$58.00 donated in past month
International | Santa Cruz Indymedia | U.S. | Anti-War | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Racial Justice
Syria: As Rebels Escalate Genocide Against Kurds, Obama Prepares Air Strikes to Bring Them
Photo: August 28, 2013, Kurdish women in Ras Al-Ayn, liberated Kurdish Syria, battling against U.S. backed Al Qaeda insurgents. Everywhere the U.S. backed rebels have come to power they have imposed anti-woman Sharia (Islamic) law and carried out genocide against Kurds, Christians, Alewites, and Shi’ites. [Photo credit Harold Doornbos and Jenan Moussa / FP]
Syria: As Rebels Escalate Genocide Against Kurds, Obama Prepares Air Strikes to Bring Them to Power
Kurds Under Brutal Attack by U.S. Backed Rebels
Origin of Gas Attack Not Proven, Not Likely the Syrian Government
By Steven Argue
The Obama administration is preparing an imminent military attack on Syria.
British Prime Minister Cameron was to join the U.S. in the attack, but was rebuked by the British parliament, which voted 285 to 272 against a British military attack on Syria. After the vote, David Cameron acknowledged his defeat saying:
“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly.”
Barack Obama is also legally required to gain similar approval from the U.S. Congress according to the 1973 War Powers Act. Obama, however, is illegally moving ahead in preparations for war without seeking the approval of the U.S. Congress.
France, the former colonial masters of Syria, however, will still potentially join Obama in a military attack on Syria. President Francois Hollande states, "The only option that is not on the table is to do nothing." According to French law, he is not required to seek the approval of the Parliament unless the military attack on Syria lasts longer than four months.
The Alleged Sarin Gas Attack
“The chemical massacre of Damascus cannot and must not remain unpunished,” said French President François Hollande. This is the same pretext of “humanitarian” war pushed by Obama. who claims that 1200 people were killed in a chemical attack by the Syrian government.
The Syrian government, on the other hand, says that the U.S. and French backed rebels in Syria were instead the ones who carried out chemical weapons attacks. In response to the attacks, they demanded a UN investigation. On August 31st, however, the UN investigating team in Syria was forced to leave the country, fleeing an imminent bombing campaign by the United States government.
Obama’s latest charges of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government are not new. Obama has repeatedly made the same charges in the past. Yet, when the UN investigated, they found no evidence of a sarin gas attack by the Syrian government. What they did find was evidence of a gas attack by the U.S. and French backed rebels. This was reported in the major media outlet Reuters on May 5th, 2013:
“The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, said commission member Carla Del Ponte.”
That same article did, however, report evidence that a sarin gas attack carried out by the U.S. backed rebels, stating:
“U.N. human rights investigators have gathered testimony from casualties of Syria's civil war and medical staff indicating that rebel forces have used the nerve agent sarin, one of the lead investigators [Carla Del Ponte] said on Sunday.”
The U.S. government, while now preventing a UN investigation of its latest charges of a chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government, has now also falsely accused the Syrian government of hindering a UN investigation of those charges. As CBS news reported earlier this week, quoting a government source in the U.S. who asked not to be identified, "At this juncture, any belated decision by the regime to grant access to the UN team would be considered too late to be credible…”
Yet, before the US war preparations drove UN investigators out of Syria, the only delay in investigations was caused for a day by sniper fire on Tuesday, and that fire was from an unidentified gunman. U.S. government attempts to blame the Syrian government for delaying investigations simply are not founded. As Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem points out:
"Miss Kane came on Saturday, on Sunday we agreed and on Monday, they [the U.N. inspectors] went to Moadamiyeh (a town in Ghouta). We did not argue about the sites they wanted to visit. We agreed straight away. How could we be accused of causing a delay?"
Now, UN investigations are being delayed for an indeterminate amount of time due to U.S. war plans. Requests by the Syrian government for the U.S. to delay their attacks until inspections were completed have been rejected by the US government. All evidence shows that it is the U.S. government that is delaying an investigation of alleged sarin gas attacks, not the Syrian government.
In addition to the American case being less than proven, Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh report on August 29th in Mint Press News their evidence from the ground in Syria is that the U.S. backed rebels are responsible for the gas attacks. The evidence presented is of several interviews with U.S. backed rebels and the father of a rebel who died, saying that the supposed “chemical attack” was actually an accident caused by gas in the possession of the rebels. These sources say that the chemical weapons were provided by Saudi Arabia and that the rebels did not know how to properly store them. They explain that as a result, an unintended chemical release occurred, killing people, including rebels who were guarding the tunnels where the gas was being stored. These interviews are reportedly from on the ground in Syria. This author has not independently verified those interviews, but Dale Gavlak is a mainstream journalist who has written in the past for the Associated Press, NPR and the BBC.
Saudi Arabia has in fact been supplying the rebels with arms. They have been doing this as the Saudi Arabian government also brutally crushes pro-democracy movements in their own country and in Bahrain.
Logically, explanations that involve the poison gas coming from the rebels are actually what does make sense. One reason for this is that the Syrian Arab Army is generally winning in the war against the rebels, both militarily and politically. The Syrian government lacks the desperation that is suggested by this kind of attack. In addition, since Obama has repeatedly stated that a chemical attack would be cause for direct American intervention, a chemical attack wouldn’t make tactical sense for the Syrian government either. In fact, the only side that could benefit from a chemical attack would be the U.S. backed rebels.
Given the U.S. government’s history of lying about everything from WMDs in Iraq to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in Vietnam, lies to get the backing of the American people in wars where the working class of the United States had no interests, we should similarly reject the U.S. government’s unsubstantiated accusations today blaming chemical attacks on the Syrian government.
U.S. Backed Rebels Committing Genocide against Kurds
On June 13th, 2013 the United States decided to openly arm the rebels of Syria. Before that date, the U.S. government actively supported the rebels, gave them supposed “non-lethal” aid, and armed the rebels through its allies in the region including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Israel, and Turkey.
