Tag Archives: Syria

Syrian troops capture town of Daraya from militants

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January 13, 2013

Syrian soldiers celebrate after hammering rebels on the outskirts of Damascus.

Syrian troops have captured most of the town of Darya outside the Syrian capital Damascus after it was taken by militants fighting against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus says the town could be fully captured in the next few days, after government troops seized much of the town on Saturday.

Earlier in the capital, two people were shot dead by militants’ sniper fire near the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, one of whom was a three-year-old child.

Yarmouk refugee camp has borne the brunt of the turmoil in Syria over the past months. In September 2012, 20 people were killed in a mortar attack by militants on the camp.

Syria has been the scene of turmoil for nearly two years. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed.

The Syrian government says the chaos that began in the country in March 2011 is being orchestrated from outside. There are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals.

Source

Full Speech by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

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Ex-Jihadist tells Tunisian TV why he left pro-imperialist FSA in Syria

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The following video was an interview done by Delta TV with 29-year-old Ali Garbousi, who resides from Gafsa, Tunisia. He is an ex-rebel of the pro-imperialist terrorist group Free Syrian Army (FSA). During the interview, he goes into detail how he was smuggled into Syria by way of Turkey, how the FSA provided little to no medical treatment of their own, nor any mercenaries who fought with them, and how the FSA burned to death over 120 Libyans and Tunisians in Homs in the attempts of framing it on the Assad-led Syrian govt.

Statement of the Syrian Communist Youth Union on Syria’s struggle against imperialism

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The following statement below was originally published by Red Youth, the youth organization of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Dear comrades and friends:

Nowadays, Syria is facing one of the most serious position in its modern history, when the world imperialist attack is increased using most reactionary forces with full support and funding of the Arab reactionary regimes who they are Imperialist agents.

Today the Syrian people and youth are facing the terrorist operations, massacres and incitement on the various components of the Syrian people, where the terrorist operations targeting civilians, soldiers, academics and active youth. These operations are carried out by terrorist groups and extremist reactionary forces especially its obscurantist Muslim Brotherhood organization with direct support by weapons and through media campaigns which are led, funded and fabricated by treason and reactionary Arab regimes especially oil Arab Gulf countries in addition to NATO interference in the region by Turkey. The treason forces who are called themselves ″The Syrian opposition″ are asking for external intervention on Syria by NATO, which means to invade our country depending upon the criminal imperialist model that we witnessed in Libya and Iraq, which means to allow NATO to invade and occupy Syria, this what the Syrian people and youth are against it and will fight it by all means and forms. In this occasion, the Syrian Communist Party and Syrian Communist Youth Union – Khaled Bagdash Youth have organized many demonstrations and sit-ins in various parts of Syria rejecting the imperialist interventions in the country affairs and supporting the Syrian national steadfastness, and our comrades is working in many region to relief and help the refugees.

Despite everything that is happening, the Syrian national steadfastness continues to face the Zionist and imperialist pressures and blackmails and still insists to restore the occupied Syrian Golan and rejecting imperialist domination plans such as the imperialist plan that so called “the new greater middle east”. This national steadfastness is the cornerstone in the victories which achieved by the national resistance in the East Mediterranean region. Syria is the stronghold facing the imperialist plans and projects in the region, and it is the main supporter to national resistance in the region, this caused it to won the hostility of imperialists, Zionists, reactionaries and their traitors.

But the neoliberal economic policies that have been applied in recent years led to impoverish the masses of people and led to increasing the unemployment status among young people and gave a strong blow to the national production, which create a breeding ground for the work and activities of reactionary forces, and established for the unfortunate events that taking place in the country. This is what Syrian communists have warned and struggled against everywhere and with various shapes.

Syrian Communist Youth Union – Khaled Bagdash Youth confirms the full commitment with the policy of Syrian Communist Party, which was adopted in his 11th Congress, and the essential orientations of the struggle of the Party in the current stage which was adopted in the last meeting of the Central Committee of the Party. As following:

1. Defending for the national independence and sovereignty, keeping back the imperialist plots and the attempts of Arab and local reactionary forces , and mobilizing the people mass under the great national slogan: “Syria will not Kneel down! “.
2. Struggling against the neo-liberal economic policies, with all its shapes and characters, defending for the national production and interests of producers, and proposing the tangible alternatives with confirming the general orientation, that adopted by th 11th congress of SCP about reinforcing the public sector and the interfering role of the state in the frame of national state capitalism that has a social character and tasks.
3. Defending firmly for the toiling popular mass and escalation the class struggle.

