11, 2013 – Links International Journal of
Socialist Renewal -- In the wake of two Israeli airstrikes on targets in
Syria on the May 4-5 weekend, the second causing massive explosions close
to Damascus and killing at least several dozen Syrian troops, discussion rages
about the aims of this aggression and the relationship it has to the ongoing
mass uprising and civil war in Syria.
claimed both attacks were aimed at Iranian long-range rockets, or the military
depots where they were housed, that were in transit via Syria to Hezbollah in
Lebanon. As the Zionist regime has continually indicated that its “red line”
was the transfer of any significant “game-changing” weaponry to either
Hezbollah in Lebanon (which is currently aligned to Syria’s besieged Assad regime)
or to the Sunni Islamist rebels fighting to overthrow that regime, this
explanation seems plausible.
fact, Israel also bombed a convoy of rockets in western Syria destined for
Hezbollah at the end of January, and according to some reports, also a biological
weapons research centre near Damascus, which “was reportedly flattened out of
concern that it might fall into the hands of Islamist extremists fighting to
topple the government of Syrian president Bashar Assad", according
to Aaron Klein and Karl Vick writing in Time
after the latest bombings, Israel’s leaders went on to stress that these
attacks were not aimed at the Assad regime, still less to support the armed
opposition, as will be discussed further below.
of course such aggression must also be seen in a wider context. Clearly the
situation in Syria is falling apart and the war daily is getting more vicious
and criminal (on both sides, but above all on the side of the regime), without
any end in sight. Clearly at some point there may well be some form of more
direct imperialist intervention than at present, even if only to try to stamp
its mark, in whatever way possible, on an almost impossible situation. The
myths about “recent gains by the Syrian regime” is just bravado to talk up the
latest rounds of horrific massacres in the north coastal region, which promise
no more stability than the last two years of brutal massacres.
in such a context, with Israel everyday lamenting the “lost peace” on the
northern border of occupied Golan (i.e., the peace it has enjoyed for 40 years
as the Assad regime never challenged the Zionist occupation and annexation of
its Golan territory), Israel is also announcing loud and clear to all sides in
Syria, and to the Syrian masses, that “Israel is here, and this is what we can
do”. The overall aim, in other words, is mass terror.
while the situation may inexorably drive towards some kind of imperialist
intervention, the outstanding fact to date has been the reluctance of
imperialist states – and above all Israel – to lend any concrete support (or in
Israel’s case, even verbal support) to the opposition trying to overthrow
Assad’s tyrannical capitalist dictatorship.
while a simple comparison with the extremely rapid intervention in Libya
(within a few weeks of the beginning of the uprising in early 2011) might
ignore practical differences for intervention in the two cases, any analysis of
statements and actions of the US and especially Israel over these two years
make clear that both have fundamental political objections to the nature of the
opposition. These even extend to prospect of the overthrow of the regime itself,
unless it can occur under a very strong degree of imperialist control, which is
a very unlikely prospect.
No secular fighters?
worth looking at a recent article in the New
York Times which, like a great many articles, over-emphasise the
significance of the radical Islamist element in the armed uprising. In this
case, the NYT made the case more
in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of”.
for a number of those on the left convinced that the US is hell bent on backing
the Syrian rebellion against the regime of Bashar Assad, or who even claim the
US is explicitly backing these “Islamist” forces within it, or even that the
whole Syrian rebellion is a “US war on Syria”, this statement was greeted as a
sign that “even the US” is coming to understand how bad the rebels “that it
is a very odd argument for a number of reasons. But before analysing the
reasons for the NYT’s statement, it
is worth looking at the evidence. It is certainly true that there is a strong
“Islamist” element within the armed opposition, and that as Assad’s brutality
grows, so does the “radical” nature of the ideology of many of the rebel
groups, and also the reverse brutality of some of the armed rebels (whether secular
or Islamist). It is also true that part of the Islamist opposition is backed by
Saudi Arabia and Qatar as part of a reactionary-sectarian regional game (see
below). And it is further true that some Islamist groups, such as Al-Nusra, are
allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda.
