Imperialism claims they are acting to stop the use of nerve gas in Syria and that they somehow care for the plight of masses in Syria. We will expose this as a lie. On the other hand some activists are making the mistake of supporting Assad. We will show this to be a serious error that plays into the hands of the imperialists and that ends up opposing the very Syrian masses who stand against capitalist dictatorship. So what is imperialism up to? The biggest problem for imperialism is that in Syria there are hundreds, if not thousands, of grassroots committees with associated independent militias, that are not under the control of the FSA, the Al Nusra, nor of the Assad regime. In fact these militias have openly accused the UN observors of assisting the Assad regime. This grassroots movement has made such gains in a recent period that the Assad regime may fall. This means that the new regime may not be under the control of imperialism nor any of its puppets in the regime. This is why imperialism wants to invade Syria, not to remove Assad (they already said repeatedly that this is not their aim); not to bomb the chemical weapons (the gases may spread over a wide area so this is not an option); not to prevent Assad from using chemical weapons (how will sending a few bombs into Syria stop Assad from using chemical weapons again?).
Who is Jabhat Nusra and what is their role in the Syrian revolution?
The capitalist media try to portray al Nusra as the face of the Syrian resistance. This is a deliberate distortion. The grassroots councils and their militias have nothing to do with al Nusra and its atrocities, in fact the Syrian revolutionary masses denounce al Nusra and everything associated with it.
Jabhat Nusra claims to be an affiliate of the Al Qaeda of Iraq. Their stated aim is to restore the Islamic Caliphate; in other words they claim to want to impose Islamic law. US imperialism spent at least $3 trillion dollars in the Iraq invasion and now control it absolutely. At the start of the Iraq invasion in 2003, there was no mention of any presence of Al Qaeda in Iraq, so how does it come about that suddenly a branch of it exists in Iraq and why are they suddenly appearing on the side of the masses that oppose Assad?
In Iraq imperialism has created divisions among the masses on sectarian grounds. Families have inter-married irrespective of sectarian group. Imperialism has deliberately exaggerated the divisions by fanning fights between Sunni, Shia and Kurd. All evidence points to deliberate bombing of Sunni religious targets and blaming it on Shia and vice versa. This ongoing artificial construct of Sunni-Shia divide and killings, are a means of terrorising the masses, dividing them and diverting them from fighting and overthrowing the puppet regime that is tied to US imperialism.
Thus the entry of Jabhat Nusra into Syria is not to overthrow the capitalist regime structure but to divert and divide the Syrian masses along sectarian grounds. Already there are reports of al Nusra diverting fighters to clash with Kurds in the North rather than combat the Assad regime; they have also been launching fights against other opposition militias; they also see the enemy as Alawis, an artificial category that the bourgeois media promote, as if this is the major factor in the Syrian revolution.
The entry of al Nusra has had the effect of dividing the working class in Syria as the masses have no wish to be associated with this group. ‘Rather the butcher Assad than Al Qaeda’ is what comes up in the workers’ minds. The rather graphic videos of al Nusra eating a Syrian soldiers heart and other similar instances, is deliberate propaganda by imperialism to tarnish the fighters who are against Assad and who have no link with al Nusra. That the workers in the cities are divided in whether to support Assad or the resistance against his regime, is partly due to the role of the imperialist agency al Nusra.
While arms is coming from imperialist puppets such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the opposition militias, in drips and drabs, al Nusra seems to have much greater access to funding and arms. This is deliberate as imperialism wishes to boost their agencies to divert and destroy the Syrian revolution from within.
Besides dividing the masses in Syria, the effect of al Nusra is to divide not only the international working class but also the lower middle class, turning them away from supporting the revolution there. A significant portion of the left claim that imperialism is behind the revolt against the Assad regime and claim that Assad is ‘anti-imperialist’ [This myth, we will expose again later in this article].
There are reports that al Nusra gets arms and funds from Saudi Arabia. If this is true then it means that they are indirectly armed and funded by US imperialism. If al Nusra gets their funds from Iraq then this also points to US imperialism being their ultimate funder and supplier.