Dear comrades and friends:

The Syrian communist youth union – Khaled Bagdash youth struggles through the direct mass activity, demand petitions, trade unions, students union and through all fields of work and study to maintain the Syrian national steadfastness against the plans and conspiracies of imperialism, Zionism and reactionary Forces. And also against the neoliberal economic policies, to support the national production and to maintain the social rights of Syrian people and youth especially free education, free health care, and to find work opportunities, adequate housing of youth, to widen the democratic freedoms, and to achieve the students and workers youth demands.

Dear comrades:

Nowadays, when we are confronting the terrorist groups, massacres and sabotage actions that are organized by the mercenaries and supported by imperialism, we confirm our firm position:

No revolution with world imperialism. No revolution with NATO. No revolution with the reactionary regimes of mercenary and national treachery of rulers of gulf who steal the wealth of the people of Arab peninsula. No revolution with reactionary and treachery forces. Because a revolution that its first slogan is not the liberation of the land and face the imperialism and Zionism is not a revolution. A revolution who does not raise the banner of national independence and prevent external intervention is not a revolution.

We shall struggle against the terrorist groups and imperialist death machines, for independence and sovereignty, for the freedom of homeland and good life of people.

Our battle is long and hard, but we progress in the path of honorable struggle and we’ll win..
Homeland or Death!

Syrian Communist Youth Union
– Khaled Bagdash Youth-

 

Washington balking at democratic transition in Syria

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By Stephen Gowans

December 27, 2012

UN and Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi (left) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Last June world powers called for a transitional government to succeed the current government in Syria. The United Nations and Arab League appointed Lakhdar Brahimi to negotiate a settlement with the Syrian government and opposition forces.

So far, Brahimi has made little headway. That’s to be expected. The deck is stacked against him.

With Washington, London, Paris and various Sunni Arab monarchies providing political and military support, the opposition has little motivation to negotiate. They must see their eventual victory as all but guaranteed.

At the same time, Washington must see recent rebel military gains as a sign that an opposition military victory is a very real possibility. It, too, then, has little motivation to see a settlement arrived at which stops short of its regime change objective.

Brahimi met this week with Syrian president Bashar Assad and various opposition groups and will meet with Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Saturday. Russia has also held talks with Syria.

One proposal under discussion, which has the backing of Assad’s allies in Moscow, would see the Syrian president’s authority gradually transferred to a transitional government, while Assad stays on as a figurehead president until his term expires in 2014. At that point, elections would be held.

If accepted, the proposal would end a civil war that has displaced hundreds of thousands and killed tens of thousands. It would also allow Syrians to decide their future peacefully in free elections, rather than at the point of a gun.

Given that Assad’s ally, Russia, floated the proposal, that Assad’s position is weakening, and that the proposal allows him to stay in the game, it’s likely that Assad is onboard.

Not so the other side.

Predictably, Radwan Ziadeh of the Syrian National Council dismissed the proposal, while Washington, equally predictably, insists that Assad step down as a precondition for talks.

But that’s not all. Washington is also demanding Assad’s disqualification from running in future elections. Neither condition helps end the conflict, nor serves the interests of Syrians as a whole.

Allowing Assad to stay on as a figurehead president is a concession of little significance, since power would eventually reside with a transitional government.

And why shouldn’t Assad be permitted to stand for re-election? If Syrians truly despise him, and wish to see him gone—as Washington and its allies would have us believe—he’ll get the boot at the polls.

Moreover, if the opposition is truly a popular movement for democracy, it can hardly object to Assad standing for election.

On the other hand, if Assad isn’t as unpopular as Washington and the rebels insist, he might emerge from a free election as victor, dashing the regime change agenda of the Sunni jihadists and US imperialists who object to his secular Arab nationalism.

Is the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, which Washington and many of its allies have unilaterally dubbed the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, afraid that a free election might show that it is not the legitimate representative Washington says it is?

The truth of the matter is that the National Coalition, which is the brainchild of the US State Department, is representative of US military and economic interests in Syria.

Funny how Washington presents the conflict in Syria as a democratic struggle, but wants to limit who can run in elections. Sad too that it would let this anti-democratic condition stand in the way of arriving at a settlement to end a bloody civil war.

Source

For whom the Syrian bell tolls

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The following article below was originally published by Asia Times Online

By Pepe Escobar
December 22, 2012

The top geopolitical tragedy in 2012 is bound to remain the top geopolitical tragedy in 2013: the rape of Syria.

