|Written by IWL-FI|
|Saturday, 05 May 2012 04:39|
Assad keeps on repressing Syrian people
A year after the beginning of the revolutionary process, the bloodthirsty repression of the Bachar El Assad, Syria is still one of the major battlefields where world revolution and counterrevolution are standing face to face.
In these thirteen months, according to the UN estimations, about 10 000 people were killed and further 35 000 are in refugee camps, essentially in Lebanon and Turkey apart from 200 000 displaced people at home. Furthermore, over a million people are in need of humanitarian aid. Beyond any doubt, this dramatic situation places Syria among the bloodiest processes among the current revolutions taking place in the North of Africa and the Middle East.
A civil war underway
By the late 2011, class struggle had achieved its highest peak and a civil war broke out. After months of brutally repressed popular mobilisations, the Syrian Liberation Army (SLA) cropped up. This combatant force consists mostly of civilians who rose in arms and soldiers who deserted from the regular army responding to the Assad dictatorship. Leaders of the SLA assert that their rank and file consists of some 40 000 combatants and that their military actions are generally circumscribed to guerrilla warfare
On the other hand, Syrian regular army, after months of trying to confront massive popular struggles and the military SLA actions, which soon spread to all parts of the country, are beginning to show signs of crisis. This is due to the harsh blows delivered by the mass movements and their own internal contradictions. It is necessary to highlight here that Assad has a social base of Sunni (most of the population), something that makes him more vulnerable to suffer desertions when repressive actions are to be executed. That is why, whenever possible, Assad uses the terrible elite forces, the 80% whose officer corps belong to the Alaoiute minority (the sector of the family Assad and his political environment belong to) and are commanded directly by Maher Assad, the dictator’s brother.
As part of the scenario of this civil war, battles have been fought in the main cities of the country, such as Homs, Hama, Idlib, Deraa and even the birthplace of the Assad family, the coastal city of Latakia.
Among all these areas, the Homs city has become one of the main centres of Syrian revolution. Throughout February, it was besieged from every possible angle with intense bombardments. After this, hellish artillery fire, Assad ordered land attack. Thousands of armed inhabitants faced the two-day long house by house combats heroically. The neighbourhood of Baba Amr was more besieged than others and was finally all but demolished. Finally, confronted by the superiority of strength of the dictatorship, the SLA announced tactical withdrawal.
In spite of all his military power committed by Assad in the repression of the Syrian “Benghazi”, however, the armed resistance of the people could not be annihilated in Homs. When many analysts said that it was the last and decisive battle and that the regime had delivered the mortal blow to the Syrian, news of new battles in different parts of the country, cropped up.
Actually, the resistance and the bombardments shifted mainly to other two rebel cities: Hama and Idlib. There were clashed even on the Golan Heights, a highly conflicting territory, annexed by Israel in 1973. The fact is that for all their military superiority on their side, Assad has not even managed to conquer Homs, known as the “capital of the revolution”, and is still resisting endless bombardments. The civil war is spreading and becoming more acute in the middle of a region that is undergoing an imposing revolutionary process.
What is driving imperialism is their fundamental need to appease the revolutionary process in the north of Africa and Middle East. Revolution, uneven as far as intensity and pace are concerned, is sweeping the political map of this region, strategic for the sinister dictators, servile to the USA and Israel. Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gadafi in Libya and Abdal Saleh in Yemen: they were all toppled by popular mobilisations that – in the case of Libya exploded in a bloody armed struggle. According to the chants of the Syrian, El Assad is to be the next.
Faced with this panorama, American and European imperialisms and Arab bourgeoisies (basically aligned with the Arab League) at first expressed their support to the Syrian regime but are now standing aloof from Assad.
In view of the situation where the revolutionary situation keeps on getting stronger, imperialism understood that to overtly support Assad was unsustainable. Consequently, deceitfully they put on the farce of being the champions of democracy and human rights and started exposing him and applied economic sanctions and are politically hedging him in within the international scope.
Imperialism is aiming at having Assad out of the office before it is the armed masses who will topple him, the way if was done in Libya; in this way they hope to save the essence of the Syrian regime and then to make headway towards the stabilisation of the country and the region. That is why the press on from every possible angle to carry out a negotiated transition, Trying to have Damascus opening the safety valve to decompress slightly the current explosive situation and so soften their main tactic to cope with popular revolution (total repression) and propitiate some measures – even if limited – of political opening with the regime.
Within the framework of this political relocation, imperialism has been increasingly pushed into a corner. Using the Arab League, a docile instrument for their policy, imperialist powers tried to negotiate more than once. Then they began with economic sanctions in commerce and freezing their assets and bank accounts abroad including those of the Assad family circle. As part of this new manoeuvre, the Arab League went as far as suspending Syria as a member country.
