Saturday, 9 April 2016

Syrian Alawites distance themselves from Assad

A billboard sponsored by the chamber of commerce and industry shows pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his late father former president Hafez al-Assad in the coastal city of Latakia (17 March 2016)

 'They wanted to make clear, they said, that members of all Islamic sects in Syria were "brothers and sisters" - and that the Alawites "should not be associated with the crimes the regime has committed".'
 Assad is toast. It is a question of when, not if, he goes. Dictatorships always maintain the façade that they are loved by their people until the end, because when that lie goes, nobody wants to be the last to die, or commit horrific crimes, for a butcher. And, 'Those behind the text say Alawites are not members of a branch of Shia Islam - as they have been described in the past by Shia clerics - and that they are committed to "the fight against sectarian strife".' This cuts across the Iranian attempt to recruit Alawites to their sectarian conflict across the Middle East.
 I'm reminded of Tony Cliff's prognosis¹ for Stalinist Russia, even if the comparison isn't exact.
 "The Tsarist soldiers rebelled only after they saw that the mass of the people was in revolt. The workers’ barricades gave the soldiers confidence in the people’s strength and inspired them to revolt against their officers. In Russia today there is no group of people which is not under closer surveillance than ever the Tsarist army was. Only when the anger and resentment embedded in the hearts of the masses cumulates till it is ready to burst, will the masses break out in revolt. (A proletarian revolution in the west can obviously accelerate this process to an incalculable extent). The class struggle in Stalinist Russia must inevitably express itself in gigantic spontaneous outbursts of millions. Till then it will seem on the surface that the volcano is extinct. Till then the omnipotent sway of the secret police will make it impossible for a revolutionary party to penetrate the masses or organise any systematic action whatsoever. The spontaneous revolution, in smashing the iron heel of the Stalinist bureaucracy, will open the field for the free activity of all the parties, tendencies and groups in the working class. It will be the first chapter in the victorious proletarian revolution."
 I found a piece² today, via EA Worldview, about the arrest and ransoming of prisoners by state security agencies in Syria. There is some speculation in the original about whether this can be part of a stable economy, which seems completely wrong to me, clearly when they have moved from arresting protestors to arresting anyone to sometimes arresting pro-régime young people it is a sign of an economic system that has been parasitic on, and eats away, at the society it is based on; and only massive foreign assistance to the régime can even keep it on life-support. Also from EA Worldview³, those pictures of the mass grave of ISIS victims in Palmyra? A fake, obvious because the pictures are from Iraq. And yet the BBC and others ran with them, simply on the word of the so-called Syrian government.
 Finally, Senay Ozden:
 'Yesterday at my Turkish class for Syrians, we were reviewing the vocabulary we learnt. I wrote down the word "devrim" which means revolution in Turkish. Many of the students got very enthusiastic when they heard the word "revolution" and they started clapping. Then one of the women said: "But most of the time we have to say we came here because there is a war in Syria. Otherwise, when we say revolution, people don't understand. They don't find it a legitimate reason." This is what being a refugee means: Your political agency is ripped off from you. You don't have the right to define your struggle or what is happening in your own country in your own words. How you define the violence that is inflicted upon you should be legitimate for the "host" population. You are just reduced to being the object of some deal between states.'

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