Just as once in a while I go back to my favorite Hemingway passages, lately I’ve been going back to some footage I shot years ago of the Aleppo souk – the most extraordinary of all Middle Eastern souks. It’s like being shot in the back; I was as fond of the souk’s architecture as of its people and traders. Weeks ago, most of the souk – the living pulse of Aleppo for centuries – was set on fire and destroyed by the “rebels” of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).

In this Syrian tragedy, there is no Hemingway young hero, no Robert Jordan in the International Brigades fighting alongside Republican guerrillas against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. In the Syrian civil war, the international brigades are mostly of the mercenary, Salafi-jihadi, beheading and car-bombing type. And the (few) young Americans in place are basically high-tech pawns in a game played by the rapacious NATOGCC club (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its Arab puppets of the Gulf Cooperation Council).

The tragedy continues. The Syrian state, political and military security apparatus will maintain its mini-blitzkriegs – with no second thoughts for “collateral damage”. On the opposing side, “rebel” commanders will be betting on a new Saudi-Qatari-encouraged Supreme Military Council.

The Salafis and Salafi-jihadis of the al-Nusrah Front – 7th century fanatics, beheading enthusiasts and car-bombing operatives who do the bulk of the fighting – were not invited. After all, the al-Nusrah Front has been branded a “terrorist organization” by Washington.

Now check the reaction of a Muslim Brotherhood (MB) bigwig, Hama-born deputy comptroller general Mohammed Farouk Tayfour; he said the decision was “too hasty”. And check the reaction of the new Syrian opposition leader, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, at a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Morocco; the decision must be “reexamined”. Virtually all “rebel” outfits publicly declared their undying love for the hardcore al-Nusrah.

So with the al-Nusrah fanatics probably disguising their Islamically correct beards under a prosaic hoodie, expect plenty more “rebel” advances on Damascus – despite two major beatings (last July and then this month), courtesy of Syrian government counter-offensives. After all, that lavish training by US, British and Jordanian Special Forces has got to yield some results, not to mention the loads of extra lethal weapons provided by those paragons of democracy in the Persian Gulf. By the way, the al-Nusrah Front controls sections of devastated Aleppo.

Sectarian hatred rules 

Then there’s the Orwellian, brand new National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces – a Washington-Doha co-production. Meet the new boss, same as the old (lousy) boss, which was the Syrian National Council (SNC). It’s just rhetoric; the only thing that matters for the “National Coalition” is to get more lethal weapons. And they love al-Nusrah, even if Washington doesn’t.

Qatar unloaded tons of weapons “like candy” (according to a US arms dealer) in “liberated” Libya. Only after the Benghazi blowback did the Pentagon and the State Department wake up to the fact that weaponizing the Syrian rebels may be, well, the road to more blowback. Translation: Qatar will keep unloading tons of weapons in Syria. The US will keep “leading from behind”.

Expect more horrible sectarian massacres as the one in Aqrab. Here is the most authoritative version of what may have really happened. This proves once again that what the NATOGCC “rebels” are actually winning is the YouTube war. So expect more massive, relentless waves of spin and propaganda – with Western corporate media cheerleading of the Syrian “freedom fighters” putting to shame the 1980s jihad in Afghanistan.

Expect more major distortions of context, as when Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, “The fighting will become even more intense, and [Syria] will lose tens of thousands and, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of civilians… If such a price for the removal of the president seems acceptable to you, what can we do? We, of course, consider it absolutely unacceptable.”

Ergo, Russia is trying to do everything to prevent this from happening. And if NATOGCC “rebels” carry out their threats to attack the Russian and Ukrainian embassies in Damascus, they had better trim their beards and run for cover from the no-nonsense Spetnatz – Russian Special Forces.

Expect more sectarian hatred, as in Sunni Sheikh and al-Jazeera star Yusuf al-Qaradawi casually issuing a fatwa legitimizing the killing of millions of Syrians, be they military or civilian, as long as they are Alawites or Shi’ites.

Sectarian hatred will rule, with Qatar in the lead, followed by Saudis with large pocketbooks and assorted hardcore Islamists. Agenda; war against Shi’ites, against Alawites, against secularists, even against moderates, not only in Syria but all across the Middle East.

A Patriot vs Iskander face-off

The new Syrian Army strategy boils down to a major pull back from countryside backwaters and bases, concentrating their troops in cities and towns.

Expect the overall strategy of the NATOGCC club to remain more or less the same; bog down the Syrian Army in as many areas as possible; demoralize them; and keep oiling the terrain for a possible North Atlantic Treaty Organization intervention (the chemical weapons hype and the relentless carping over a “humanitarian catastrophe” are part of the extensive psy ops package).