Taking this orientation into account, it is quite clear so far imperialism is not prepared to boost any kind of armed intervention the way it was done in Libya, The problem is of a centrally political nature and it has a lot to do with the fact that American imperialism is now going through an electoral moment and has been defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan, any military undertaking would be extremely difficult. In the same way, European imperialism, stuck in a deep economic and political crisis is unlikely to regard any armed intervention as a preferential option. The same goes for the flat refusal of Russia andChina to support any military action no matter what degree.
The central issue is that from the political-military point of view, it is obvious that Syria is not Libya. A solution involving an armed intervention, even a zone of air exclusion implies a high degree of risk in a country that has a better army where we can see an army with much better training and is in an explosive geopolitical location. Syria has borderlines with Lebanon and the Mediterranean in the west; Israel in the southeast; Jordan in the south and Turkey in the north. At present, an armed intervention in Syria – regardless of its intensity – would mean opening a conflict zone with Russia and China against, within an area where a civil war is underway and directly bordering with the nazi-Zionist state of Israel. This can spawn unforeseeable results in Syria and the entire Middle East for it may further arouse popular insurrections. Imperialism must watch their step. Kofi Annan, current imperial envoy to Damascus summed it up clearly, “The geopolitical situation in Syria is such that any miscalculation may lead to unimaginable consequences” (Aljazeera).
That is why, for the time being, imperialism is staking their best chips on trying to force a negotiated exit using economic and diplomatic erosion. It seems that a Yemen-like solution could be their preferential option: try and transfer power to the vice-president or some other character of the regime and granting some kind of democratic reforms so as to preserve the essence of the regime.
The UN Peace Plan and the Assad situation
It was within the framework of this policy of pressing for a transition within the Syrian regime that Kofi Annan arrived at Damascus last March. The mission he was entrusted with by the UN and the Arab League is to negotiate a peace plan with the Assad administration.
This plan has six points: “1. Opening of a political process including the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people; 2. Stop violence of every kind and from every side and under the vigilance of the UN; 3. Warrant the access of humanitarian aid; 4. Liberation of political prisoners arbitrarily jailed; 5. freedom of work for journalists in all parts of the country; 6. Freedom of association and peaceful demonstrations is to be respected by authorities” (El País).
On the 27th March, Dictator Assad formally accepted Annan’s peace plan. Between that date and April 12th, the day when the alleged ceasefire was established, the regime killed nearly a thousand Syrians according to reports by opposition sources.
The fact is that Assad was compelled to open some space for negotiations as his administration is in a very tight spot from the economic, political and military point of view. Within the international scope, the moment he is trying to cope with a civil war, except for China, Russia, Iran, Cuba and Venezuela (countries that have expressed their support to the Annan mission) he is isolated.
From the economic point of view, Syria is on the verge of collapse. In 2011, the GDP collapsed between 15% and 20%. Oil production, the main exporting product in the country fell considerably. In 2010, Syria used to produce 385 000 (159 litres each) per day, with total destination Europe. In January 2012, minister of oil, Sufian Allaw, stated that since September 2011, Syria lost over $2000 million due to the incapacity to either crude or derivates (IPS). The income from tourism, another key resource, which used to be about $8 billion a year, has also vanished. Further contraction of GDP is expected this year due to the international sanctions and the fall of home consumption. Many foreign investors have gone abroad. The Syrian pound lost about 70% of its value with respect to dollar, compared to the levels registered before the beginning of the revolution. Before the crisis, the reserves in the Central Bank were $18000 million according to official data. Some experts estimate that now the reserves are about $11 000 million. Unemployment and inflation have run out of control and are now at 8.3% and 7% respectively. It has been estimated that the population has lost 25% of their purchasing power. Imported goods, when available, are at exorbitant prices. Eggs, milk, sugar and cigars are now 80% more expensive that at the beginning of the political crisis. The latest available estimates (2006) regarding the population under the poverty line hinge round 11.9% of the 22 million inhabitants. Problems such as supplies of water and electricity are countless due to the damage caused to the infrastructure caused by military activity. All this in a country that has a foreign debt equivalent to 34.4% of their GDP (El País).
As the economic situation gets worse, the dictator is beginning to lose the support of important bourgeois sectors, such as Damascus and Aleppo (where the civil war has already penetrated) for they cannot regard him as a guarantee of defence of their interests. The decline of economy, aggravated by the increasing political isolation and the mobilisations that accrue, forces Assad to seek a possible negotiation. That is why, the regime’s acceptation of the UN mission and plan is an expression of the weakness of the Assad trench.
