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 that other places will be inspired by it and follow its example. Here we publish the translation of the first declaration of the council:

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 organizers were taking the question of the general strike very seriously, drawing out a plan, and preparing leaflets for printing and distribution. The first date was chosen to be December 11.

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 and its imperialist allies.

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