there are also a vast number of articles, interviews, documents, photos, videos
and other evidence of opposition, both armed and unarmed, and
opposition-controlled towns, that remain secular, or at least religious only in
a formal sense without any “sharia law”, or that are opposed to the
Islamicisation of the movement. While this article is not aimed at proving
this, here are some useful links that demonstrate the point:
“The Syrian revolution has changed me as a writer”,
to Free Syria Meeting the rebel government of an embattled country”,
should Idlib's Islamists be handled?”,
rebels tackle local government”,
the ‘no secular fighters’ myth”,
and secular activists clash in Syria”,
rebels worry about extremists but Assad comes first”,
“Syria rebels see future
fight with foreign radicals”,
Christian unit of FSA forms”,
“The battle to name Syria's Friday
similar list could of course be made of all kinds of brutal, reactionary and
religious-sectarian actions by parts of the anti-Assad revolt. But that is not
what is in question in such a variegated, bottom-up, mass uprising. The
evidence above makes clear that the sectarian element can by no means be
declared in complete control.
‘US war on Syria’ …
means what exactly?
given the evidence, why did the NYT
make this ridiculous, sweeping, clearly false statement? An obvious explanation
might be precisely that the NYT, which
tends to closely reflect US ruling-class thinking, is simply pushing this line
precisely in order to justify US policy, consistently over the last two years,
of not supporting the Syrian
the reason continually being stressed by the US government for its lack of
support to the rebels is its hostility to the growing “Islamist” part of the
rebellion, especially, but not only, the Al-Nusra organisation, which the US
has officially listed as a “terrorist organisation”. The Islamist forces are
generally hostile to US imperialism, and very hostile to Israel, which has even
in stronger terms expressed its opposition to these forces coming anywhere near
power in Syria (see below). The CIA has even made contingency plans for drone
strikes on the radical Islamist rebels.
idea that the US wants to support these Islamists, and is just pretending not
to, is a fantasy indulged in by parts of the left who have decided to throw
their lot in with the reactionary dictatorship of Assad. Since the Islamists are doing a significant amount of the
fighting, and the extreme fringe of Islamists (e.g. al-Nusra) have taken
responsibility for the actions that can most correctly be called “war like” (e.g.,
terrorist bombings in Damascus etc.), the best way to claim the uprising is a
“US war on Syria” is to make the inherently unlikely claim that the US is
supporting and arming these Islamists, despite the US and other imperialist
governments stressing nearly every day that these Islamists are the primary
reason they are not supporting and arming the uprising.
to clarify: this claim by the US and Israel that they are hostile to the
Islamist element in the uprising, especially the more radical elements, is not
simply rhetoric; it is clearly true. However,
both the US and Israel are relentlessly hostile to the democratic element of the Syrian uprising as well. A genuine people’s revolution would challenge the
reactionary US-backed dictatorships in the region, and would be much more
likely than Assad’s pliant dictatorship to challenge Israel’s 46-year
occupation of its Golan territory. But it is not smart politics to say the
latter very loudly. So by pretending the entire anti-Assad movement is Islamic
fundamentalist, the US has sought to justify not giving concrete support to any
element of the uprising.
but the US is sending arms to the Syrian rebellion, isn’t it? But simply making
that statement for years does not prove that it’s true. A CBS report on May 1
noted, “The first shipment of U.S. aid
to the armed Syrian rebels was being delivered Tuesday to the opposition
Supreme Military Council (SMC). It includes $8 million in medical supplies and
ready-to-eat military food rations”.
read it right. After nearly two and a half years of the Syrian uprising, about
two thirds of that time in the form of armed rebellion, the first US shipment of aid to the rebels
occurred in May 2013 in the form of “medical equipment and food rations”.