Whereas in Iraq, the aim of imperialism supporting al Qaeda or other sectarian groups is to prevent an uprising against their puppet regime that they have now in place, in Syria the role of Al Nusra is to sabotage the revolution from within to prevent a total overthrow of the Assad regime by revolutionary methods. If the revolution in Syria is to have any success then the industrial workers in the major urban centres have to be united and mobilised against the Assad regime, something the al Nusra is working against by branding all Alawis and those who oppose an Islamic state, as enemies. If the masses do manage to overthrow the Assad regime, the role of al Nusra would be to divide and terrorise the masses into fighting among each other while a capitalist regime is imposed.
Al Qaeda is an imperialist creation, being used by imperialism to discredit their opponents. In Syria, the role of al Nusra is to turn the international masses against support of the revolution- their activity is designed to make the Assad regime look good. Thus while the Assad regime kills off generations of the masses who are revolting against his brutal regime, the eyes of the international masses are being deliberately turned away. The net effect is to help imperialism maintain control of their domination of the masses of the world.
Assad is the preferred head of the Syrian regime for imperialism
In recent months the CIA has begun to argue that US imperialism should begin to openly recognise Assad as being the best guarantor of American interests due to the ‘threat of Al Qaeda’. Thus, the success of the US-backed al Qaeda in dividing the Syrian masses has been recognised by imperialism itself. Imperialism has learnt from Libya and Egypt that if their puppet is removed and replaced by another puppet under mass pressure, the resistance against its regime intensifies and capitalist stability is under constant threat.
In Libya there is currently no central government that is operational; there are independent militias that are not under the control of the imperialist puppet regime; these independent militias are strongly anti-imperialist- as shown by their actions against the US embassy in Benghazi.
Thus imperialism has decided to intensify efforts to curb a replacement of their current puppets. Imperialism has decided to increasingly go over to methods of using the military to bomb the masses and use nerve gas against us rather than surrender their current puppets. This is the desperation of the capitalists-imperialists to maintain their control.
There is other evidence of the trust that imperialism has in Assad to control the masses:
· In 1991 when imperialism fought against Saddam Hussein, Syrian troops fought side by side with US soldiers;
· The report on Torture shows that the CIA used Syria as a favourite destination to host its torture rendition prisons [in other words, the CIA kidnapped suspects and took them to prisons in Syria to be tortured]
· Mahel Arar, a Canadian citizen, was kidnapped by the CIA in New York and flown to Syria to be tortured. Such was the trust of US imperialism in the regime of Bashar al Assad.
· Syria does not have sufficient oil refining capacity so it has to import its fuel. Shell and Total have been supplying the Assad regime for diesel for its military and jet fuel for its plane even throughout the past 2 ½ years of the uprising against it;
· Almost a year after the uprising began against Assad, an agreement was reached for gas to be supplied to Europe- the pipeline would stretch from Iran, through Iraq and Syria and under the Mediterranean sea. Thus European and US imperialism and the regimes in Syria, Iraq and Iran were party to this deal. This shows their real co-operation behind the rhetoric of supposed ‘opposition’.
· An ex-Mossad chief reported in the capitalist journal, Foreign Affairs, that Israel would prefer Assad than any unknown factor as they had had 40 years of peace with his regime.
· Months after the uprising started against Assad, British imperialism sent chemical weapon components to the Assad regime.
· When officers from Assad regime defected, especially in the beginning, they were kept in a camp in Turkey under heavy guard- thus their expertise of use of heavy weaponry and warfare was deliberately kept away from the masses.
So if imperialism has so much faith in Assad, why are they threatening to bomb Syria?
On the 9th August the Institute for the Study of War, an imperialist think tank, reported that the Assad regime was so weakened that its assault to retake Qusayr has left the capital vulnerable to the opposition forces. The militias were advancing into Damascus from the north east and had taken part of the city and were pressing forward. They also reported that fighting had already spread into Lebanon and Jordan. Also significant munitions of the Assad regime had been captured which meant that for the first time the opposition militias had the capability to destroy a column of tanks and they had even seized missile systems. Thus there was a significant threat of the real overthrow of the Assad regime. It is quite possible that Assad was so desperate to hold onto power that he used nerve gas on the 21st August to halt his regime from being toppled. The bourgeois media focused on Qusayr to project that Assad was now gaining the upper hand whereas in reality his ability to fight on multiple fronts was severely limited. In fact, imperialism was already preparing for when his army collapses into a loose group of militias. This is why imperialism was building up the opposition Supreme Military Council, SMC, in order to have a repressive apparatus that could step into the vacuum and maintain control for imperialism [more on this later].
