Syria

The US and its ‘allies’, the UK and France have bombed multiple government targets in Syria in an early morning operation targeting alleged chemical weapons sites. Explosions hit the capital, Damascus, as well as two locations near the city of Homs, the Pentagon said. "The nations of Britain, France, and the United States of America have marshalled their righteous power against barbarism and brutality," President Trump said in an address to the nation from the White House at about 21:00

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Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the Western response to gas attacks in Syria. Trump, Macron, and May have all been banging the war drums over the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad. But the atrocities in Syria mask the Western imperialists' own role in propping up reactionary regimes in the region and perpetuating a never-ending humanitarian disaster in the Middle East. At the same time, their bellicose rhetoric acts as a useful distraction for these imperialist

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Alan Woods, editor of www.marxist.com, discusses the hypocrisy of the imperialists regarding events in the Middle East, particularly the Turkish army's recent, brutal invasion of Afrin and the misery it is exacting on the Kurdish population.

On Sunday, the Turkish war machine, supported by so-called Syrian rebel troops took control of the Kurdish-majority city of Afrin in northeastern Syria. Of course, while the western media were busy condemning the Assad regime’s offensive against Islamist forces in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, they paid no attention whatsoever to the brutal onslaught against the Kurds, who have never attacked Turkey.

After all the fuss, noisy propaganda and manoeuvres at the United Nations, the so-called Syrian ceasefire has broken down suddenly, shamefully and irrevocably. In reality it was an abortion that was dead even before it was born.

Two statements were made on the same day, 21 November. Both declared the end of the war on Islamic State in Syria. The first was made by Vladimir Putin, in a meeting with Bashar al-Assad in Sochi, the second was released by Qassem Suleimani: the Iranian general at the head of the Quds Force (the Islamic Revolutionary Guards). Both, almost simultaneously, stated that “terrorism was defeated” in the country.

Yesterday the US navy launched a series of missile attacks on the Al Shayrat airbase in the central governorate of Homs in Syria. Seven people are claimed to have been killed and several fighter jets are said to have been damaged.

The recapture of Aleppo by loyalist forces in December, represents a decisive milestone in the Syrian civil war as well as for the crisis in the whole region. But it also has wide ranging consequences for world relations in the coming period.

There has been much confusion on the left about the events that have unfolded in Syria in the past five years, with some supporting Assad as a supposed "anti-imperialist", while others have supported the so-called "Syrian revolution", de facto ending up in the same camp as the western imperialists who support the so-called "moderate rebels". In order to cut though this fog of confusion it is necessary to analyse the nature of the Assad regime, what it was and what it became, and also the

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Aleppo has fallen. After four years of bloody war of attrition, the pre-civil war commercial hub and Syria’s largest city is once again under the complete control of the Assad regime. For the rebels and their foreign backers this represents a humiliating blow which will have major consequences internationally and domestically.

The saying goes that there are lies, damned lies and statistics. To this list we must add diplomacy, which is lying raised to the level of an art form.

As of sunset yesterday a new major ceasefire has been agreed in Syria. But what does it mean for Syria, the Middle East and world relations?

For the first time Turkey has launched a direct military intervention in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border in a coordinated campaign with Syrian opposition fighters and targeting positions held by ISIS, especially the strategic town of Jarablus.

Even before they started, the so-called peace talks about the future of Syria have collapsed. UN special envoy to Syria, Steffan de Mistura, has called for a “pause” in the talks and a resumption on 25 February. Meanwhile the Syrian Arab Army and its allies have dealt a crushing blow to western-supported Jihadists in northern Aleppo. As the balance of forces shifts in the war, none of the parties on the ground have any reason to take serious steps in the talks.

As we have stated previously, the downing of a Russian jet in Syria by the Turkish military was clearly a provocation on the part of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His aim was to stop an alliance being formed between Russia and the West in Syria. He has achieved the opposite with Turkey now more isolated and the major world powers coming closer to each other while Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been

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Since last week when Russia began bombing targets inside Syria, Western media has been overflowing with articles about the crimes of Russian imperialism in Syria. But the idea put forward that “moderate” rebels are being bombed by ruthless Russians raises more questions than it answers.