reality, what we see most of the time is the US expressing extreme reservations
about any kind of intervention in the Syrian civil war, not just about the
outlandish suggestions by Republican Party hawks like John McCain for air
strikes, but even for arming the armed opposition. In February, the US did
authorise a US$60 million package for “non-lethal aid” for the SMC, once it had
decided that the SMC leadership could be controlled and could control the flow
of whatever equipment it got. Of that $60 million, it is only this $8 million
in food and medicines that has yet seen the light of day.
recently, hints were made that the package could include things like body
armour and night-vision goggles. On May 1, the Washington Post reported anonymous US officials saying, “they are moving toward the shipment of arms” beginning
at some unspecified time in the next few months, “but emphasized that they are
still pursuing political negotiation”, with US President Barack Obama pursuing
further talks with Russia to try to find agreement.
talks with Russia have now begun, with US state secretary John Kerry visiting
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to try to hold an international
conference, attended by both members of the Assad regime and the opposition,
aiming to set up a “transition” government in Syria which would include both
some Assad regime ministers and opposition figures, thus keeping the core of
the regime intact.
The role of Assad himself appears to be a key sticking point.
Therefore, most analysis suggests the
US is very unlikely to sharply change course. US defence secretary Chuck Hagel
stressed that “no international or regional consensus on supporting armed
intervention now exists”, while “NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has ruled out
Western military intervention and U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, NATO's supreme
allied commander, cautioned last month that the alliance would need agreement
in the region and among NATO members as well as a U.N. Security Council
the until-now more hawkish British government is now “exercising more caution
in its attempts to arm the rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime in Syria,
following intelligence reports and warnings by other governments that the major
part of the rebel movement has been taken over by Jihadist groups with links to
and the recently hawkish French government has in the last week swung strongly
towards advocating a political solution. Germany for its part has remained
steadfastly opposed to recent Anglo-French attempts to end the European Union
arms embargo on the Syrian rebels.
There are of course the much more
hawkish calls from Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsay Graham for US
air strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons sites. Notably, McCain was not concerned about whether Assad’s forces had used chemical
weapons or not – even if they hadn’t, he said the US should still “use Patriot
[missile] batteries and cruise missiles” and ready an “international force” to
enter Syria to secure stocks of chemical weapons.
enough, these are more aggressive imperialists even than Obama. Yet still not
that useful for Assad fans as an argument – McCain’s reason for this is that
“these chemical weapons … cannot fall
into the hands of the jihadists”.
legislation introduced the previous day by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair
Bob Menendez to “greenlight the flow of arms” from the US to rebel groups “that
have gone through a thorough vetting process” would not include the transfer of
shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (ibid), i.e., the arms that rebels would
need to even come close to dealing with Assad’s massive air power. In other
words, the bill mainly deals with small weapons that the US can use for
leverage over the rebels and with Assad, rather than being of any effective concrete
Thus while two
years of fighting the Assad regime did not qualify the Free Syrian Army to
receive US or EU arms, now that radical Islamist forces appear to be getting an
upper hand in the anti-Assad rebellion, they may qualify in order to fight the
Islamists. The imperialist dilemma is that by the US refusing to send arms, and
the EU imposing an arms embargo (which favours the massively armed Assad regime,
which in any case gets loads of arms from Russia and Iran), more and more
anti-Assad rebels will turn to the Islamists, as they receive arms from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and regional Islamist
networks. The argument is that arms need to be sent to non-Islamist fighters to
balance those received by the Islamists; the counter-arguments is that many of
the arms may end up with the Islamists anyway.
In any case,
the US is only dealing with exile rebel leaderships in Jordan and Turkey, such
as the unrepresentative Syrian National Council (SNC) and the Supreme Military
Command, the high command of the Free Syrian Army (SFA), which liaises with the
SNC. They have minimal control over what the locally organised FSA and the
Local Coordinating Committees do all over Syria, and it is precisely this lack
of control over the largely self-organised revolutionary ranks – not only for
Islamists – that makes the imperialist
powers so hesitant to arm anyone.