The Syrian Army may have the heavy weapons; but when confronting a tsunami of mercenaries and Salafi-jihadists fully trained and weaponized by the NATOGCC club, the whole thing may take years, Lebanon civil war-style. That leads us to the next “best” option – which is in fact a spin-off; the death of the Syrian state by a thousand, make it a million, cuts.

What’s certain is that the “coalition of the willing” against Syria will have no trouble unraveling once the endgame is reached. Washington bets on a post-Assad regime run by the MB. No wonder King Playstation in Jordan is freaking out; he knows the MB will also take over Jordan and expel him to permanently shop at Harrods.

Those paragons of democracy – the medieval petro-monarchies in the Persian Gulf – are also freaking out; they fear the popular appeal of the MB like the plague. Syrian Kurdistan – now definitely on its way to total autonomy and eventually freedom – already keeps Ankara freaking out. Not to mention the future prospect of a tsunami of unemployed Salafi-jihadis merrily ensconced in the Syria-Turkish border and ready to run amok.

And then there’s the complex Turkey-Iran relationship. Tehran has already warned Ankara in no uncertain terms about the just-to-be-deployed NATO missile defense system.

That’s got to be the newspeak masterpiece of late 2012. Pentagon spokesman George Little has been adamant that “the United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself… [against Syria].”

Thus the deployment of 400 US troops to Turkey to run two Patriot missile batteries, to “defend” Turkey from “potential threats emanating from Syria”.

Translation; this has nothing to do with Turkey, it’s all about the Russian military in Syria. Moscow has given Damascus not only very effective, hypersonic Iskander surface-to-surface missiles (virtually immune to missile defense systems) but the ground-to-air, multiple target defense system Pechora 2M, a nightmare to the Pentagon if ever a no-fly zone is imposed over Syria.

Welcome to the Patriot vs Iskander face-off. And right in the line of fire, we find Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan – an outsized egomaniac harboring a deep inferiority complex in relation to the Europeans – left in the cold under NATO’s master plan.

Turkey’s Achilles heel (apart from the Kurds) is its self-promoted role of being a crossroads of energy between East and West. The problem is Turkey depends on energy supplies from both Iran and Russia; unwisely, it is antagonizing both, at the same time, with its muddled Syrian policy.

All I hear is doom and gloom

How to solve this tragedy? No one seems to be listening to Syrian Vice President Farouk Al-Sharaa. In this interview with Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar, he stresses “the threat of the current campaign to destroy Syria, its history, civilization, and people… With every passing day, the solution gets further away, militarily and politically. We must be in the position of defending Syria’s existence.”

He does not have “a clear answer to what the solution may be”. But he has a road map:

Any settlement, whether starting with talks or agreements between Arab, regional, or foreign capitals, cannot exist without a solid Syrian foundation. The solution has to be Syrian, but through a historic settlement, which would include the main regional countries, and the members of UN Security Council. This settlement must include stopping all shapes of violence, and the creation of a national unity government with wide powers. This should be accompanied by the resolution of sensitive dossiers related to the lives of people and their legitimate demands.

This is not what the NATOGCC compound wants – even as the US, Britain, France, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are all engaged in their own divergent agendas. What the NATOGCC war has already accomplished is one objective – very similar, by the way, to Iraq in 2003; it has completely torn the fragile Syrian social fabric to shreds.

That is disaster capitalism in action, phase I; the terrain is already prepared for a profitable “reconstruction” of Syria once a pliable, pro-Western turbo-capitalism government is installed.

Yet in parallel, blowback also works its mysterious ways; millions of Syrians who initially supported the idea of a pro-democracy movement – from the business classes in Damascus to traders in Aleppo – now have swelled the government support base as a counterpunch against the gruesome ethnic-religious cleansing promoted by the “rebels” of the al-Nusrah kind.

Yet with NATOGCC on one side and Iran-Russia on the other side, ordinary Syrians caught in the crossfire have nowhere to go. NATOGCC will stop at nothing to carve – in blood – any dubious entity ranging from a pro-US emirate to a pro-US “democracy” run by the MB. It’s not hard to see for whom the bell tolls in Syria; it tolls not for thee, as in John Donne, but for doom, gloom, death and destruction.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

China-Bashing, Syria & The “Degenerate Left”

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The following article below was originally published by the Return to the Source news blog:

By Vince Sherman
December 12, 2012

The Syrian Armed Forces defending national sovereignty from foreign-backed terrorists.