In this effort, the U.S. has also been pretending to arm only some supposed good faction of rebels in the Free Syria Army (FSA) and not to arm other Islamist rebels linked to al-Qaeda and genocide. Yet, in reality, the FSA itself is genocidal and Islamist. In fact, it even includes an Osama bin Laden Brigade, has imposed Islamic law everywhere it has taken power, works in joint military operations with the al Qaeda factions, and the U.S. is arming all of the Islamist factions anyway.
John McCain actually traveled to Turkey where he tried to make the point that the United States was only arming the good rebels. He even had his picture taken with a group of these “good rebels”. Yet, the absurdity of this was laid bare when civilian Shi’ite victims of those rebels came forward to identify one of them as a war criminal. His name is Mohammad Nour, identified by two Shi'ite kidnapping victims as the chief spokesman and photographer for the Free Syria Army's Northern Storm brigade in the operation that kidnapped them and 9 other civilian Shi'ite hostages over a year ago. Attempts are still being made to release the 9 other Shi'ite hostages.
The U.S. backed rebels in Syria are committing genocide against Kurds, Christians, Alawites, and Shi’ites, slaughtering men women and children, destroying homes, and driving these minorities from Syria. Rebel genocide against Christians, Alawites, and Shi’ites have been ongoing for quite some time. Likewise, rebel atrocities against Kurds have been well documented since the beginning of the war. In late July, those continuing rebel attacks on Kurds escalated to the level of genocidal attacks.
The rebels of Jabaht al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), backed by the United States and its regional allies in the Middle East, have been carrying out genocidal attacks against the Kurdish people of Syria. A writer attempting to “debunk” these stories of ethnic cleansing claimed that the Kurds themselves have investigated reports of genocide and found nothing to them. This is simply false. The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is the main ruling party in Kurdish controlled Syria, reports with extensive documentation that the U.S. backed rebels have carried out “brutal ethnic cleansing attacks against the peacefully co- existing ethnicities in the Kurdish region in Syria.” They explain those ethnicities in the Kurdish region include “Kurds, Arabs and other Syrian multi-ethnicities, Assyrians, Armenians, Christians.” The PYD go on to report:
“Since 17 July 2013, Al-Qaida affiliated armed groups, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have launched brutal attacks on Kurdish areas and its neighbourhoods in Tel-Abeyd, Sere kaniye, Tel- Aran, Tel- Hasel, killing, kidnapping and shelling with heavy weaponry the Kurdish neighbourhoods and calling publicly for killing, kidnapping and looting Kurds to force them to leave their homes and properties. As a result, hundreds of Kurdish civilians have been kidnapped, tortured and their houses have been looted and burned down. These ongoing brutal massacres are targeting all Kurdish civilians in al-Hasaka, Kobani and Afrin areas.
“Since 29 July 2013 two Kurdish towns, Tel-Aran and Tel- Hasel, and its villages of Aleppo, have been under brutal attacks and massacres have occurred. Forty innocent Kurdish children, women and elderly people have been murdered and two young men have been beheaded and Kurdish homes have been cruelly looted and destroyed and 250 civilians are being kept hostage and their fate still unknown.
“Thousands of vulnerable civilians forcibly fled in horror, since then both towns are under siege and isolated and there are confirmed eye witnesses and evidence reports that both towns’ civilians have been subjected of ethnic cleansing and massacres by those terrorist armed groups. These terrorist attacks on civilians, just for their ethnic identity is an act of ethnic cleansing of ethnic communities who have been co-existing peacefully together and to destabilise the Kurdish regions that have been relatively peaceful in an attempt to evict the people and forcibly impose the rules of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria.”
These genocidal attacks on Kurdish civilians by the U.S. backed Islamist rebels have been ignored in the U.S. corporate media. Likewise, in the last two years of fighting, Syrian Christians, Alawites, and Shi’ites have been the victims of similar bloody slaughters and genocide by those same U.S. armed and financed rebels.
U.S. Backed Genocide Against Christian, Kurds, and Alawites
The U.S. backed Free Syria Army shocked the world when one of its soldiers, Khaled al-Hamad, ripped a human organ out of the chest of a man and chewed it in front of a camera saying ”I swear to God we will eat your hearts, Alawite soldiers of Bashar the dog”. The Alawites are a religious minority hated by the so-called “Free Syria Army” which has carried out massacres of Alawite men, women, and children.
On May 19th, 2013 Free Syria Army spokesman Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria told Al-Arabiya television that if the Free Syria Army was defeated in Al-Qusayr, the entire communities of Alawite and Shiite minorities in Syria would be “wiped off the map”. The Free Syria Army was in fact defeated in Al-Qusayr. He went on to say, “It’s going to be an open, sectarian, bloody war to the end.” The Alawites and Shiites are religious minorities in Syria. They are hated by the U.S. backed Sunni religious extremists of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and allies who have carried out massacres of men, women, and children in Alawite, Shi’ite, Christian, and Kurdish communities.
If we are to believe the U.S. corporate media, it is the Assad government and not the rebels who are in a genocidal war against its own people. While the Assad government is not innocent of crimes, as far as genocide is concerned, it is the U.S. backed rebels who have been carrying it out against Kurds, Christians, Alawites, and Shi'ites. It is these rebels who have brutally massacred whole communities of religious and national minorities and who have played a major role causing the deaths of 100,000 people and driving 1.9 million people out of Syria. Disproportionately, these refugees are religious and ethnic minorities who don’t share the rebel’s strict Sunni / Wahhabi Islamic faith.
Genocide Against Christians
Many rightwing sources in the United States cannot be trusted regarding the genocide against Christians in Syria. Their reports include faked fatwas, supposedly from Islamic clerics, telling the Islamic rebels that it’s OK to rape and kill Christian women. Yet, the atrocities and horrors of the ongoing genocide against Christians by the U.S. backed rebels are still well documented.