While much was
made of 200 US troops being sent to Jordan to help coordinate aid to the rebel
leadership, it was astounding that the leadership was unable to get any arms to
the FSA in southern Syria, near the Jordanian border, when it just lost the
strategic town of Khirbet Ghazaleh.
A very strange “US war on Syria”.
Aside from arming the rebels, other “possible
military choices range from limited one-off missile strikes from ships … to
bolder operations like carving out no-fly safe zones”, or the creation of
“humanitarian safe areas that would also be no-fly zones off limits to the
Syrian air force”.
However, US officials have warned that "once you set up a military no-fly
zone or safe zone, you're on a slippery slope, mission creep and before you
know it, you have boots on the ground”, said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst
and Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution (ibid).
Of course, despite all this there may
well come a time when the US decides that the level of ongoing instability is
simply too great to be allowed to continue, or that its so-called “credibility”
is at stake if it doesn’t do something, or that if it is all going to fall
apart anyway, so the US needs to choose those who it wants to take over,
despite the difficulties of enforcing such a choice. Imperialism cannot be
trusted to act “rationally”, even from its own point of view, at all times, and
a catastrophic – for all involved – US intervention cannot be ruled out.
Nevertheless, if the kind of action
that people like McCain are urging came to pass, that would be a marked shift – to claim it gave
credence to the idea that the last two years of uprising and rebellion was all
a “US war on Syria” would be too illogical to warrant comment.
intervention: promoting sectarian counterrevolution
Many of the assertions about US aid to
the Syrian uprising, when examined for evidence, are nothing but reiterations
of the well-known fact that the reactionary Gulf monarchies, Saudi Arabia and
Qatar, have been providing a moderate stream of arms for specific rebel groups.
The fact that these two states are pro-US is twisted in discussion to mean they
are mere puppets of the US, as if they cannot have their own policies.
In fact, these two relatively powerful
states are engaged in an aggressive regional “sub-imperialist” project, with
the dual aims of countering Iranian influence in the region, and turning the
democratic impulse of the Arab Spring, including its Syrian chapter, into a Sunni-Shia
sectarian war. The democratic impulse was and is a mortal danger to the
absolute monarchies just as much as to regimes like that of Assad, as Saudi
Arabia’s suppression of the uprising in Bahrain shows. Saudi and Qatari
intervention is thus a counterrevolution trying to hijack a revolution.
However, while the US may also see some benefit in diverting a democratic
movement in a sectarian direction up to a point, it is very wary of this
strategy, principally because the only available "shock troops" for
this Saudi strategy are hard-line Sunni Islamists and "jihadists" who
are more anti-US and especially anti-Israel than Iran itself, and much more so
than the Assad regime, which does not have an “anti-imperialist” history at
Just to make things clear: just because
these Saudi-backed forces are “anti-imperialist” and imperialism and Israel are
hostile to them, does not make them “good”. To suggest that would be falling
into the same trap as those who wrongly think Assad is “anti-imperialist” and
that this makes his regime “good”. The Saudi-backed forces are the most reactionary in the Syrian
context, especially given the sectarian dimension, and the reactionary strategy
of the US (see below) would even be slightly better than an outright jihadist
victory – except that such an outright jihadist victory is almost impossible,
as there remains a real democratic anti-Assad movement on the ground that is
hostile to the jihadists.
the main enemy
The strangeness of the argument that
the US “must” be behind the anti-Assad rebellion if some of its Arab allies are
behind parts of it, is that the key US ally in the region, Israel, remains
steadfastly opposed to this Saudi-led project, viewing a victory of a Syrian
uprising with a strong Islamist component as a nightmare. While Israel wants to
weaken the Assad regime in order to disrupt the passage of arms between Iran
and Hezbollah via Syria, it is also aware that the Assad regime has both kept
the border with the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan completely quiet for 40
years, and that the same regime has continually waged war on the Palestinians
(for more detail, see links.org.au/node/2766).