The US State Department’s formal recognition of the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) is no small occurrence in the imperialist world’s campaign to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. To pretend, as many on the US left do, that the US and France have not actively struggled against Assad by materially supporting the rebels is no longer possible, even from a standpoint of technicalities. Arms and ammunition continue to flow to the rebels in Syria, and whether this lethal aid is delivered by the Central Intelligence Agency or puppet regimes in the Persian Gulf makes no difference to the fundamental imperialist mission afoot in Syria.

The US may not launch a military strike in Syria – no small thanks would go to China and Russia for providing material solidarity in the form of military deterrence - but the cruise-missile leftists at The North Star cannot continue to claim that “that, from the standpoint of the U.S.-Israeli alliance, there are no good options or outcomes as a result of the Syrian revolution.” (1)

In response to the chemical weapons allegations that emerged last week from Washington, Pham Binh – the author of “Lybia and Syria: When Anti-Imperialism Goes Wrong” – penned another screed denouncing the anti-imperialist left in favor of the rebellion. Binh claims that the threat of military intervention against Syria is empty, but he goes further in his denunciation of anti-imperialism by asserting that the US and Western Europe have a vested interest in seeing Assad remain in power.

Identifying, examining and combating the basic premises of what Takis Fotopoulos calls the “degenerate left” is important in light of the left’s disunity on the question of Syria. Most leftists do not take positions as horrifying as The North Star has, but the rejection of Marxism-Leninism as a means of understanding imperialism has put many on the US left in the camp of the imperialists themselves.

One of the principle reasons for the abandonment of anti-imperialism is the US left’s willingness to engage in China-bashing and not acknowledge China’s important role in world politics. As the second largest economic power in the world, China’s rise has effectively changed the way US imperialism operates and today functions as a counter-weight for aggression in Syria. Though their role is rife with contradictions, identifying China as an enemy, rather than a very important friend, of the global anti-imperialist movement is a dangerous starting point that leads to equally dangerous – and degenerate – conclusions.

China-Bashing & the “Degenerate Left”

There is an incredibly small section of the left in the United States and Western Europe that upholds China as a socialist country (Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the Party for Socialism & Liberation are the three Marxist groups of note). There is a slightly larger section of the left that has a positive to ambivalent view of China and Chinese influence, including but not limited to the revisionist Communist Party USA and the left-refoundationist Committee for Correspondence on Democracy and Socialism.

However, the majority of the left in the US holds a partially to wholly negative view of China. Groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the International Marxist Tendency share the same view of China with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the Economist; the view that it is a state capitalist country.

The ISO takes this position even further in labeling China an imperialist power on par with the United States. Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could find common ground with this stance, given her comment at a summit in Tanzania last year that China pursues a policy of “new colonialism” in Africa. Clinton made these comments without a hint of irony, just as there is no irony to be found in “China’s Record of Imperialism,” an article that appeared in Socialist Worker in 2009.

This is unsurprisingly a view shared by The North Star, which calls China “an essential support – perhaps the essential support – for capitalist domination internationally.” (2) This is important starting point for understanding the theoretical basis for the “degenerate left,” of which The North Star is a part.

Tellingly, Binh’s latest piece is devoid of any mention of the military or political deterrence provided by China and Russia in Syria. In the original piece defending NATO intervention in Libya and Syria, Binh makes mention of China and Russia’s opposition to a Libya-style intervention, saying:

Paradoxically, NATO’s successful campaign in Libya made a future U.S./NATO campaign in Syria less likely. Russia and China are now determined to block any attempt to apply the Libyan model to Syria at the United Nations Security Council and the Obama administration is not willing to defy either of them by taking Bush-style unilateral military action for the time being.

Five months later, the role of China and Russia are worth nary a mention, even as Binh ridicules the anti-imperialist left for responding to new signs of aggression. Instead, the explanation for Washington’s reluctance to directly intervene on behalf of the rebels is reduced to three major points: (1) Washington does not have the troops necessary to invade and occupy Syria, (2) the US Senate is restricting Obama’s ability to launch a no-fly zone, and (3) the US fundamentally does not want to see Assad toppled because the rebellion is pro-Palestinian and Palestinians support the rebellion.

China and Russia’s Role as Counter-Weights to Imperialism

China and Russia veto the UN’s no-fly zone resolution.

Let’s begin with the second argument about the lack of domestic political support in the US Senate for a no-fly zone. Binh’s argument is laughable given the US, France, and the other imperialist powers already pushed for a no-fly zone through the UN – just as they did a year ago to launch the Libya assault – in June. Had they faced the same abstentions from China and Russia as they did with the Libyan no-fly zone, there is no reason to believe that military intervention would not have occurred already.

