Not less than 13,000 people have been killed in the last one year of a people’s revolt in Syria, while tens of thousands of Syrians have had to flee to nearby countries such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. There have been several views about the situation in that country. The Western countries and the United Nations have blown a lot of hot air against the ruthless repression waged by the Syrian government but they have been guided by strategic interests of business and regional “security” from taking action, showing that their so-called policy of “humanitarian intervention” is nothing but a fig leaf which they use to cover their faces only when it suits them.
But this struggle which is part of the Arab Spring that brought down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya has serious significance. It is necessary for us as activist workers and youths to seriously consider the matter. So many people, countries and continents have expressed either anti- or pro-Syrian government positions particularly after the UN General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the ongoing violence in Syria, and aligning itself in favour of the Syria National Council (SNC).
With the unrest escalating within the country, there have been several external forces seeking to build their influencing through the conflict. Al-Qaeda for example seems to be supporting some faction within the opposition, while the western imperialists and their allies are supporting another faction. Members of al-Qaeda have been accused of smuggling weapons into Syria and the leadership of al-Qaeda has stated support for the opposition in the country.
President Bashar al-Assad however tries to parry off the mass anger in the country to no avail. Rather than step down as the protesters have demanded he insists that his plan is for a referendum that would be followed by parliamentary elections. He has tried to play around Kofi Anan, much the same way he did with the earlier observers from Arab League countries. While seeming to be ready for compromise, he keeps on massacring the country’s citizens even before the yes of foreign mediators.
The militancy, doggedness and courageous struggle of the Syrian people, however, continues everyday against the criminal authoritarian regime of al-Assad and across the country, protests and other forms of resistance continue, organised by various groups of soldiers, working people and youths. Many of these can not seek medical assistance when injured as that could equal to a death sentence.
Over 70 foreign ministers of governments in support of the opposition forces organised around the Syria National Council (SNC), met on April 1 at Istanbul. But the SNC is not a real alternative. It comprises persons without any significant difference from the Assad’s dictatorial regime in terms of programmes or hope for the working people of Syria.
It equally does not have an effective strategy to strengthen the people’s movement inside the country. The SNC depends on the western imperialists and their allies much more than on the Syrian working people who are facing hails of bullets. Now the leaders of the SNC have already accepted the Annan plan imposed by the so-called “international community”, without any deliberation over the matter by the Syrian people in Syria who are the ones facing death and torture under Assad’s repression.
Revolutionary pressures arose from the midst of working people against the Assad dictatorship, inspired by the Arab Spring. Unemployment and poverty in Syria had risen to very high levels and the people were discontent. This partly explains why soldiers initially sent to kill the protesters refused. But they were executed for failing to carry out military orders. Summary execution, torture and mass imprisonment have been tactics used by the Assad regime to try crush the revolutionary movement in the country.
The Syrian people have however remained undeterred. Thousands of soldiers have defected from the regime and have established a Free Syrian army FSA which is used to combat the government’s army and infrastructure and protect the demonstrators. The ranks of the FSA have been filled by thousands more of volunteers who are workers, students, professionals, etc. But it is not an organisation based on the working class or with a perspective for social change.
Working class activists have to take a stand on the anti-people Assad’s dictatorial regime, the opportunist SNC, and the self-serving imperialist. We need to support the working people of Syria in their struggle for overthrowing the brutal Assad regime and give a concrete way forward. For the revolution to be successful in Syria it must win over several layers of Syrian society, otherwise the revolution could be prolonged. But the decisive force remains the working class within Syria, which has organised massive general strikes. Workers across the world must stand by it in the fullest of international working class solidarity traditions.
Many pseudo-left organisation have adopted the propaganda of Assad where the people’s movement are presented as conspiring with the imperialists or being Islamic fundamentalists. Some even describe the FSA as a band of thugs. While noting the limitations of elements within the fighting opposition, it must be bluntly said that those who take such positions are concretely taking the side of counter-revolution. As revolutionary socialists we have to organise and stand against both Assad and the imperialist-inspired Syrian opposition represented by the SNC. We must also support the revolutionary movement in Syria against the existing social and political order of things and for their self-emancipation.