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Syria

The Gulf and Islamism in Syria: myths and misconceptions

ISIS fighters.

By Michael Karadjis

June 3, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Over the last year, the sectarian (mainly Sunni versus Alawite) element of the Syrian conflict has markedly grown, within an uprising that began as a multi-sectarian popular democratic uprising against Syria’s tyrannical regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The hold of Sunni sectarianism is by no means universal among the insurgent Syrian masses and their myriad of civil and armed resistance organisations; on the contrary, despite persistent myths, the revolution still contains a powerful secular wing (both within the civil uprising and the Free Syrian Army), and even the largest parts of the clearly political-Islamist wings are not specifically sectarian; and many are markedly moderate Islamists. However, there is no denying that a dangerous level of Sunni sectarianism has grown, especially among the more extreme ‘jihadist’ fringe affiliated to al-Qaida, and that this is an entirely negative and reactionary development.

Australia: Socialist Alliance's 'International Political Perspectives' resolution

"Despite repeated warnings from the majority of the world's scientists of the urgent need to slash greenhouse gas emission, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere passed over 400 parts per million for the first time in human history – signalling the globe’s dangerous race to catastrophic and irreversible global warming."

Adopted by the 10th National Conference of the Socialist Alliance, June 7-9, 2014.

1. The 10th national conference of Socialist Alliance is taking place at a time extreme inequality, intensified conflict and ecological crisis on a global scale. The 85 richest individuals in the world now hold as much wealth between them as the 3.5 billion poorest people in the world. A world divided by such extreme inequality will never be at peace and this is fundamentally why wars and uprisings continue to break out in numerous countries. This unprecedented concentration of wealth and power also is an absolute block to the urgently needed transition to an ecologically sustainable future.

Discussion: Are Russia and China imperialist powers?

"Probably the most important Russian monopoly is Gazprom, the world’s largest gas company, which by 2008 had about 400,000 employees. The company is reported to control over 93% of Russia’s natural gas production and about a quarter of the world’s known gas reserves."

By Chris Slee

April 7, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Russia and China both play an important role in world politics. This includes involvement in armed conflicts distant from their borders. Russia for example supplies arms to the Syrian government. Both Russia and China supplied arms to the Sri Lankan government during its war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who were fighting for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. (The LTTE was defeated in 2009.)

In some cases, Russia and China intervene on the same side as the Western imperialist powers. This was the case in Sri Lanka, where the US, Britain, Israel and other Western powers also aided the Sri Lankan government in its brutal war against the LTTE, which was in fact a war against the Tamil people.

Understanding the Arab rebellions: Adam Hanieh's 'Lineages of revolt'

Lineages of Revolt: Issues of Contemporary Capitalism in the Middle East
By Adam Hanieh
Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2013

[For more articles by or about Adam Hanieh, click HERE.]

Review by Chris Slee

March 15, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The year 2011 saw uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa. They were portrayed in the Western media as rebellions against dictatorial regimes and for democracy. But that is only part of the story. Political discontent was combined with economic discontent, as reflected in the widespread slogan, “bread, freedom and social justice”.

Syria: Assad regime responsible for rise in religious sectarianism

Alawite supporters of the Assad regime.

Read more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

February 17, 2014 -- - Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Much of the criticism of the Syrian resistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime is based on the fact that Sunni sectarianism has become an important element within it, in particular sectarianism against the Alawites, the sect to which Assad belongs. This criticism is justified, especially with reference to the extreme jihadist elements, but is also greatly exaggerated and generalised to unjustly cover all the resistance, which is also anti-sectarian in large part.

Kurds in Syria: ‘We don't want to draw new borders’, says Democratic Union Party

Salih Muslim, president of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, interviewed by Thomas Schmidinger

January 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Salih Muslim (pictured above) shares the presidency of the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD) with Asya Abdullah. The PYD is a sister party of the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK and shares the same ideological background as its leader Abdullah Öcalan. The party is the ruling force in the Kurdish areas of Syria and took over three enclaves with Kurdish majorities in 2012.