For instance, in a video released by the rebels themselves, they behead an unarmed Christian man. Like many Christian victims of the U.S. backed rebels, he was a non-combatant. His name was Andrei Arbashe, 38, a taxi driver who had recently married. After murdering him, the rebels cut up his body and fed him to the dogs.
In the Syrian city of Quasyr, U.S. backed rebels ordered all Christians to either join the rebels or leave town. Thousands of Christians fled in fear for their lives. Earlier, in Hamidiya and Bustan al-Diwan, the Faruq brigade of the U.S. backed Free Syria Army went door to door forcing Christians to leave. In Homs, while under rebel control and under sharia (Islamic) law, 80,000 Christians were forcibly expelled, and as of June, 2012, only 400 Christians were left in the area.
Christians who didn’t flee from Homs are being murdered by rebels. On August 17th, 2013 Christians, including civilians, were massacred by the U.S. backed rebels at check points in Al-Hasn and Marmarita.
The same “cleansing” of Christians has been done to the cities of al-Burj al-Qastal, as well as in some of the rural areas of Latakia and Idlib.
In government controlled Damascus, the rebels are using car bombs to deliberately kill and terrorize civilians in Christian and Alawite communities.
At least fourteen minority churches, mosques, shrines, and a synagogue have also been deliberately destroyed by the rebels. Between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians have fled Syria since the start of the war. In comparison to their numbers in the Syrian population, this is a disproportionate number that reflects the systematic genocide that is being carried out by the rebels. In Turkey, Christians have also been driven out of the government run refugee camps by U.S. backed Jabhat al-Nusra rebels.
These genocidal Islamists intend to use Obama’s air strikes to take power.. The Islamists of the so-called Free Syria Army declared their intentions through spokesperson Louay al-Moqdad on Weds, Aug. 28th, “The possible military strike against the Syrian regime will be strong and we will take advantage of it to topple Assad,”
Parallels with Obama’s Genocide of Blacks in Libya
Similar to Free Syria Army spokesman Colonel Abdel-Hamid Zakaria’s open promise that Alawite and Shiite minorities in Syria would be “wiped off the map”, U.S, backed rebels in Libya made the same promise of genocide against Black Africans living in Libya. After taking power they delivered on those promises. Numerous acts of murder and terror were committed against Black Africans. In fact, the Libyan city of Tawergha is now a ghost town. This is because 30,000 Black Africans were "cleansed" from the city by U.S. backed "rebels". Those rebels were brought to power with U.S. military aid and air strikes and allied troops on the ground from Qatar.
Everything moved backwards under that imperialist imposed counter-revolution in Libya. Today, warring Islamic factions control the country and torture is so prevalent that Doctors Without Borders pulled out of the country, saying that their role could not be one of patching victims back up between torture sessions. Yet, imperialist oil companies are profiting from the war, including U.S. based Conoco Phillips, Italy's Eni SpA, and France's Total SA.
Crimes on Both Sides
None of this is to say that there are not crimes on both sides. It does, however, destroy Obama’s lies that his intervention created a “democratic” government in Libya and that his coming campaign to support the genocidal rebels of Syria is somehow a humanitarian intervention.
For its part, the Syrian government’s shelling of neighborhoods is also a war crime. Part of the irony, however, is in seeing western reporters on TV sitting in these neighborhoods and reporting the horror of being shelled, when at the same time, these same “news” outlets never covered the same story as the U.S. military carried out similar atrocities against neighborhoods in Iraq, or as the Israeli military carries out similar attacks against neighborhoods in Gaza.
The historic crimes of Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez-al Assad, as part of the currently ruling Assad dynasty, also cannot be ignored. Following in the footsteps of earlier French colonial rule, the Syrian military of the Assad dynasty has a history of extreme atrocities against the Sunni majority. These have occurred as retaliation and warfare between the primarily secular government of the Assads and the religious extremists of the Muslim Brotherhood. The worst of these atrocities was the February 1982 massacre by the Syrian government in Hama. This occurred after a series of escalations that included Muslim Brotherhood massacres of Alawites in 1979 and numerous attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate Hafez-al Assad. In 1982, in an unforgivable act of horror, the Assad government leveled the primarily Sunni town of Hama, leaving between 10,000 and 20,000 people dead.
French Colonial Roots of the Religious and Nationalist Conflicts
The roots of much of the current religious conflict in Syria can be found in France’s divide in rule tactics at the time when they ruled Syria directly. After the First World War, the spoils of the conquered Ottoman Empire were divided between imperialist powers. The largely nationally and culturally united region of the lands of Damascus, or “Greater Syria”, were divided up between Britain and France, with Britain occupying Palestine and Jordan, and France getting Lebanon and Syria.
In its allotted portion of the Lands of Damascus, Britain set-up the illegitimate and extremely repressive Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In Palestine, without consulting the Palestinian people, Britain backed the Zionist aspirations of the Balfour Declaration to turn Palestine into a Jewish homeland. This set the stage for the Israeli colonial settler state that has been driving the Palestinian people from their homes and treating them as non-humans for many decades since.
France divided its portion of the region into Lebanon and Syria as part of their divide and rule
tactics. In Lebanon, the French preferred Christians, who held a narrow majority of the percentage of the population over other religious groups. So the French granted the Christians constitutional control of the presidency. The Sunnis came in second in numbers, so the French masters gave them the position of prime minister. The Shi’ites came in last and were only given the speakership of the parliament. What about equal rights? What about atheists? What about western ideals of separation of church and state? None of that was promoted by the west. Instead, the western ideal was to fuse religion and government so as to divide and conquer, making colonial rule more difficult to challenge by its subjects.