However, China and Russia did, in fact, veto the UN Security Council no-fly zone, greatly reducing any perceived international consensus around foreign military operations in Syria. In August, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “warned the West not to take unilateral action on Syria, saying that Russia and China agree that violations of international law and the United Nations charter are impermissible.” (3) Both China and Russia continue to trade with Syria and break the West’s sanctions on Assad’s government, with Russia going further to actually aid the Syrian government in the conflict. Both China and Russia continue to call for a political solution to the Syrian crisis and explicitly disavow the Free Syrian Army strategy of seizing power through continued warfare. And both China and Russia have opposed US escalation, including the recent placement of Patriot missiles on the Turkish-Syrian border.

Would China and Russia respond militarily if the West unilaterally intervened in Syria? It’s hard to say, although Russia is far more poised to launch a counter-attack to defend Assad’s government. The most salient point is that China and Russia have exerted their influence as a counter-balance to Western imperialism in Syria. The Western imperialist powers may still militarily intervene in Syria, but rest assured that one of the largest obstacles that has kept them at bay to this date is China and Russia.

What should we make of China and Russia’s abstention during the Libyan no-fly zone debate at the UN in 2011, which facilitated NATO’s barbaric assault on the Libyan people and the ouster of Muammar Qaddafi? I would propose that both China and Russia sum it up as a failure; a passive ‘buyer’s remorse’. Martin Beckford of the Telegraph reported this in the early weeks of NATO’s attack:

China, which frequently faces criticism over its own suppression of democracy movements, said it “regretted” the military action and respected Libya’s sovereignty.

A foreign ministry statement said: “China has noted the latest developments in Libya and expresses regret over the military attacks on Libya.

“We hope Libya can restore stability as soon as possible and avoid further civilian casualties due to an escalation of armed conflict,” it added. (4)

Russia’s reaction was similar. China has rarely used its veto power on the Security Council, and post-1991 Russia has followed that path as well, despite both quietly supporting independent nations like Syria. However, the scale and ferocity of the assault on Libya came to change the position of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who summed up their inaction as a failure which they “regret.”

Dumb & Dumber: China-Bashing and Misplaced Cynicism of the Degenerate Left

Binh and those at The North Star will be quick to point to China and Russia’s commercial interests in Syria, along with their close economic relationship with Iran. Yusef Khalil of the ISO described China and Russia’s veto of a no-fly zone over Syria as “[moving] in to protect their own imperialist interests in the region.” (5)

The question of Russia is an equally important topic but one we will have to reserve for another time.

Admittedly, China is Syria’s top trading partner and largest foreign stake-holder in Syrian oil. (6) After the crippling embargoes set by the West, China has continued purchasing Syrian oil and severely undermines the success of ‘sanction warfare’. (6)

However, this inevitable counter-argument is as faulty and ridiculous as the entire premise that China is an imperialist country. Adel al-Toraifi, the Editor-in-Chief of al-Majalla news, unravels the arguments of anyone claiming that China’s stance on Syria is based on economic considerations:

…China has had strong trade relations with Syria, and strong economic cooperation with the Bashar al-Assad regime since 2001, after both parties signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation; this means that China is Syria’s third most important trading partner. However the volume of trade between the two countries, which amounted to $2.2 billion in 2010, is nothing in comparison to the commercial exchange between China and the Gulf States, which exceeds more than $90 billion per year. Therefore China is not too concerned about the loss of Syria as an economic partner, however the issue is not one of profit or loss or business considerations, particularly as many Chinese interests are served by opposing the US and European movement to bring about regime change in the Middle East. (7)

Claiming that China, a country that by and large has not exercised its veto power on the Security Council, would suddenly go out on a whim and stand by a minor trading partner like Syria defies logic. Just a crude analysis of the basic numbers reveals that China had more than $20 billion in investments with Libya under Qaddafi’s government, almost ten times the amount of investments in Syria. (8)

Is oil a determinant factor for China’s different line on Syria versus Libya? Not even close. Syria is already a very minor oil producing country by Middle Eastern standards, but less than 1% of Syrian oil exports go to China (less than 4,000 barrels per day). (9) China imported more than 150,00 barrels of Libyan oil per day under Qaddafi, or about 37.5 times the amount imported from Syria. (10)

We could continue unraveling the argument of China’s economic self-interest through economic comparisons. For the sake of the reader, though, let’s cut to the chase: China has considerably less of a stake in defending Syria from Western aggression than it did with Libya, and yet the two questions elicited different responses.