The core of the draft resolution on bombing Syria that is before the US Senate, focuses on protecting ‘the national security interests of the United States’ and ‘efforts to isolate extremist and terrorist groups in Syria to prevent their influence on the future transitional and permanent Syrian governments’. They also focus on ‘the provision of all forms of assistance to the Syrian Supreme Military Council and other Syrian entities opposed to the government of Bashar al-Assad that have been properly vetted and share common values and interests with the United States’. In other words, the threatened bombing campaign has nothing to do with defence of the Syrian masses but ensuring that, should Assad fall, the capitalist regime is not overthrown and that whoever takes over, will maintain a capitalist state that is loyal and under the thumb to imperialism as much as the current Assad regime is. That is, Assad, as he is discredited, is replaced by another capitalist agent who is not yet as discredited and who can control the masses on behalf of imperialism. The threatened bombing campaign is to prevent the revolution from succeeding in Syria. We oppose all imperialist interventions and we certainly oppose their planned bombing campaign.
If imperialism were so concerned about Assad having ‘weapons of mass destruction’ why did they not act in 2003 when their Congress passed the so-called ‘Syria and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act’ which found ‘that Syria’s acquisition of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security interests of the United States’?? Why were the CIA still kidnapping suspects and taking them to be tortured in Syria despite knowing this? Why, when Kerry visited Syria in 2009, did he declare that Assad was his ‘dear friend’ and promoted closer links with this ‘enemy’ of the USA? In 2009 when they visited him why did the US military express support for Assad’s handling of the Lebanese elections, even though they knew he had ‘weapons of mass destruction’?
Assad has reportedly used chemical weapons on the opposition in February-March this year; why was this not regarded as a ‘red line’?
The truth is that Assad has the full support of imperialism. They are playing both sides; just in case he is overthrown, they are preparing to save his regime even if his head has to be sacrificed in the process. This is why imperialism is preparing to attack Syria; it is to crush and strangle the revolution, not to support it. Imperialism knows that if the masses overthrow Assad’s regime through mass action methods, all the puppet regimes in the region including Israel are under threat.
The Free Syrian Army leaders/Syrian Supreme Military Council (SMC)- the enemy within
Just as when Gaddafi used his army to suppress the masses, his army split, so too when Assad started using his army to crackdown on the masses after February 2011, sections of the army split. The masses began to set up self-defence committees and co-ordination committees of local delegates of workers and lower middle class. Where militias were set up, leaders were chosen by election, based on proving themselves in battle and being subject to instant recall. In other words the basis of soviets or pre-soviet/workers’ councils/organs of grassroots self-rule were developing.
Imperialism had learnt from Libya and tried to pre-empt independent militias from developing; thus in Nov 2011 they set up the Free Syrian Army, made up of elements that had a leadership of officers who had come from the Assad regime’s top ranks. This set the tone for the development of militias separate from the masses- in other words, keeping the masses disarmed and promoting that a specialist army had to do the fighting. In reality imperialism was preparing a reserve force that could act as a capitalist state in case the Assad regime collapsed.
Many independent militias developed, often calling themselves FSA even though they were not affiliated with them. [much like the mushrooming of grassroots structures in SA in the late 1980’s that claimed allegiance to the UDF even though they never formally joined]. However the promised military support from imperialist puppets took a long time coming, and when it did, it was a trickle of pea shooters, and then only to selected elements.
The Saudi and Qatari suppliers (backed by US imperialism) deliberately supported religious militias whereas the base of the militias promoted a more secular approach; the Saudi and Qatari backers tried to impose their own leaders for the militias but they met with resistance from the rank and file. In some cases, militias rejected the imposed leader from the Saudis as they feared these would be CIA controlled. Even though the Saudi and Qatari backers were directed by US imperialism, they tried to divide the militias by each setting up their own command structures. This was to weaken the militias and their co-ordination- they succeeded for many months in this. It was only in Dec 2012 that a single command structure was set up, the Supreme Military Command Council, SMC. Even so imperialism could only set this up based on it agreeing to promote a secular united Syria and combining elected military leaders with appointed political leaders. The SMC comprises several of the militia leaders- this is an attempt by imperialism to co-opt them on their political programme. The independent militias have long resisted and rejected the older SNC (Syrian National Council) due to its being outside the country and clearly a creation of imperialism. Whether imperialism has now managed to co-opt a decisive number of the militia leaders remains to be seen- this is contested terrain.