In Syria, the French used the Alawite minority against the Sunni majority. Alawites, a religious offshoot of the Shi’ite Muslim faith which comprises only 12% of the population, were elevated from the lowly subordinate position in society they suffered under the Ottoman Empire to the oppressors, for France, of the Sunni majority. France recruited other religious and national minorities to this task as well, but the Alawite minority were given major privileges by the French colonial rulers. Alawites composed 65% of the noncommissioned officers in 1955. The Arab Sunnis, a majority then and currently comprising 60% of the population, were just too large of a group to be trusted by their French colonial masters. The Alawites were recruited into the French Troupes Speciales du Lavant, which ruthlessly suppressed the Sunni majority. Similarly, the British colonial masters in Iraq gave special privileges and power to the Sunni minority
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the British and French imperialists also laid control over Kurdistan. They drew the new borders of the Middle East in a way that purposely kept the Kurdish people a sizable minority within the new colonial states. As a result, today, the Kurdish people number at an estimated 25-30 million people as the largest national minority in the world without a nation. In Iraq, Kurds are the largest non-Arab minority with 4-5 million people and 15-20% of the population. Kurds are also the largest non-Turkish minority in Turkey comprising 20% of the population. The Kurdish speaking people are 9% of the Iranian population. In Syria, the Kurds are the largest minority with about 1.75 million people comprising about 10% of the population. The French and British propagated national oppression against Kurds as a means of creating disunity and undermining the anti-imperialist struggle.
Syrian Independence and the Rise of the Assad Dynasty
French troops left Syria in 1946. Yet, with formal independence, France left behind a capitalist system of exploitation, religious and national inequalities, and foreign imperialist exploitation. As a result, Syria was filled with extreme political instability.
In 1958, the Syrian ruling class, fearing Communist Revolution in Syria at that time, formed a unified government with Egypt. The new unified government was called the United Arab Republic. Within the framework of the United Arab Republic, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser took over Syria and carried out bans on all political parties and imposed a ban on the Kurdish language. Communists and Kurds faced brutal oppression. Up until a few months ago when Syrian Kurds rose up and took control of their own territory, that ban on the Kurdish language remained in place in Syrian Kurdistan.
Despite the deep and profound problems with Nasser, he did also carry out important revolutionary anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist measures in both Syria and Egypt. In 1961 Nasser nationalized the entire cotton industry, the banks, all heavy industry, and the insurance companies. Heavy taxes were placed on the wealthy, workers had their hours reduced to 7-hour work days from eight without a reduction in pay, and credit interest rates were reduced to zero for many farmers. These gains of the revolution were, however, undermined by the lack of workers democracy, nationalist chauvinism, and dictatorial centralism utilized in carrying them out. The same year that these revolutionary advances were uninitiated, a military coup in Syria put an end to Nasser’s rule in Syria.
The Ba’thist Party first took power in Syria in 1963. Its program was one of secularism, pan-Arabism, and independence from foreign imperialist rule. It also came to power partly on a promise of limited land reform that was popular among the rural poor. Its secular politics were popular with Syria’s religious minorities which make-up 31.5% of the population and have proven to be an important political base of the Ba’athists against religious fanatics of the Sunni faith. Religious minorities in Syria include Alawites, Christians, Druze, and Ismalis. Ethnic minorities include Kurds, Armenians, Circassions, and Turcomans. The large percentage of religious and ethnic minorities living in Syria formed an important part of the political base of succeeding Ba’athist regimes.
Fear of violence from the religious fanatics of the Sunni majority, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has consolidated support for succeeding Ba’athist regimes from the religious minorities. Yet, the Ba’athists have always been primarily Sunni and Arab as well, looking down on other religions themselves. They have not accepted other nationalities either. This includes Kurds (10% of the population), with the Ba’athists continuing Nasser’s prohibition of the Kurdish language.
Rising-up from within the ranks of the ruling Ba’athist Party, the Assad dynasty first took power in a coup in 1970. This coup was carried out by Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez-al Assad. It was not a step forward. The coup undermined the revolutionary reforms carried out when the Ba’athists first took power in 1963. Hafez-al Assad overturned many of the nationalizations and limited agrarian reforms of the 1963 Ba’thist revolution. Hafez-al Assad also undermined the secular nature of the Ba’athist revolution, quoting versus from the Koran at the opening of his speeches and issuing a new constitution that only allowed Muslims to be president.
In 1987, President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s ban on the Kurdish language was extended by Hafez-al Assad to include bans on Kurdish music and on Kurdish videos. In addition, hundreds of thousands of native Syrian Kurds were also stripped of citizenship rights and numerous other acts of repression were documented. Children and businesses were not allowed to register with Kurdish names. According to Amnesty International, hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds were essentially considered stateless so were also denied equal rights to health care, education, and employment while also being denied the right to a passport
In 2000 Hafez-al Assad died after 30 years of rule and was replaced by his son, Bashar al-Assad who has ruled Syria since.
For the Defense of Kurdish Liberated Territory!
Portions of Syrian Kurdistan have now been liberated by the Kurdish people and are under the control of the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG). Except for in regions of recent defeats at the hands of Obama’s genocidal rebels, neither Assad central government nor the imperialist backed “Free Syria Army” has control over Syrian Kurdistan. This is a great victory for Syrian Kurds. A secular and democratically elected government has been established with a volunteer police force, women’s centers have been established to advance women’s rights by educating women about their rights and self defense, schools are now teaching in Kurdish, and Kurdish cultural centers have been established where Kurds can enjoy cultural celebrations banned under Assad. These are all significant gains for a long oppressed people.
In YPG controlled territory, the dominant political party is the communist influenced Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is the Syrian wing of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK has long been fighting against the oppression of Kurdish people by the U.S. backed Turkish government. U.S. weapons have been used to carry out warfare against the Kurdish population and a U.S. operation captured PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan who now sits in a Turkish prison.
In Syrian Kurdistan, Vice Chairwoman of the ruling Democratic Union Party (PYD), Asya Muhammed Abdullah points out, "For 30 years we Syrian Kurds have been fighting for our rights, that's why so many of our friends have been arrested and tortured to death by the regime."