The degenerate left and the right-wing in the US both share a common cynicism for Chinese actions in world affairs. However, the right-wing cynically uses China-bashing as a naked propaganda tactic designed to stir up nativism in the US. The degenerate left, on the other hand, actually seems to believe this farce and repeat the same lies to the detriment of the world anti-imperialist movement.

China-bashing puts the degenerate left just a hop, skip, and a jump from neo-conservatism

China’s foreign policy is a far cry from the critical support given by the Soviet Union to national liberation struggles around the world. In fact, it’s important for anti-imperialists to note and be critical of the foreign policy errors committed by Beijing during the Sino-Soviet Split, which far too many US groups in the New Communist Movement embraced uncritically.

However, the degenerate left lumps China in with the US as a competing imperialist interest in the world with a total neglect of the actual dynamics at play. Because most Western leftists have only witnessed global trade as an affair directed by trans-national corporations, they view China’s role in the world market as part of the same imperialist machine they protest in their own countries. An element of political opportunism plays into this analysis as well when looking at the patently anti-China flames fanned by many trade unions in the US.

The degenerate left’s cynical attitude towards China, even when it does something incredibly laudable like vetoing the no-fly zone resolution, comes primarily from its embrace of anti-China propaganda. The North Star, along with other blogs like Politics in the Zeroes, continue bashing China for the Tiananmen Square “massacre” that even the US admits did not happen. (11) Of course China is always falsely implicated as an imperialist power for their relationship with Tibet, despite the thoroughly feudal and imperialist interests fueling the Free Tibet movement. (12)

For all of its contradictions, China remains a socialist country. The commanding heights of the economy are still controlled by the state, which itself is controlled by the Communist Party and oriented towards working people and peasants. A capitalist sector has developed in China since Deng Xiaoping’s reforms that mirrored Lenin’s own New Economic Policy, but this sector is wholly dependent on the socialist state. And although China is no longer a vocal advocate for world revolution – many would call this revisionism – their line on the Syrian question demonstrates the CCP’s continued commitment to anti-imperialism and independent development.

By rejecting China and the entire socialist experience in the 20th century, the degenerate left already accepts the basic premises of the right-wing and bourgeois elite in the US. Of course it does not stop with just China. If one rejects China as a state capitalist, or even an imperialist state, then one must go further by rejecting bourgeois nationalist states like Assad’s government in Syria or Qaddafi’s government in Libya. Any attempt to support these governments from Western aggression by China, or even Russia, is seen as an inter-imperialist struggle, according to the degenerate left.

With that, the so-called Marxists in the motley crew can dust off Lenin, cite some out-of-context quotes denouncing the Second International, and call it a day. Some, like Binh, skip the Lenin and go straight for Malcolm X, ripping “by any means necessary” so grossly out of context that they use one of the most revolutionary national liberation leaders to justify the very imperialism he fought against. All are smug in their satisfaction that they are opposing tyranny – not even capitalism anymore, but the metaphysical concept of tyranny – on behalf of some imaginary workers movement ‘from below’.

That last point regarding the simplistic and thoroughly anti-dialectical worldview of the degenerate left is very important in understanding its relationship to neo-conservatism. Because Syria is a bourgeois state with a capitalist economy, the degenerate left views Assad’s government and its actions in a political vacuum. There is no dialectical understanding of primary and secondary contradictions, which would reveal that the struggle of oppressed nations against oppressor nations is the principle contradiction facing the Syrian people. Instead, Assad is viewed by the degenerate left the same way Saddam was by the Bush administration: a tyrant who denies his own people freedom and democracy. 

According to this worldview, Assad cannot possibly be progressive in any context because he leads a bourgeois state. Nevermind that he is a nationalist at odds with Western imperialism! Nevermind that the Syrian economy is still largely controlled by the state! Nevermind that he supports national liberation struggles in Palestine and Lebanon! He oppresses his people; a particularly condescending phrase towards whatever people happen to be talked about. And of course there is no discussion or differentiation on the sector of people facing repression by the Syrian state (collaborators, imperialist-sympathizers, terrorists).

China also factors into this tautological worldview. For the degenerate left, international solidarity by a state – any state – is categorically impossible because they consider either most or every state to be capitalist.