Repression goes on
Local Coordination Committees have exposed that Assad’s repression never ceased after the agreement with Annan. Syrian Observer of Human Rights reported that at least 11, 100 people died since March 2011 and there have been more than 50 murders since the instauration of the ceasefire.
On Friday, 13 March, as part of the traditional “Friday protests” that have been taking place since the beginning of the revolution, massive demonstrations were held in practically the entire country. Thousands of people walked out into the streets against the dictatorship. The uniting motto was “One revolution for all the Syrians”. Sunnite, Shiite, Alui, Druze and Christians (Aljazeera) rallied round this summons. The regular Syrian army shot at many of these demonstrations. This happened in Hama, Salquine, Idlib and Nawa (Clarin). There was also shooting. They also shot at a gathering caused by a funeral of victims of the repression in Aleppo, where four people died (El País).
Actually, when the dictatorship formally accepted the ceasefire, they warned that the government would respond to alleged “terrorist attacks. This is what they call popular struggles. They also warned that any public demonstration had to have previous and explicit permission of the government.
In this way, apart from shooting against the marches in diverse cities, the regime renewed the bombing of Idlib, specifically the neighbourhood of Kherbert al-Jouz and in several places in the Homs city. “What ceasefire? There is an explosion here every five or six minutes,” Yazan, an activist of Homs, told Associated Press and was broadcast by the Aljazeera. Members of the resistance reported that the neighbourhoods Bayada, Jurat a-Shayah, al-Qarabis and al-Qusour in Homs are under heavy artillery fire.
Furthermore, the regime has never withdrawn troops, snipers and tanks from cities where resistance is specifically strong and tanks are in permanent position of combat.
The imperialist hand of the UN
On April 14th, 15 members of the Security Council of the UN decided unanimously to send military observers to “supervise” the application of the alleged ceasefire in Syria.
This resolution, which on this occasion was accepted by China and Russia, the strongest allies of Damascus, demands the withdrawal of armoured troops from the cities with the same implications as the plan sponsored by Annan. Furthermore, in the face of the massacres to which Syrian population is submitted, violating human rights by “both parties” is hypocritically censored and “stop violence” in all its forms is requested”. (El País).
This highly sponsored by imperialist leaders will consist of 30 “unarmed military observers” may be increased to 250.
Many rebel activists or fighters, harassed by bloody repression, may regard the UN intervention as positive. However, it is necessary to understand that military observers clearly represent a form of intervention to maintain the essentials of the oppressing regime. The economic powers use UN to conceal their intention of intervening directly to control the situation and defeat the revolutionary process in Syria concealed behind the alleged defence of human rights and humanitarian aid.
In the IWL we are absolutely against any type of intervention of imperialism – be it armed or by means of blue helmets of the UN, which would have no other aim but to save the regime (with or without Assad) while defeating the struggle of the Syrian people.
Strategic way out
It is the Syrian people who, armed and out in the streets should decide their destiny. We wish to express what we have said right from the very beginning: our full support for the struggle of the Syrian people to achieve freedom from the tyrant Assad and so open the path towards better future. We are for the overthrow of Assad by means of the mobilisation of the masses and the armed struggle which is what the Syrian people are doing, following the example of other revolutionary processes in the region, essentially the Libyan case.
That is why we assert that the armament of the population should be extended and military actions should be centralised from a united leadership of all the armed units and popular committees. On the other hand it is necessary to demand administrations to provide Syrian armed resistance with weapons and military counsellors.
That is why we insist that the main problem to be solved, in Syria as well as in the remaining countries of the region that are being shaken by the revolutionary process, is the question of a revolutionary leadership. The Syrian people and their vanguard of fighters who are part of the armed organisms of resistance should trust their own force only and never have any confidence or expectation in imperialism – now appearing with the blue helmets – or in bourgeois political forces regardless if they are secular or Islamic.
The leaders of the National Syrian Council (bourgeois organ consisting in liberals and the Moslem Brotherhood) or the military top-notches Syrian Liberation Army (who declared they would comply Annan’s ceasefire absolutely) who may at a determined moment be on the same military side with the toiling masses against Assad, but because of their class character, they will inevitably betray the dearest popular aspirations, the economic ones as well as those that refer to democratic liberties.
The only solution for a strategic victory of the Syrian toiling masses, which will be the victory of all the exploited of the world is closely connected to building a revolutionary leadership that will lead the process of armed popular struggle to the downfall of Assad and the seizure of power by the working class so as to build socialism in Syria and in the entire region.