In an interview with Austria-based political scientist Thomas Schmidinger, Salih Muslim tells about the present and future project of Kurdish self-rule in Syria.

First I want to give my deepest condolences on the death of your son Sherwan, who was recently killed at the age of 17 while fighting against jihadist groups.

Thank you. If we are fighting for freedom we have to pay a price. This was my price I had to pay.

United States, Iran, Russia, Syria and the geopolitical shift: Anything for the region’s oppressed?

Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry during a May 2013 joint press conference in Moscow on "finding ... common ground" on the conflict in Syria.

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

December 19, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- In recent weeks and months, a pronounced geopolitical shift in US policy related to the Middle East has been widely discussed. This shift consists mainly of the US-Russia deal with Syria’s Assad regime to get rid of its chemical arsenal, in exchange for the US dropping its brief threat of air strikes over Assad’s chemical attack on August 21; and the high-level US-Iran negotiations over its nuclear arsenal, which led to a new agreement, involving a slight reduction on imperialist sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian concessions on its civilian nuclear program.

Syria: War threat, the US-Russia deal and some left delusions

Click HERE for more on Syria.

By Michael Karadjis

September 25, 2013 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- For two and a half years, the Bashar Assad regime has waged a barbaric war against the Syrian populace, using long-range missiles, fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships, tanks, artillery, cluster bombs and almost certainly chemical weapons, not to forget everyday machine gunning and torture, in a bid to crush the heroic uprising of Syria’s “wretched of the earth”, the peasants and urban poor, against his gangster-capitalist regime.

France: Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon opposes attack on Syria

Front de Gauche leader Jean-Luc Melenchon discusses the threat of a US attack on Syria, broadcast September 1, 2013. Below is an earlier TV appearance by Melenchon in which he also discusses Syria. (Note: to improve the resolution of the subtitles in each, press play then click on the "cog" at the bottom of the video, and increase the setting for "quality" to at least 360p. Then restart the video.)

(Updated Sept. 24) Syria: West's hypocritical war drive slowed

By Barry Sheppard

September 15, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The proposal by Russia, accepted by the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, for Syria’s chemical weapons to be turned over to an international authority (presumably the United Nations) for destruction, has temporarily put off Washington’s plans for war against Syria.

US President Barack Obama has postponed asking US Congress to approve of his plans to attack Syria. This represents a political defeat for the war drive.

Even if Washington scuttles the proposed agreement and goes ahead with war, it will do so with even less support at home and abroad than it had before the Russian proposal.

The main force blocking the proposed attack has been the opposition of the world's people especially in the United States.

In spite of huge pressure, in the face of mass opposition of their own citizens, few countries have backed bombing Syria. Only one country has fully said it would take part militarily ― Saudi Arabia, a well-known bastion of liberal democracy and human rights.

Syria: Pakistan socialists condemn the impending US-led bombing

[For more left statements on the crisis in Syria, and more coverage, click HERE.]

September 6, 2013 -- Statement by the Awami Workers Party, Pakistan

We condemn the impending us bombing of Syria and the hypocrisy of the Pakistani government -- including the armed forces -- which claim to be against such aggression but themselves pander to the dictates of imperialist powers. We similarly reject the claims of right-wing parties that are parading themselves as committed anti-imperialists, both in Pakistan and around the Muslim world. In fact such parties have enjoyed a consensual relationship with imperialist powers and ruling classes in Muslim countries to the detriment of the left.

It is now a well-established fact that the Americans and NATO have been patronising the worst jihadi elements in Syria to destabilise the Assad regime, and have now resolved to follow this up with air strikes across that country. Such antics prove that imperialist powers, no matter what rhetoric they employ, are committed only to their narrow geostrategic interests and will ally with whomever will serve these interests. Only in a world free from imperialism in all its forms can there be substantive democracy and freedom from oppression and want.