Therefore, Israel’s stand has been the polar opposite of
the Saudi-Qatari stand.
That is not to say
Israel won’t launch aggression – as it has clearly just done – but that such
aggression, for its own reasons, is not aimed at helping the Syrian opposition
overthrow Assad. Straight after the bombing of military facilities near
Damascus on May 5, Israel sought to persuade Assad that the air strikes “did
not aim to weaken him in the face of a more than two-year-old rebellion...
Officials say Israel is reluctant to take sides in Syria's civil war for fear
its actions would boost Islamists who are even more hostile to
Israel than the Assad family, which has maintained a stable stand off with the
Jewish state for decades”. According to veteran Israeli politician Tzachi
Hanegbi, a confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the government
“aimed to avoid an increase in tension with Syria by making clear that if there
is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime".
In a similar vein, defence ministry strategist Amos Gilad stressed that while “Israel
has long made clear it is prepared to resort to force to prevent advanced
Syrian weapons reaching Hezbollah or jihadi rebels”, Israel was not interested
in attacking Syria’s chemical weapons because “the good news is that this is under full control (of the
stance was explained recently by Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of intelligence
and strategic affairs, who stressed the “only
scenario” for Israeli military action in Syria would be to “prevent the
delivering of arms, chemical weapons and other kinds of weapons into the hands
of terrorists”. He noted that Netanyahu had made clear that “if there will be
no threat to Israel, we won't interfere”. Steinitz emphasised that Israel was
not urging the US to take any
military action “whatsoever” in Syria
at this stage”.
In an interview with
BBC TV, Netanyahu called the Syrian rebel groups among “the worst Islamist radicals in the world … So obviously we are
concerned that weapons that are ground-breaking, that can change the balance of
power in the Middle East, would fall into the hands of these terrorists”, he
In a recent meeting with British Prime Minster David Cameron, Netanyahu, who
was visiting London for Margaret Thatcher's funeral, again warned of the danger
of Western arms reaching jihadist rebels that could be used later against
Israel and Western targets.
In particular, Israel “worries that
whoever comes out on top in the civil war will be a much more dangerous
adversary” than Assad has ever been, specifically in relation to the Golan
Heights. “The military predicts all that (the 40-year peaceful border) will
soon change as it prepares for the worst”.
According to Israel’s
Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz in March, “we see terror organisations that are
increasingly gaining footholds in the territory and they are fighting against
Assad. Guess what? We'll be next in line”,
while Major General Aviv Kochavi, warning that
“radical Islam” was gaining ground in Syria, compared the region near the Golan
with “the situation in Sinai, as a result of growing jihad movement in Syria”.
that it is the fall of Assad that worries Israel, Aluf Benn wrote in Haaretz that “the worrisome scenario in
the north is that after Assad is gone
Israel will be attacked, and the Syrian Golan will turn into a new version
of the Gaza Strip, with southern Lebanon serving as a base for launching
rockets and missiles. This is what is concerning the IDF’s top brass. Assad’s
control of the Golan is disintegrating as his forces are being drawn into the
decisive battles around Damascus and the fight for the city’s international
while Hezbollah is seen as a mortal enemy, the anti-Assad Islamist fighters are
seen as in some ways even less predictable. According to Aaron Klein and Karl
Vick writing in Time in February, “Hizballah
is not Israel’s only concern – or perhaps even the most worrying. Details of
the Israeli strikes make clear the risk posed by fundamentalist militants
sprinkled among the variegated rebel forces fighting to depose Assad … jihadist
groups are less vulnerable to the same levers that have proved effective
against Syria and other states – such as threats to its territory — or even the
frank interests of an organization like Hizballah, which as a political party
plays a major role in Lebanon’s government”.