Yet Kurds have also been the victims of the U.S. and Turkish backed Free Syria Army. Instead of pretending the FSA's imperialist backed counter-revolutionary forces represent a "revolution", as fake Trotskyist outfits like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) do, legitimate Trotskyists call for the military defense of the Kurdish and Assad governments from U.S. imperialism. Unlike the ISO, Lenin and Trotsky were very clear on the right of nations to self-determination.
In addition to the national liberation achieved by the PYD, sweeping socialist revolution is also needed. Sixty percent of the oil wells of Syria are currently in the hands of the Kurds (or were a few months ago anyway). The other 40% is controlled by the Islamists of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syria Army. Economically, Syria’s Kurdish region depends on electricity produced in Arab regions. In terms of practical economic considerations, the revolution liberating Syrian Kurdistan cannot be limited to Kurdistan because neither the Turkish backed Islamists nor the Assad regime are friendly to Kurdish national self-determination. Within these contexts, the PYD’s program is far too modest to address essential revolutionary tasks, including long-term national liberation. The essential program is one for the overthrow of capitalism as well as for the overthrow of all of the capitalist regimes in the region, including those of Assad, the U.S. backed rebels, and Erdogon’s repressive government in Turkey. Victories for national liberation must be deepened to include the overthrow of capitalism and extended beyond Kurdish territory with the advocacy of socialist revolutions that can establish a united federation of socialist republics of the Middle East which would include Kurdish, Arab, Turkish, Armenian, Persian, and Hebrew speaking republics.
Despite the deficiencies of the PYD’s program, their achievements have brought real gains for the Kurdish people. Yet, those gains will remain precarious without a sweeping socialist revolution.
The U.S. arms the anti-woman religious fanatics of Syria, and is preparing direct military air strikes to help bring them to power. Meanwhile, these same people list the secular and pro-woman Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a terrorist organization. The PYD is labeled a terrorist organization by the governments of Turkey, the United States, the European Union, and by NATO. Yet, the true terrorists are the U.S. backed Islamists in Syria.
Despite appeals for help from the Kurdish PYD to Amnesty International in exposing the crimes of the U.S. backed Islamists, Amnesty International is instead advising the U.S. on how best to carry out impending U.S. bombing raids on Syria. This reflects a far rightward turn the organization has taken in openly supporting U.S. imperialist wars.
The U.S. has long opposed the national rights of the Kurdish people, aiding Saddam Hussein as he murdered 90,000 Kurds in Iraq with poison gas and giving Turkey the military aid to murder tens of thousands of Kurds. In Syria, the U.S. prefers the Islamic puppets it is trying to groom for power within the rebel forces as an attempt at reliable allies in a post-secular Syria that will privatize the oil in the Kurdish oil rich region. They probably see the communist influenced PYD as less likely to sell-out Kurdish control of their own resources to world imperialist oil interests than the Islamist rebels they hope to place in power.
U.S. Motives for War
The French and American imperialists and their Islamist rebel lackeys have several motives for waging war against the Kurdish people. As mentioned above, U.S. and French imperialist oil companies will want control of the oil rich Kurdish region. In addition, the U.S. does not want a legitimate leftist Kurdish government in Syria to destabilize its corrupt and oppressive puppet government in Kurdish Iraq. In Kurdish Iraq, while jailing activists and journalists who expose the truth, that U.S. puppet government is conspiring with imperialist oil companies to loot Kurdish Iraq of its oil resources behind the backs of the people. Likewise, the U.S. does not want the positive example of a liberated Kurdistan in Syria destabilizing its ally of Turkey, a country where Kurdish radio, Kurdish education, and Kurdish political representation are (with very few exceptions) banned.
In addition to imperialist desires for Kurdish oil and continuing Kurdish oppression, the U.S. has further geo-political stakes in backing the jihadist rebels of Syria as well. These include isolating Iran, strengthening the noose that U.S. imperialism is trying to tighten around the Peoples Republic of China, strengthening the U.S. position in the inter-imperialist conflict between Russia and the United States, and weakening the ability of the people of Lebanon to defend themselves from Israeli attack.
In Lebanon in 2006 it was largely Hezbollah that defeated the Israeli invasion of their country at that time. That Hezbollah led victory helped avoid a repeat of the 1982 Israeli occupation of
Lebanon which included the Israeli massacre of 3,000 Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. Similarly, Hezbollah are now fighting in Syria in an attempt to defeat the imperialist intervention of the U.S. backed rebels in Syria. While revolutionary socialists have practically nothing in common with the program of Hezbollah, we do hail their heroic defense of Lebanese and Syrian sovereignty from Israeli, Turkish, Saudi Arabian, Qatari, French, and U.S. attack. Part of what made Hezbollah a powerful force against the 2006 invasion of Lebanon was the weapons they receive from Iran that are funneled through Syria. The United States and Israel, in attempting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, are in part seeking to weaken Lebanese self-defense from Israeli attack by cutting off those arms shipments.
Likewise, as the U.S. attempts to starve and isolate Iran for trying to develop nuclear power (and potentially nuclear weapons), Bashar al-Assad’s regime has maintained friendly relations with Tehran. This is the right of Syria! US economic isolation of Iran only serves to hurt the Iranian people. A year ago, the average wages of an Iranian worker in a big city was $700 a month; that has now dropped to an average of $440. The average in rural areas dropped from $310 to $200 a month. This is largely a result of the economic sanctions being carried out by the United States and the European Union. Basic supplies are also facing shortages, included needed drugs. For example, on November 14th, the Guardian reported that Manouchehr Esmaili-Liousi, a 15-year-old boy, died due to a lack of medicine for hemophilia. This shortage was blamed on the EU and US economic blockade. While those economic sanctions don’t directly forbid the importation of drugs, they greatly impede Iran’s ability to purchase them.
The Syrian people, like the Iranians, have also been the victim of similar imperialist economic sanctions. Ironically, U.S. sanctions against Syria were initiated supposedly to stop Syrian support for al-Qaeda. In reality, US aid to rebels in Syria is actually going directly to factions of al Qaeda.