Consider the tautology at work here: When China vetoes a no-fly zone resolution, it’s tyrannysupporting tyranny. When China doesn’t veto a no-fly zone resolution in Libya, they are providing “essential support – perhaps the essential support – for capitalist domination internationally.” (2) When Russia positions ships to offset the US’s Patriot missiles in Turkey, it’s an imperialist power looking out for its strategic and commercial interests. If Russia doesn’t oppose Western intervention in Libya, they are silent partners in the imperialist project.

…Or perhaps we have to approach China, and Russia, dialectically by considering their place in relation to imperialism at a given moment in history!

Is it any surprise that several of the Trotskyites from the 20th century, who built their measly political ‘careers’ denouncing every instance of socialism as state capitalism, became neo-conservatives in the Reagan era?* We begin to understand Christopher Hitchens’ disgraceful pro-war line on Iraq when we realize his hatred for all existing socialist countries, which he viewed as capitalist and imperialist powers no better than the US.

Syria, China & the US Left

Military intervention in Syria seems more likely every day. Tragically, the response from the US left seems to grow smaller with every war or military action launched by the Obama administration.

With its significant economic ties to the US and world markets, China could take a more active role in economically pressuring the imperialist powers to not intervene. Ultimately if NATO is dissuaded from a Libya-style intervention over the issue of chemical weapons, Russia’s military presence in the Gulf will probably have more to do with it.

The most salient point is that the degenerate left continues to side with the imperialist powers, whether in word (The North Star) or in deed (the ISO). The US left must discard these bankrupt theories and embrace anti-imperialism if it hopes to build a militant resistance to these criminal attacks; an anti-imperialism that sends a unified message supporting Assad and Syrian self-determination in this period of crisis, as we wrote about this past weekend.

However, the China-bashing of the degenerate left will continue to haunt movements in the US, which find themselves unable to distinguish friend from foe. Russia-bashing, a related topic for another time, also feeds into a simplistic world view alien from the Leninist theory of imperialism. Most assuredly capitalist, Russia is still not an imperialist power and, most importantly, functions as a counterweight to imperialism along with China. Both China and Russia’s involvement in the Syrian crisis have different contradictions, but anti-imperialists would recognize that these two countries have made the subjugation of the Syrian people to Western finance capital more difficult.

Neither China nor Russia are the leaders of the world anti-imperialist movement. That distinction belongs to the masses fighting battling for self-determination and revolution in Colombia, India, Palestine, the Philippines, and all over the world. But the US left must recognize that China is a friend, not an enemy, of the anti-imperialist movement, and it will begin to see questions like Syria much more clearly.

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Return to the Source has defended China’s socialist orientation and its role in global trade before, and those interested in a more thorough examination should refer to China & Market Socialism: A Question of State and Revolution.

* By no means should this statement be taken as an indictment on all groups professing ideological heritage to Leon Trotsky. As flawed as we believe many of these groups’ lines and organizing strategies are, there are groups like the Socialist Equality Party have overwhelmingly upheld an anti-imperialist position on Syria.

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(1) Pham Binh, The North Star, ““Red Line” or Empty Threat? How the Left Gasses Itself on #Syria,” December 6, 2012, http://bit.ly/RFo9ec

(2) Gabriel Levy, The North Star, “The Trouble With Economic Growth,” October 2, 2012, http://bit.ly/U8zzb7

(3) Reuters, “Russia, China warn West against Syria intervention,” August 21, 2012, http://bit.ly/NhpwI2

(4) Martin Beckford, The Telegraph, “Libya attacks criticised by Arab League, China, Russia and India,” March 21, 2011, http://bit.ly/gS9sHO

(5) Yusef Khalil, Socialist Worker, “A Turning Point in Syria,” May 31, 2012, http://bit.ly/LIFJ7w

(6) Joel Wuthnow, The National Interest, “Why China would intervene in Syria,” July 16, 2012, http://bit.ly/Mzuyjb

(7)Adel al-Toraifi, al-Majalla, “Does China truly support Bashar al-Assad?” February 16, 2012, http://bit.ly/wZsVih

(8) Michael Kan, The African Business Journal, “China’s Investments in Libya,” http://bit.ly/TTv0js

(9) Energy Information Administration, “Country Analysis Briefs: Syria,” Updated August 2011, http://www.eia.gov/cabs/Syria/pdf.pdf

(10) Deborah Brautigam, China in Africa: The Real Story, “China’s Oil Imports From Libya,” March 23, 2011, http://bit.ly/eoRojH

(11) Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph, “Wikileaks: No Bloodshead Inside Tianamen Square, cables claim,” June 4, 2011, http://bit.ly/mxFf3m

(12) Michael Parenti, “Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth,” January 2007, http://www.michaelparenti.org/Tibet.html