic-forces/

[13] http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62158

[14] for more info see pour plus d’infos voir http://syriadirect.org/news/accusations-recriminations-and-bloodshed-in-north-aleppo-arena-as-kurds-fear-for-afrin/

[15] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-turkey-battle-idUSKBN0TP0I220151206#GgQFrvmU7KmYAEqE.97

[16] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/files/live//sites/almonitor/files/documents/2015/AI.WeHadNowhereElseToGo.PDF

[17] see more here https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/01/09/the-pkk-and-the-issue-of-the-self-determination-of-the-kurdish-people/

[18] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/جبهة-النصرة-تفرض-على-نازحين-جبل-الأكرا/

[19] http://rassd.com/163324.htm

[20] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/09/25/kurds%E2%80%AC-%E2%80%AA%E2%80%8Earabs%E2%80%AC-%E2%80%AA%E2%80%8Eassyrians%E2%80%AC-%E2%80%AAturkmen%E2%80%AC-march-against-isis-and-assad-crimes-in-neighbourhood-sheikh-maqsoud-%E2%80%AAale/

[21] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/12034237/Russia-sends-its-most-advanced-tanks-to-Syria-frontline.html

[22] http://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/diplomacy-defense/94103-151130-netanyahu-and-putin-agree-to-expand-and-deepen-military-coordination

[23] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/جبهة-النصرة-وأحرار-الشام-يصادرون-عدة-م/

[24] https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/مظاهرة-حاشدة-في-سقبا-المحاصرة-و-مظاهرة/; https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/مظاهرات-بالغوطة-ي-مدينة-سقبا-تحت-شعار/; https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/شام-ريف-دمشق-حرستا-مظاهرات-تندد-بالمما/; https://syriafreedomforever.wordpress.com/2015/06/28/مسرابا-ريف-دمشق-مظاهرة-نسائية-طالبت-ب/ et kidnapping de 4 figures de la révolution https://douma4.wordpress.com/2nd-anniversary-douma4/

[25] http://www.orient-news.net/ar/news_show/96530/مناع-منسحبا-المؤتمر-يضم-فصائل-إرهابيةغليون-يحدد-مكان-صالح-مسلم ; http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62239

[26] http://www.orient-news.net/ar/news_show/96530/مناع-منسحبا-المؤتمر-يضم-فصائل-إرهابيةغليون-يحدد-مكان-صالح-مسلم http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62239

[27] including a splinter faction from the National Coordination Body and other allies of the leftist exile dissident Heitham Mannaa. http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=62239

[28] http://syriadirect.org/news/al-bukamel-residents-‘refuse-to-be-subjugated’-to-the-islamic-state/

[29] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/rare-protests-against-rule-northern-syria-after-revenge-attack-judge-1757778221#sthash.vfI5xg3E.dpuf

[30] http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/features/2015/11/20/syrian-rebels-and-their-clandestine-war-against-is#sthash.bXw8C6SH.dpuf

[31] http://syriadirect.org/news/‘raqqa-city-has-become-a-stage-for-international-revenge’/

[32] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-air-strikes-rebels-and-damascus-condemn-raf-bombing-raids-on-isis-a6759551.html

[33] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-air-strikes-rebels-and-damascus-condemn-raf-bombing-raids-on-isis-a6759551.html

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