Stop the US-led war on Syria! (Updated Sept. 1)

[Below are statements from the left in Asia, from Australia, Malaysia and the Philippines.]

Statement by the Socialist Alliance (Australia)

August 28, 2013 -- Socialist Alliance -- The Socialist Alliance condemns the threatened US-led Western military assault on Syria. We call on the Australian government to reject this latest imperial aggression, to extract itself from its military alliance with the US and end its involvement in all aggressive multinational military operations.

The Socialist Alliance supports the Syrian people’s democratic uprising against the tyranny of the Bashar al-Assad regime but we reject the interventions of the US and its allies in Syria. The Syrian people should have the right to decide their own future.

The horrendous chemical weapons attack on civilians is being used as the justification for this latest intervention. The use of chemical weapons is a heinous war crime and whoever uses it should be brought to account.

Middle Eastern left: 'We stand behind the Syrian people’s revolution! No to foreign intervention!'

Statement by the Revolutionary Socialists (Egypt), Revolutionary Left Current (Syria), Union of Communists (Iraq), Al-Mounadil-a (Morocco), Socialist Forum (Lebanon)

August 31, 2013 -- Syria Freedom Forever -- Over 150,000 were killed, hundreds of thousands injured and disabled, millions of people displaced inside and outside Syria. Cities, villages, and neighborhoods were destroyed fully or partially, using all sorts of weapons, including warplanes, scud missiles, bombs, and tanks, all paid for by the sweat and blood of the Syrian people. This was under the pretext of defending the homeland and achieving military balance with Israel (whose occupation of Syrian land is, in fact, being protected by the Syrian regime, which failed to reply to any of its continuing aggressions).

Yet, despite the enormous losses mentioned above, befalling all Syrians, and the calamity inflicted on them, no international organization or major country – or a lesser one – felt the need to provide practical solidarity or support the Syrians in their struggle for their most basic rights, human dignity, and social justice.

Estamos con la revolución popular Siria, no a la intervención extranjera

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3498]

Declaración de: Socialistas Revolucionarios (Egipto) - Corriente de Izquierda Revolucionaria (Siria) - Unión de Comunistas (Iraq) -  Al-Mounadil-a (Marruecos) - Foro Socialista (Líbano)

Britain: Solidarity with the people of Syria

Joint statement supported by British socialist organisations, the International Socialist Network, Socialist Resistance, Workers Power and the Anticapitalist Initiative

August 30, 2013 -- The defeat of the government pro-war resolution in parliament [the British House of Commons] is important. Even though the Labour Party opposition voted against the Tory motion, it too had submitted a pro-war resolution, albeit calling for a pause until after the report from the UN weapons inspectors. That resolution was also defeated. These votes reflect the anti-war mood in Britain. But as far as the USA is concerned, the threat of war is still on the agenda possibly using bases in Britain.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad is every day carrying out more massacres of increasing cruelty against the people of Syria, whether it be the bombing of civilian areas or the use of chemical weapons. Two years into the uprising against the dictatorship, over 100,000 have died, 2 million are refugees and many more are “displaced” out of a population of just 20 million. This tragedy fills us with horror and rage.

We continue to extend our solidarity to the movement for democracy in Syria. We pay tribute to all those who have lost their lives in the fight against the brutal dictatorship and to all those who are continuing to resist.

Roundtable on Syria; Michael Karadjis on arming the anti-Assad rebels

Victims of the alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack.

August 29, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Below is a statement introducing an online symposium on Syria organised by the US Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD). Participants expressed a variety of views regarding what is going on in Syria, but four of the seven – Michael Karadjis, Assaf Kfoury, Salameh Kaileh and Joseph Dahler – were in agreement that the situation in Syria remains fundamentally a people’s revolution against a repressive capitalist dictatorship.

These contributions were written before the dramatic events over the last week, notably the chemical weapon attacks on the Syrian-rebel controlled, working-class East Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, and the ensuing threat of US and NATO bombardment of Syria. Nevertheless, even at that time, all participants were opposed to all forms of direct imperialist intervention in Syria, while different views were expressed about the issue of the anti-Assad forces being able to receive arms from outside Syria.

