Syria: While regime organises sham rallies, general strike grips vast parts of the country

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.

General strike in Syria - Illustriation: Tonsy86On Wednesday, the regime gathered its alleged supporter in Omawe'yn Square in Damascus in an attempt to show the visiting delegation from the Arab League what level of support it still enjoyed. However, this orchestrated pro-regime march, or what the revolutionaries call “dancing on the bodies of the martyrs”, was taking place at the same time as a national general strike was gripping vast parts of the country. In Libya, Gaddafi also gathered thousands of so-called supporters in the Green Square in Tripoli up to his sudden overthrow, and it seems that Assad would like to follow the same route!

The strike was a success in both scope and intensity compared to previous ones. It ranged from mere closure of shops to the full paralysis of all economic, governmental and educational functions depending on the city/region/area. The strike was most successful in Dar'aa, Homs, Hama, Idleb, Der Al-Zor and their surrounding towns and villages where in many cases it included all shades of economic activity: small shops, popular markets, public and privet sector companies, transportation, schools, etc. In Aleppo and Damascus the strike was successful in certain neighbourhoods/areas of the city where closure of businesses ranged from partial to full, while their surrounding towns and village witnessed almost a full scale stoppage of economic and educational activity accompanied with demonstrations and marches. The coastal cities and towns also saw partial strikes such as in Latakia, Banyas and Jableh.

The strike is significant in the sense that it has provided an example to follow. It can now be seen by the masses as a concrete weapon in the struggle against totalitarianism and that is a serious threat to the regime if it develops in the future. But at the same time it was limited. Although the markets, offices, schools and public sector had a reportedly high participation level in the strike, the main cities and industrial areas were more or less unaffected. This is partially because of the widespread state repression, especially in these areas. However, it would also be true to say that the regime still holds some degree of at least passive support among some layers, especially as the opposition has not yet developed a clear programme that can answer the problems of all sections of the working people.

The regime has responded with its usual attempts to terrorize people into coming to work or opening their businesses. The military attacks on the city of Homs and many other cities all over the country continue but the revolutionary people are holding strong. The officers and soldiers of the Free Syrian Armies have been increasingly intervening to defend civilians, whether in their neighbourhoods or during demonstrations. The forces of oppression of the regime are getting tired, demoralized and suffering more losses by the day. A decisive battle between the forces of the revolution and reaction awaits. It is merely question of time before more layers get involved, until the whole people turns against the regime.

The general strike of Wednesday, October 26 was an important step forward and must to be extended to become an all out, open ended general strike all over Syria. The revolutionary youth need to call into the struggle the heavy battalions of the working class in both the big industrial and urban centres to deal a decisive blow and score a clear-cut victory over a senile and decaying regime.

Forward to an all out general strike.

Down with the Assad regime.

For a revolutionary government of the Syrian people.