EU and US economic sanctions are intended to punish Iran for developing a program for nuclear power that the US and EU say will be used to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranian government counters these claims saying that the purpose of this program is to develop nuclear power, not weapons. Either way, revolutionary Trotskyists don’t care. We support the right of Iran to develop any weapons they need to defend themselves from the US and Israel. We held the same position in regards to Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq has devastated the Iraqi economy with privatization and free trade, greatly reduced women’s rights, failed to abolish political oppression and torture, and has left over a million Iraqis dead. If the U.S. invasion of Iraq has shown the world anything, it is the fact that countries in the cross-hairs of U.S. imperialism just may need “weapons of mass destruction” to defend themselves from U.S. imperialism.
The American Pretext of War for “Democracy”
Countries supporting the armed uprising with weapons include the United States, Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia. Ironically, Hillary Clinton has called these countries the ''friends of democratic Syria'' and asks them to unite and ''support the Syrian people's right to have a better future''. She adds that ''Assad must go.'' Yet who are these countries in Hilary Clinton’s alliance for a “democratic” Syria?
Despite Hilary Clinton’s declarations of this being a coalition for democracy in Syria, it is actually a coalition filled with U.S. backed dictatorships and imperialist powers that have no real history of actually fighting for democracy.
For instance, U.S. friend Saudi Arabia is backing some of the worst Islamists in Syria. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is, in fact, actually the most repressive country in the world with a religious government that denies almost all basic rights to women, denies all rights to religious minorities, denies all rights to labor, and crushes all pro-democracy movements within its own borders and in neighboring Bahrain. Yet, instead of the economic blockade and proxy war as carried against Syria, the Saudi Arabian government gets major arms deals from the United States, including selling $33.4 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia in 2011. This is because the theocratic ruling class of Saudi Arabia conspires with U.S. capitalists to rob the Saudi Arabian people blind of their oil wealth and labor. Saudi Arabia is part of this coalition supposedly fighting for democracy in Syria.
Neighboring Bahrain has been, with US and Saudi Arabian military support, carrying out mass murder and jailings of people standing up for democracy and human rights in that country. Bahrainian repression goes on with U.S. backing and U.S. weapons. Meanwhile, these facts are mentioned very little in the corporate press while similar repression makes constant headlines regarding Syria. Yes, of course, despite having no democracy, Bahrain is part of the coalition supposedly fighting for democracy in Syria.
Turkey, with US weapons, brutally represses its Kurdish minority. Of course, Turkey is part of the coalition of “friends of Syria” supposedly fighting for democracy in Syria.
Qatar, a major supplier of weapons and a supplier of troops for the so-called “uprising” in Libya, has also been supplying weapons to the armed uprising in Syria. They are also part of Hilary Clinton’s “democratic coalition”, despite having no semblance of democracy or workers right in their homeland.
Yet, we are fed the lie that the U.S. is supporting the rebels in Syria to help bring democracy. Now this false pretext for supporting those genocidal religious fanatics has now been supplemented with the new lie of supposed proof of a chemical weapons attack by Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Arab Army.
The U.S. War Against Secularism
One of the biggest gains of the American Revolution in 1776 was the separation of church and state. Yet, in Syria, by backing the rebel religious fanatics, the U.S. is seeking to destroy those gains of the Syrian Revolution. In terms of separation of Mosque and state, it is the forces opposed by the United States, those of Bashar Al-Assad's Syrian Arab Army and the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) who are fighting for secular government, not the U.S. and Saudi Arabian backed religious fanatics. Everywhere U.S. backed rebels have taken power in Syria, they have set-up Islamic (sharia) law.
As Kurdish soldier Dijwar Osman pointed out, "Our enemies are those al Qaeda fighters who want to destroy our 4,000-year-old Kurdish culture. These jihadists come from Belgium, Holland, Morocco, Libya, and other countries. Unfortunately, the U.S. and Turkey are on the side of al Qaeda, just like the U.S. was on al Qaeda's side in Afghanistan during the '80's."
According to Aljazeera, Mohammad Kattaa was a young vendor selling coffee in the Shaar neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo. A customer was trying to get free coffee, to which the boy jokingly responded, "Even if Muhammad comes down, I will not give it as debt." This was overheard by the U.S. backed rebels who, like many of the U.S. backed foreign fighters in Syria today, didn’t speak the Syrian dialect of Arabic because they were recruited from elsewhere in the Middle East. These religious fanatics misunderstood what was said to be blasphemy against their religion, so they kidnapped Kataa, beat him, and then executed Kataa by shooting him. His mother and father were also tracked down, captured, and forced to watch the execution. To those witnessing the execution, a U.S. backed rebel announced:
“Generous citizens of Aleppo, disbelieving in God is polytheism and cursing the prophet is a polytheism. Whoever curses even once will be punished like this.”
Likewise, in May, Islamist rebels released grisly video of eleven bound prisoners who were executed by the opposition government in rebel controlled territory. The victims were sentenced to death by a sharia (Islamic) court. Besides being sentenced to death for a possible crime, one of the charges against them used in their death sentence was the accusation that they were "apostates" (i.e, had wondered from the faith).
For the Defense of Syrian Sovereignty from Imperialist Attack
From the beginning of this conflict, the leadership of the protests in the Arab regions of Syria was led by the Sunni religious fanatics of the Muslim Brotherhood. They could be heard hatefully chanting in the streets, “Al-Alawi ala taboot, wa al-Mashila ala Beirut!” which in English means, “Alawites in the coffin, and the Christians to Beirut!” As their “peaceful” protests (which included armed provocations from the beginning) turned into the armed struggle of the U.S. backed “Free Syria Army” and affiliates, this program of genocide, and worse, has been the harsh reality.
For those on the left who were quick to support the so-called “Free Syria Army”, what they failed to do was look at those who were leading this so-called “revolution”, who was financing it, and what their program was.
As weapons are pouring into Syria from the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, so too are foreign jihadist fighters from countries friendly to U.S. imperialism around the world, from Egypt to Australia.