Latin America, Cuba: Against the attack on the Syrian people, no more deaths and lies

Cuba: Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Syria

Havana, August 28, 2013 -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba issued the following statement regarding the growing threats against Syria. The recent pronouncements of the US government and several NATO allies urging military action in Syria, ignoring the efforts of some states to reach a political solution to the conflict that is bleeding that Arab nation are alarming.

It is necessary to remember that those who today advocate military action against Syria are the same that launched bloody wars without a mandate from the Security Council of the United Nations, under the deliberate lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction or the pretext of civil protection, which caused substantial deaths of innocent people including children, who they qualify as "collateral damage".

There is a call to attack Syria, just as his government has authorised the UN Research Mission into the alleged use of chemical weapons in the country and this has begun work on the ground.

Cuba condemns any use of chemical and other weapons of mass destruction and is firmly committed to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction and with the strict compliance of its provisions.

The available information on the crisis in Syria is fragmented, imprecise and subject to frequent manipulation.

European left statements against the threat of US-led war on Syria (updated Sept. 3)

Below are a number of statements (or news reports of statements) by European left parties on the crisis in Syria. More will be posted (or expanded) as they come to hand.They include Die Linke (Germany), Syriza (Greece), the Party of the European Left and the New Anti-Capitalist Party (France).

Die Linke: German government's support for war coalition is insanity

August 27, 2013 -- Die Linke -- "A military strike of the US threatens to escalate the conflict in Syria to become an international war“, warns Christine Buchholz, member of the executive board of the party Die Linke.

The attack of the US army using cruise missiles threatens to cause a wildfire, further aggravating the suffering of the Syrian population. With the assault the US government does not help the people in Syria but will solely demonstrate its military supremacy in the region.

Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle said yesterday that Germany "in close coordination with its allies" will be among those „that consider consequences to be appropriate. "This boils down to nothing else but support of impending military assaults. The support of an evolving US-led war coalition is insanity".

Issues in the current stage of Syrian revolution

A street in Homs shows the extent of damage by government forces during the two-year conflict in Syria. The image taken on May 14 was provided to Syria Witness by Lens Young Homsi.

[For more on Syria, click HERE.]

By Michael Karadjis

July 9, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Recent weeks saw seemingly contradictory developments regarding imperialist plans for Syria. First, on June 14, the US government announced it had finally agreed to provide some small arms directly to “vetted” sections of the Syrian armed opposition, following alleged US “confirmation” that Syria’s Assad regime had used chemical weapons. Then on June 18, the G8 meeting between the US, Russia and six other major imperialist powers issued a joint declaration calling for all parties to the Syrian conflict to attend the Geneva peace summit, declaring the need for a political solution.

'The fate of Syria must not be decided by foreign powers or forces'

Non-violent Syrian demonstrators, July 2011. Photo: AP.

By Thomas Harrison and Joanne Landy

June 2013 -- Campaign for Peace and Democracy -- More than two years ago, the Syrian people, inspired by the Arab Spring, began a democratic revolution against the viciously authoritarian Bashir al-Assad regime, a revolution that we enthusiastically supported from its beginning and continue to support.

For two long years now, we, like the rest of the world, have watched in horror as the Syrian government waged merciless war on its own people. Some of the revolutionaries argued that for strategic if not for pacifist reasons, the movement should have remained non-violent despite the mounting repression it faced. However, the extreme violence and unspeakable cruelty, including the use of torture on a massive scale, that Assad unleashed against an initially peaceful democratic movement impelled many of the regime's opponents to take up arms, understandably believing that they had no choice other than outright surrender, which would be followed inevitably by mass slaughter. Some of the rebels have also committed atrocities; these are indefensible, but it should be remembered that it is the Assad regime that has been the initiator and far and away the greatest perpetrator of violent outrages.

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