Of course, outside
the actual contest between Assad and opposition, Israel’s bigger project is to
build up for an attack on Iran. In this sense, the bombings can also be seen as
a warning to Iran, and even a test run. As Assad has been both asset and thorn
for Israel, it prefers his regime to remain, if weakened, and to try to either attack
Iran, or decimate Hezbollah, as its way of breaking the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah
Shia nexus. In contrast, the governments doing the most to intervene against
Assad’s regime – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – are all horrified at the
prospect of an Israeli attack on Iran, as it would tend to swing their own
populations into “Islamic solidarity” with Iran (some evidence of this at links.org.au/node/2991). They prefer to try
to break the nexus via destroying Assad and bringing to power a Sunni Islamist regime
in Damascus – Israel’s nightmare.
The only reason Syria
is in the “nexus” in the first place is due to Israel’s illegal annexation of
the Golan. Syria uses Hezbollah as a form of indirect pressure via Lebanon,
while keeping its own Israeli Golan border quiet. With its bombing and Israel’s
frank words afterwards, Israel is also sending a message to Assad that if he
wants Israel’s help, he has to break the nexus with Hezbollah. Naturally, Assad
has no reason to trust the Zionist regime, and still less as Israel is not
offering the return of the Golan in exchange. With Syria weakened, Israel has
the bargaining power.
A final thought on
Israel’s intentions is that, given the fears expressed about south Syria
becoming a “new Gaza” if Assad falls, some Israeli strategists may even be
considering invading to set up a new “buffer zone” between its occupied Golan
and victorious Islamists and/or Hezbollah infiltration into the region. Thus
current aggression may be a prelude to a larger operation, if the Zionist
regime sees it as necessary and feasible, but this would be a very high-risk
kill each other?
One interesting angle to all this, however, is that as
both the US and Israel view both Hezbollah and the anti-Assad Sunni jihadis as enemies,
would it not be in their interests for them to kill each other in Syria? While
Israel opposes weapons getting to Hezbollah in Lebanon, it may look differently
at Hezbollah foolishly wasting its resources, energies and cadres in Syria
fighting other Islamists, and focused away from Israel. This strategy was
advocated by neo-con extremist Daniel Pipes, who asserted that “continued
fighting does less damage to Western interests than their taking power. There
are worse prospects than Sunni and Shiite Islamists mixing it up, than Hamas jihadis
killing Hezbollah jihadis, and vice versa… This keeps them focused locally, and
it prevents either one from emerging victorious and thereby posing a greater
danger. Western powers should guide enemies to a stalemate by helping whichever
side is losing, so as to prolong their conflict”. As he believes Assad is
currently losing, the US should support Assad.
The snag in that would be, of course, if Assad falls, Hezbollah would be in a
similar position inside Syria to the Sunni Islamists in being able to grab
access to Assad's weaponry. All the more reason, from Israel's point of view,
for the regime to survive as the “least worst scenario”. They also cannot
necessarily be relied on to keep fighting once Assad is gone; jointly turning
their attention to liberating Golan is not out of the question. And the
strategy also means the continuation of massive instability in Syria for the
foreseeable future, precisely what most imperialist interests see as the
Assad regime, in its current form at least, is finished, if not now, then soon;
it has at least a majority of its population fighting it, and even if it can
hang on, it can never defeat the opposition. As long as the regime hangs on,
the region will be in a state of permanent instability, wracked by massive war
and terrible bloodshed. The figure of 70,000 killed to date may end up being
dwarfed. Those interpreting the US verbal support for the regime’s replacement
as some fundamental hostility are simply refusing to see that the US now wants
Assad out because he cannot win and his presence guarantees continued
instability, as well as the further rise of the radical Islamist element. But
what does it want to replace the regime with?