The head of the SMC is General Idriss who defected from the Assad regime in June 2012. He came with knowledge of funding links with Qatar and the Saudis- in other words, such links with imperialism was gained while in service for Assad himself. Al Nusra also has a representative along with other defectors from the officer corp of Assad- in other words, Assad regime and capitalists make up the command structure of the SMC.
The SMC is based on 3 principles:
· To unite the forces to prevent anarchy (ie to prevent a revolution where the masses seize and control the wealth)
· To side-line external elements and reduce their influence (to reduce the impact of the socialist forces who have sent volunteers to help fight against Assad)
· To prevent extremist elements from taking over the centres of power in the country (to ensure that no representative occupies office that threatens the current exploitative relations in Syria, ie they aim to keep the regime of Assad even if it is without Assad).
Thus the SMC and pro-capitalist elements set up by imperialism will be supported by an invasion of imperialism in the case the masses reach the point of taking power. In other words, the aim of the threat of imperialist invasion is to save the Assad regime from revolution. If the masses succeed in overthrowin Assad, imperialism will bomb as much of the heavy weaponry to weaken the masses and increase the likelihood of their own puppets regaining control.
This is why even Hezbollah and the Russian leaders say that they may support an invasion under certain conditions, ie that the Assad regime stays in place. They are on the same side as imperialism in a cynical game to extinguish the flame of revolution that is currently sweeping the world.
The role of the masses in the imperialist centres
The marching of the Iraqi war veterans throwing away their medals, the Manning and Snowden exposures show that the military of US imperialism is split. The selection of people for the intelligence apparatus of US imperialism shows us that both Manning and Snowden started off as very conservative but their life experience has made them revolt. If this is happening to the conservative elements in the US military, what about the more conscious soldier? The revolt of the masses in the imperialist centres is what is restraining imperialism- in other words, the very threat of revolution breaking out in the imperialist centres is what makes them hesitate. The worker in the imperialist centre has awoken- ‘can’t fix Detroit but wants to fix Syria?’ reflects the class hatred of the masses for the 1%, the imperialists. This was why imperialism was limited to a bombing campaign in Libya- the US masses would not have tolerated another invasion in their name. This has changed the world balance of forces in the struggle for Socialism.
This is also why imperialism has drafted in the Russian and Chinese regimes as subcontractors to help smash the Syrian regime. It is also why the Hezbollah and Iranian fighters have been drafted in as cheap guns for hire in the service of imperialism, to help smash the revolution as they know that their puppet regime status and crumbs they receive from imperialism would be under threat if a revolution succeeds in Syria.
The role of Stalinism and much of the world’s left
We have written extensively on how the world’s ‘left’ have actively supported the Assad regime. The 2 Syrian Communist Parties are part of the ruling council of Assad. The Assad regime has been given political support by the Stalinist World Federation of Trade Unions even though they know that Assad hosted CIA prisons. This shows the real relation of Stalinism and the middle class left to imperialism- in times of revolution, they will support the capitalist regimes and isolate and strangle the revolutionaries. This is why a new revolutionary international is needed.
The way forward
The Syrian revolution is very important as it shows the stage of barbarism and desperation of imperialism. They are fighting for their lives. In their desperation imperialism is prepared to use the army on the masses, they are prepared to use nerve gas and chemical weapons and they are prepared to use the BRICS regimes as surrogates and fronts to do their dirty work to directly put down revolution and to prop up capitalist dictators. Imperialist puppet regimes will be drafted in, in military campaigns to suppress the masses across their own borders.
We support the Syrian revolutionary masses; we support the grassroots co-ordinating committees and their militias- they should break from the FSA leaders/SMC/al Nusra
For a revolutionary working class party in Syria, the region and internationally based on the working class taking power and setting up a workers’ govt based on direct election by grassroots committees subject to instant recall and without privileges; based on the expropropriation of all capitalist and imperialist assets, without compensation to the capitalists and placed under workers control. For new working class parties in the imperialist centres. Solidarity with the revolutionary Syrian masses.
Workers International Vanguard Party email@example.com 9.9.2013