On Monday, for the first time in ten years, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the UN general assembly, after which he had a closed door meeting with US president Barack Obama. Only one month ago such a meeting would have seemed highly unlikely. Since the Ukrainian crisis relations between western governments and Russia have rapidly deteriorated as severe sanctions have been put on the country and Putin has become the most vilified man in Western media.

In the Presidential elections held at the beginning of June, Assad was declared the winner with 88.7% of the vote. That is not surprising considering the nature of the regime. However, in spite of the fact that these were in no way “free” elections, and that many people could not vote as they were in refugee camps beyond the borders of the country, what emerged was that a significant section of the population is backing Assad. Why is this?

The spontaneous uprising of the Syrian masses, inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, has degenerated into a sectarian bloodbath. Deprived of a revolutionary leadership, the hopeful beginnings have been transformed into a tragedy. On the other hand, US imperialism's hypocritical and bellicose zig-zags are a complete and utter farce, and graphically illustrate the limits of US power.

The war drums in Washington are beating their macabre tune out loud, announcing an imminent US attack on Syria. In the UK, the faithful squire, Cameron, is willingly echoing the call. Parliament is expected to back the military option in an emergency meeting convened for Thursday, August 29th. Direct imperialist intervention marks a fundamental change in the situation in Syria after the spiralling sectarian civil war had wiped away the revolutionary potential of the anti-regime

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The declaration of Obama that the USA will step up its support for the rebels in Syria represents a change in the situation. The White House announcement means that the US is to supply direct military aid to the Syrian opposition for the first time. Spokesman Ben Rhodes did not give details about the military aid other than to say it would be “different in scope and scale to what we have provided before”.

As the Syrian revolution remains locked in civil war for a third year, regional powers have begun to use the conflict as an opportunity to advance their own imperialist agendas. Syria has become a battleground for a proxy war between Iran, Israel, and the Arab states of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Although there had been some concessions to private capital under the old Assad, what was to rapidly accelerate the process and lead to a qualitative change was the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 and the Soviet Union in 1991. The system the Assad regime had modelled itself on collapsed like a house of cards. And just as the Soviet model attracted the young officers who carried out the coup in 1963, now its collapse shook their confidence in that same regime. [...

The false idea that the Assad regime is somehow progressive, is rooted in the events of the 1960s, which were eventually to lead to the setting up of a centrally planned, state owned economy, very similar to that in the Soviet Union. However, a long drawn out process has changed the nature of the Syrian economy from what was fundamentally a planned economy to one where the private sector dominates and this has to be understood if one is to make a correct appraisal of the nature of the

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The Syrian revolution that broke out in March 2011 was part of the wider wave of revolution that spread across the whole of the Arab world. The International Marxist Tendency supported the revolution without reservations in spite of its shortcomings. Since then, however, due to the lack of a revolutionary leadership, what was a genuine expression of the masses, has now been hijacked by reactionary elements that have a very different agenda.  [...

As fighting has spread into the two main Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo, generally speaking, the mass movement has greatly ebbed in the last few months giving way to a guerrilla-like armed struggle lead by the militias of the Free Syrian Army. So, where is Syria going and what is the revolution, or, quite arguably, what remains of the revolution, going to produce?

Much confusion exists on the left as to the real nature of the Syrian regime because of what it was in the past. In the 1960s after a Ba’athist coup, the economy was transformed, adopting the model of the Stalinist USSR. Although progressive in terms of the measures carried out, it was never a regime based on workers’ democracy. Power was in the hands of a bureaucratic elite, and in this lay the danger of a reversal of the progressive measures and a return to capitalist relations.

It is a year since the Syrian masses rose up against the Assad regime. Since March 2011, the Syrian people have faced the open brutality of the state in wave after wave of mass demonstrations, strikes and civil disobedience. These movements arose in response to the stifling dictatorship, and against the massive inequality, unemployment and poverty in Syrian society.

As we have reported earlier the situation in Syria is intesifying. In the last weeks the town of Zabadani has been under the control of the masses and all forces of the regime have left. Since then a democratically elected local revolutionary council has taken power in the town and is ruling it according to the will of the people. This is a very significant development.  Zabadani has become a focal point of attention for the struggling masses throughout Syria. It is therefore likely

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The Syrian revolution has entered a higher stage in the last few weeks. The number and size of demonstrations have reach record numbers, towns are falling under the control of the defected soldiers- including areas surrounding the capital Damascus, and embryonic forms of popular power are appearing on the stage in the form of popular councils.