For the Kurdish people, Bashar al-Assad’s long imposed dictatorial regime even opposed the Kurdish right to their own language. This does not differ from the U.S. backed regime in Turkey which to this day bans the Kurdish language and Kurdish politics. U.S. weapons and military intelligence have also helped the Turkish government murder tens of thousands of Kurds in Turkey as well. Likewise, U.S. backed forces in Syria today are opposed to Kurdish self-determination and are also slaughtering Kurdish men, women, and children.
In terms of the national rights of the Syrian and Kurdish people to determine their own destiny, obviously the current U.S., French, British, Turkish, Qatari, Israeli and Saudi Arabian backed rebels, filled with foreign fighters, are not the way forward. In this situation, the defense of Syrian and Kurdish national sovereignty is the priority over needed settling of scores with Bashar al-Assad and his system.
Without giving political support to Assad, our defense of Syria is a defense of the semi-secular government of Assad and the defense of the secular Kurdish government from imperialist attack. Likewise, it is the defense from imperialist attack of the limited socialist nationalizations of the Syrian revolution. We also stand in defense of Syria from U.S. backed genocide against Syria’s religious and national minorities. In addition, we defend the right of the Syrian and Kurdish people to decide their own government without military attacks and other imperialist intervention.
This defense includes opposition to economic sanctions, opposition to the imperialist arming of the rebels, opposition to impending direct U.S. military attacks, and a call for the military defeat of the entire imperialist intervention in Syria.
Let us not mince words. Our pickets in the United States alone will not stop the war. Nor will voting for one or the other capitalist imperialist party. Our call for the military defeat of U.S. imperialism, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the FSA, and al Qaida in Syria is a call to support all forces defending the national sovereignty of the people of Syria including the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG), Hezbollah internationalist fighters, the Syrian Arab Army, and the National Defense Forces. Likewise, it is a call to U.S. soldiers to refuse orders to fight in Syria, and a call for U.S. workers to refuse to build and ship the armaments necessary for war.
Problems with Assad and Hezbollah are secondary to the need to defeat the imperialist backed genocidal Islamists of the FSA. An imperialist victory in Syria will be a horrifying and bloody set back for the national and religious minorities of Syria as well as for Syria’s women. A victory against U.S. imperialism in Syria will also help defend the national sovereignty of Lebanon from Israel and defend the sovereignty of Iran from further U.S. imperialist attack. It will also be an important ingredient in helping propel the anti-imperialist, secular, and anti-capitalist revolutions needed across the Middle East.
A defeat of U.S. imperialism in Syria and Syrian Kurdistan would also be a powerful impetus in the building of a political party in the United States that fights to end U.S. imperialism once and for all through socialist revolution in the United States.
For Socialist Revolution in Syria
The Ba’athist Assad dynasty’s oppression and opposition to the national rights of Kurds is in direct contradiction to the program of Lenin and Trotsky who, upon taking power in the October 1917 Russian Revolution, ended discrimination and oppression of national minorities. Language rights of traditionally oppressed nationalities were encouraged rather than outlawed. For instance, the Kurdish minority of the young Soviet Union under Lenin and Trotsky’s leadership created a Kurdish republic where the Kurdish language was legalized and children learned the Kurdish language in school. After Stalin’s conservative wing of the bureaucracy crushed those who agreed with Lenin and Trotsky’s ideas, some of the original gains of the Russian Revolution were lost. For instance, in 1930 Stalin crushed the Red Kurdistani Republic of the USSR. Yet, not even Stalin could destroy all of the gains of the Russian Revolution, and most of the language rights and republics that were created under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky remained. In fact, the socialist planned economy was used to create preferential investment in the historically less advanced republics, helping raise-up the economies of those republics with the rest of the USSR.
In addition to helping liberate oppressed nationalities, the USSR’s planned socialist economy was used to turn one of the poorest countries in the world into an industrial powerhouse, capable of defeating two major imperialist invasions (including smashing Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich) and then rebuilding to provide everyone with a guaranteed job, health care, and education.
After Stalin’s conservative clique took power, Trotskyists fought to defend the remaining gains of the October 1917 Russian Revolution, including the planned socialist economy, while at the same time fighting to overthrow Stalin’s conservative privileged bureaucracy, ending its brutal repression, creating a workers democracy, and standing up internationally against capitalism and imperialism on the program of Lenin and Trotsky.
While parts of the Syrian economy were nationalized under the Ba’athist Revolution in the 1960’s in Syria, in contrast to a socialist economy, much of Syria’s economy is owned by capitalists. This is in part due to the pro-capitalist reforms carried out since the Assad dynasty took power in 1970, overturning a number of gains first made when the Ba’athists took power in 1963. For instance, there are several privately owned banks. In contrast, in a socialist society there would be a fully state run banking system that, instead of making private profit, reinvests in the economy where needed to meet human needs. This is a critical ingredient to building a socialist planned economy. That ingredient is missing under Bashir al-Assad’s capitalist regime.
While many claim that Syria has a socialist economy, not enough of the economy is planned to sufficiently meet human needs as is possible with a planned socialist economy. For instance, Syria has had both a public and a private sector that builds housing. In a truly socialist economy, proper investment by the state in building housing would better meet housing needs while providing jobs. The continuation of a capitalist sector in the Syrian economy, on the other hand, produces a corrupting wealthy capitalist class that prefers little to no investment in the state run economy. These kinds of problems under Syria’s mixed economy are reasons why Syria hasn’t adequately dealt with housing problems or meeting other human needs. This is also why Syria hasn’t eliminated unemployment, unlike what was done with a number of socialist economies after fully overthrowing the capitalist system.
Of course, the destruction of homes and massive refugee crisis produced by the genocide carried out by the U.S. backed rebels is creating a far worse housing crisis today. Likewise, the imperialist economic sanctions against Syria in support of the rebels have also hurt the civilian population greatly.
