You can take the masses out of Aleppo but you cannot take the spirit of Aleppo out of the masses
[with reference to the article by Gwynne Dyer of 5 December 2016, ‘For Foreign powers, it comes down to Assad’s regime or Islamist rebels in Syria’]
The article is a blatant distortion of events in Syria as well as being a de facto cover-up for genocide. The masses are viewed as passive agents to be manipulated by the ‘big men of history’. In fact right now, dozens of revolutionaries are being tied up and shot from behind by Assad, Iranian and Hezbollah mercenaries in Aleppo. The workers’ movement needs to take a stand. The SACP supports Assad, we cannot.
Hamilton Naki performed the first heart transplant operation but history records him as being a gardener; Dr Barnard gets the plaudits.
To Dyer, the masses in Syria are incapable of independent action and it is only through the funds and arms of the major imperialist powers that anything happens in Syria. He ignores the long years of spontaneous independent grassroots committees that sprang up in opposition to the Assad dictatorship. He ignores the fact that in the clashes of unarmed protestors against the armed might of the regime, that the army split and many soldiers, arms in hand, moved over to the side of the masses. The regime had been using snipers to shoot down protestors and the soldiers began to refuse orders to shoot down their own families in cold blood.
In 2011 when the revolt started against the Assad dynasty, there had been a wave a revolt against imperialist-backed dictators in North Africa and the Middle East.
There are many instances in history where imperialism builds up support both within the regimes they control as well as within the growing opposition to them. In this way, if one of their puppets is overthrown, then imperialism is still in control of whoever takes over. In the 1980’s, imperialism poured in millions into the UDF so that other resistance movements could be marginalised and the moderate leaders of the ANC would be built up as a reserve to take over. In a similar manner, imperialism poured in funds and token weaponry into the opposition in Syria in order to gain control of it. They have not succeeded.
In 2011 Assad released thousands of radical Islamist prisoners. He deliberately built them up by not attacking them and even staging attacks on his own installations to attempt to divert the revolutionary youth into the hands of what would become Isis. Isis has mainly been attacking the resistance and has largely steered away from attacking Damascus. There are numerous reports of arms and funds that have gone to Isis either directly from US ‘mistakes’ or through agencies of US imperialism, such as the head-chopping Saudi regime (that currently heads the UN Human Rights council!). Al Nusrah, initially an al Qaeda affiliate, was also built up. Both Al Nusrah and Isis have attacked the resistance and thus act as a force to weaken the resistance and thus save the regime. Some generals of Assad’s army defected to form the Free Syrian Army. In effect they gathered the defected soldiers and kept arms away from the masses. They have also steered away from full scale onslaught on Damascus. A few months ago the FSA generals took 5000 rebel soldiers to the north allegedly to secure the al Bab pathway, but the nett effect was to leave east Aleppo open to being besieged.
Thus the independent revolutionary Syrian forces were not only weakened by attacks by the regime and the Russian forces, but crucially, by reactionary forces within who had been planted and built up by imperialism.
The conception that the only choices are a ‘conventional’ regime and ‘fanatical’ islamists, are false.
In September the US and Russia made an agreement to share information and act jointly against ‘terrorists’. This is a continuation of the so called UN peace plan adopted last year, which also outlines steps to elections and crushing of ‘terrorists’. The Economist and others report that there are 500 US military ‘advisors’ with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is comprised mainly of the Kurdish YPG. These Kurdish forces, are in alliance with Russia, Assad, Hezbollah and Iranian forces that are besieging East Aleppo at the moment. Thus it is not true to say that the US is on one side and Russia on the other. All the reactionary forces of the US, Russia, Assad, etc, are on one side against the Syrian revolutionary masses that are trapped in East Aleppo.
Independent resistance to capitalism is what is being wiped out here. The headquarters of Isis are in Raqqa and Deir ez Zor. The Isis headquarters is not subject to similar attacks and siege by the US-Russia alliance. They focus on East Aleppo. Irrespective of what differences US imperialism may have with Iran, the more dangerous enemy to all is the independently organised revolutionary masses. There are reports that the Assad regime trades with Isis for the oil it controls.
How does Dyer know that Assad will offer amnesty? This is a regime that uses snipers to shoot down unarmed protestors, uses banned chlorine gas and barrel bombs on civilians. Dyer is building up respectability for a fascist regime. Dyer intimates that there are only a small fraction of the 250 000 residents remaining in East Aleppo; in other words, he implies that those remaining are just the head-chopping fanatics and thus the last days of operation of destruction by the regime are just getting rid of the vermin, so not to worry, kill them all. Thus the death of civilians and revolutionaries are just swept under the carpet, not even deserving a footnote in the annals of history. Such is his cover up of genocide.
That US imperialism cannot wage war on Iran is not due to the goodwill of Trump/Obama nor of any threat by Russia (which has only one aging aircraft carrier) but due to the awakening US soldier and worker. Occupy Wall street and the huge Iraq veterans movement shows a deep split in the US army. These soldiers will no longer tolerate being used as cannon fodder for the wars of plunder by imperialism. The huge show of force by thousands of veterans who forced the US regime to back down at Standing Rock, over the North Dakota pipeline, is evidence of this.
Even as Aleppo is falling, more than half the population of Syria have been displaced by the regime’s war on them, there are protests around the world. The refugees in Berlin raised the slogan ‘We are Aleppo’. It is one thing to win a military victory against an isolated group of revolutionary masses but it is quite another to maintain control of the masses who reject the regime. No dictatorship can rule by force alone.
The Leon Sedov brigade, which fights side by side with the Syrian revolutionary masses, and have a programme for the total expropriation of all imperialist assets and banks and for real workers control, are currently also in Aleppo. The resistance has long declared that civilians can leave but they choose to stay. There is a general terrorising of the Syrian masses in Aleppo by the regime and all the reactionary capitalist forces of the world, from the US, to Russia, to Assad and their allied mercenaries. When some have tried to leave, they are being shot down by this ‘conventional’ regime. They are being starved and bombed into submission. This is what Dyer is covering up; no wonder the capitalist press publish him in 45 countries. It is not a question that Assad has won the war; it is that imperialism hopes to strangle a popular revolution. The masses have been fighting against the regime and the radical islamists which imperialism have deployed.
The last word on the Syrian revolution has not been written. We salute the fallen leader Abu al Baraa and many others who have fallen in the struggle for Socialism. For a Constituent Assembly of delegates chosen on the basis of 1 per 20 000 people, subject to instant recall and limiting their salary to that of an average skilled worker. Let the masses in Syria determine their own fate, not the Assad dynasty, which rose to power through a military coup. Let the grassroots revolutionary committees set up a workers’ government. Let the workers of the world stand up for a workers’ democracy in Syria. Today it is Aleppo and Syria, tomorrow it could be us.
Fascism is not normal nor ‘conventional’. The SACP supports the Assad regime. We refuse to accept fascism.
Workers International Vanguard Party