US interest is to balance between the mutually hostile Israeli and Saudi
projects for the region, while at all cost trying to preserve some sense of
“order” in the (inevitable) Syrian transition. The US therefore prefers a deal
that would include significant parts of Assad’s regime, to preserve a “stable”
core, joined with some defector generals from the regime, “liberal”
oppositionists in the foreign-based Syrian National Council (which is
unrepresentative of the Syrian movement on the ground) and more moderate members
of the Muslim Brotherhood. This strategy is at variance with the Saudi strategy,
and aimed at both stemming the reactionary Islamist tide, but also ensuring no
genuine “people’s power” can arise from below.
The current US attempt to find a
“negotiated solution” together with Moscow fits this strategy; Kerry was not
wrong when he said that the US and Russia have similar interests in Syria.
While the Syrian opposition has not
rejected this course, it has reacted coolly. Moaz al-Khatib, the recently resigned head of the opposition umbrella
National Opposition Coalition (NOC), warned Syrians to “be careful of
squandering your revolution in international conference halls”. Its “red line”
would be any role for Assad himself in any “transitional government”, which
would inevitably involve some members of his regime.
is an understandable and valid reaction to any attempt by powerful outside
states to derail the people’s will.
the growing role of a reactionary-Sunni sectarian element among the armed
opposition, backed by the tyrannies of the Gulf, and the fact that this sectarianism
frightens the bulk of the minority populations, at least Alawis and Christians
and probably some Druze and even secular Sunni, into grudgingly backing the
regime or remaining neutral, and the fact that endless war with no victory of
either side in sight is simply catastrophic to all, means that a “military
victory” over Assad is highly unlikely. Also, any “military solution” in the current
sectarian circumstances may be anything but the most democratic outcome.
struggle is by no means synonymous with Islamist or sectarian politics as is
often thought; at the outset, the masses picked up arms to defend themselves
from Assad’s slaughter, and a good part of the Free Syrian Army is still simply
the armed people. But armed struggle, due to the very nature of bloodshed, in
particular without a left-wing and consciously anti-sectarian leadership, can
help bolster an existing sectarian potential. A ceasefire would arguably create
the best conditions for the democratic element of the mass movement to gain
some breathing space and revive the mass struggle.
or not the current US-Russia talks can bring a ceasefire about is uncertain,
but even if they can, whether or not such a cease-fire and transitional government
can really give any breathing space to the masses also depends a great deal on
whether such an unbroken “Assad state without Assad” allows such a breathing
space, or simply continues its repression and terror with a new face.
the meantime, it is important to stress that it is the regime that is imposing
a “military solution” on a massive scale; in such circumstances the FSA has the
right to get arms for self-defence from whoever it wants. Blaming whatever tiny
trickle of arms the FSA gets for continuing military conflict is simply stating
that the FSA should commit suicide in order to achieve the peace of the
graveyard. To begin to ever-so-slightly equalising the fire power of the two
sides – with the regime still absolutely dominant
– does not mean advocating a military solution. It just means people have the
right to protect themselves against getting blasted to bits. It may even
strengthen the possibilities for a negotiated solution, which at present Assad
has no reason to consider.
on the other hand the current talks break down, and the US and other
imperialist powers, or even Israel, decide to desperately throw themselves in, and
the McCain strategy comes to pass, the current situation would become even more
catastrophic. While it is clearly not the Israeli strategy – yet another case
where extremely pro-Zionist US neo-conservatives are not aligned with Israel’s
strategy – Israel would likely move to take advantage of such a conflagration
to carry out its own aggression against Iran, or even to forcibly expel a new
wave of Palestinians.
imperialism should obviously not mean being apologists for Assad’s butchery.
But it is important to remember that opposing this butchery should in no
circumstances mean losing our critical faculties and forgetting the kind of armageddon
a real imperialist war would entail.
discuss this would require another article, however, a good look at Syria’s
massive military equipment is at http://www.revolutionobserver.com/2012/11/syrias-military-capability.html#!/2012/11/syrias-military-capability.html.
It is beyond ridiculous to talk about a few small arms getting to the FSA
coming anywhere near this massive array of tanks, APCs, attack helicopters,
combat planes, scud and other missiles etc.