Similar to housing, Syria’s state run health care system has been on the decline since even before the war. While Syria’s population increased by 18% between 1995 and 2001, the number of hospital beds in state run hospitals declined. Meanwhile, there was a big increase during that same period of capitalist healthcare provided to those who can afford it. While life expectancy increased dramatically after the Ba’athist revolution, the growth of capitalist health care, decline in public investment in socialized health care, and the return of a two tier system of health care, one for the wealthy and another for the rest, represents a capitalist attack by the Assad regime on the people’s health care no different than what has occurred under the neo-liberal policies of any pro-imperialist capitalist government in the world. Life expectancy for Syrians in 2006 was only 72 years, far better than many countries that are completely under the thumb of U.S. imperialism, but far worse than what has been achieved under Cuba’s socialist health care system.
Also, unlike Cuba, Syria under the Ba’athists has not brought the gains to education found in “communist” deformed workers states in terms of women’s liberation and literacy either. For instance, Cuba and China have provided their entire populations with good universal education which has brought literacy rates for the entire population, including women, to nearly 100%. In contrast, under the Assad dynasty, big improvements have been made in education, but illiteracy has remained a problem. Women’s literacy in Syria in 2004 was 78%. While far worse than the deformed workers states, this does reflect a 200% increase in female literacy since 1970, and is far better than what has been produced by the U.S. imposed mjahideen, Taliban, and Karzai dictatorships of Afghanistan. Those U.S. imposed governments have produced a female literacy rate of 12% in 2012 after destroying the pro-woman and pro-literacy PDPA government of the 1980’s.
Leadership must be built to overthrow Assad's capitalist government in a proletarian revolution, not in an imperialist sponsored capitalist counter-revolution led by chauvinistic religious extremists. Revolutionary leadership in Syria must distance itself completely from U.S. backed rebels. Unfortunately, the fighters of the fake “Trotskyist” Leon Sedov Brigade of the Free Syria Army are giving their lives to bring these Islamists to power. This reflects a tendency among those types of fake Trotskyists to support any uprising in an opportunistic manner, no matter its program, to avoid the hard work of fighting for an authentic revolutionary socialist program and party. Instead of fighting for revolution, the Leon Sedov Brigade is fighting on the side of counter-revolution.
Whatever may be said of the deficiencies of the Syrian Revolution, U.S. imperialist backed counter-revolutions are always far worse than what is overthrown. The genocidal U.S. backed counter-revolutions in Libya and Afghanistan are prime examples. Both the Assad and Kurdish government should be defended from imperialist attack and sectarian Islamic counter-revolution, while at the same time giving no political support to Assad’s capitalist dictatorship.
US, France, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Israel Out of Syria Now!
Down With the U.S. Backed Anti-Kurd, Anti-Woman, Anti-Secular, Sectarian Religious Fanatics Fighting in Syria!
For the Defense of Kurdish Liberated Territory!
For A United Kurdistan as Part of a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East!
For the Overthrow of U.S. Imperialism through Socialist Revolution in the United States!
-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency
Also from this author see:
For a Socialist Republic of United Kurdistan as Part of a Socialist Federation of the Near East!
Afghanistan: Misogynistic Hell Hole Made in the U.S.A.
For Women’s Liberation through Socialist Revolution!
This is an article of Liberation News, subscribe free:
On Facebook, Imperialist Hands Off Syria!
On Facebook, The Revolutionary Tendency
Photo: Ghost town of Tawergha, Libya where 30,000 black Africans were "cleansed" by U.S. backed "rebels" after taking power with U.S. military aid and air strikes. [Photo: BBC]
[Photo: August 15, 2013, thousands of Kurdish refugees fleeing the genocidal terror of U.S. backed rebels in Syria into Iraq at the Peshkhabour border crossing. Already, 1.9 million refugees from Syria live in refugee camps in bordering countries. A disproportionate number of the refugees are Christrians, Kurds, Alewites, and Shi’ites, the victims of religious and nationalist genocide by the U.S. backed rebels in Syria. Photo credit UNHCR / CBS News]
Update, since I wrote this article, Obama announced he would seek Congressional approval. He changed his position yesterday (Saturday).
This change is a huge turn around from Obama's previous position. The troops were already in place in the Mediterranean and ready for a military strike on Saturday. Obama also refused Syrian requests to delay a military attack to allow UN teams to finish their investigations into who is responsible for the poison gas attacks. Then, after UN investigators were forced to leave Syria under the threat of imminent U.S. bombing, Obama suddenly decided to seek Congressional approval for a direct military attack on Syria.
This is a retreat by Obama, but not yet a victory. Obama is seeking approval for military attacks. Hopefully U.S. Congress will follow in the footsteps of the British Parliament in rejecting direct military intervention in Syria. Already, the the war is unpopular. A recent poll showed 50% of Americans oppose U.S. intervention and 42% support it. 80% of Americans said that Obama needed Congressional approval before Obama finally decided to seek it.
Massive opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq didn't stop that war, but public sentiment opposing a war on Syria won't hurt. Let's keep up the heat and spread the word demanding:
No military attack on Syria!
End U.S. arming of the rebels!
End U.S. economic sanctions against Syria!
If you haven't yet, check out my article for information on why this war should be opposed and on the struggle to defeat U.S. imperialism and capitalism in general.
I identified the Leon Sedov Brigade as part of the Free Syria Army. This is not 100% true. My error was based on a communique of the Leon Sedov Brigade that was distributed identifying the Leon Sedov Brigade as part of the Free Syria Army. I thought that part of the communique was also from the Leon Sedov Brigade themselves, but it appears it could have been added by those who distributed it. I have just read another communique from the Leon Sedov Brigade that, while strongly identifying with the counter-revolutionary cause of the Free Syria Army, denies that they are part of the Free Syria Army. This still does not let them off the hook for fighting on the wrong side and identifying strongly with the cause and rank and file Islamist genocidal butchers of the Free Syria Army, but it does mean that I made a factual error in saying they are part of the Free Syria Army. I apologize for that mistake.