After 9 months of struggle, a major face-off is being prepared and the revolution is throwing all its forces to a single point of attack. For a number of days last week, a campaign for an open ended general strike was waged on all the web pages of the revolution. A call was made also by the Syrian National Council, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution and other political forces for full participation in the strike. For the first time it looked that the

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Dramatic events have shaken the already stormy Syrian scene in the last month: strikes, demonstrations in downtown Damascus, attacks on intelligence headquarters, and condemnation by the Arab League. The Syrian regime looks weaker than ever and much exhausted, and a balance of forces favourable to the revolution seems to be the new reality. The arrival on the scene of a mass militia is an important shift in the situation which not only worries the regime, but also the bourgeois opposition

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After a spontaneous general strike broke out and lasted for a few days in the Southern Horan region (the city of Dar'aa and its surrounding towns and villages), a call was made by the various co-ordinating groups and committees, including the newly found National Council, for a one-day national general strike on Wednesday, October 26 urging all public and private sector employees, shopkeepers, farmers, artisans, and students to take part.

In the seventh month of its life, the Syrian revolution has passed through many stages, experienced ebbs and flows, and reached new layers of the masses while others have passed into inactivity or suffered brutal oppression. However, the youth and the oppressed are determined to carry the torch of the revolution to the end, to "victory or martyrdom". The revolt has spread like wildfire, and all the efforts of a decaying regime to extinguish the fire have resulted in no more than a temporary

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The situation in Syria is reaching boiling point quickly and confirms our previous perspective that the regime is on its way to being overthrown. Last Friday, The Friday of the Children of Syria, saw a qualitative change in the revolutionary movement.

The revolutionary uprising of the Syrian masses has left many among the Syrian left confused and perplexed. Many of the so called “progressives” and “lefts” have taken a negative attitude towards the revolutionary movements, in some cases going as far as repeating the propaganda of the regime regarding “an imperialist conspiracy”, “Muslim extremists”, and “agent provocateurs”. But all this completely misreads the situation.

The Syrian revolution has taken a significant and possibly key turn today after what has been a very bloody week. As thousands of protesters once again took to the streets, the regime has unleashed the most barbaric repression, no doubt gambling on the idea that total repression can stop the movement. But cracks are now appearing within the armed forces.

We have received two letters that give a very interesting insight into what is happening in Syria. In spite of the regime's combination of repression and concessions, the movement that initially began with the youth continues to build up and spread to other layers of society.

Things have been changing very rapidly in Syria, including some violent shifts in the mood of different layers of society. Last Friday, named the Friday of Martyrs, did not meet expectations in terms of the number of protesters, however we saw new towns join the protests as well as the Kurds coming out for the first time. Also some members of the Christian community joined the movement.

On Tuesday, Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa (clearly alive in spite of rumours to the contrary) announced the President was going to be making a speech which would "make the people happy". Tuesday night came and went, and nothing came from Assad. His media advisor, Buthaina Shaaban, came out and repeated that the emergency law would be repealed, without saying when.

As the brutal reaction of the Syrian regime to the growing protest movement unfolded over the weekend, we received several letters from Syrian socialists that give some interesting insights into the size of the movement and the effects it is having within the regime.

Events are beginning to move in the direction of revolution in Syria. Prior to today’s day of action we received this letter from a Syrian socialist that gives some interesting insights into the difficulties the regime is facing.

From a spontaneous demonstration of 1500 ending with the interior minister himself apologizing to the crowd in Damascus, to thousands in Daraa facing live shots by security forces, to protests in the Kurdish areas: Syria is on the verge of boiling over into revolution.

The Syrian regime has been systematically harassing Communist activists. Here we publish an appeal against the latest arrests. Please send in solidarity messages and protest messages to the Syrian authorities. We provide a model letter and details of local Syrian embassies.


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The UN, under US pressure, has passed a resolution on Syria. The implications are that Syrian officials were involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Premier, Rafiq Hariri. But Syria has gained nothing from his assassination. And there are clear indications that much of the so-called evidence may have been fabricated, in order to pressurise the Syrian regime.

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