Saturday, 4 August 2012

Syria's Crumbling Pluralism

"Instead, rebel fighters on Saudi payroll launch coordinated attacks on high-value targets, the Syrian Army retaliates with disproportionate force, and videos of the ensuing devastation are posted on the Internet."
was the point where I thought this Op-ed descended into an offensive fantasy world. Up to that point there seemed to be several genuine opinions from those that have sided with the régime, but I don't think the opinion laced together from them bears scrutiny.

The Syrian crucible

"The increasing class polarisation in Syrian society also meant that the relationship between the state and the people became increasingly based on harassment and corruption."
I met an Iraqi at the World's End* once. After asking me why I was against the coming Iraq War - "because it will strengthen American imperialism in the region" was my instinctive answer - he told my friend Andy and me that he'd had to leave, not just because of politics, and asked if I could guess why. I hazarded that in a totalitarian police state, they nick everything, which turned out to be the right answer.
I generally expect that Syria will become a lot more pro-American if the revolution succeeds. When Communism was overthrown in Eastern Europe, the same occurred, and the disillusionment with the US is still nothing on the scale it is in Western Europe. Tony Cliff used to tell a story about how his friend in Palestine received a pair of sandals from the Soviet Union, and he kissed them and said something like "God bless the Soviet Union!" The worse your circumstances, the more you are likely to see your enemy's enemy as your friend.
* A pub in Camden

Noggin The Nog

Once Noggin receives an aerial attack force from the Turks and Saudis, I think we have to consider seriously if Nogbad the Bad is all that wicked, or the victim of the Western spin machine.
Syria: Assad regime launches new offensive against rebels as the UN talks

Muslim Brotherhood establishes militia inside Syria

"Our mission is to build a civil country but with an Islamic base," he said. "We are trying to raise awareness for Islam and for jihad."
A lot of people would simply ignore the word 'civil' here. The Telegraph does seem to have done some actual journalism, but this is a bit of a mish-mash, which makes it doubly difficult to assess the statements elicited from rebels, and the conclusions in the headlines may thus be a bit premature.
A mosque damaged by what activists say is shelling by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is seen at Faylon near Idlib on 3 August 2012

Syrian crisis: Fresh fighting hits Damascus and Aleppo

"The focus of the fighting is also on the southern edge of Damascus where shelling and gunfire were reported from the Tadamon quarter, despite it having been earlier stormed by government forces,"
What they have, they can't hold.
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Duncan Hallas
Against the Stream

The August 4th of the Communist International

"In January 1933 Hitler came to power and destroyed, in a matter of weeks, the strongest labour movement in the world. He did so without resistance. The collapse of the world’s biggest social-democratic party was to be expected. It was a continuation of the collapse of the international social democracy on 4 August 1914. The collapse of the German Communist Party, the largest party in the Communist International outside the USSR,was a different matter altogether."
Robin Yassin-Kassab speculates:"So many people who I considered allies, or admired, or even (in nasrallah's case) idolised have proved themselves to be ignorant and arrogant blanket thinkers, or pretend revolutionaries, or Islamophobes, or (unconscious) anti-arab racists, or just ideologically blinkered f***g idiots. It's a great shame. I expect clear-eyed socialists felt the same in 56 and 68, when so many of their 'comrades' convinced themselves that Soviet imperialism in Europe was in the interests of the proletariat, the future, etc..."
For most of the Trotskyist tradition those were secondary events, the point at which the Communist International had made such a debit in its credibility that it was utterly bankrupt had come much earlier. With the current generation we have what Marx and a half might say, "Hegel remarks somewhere that historical events occur thrice. He forgot to add, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce, third as community theatre, with a cast of unknowns and a tiny audience, worth only a couple of sad laughs." The two most significant parties of the far left in Britain, the SWP and Socialist Party (what used to be the Militant) have done fairly well on Syria, the latter may have been a bit mechanistic in their ideas of how the revolution should develop, but their hearts have been in the right place. And so those with something of an Aug 4th situation are most noticeably those from the last few splitlets from the SWP, which might have something to do with their orientation since the first US war in the Gulf in 1991, but that's a much less important question than getting the big questions right.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Syria’s DIY Revolt

Syria’s DIY Revolt

'"We are using bullets that cost $3," lamented a Syrian rebel commander, "and they are coming with bombs that cost thousands."
That may be so, but Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters have used those $3 bullets to bring President Bashar al-Assad's regime to the brink of collapse.'
After the suicide bomber wiped out much of the high command, I thought that it might be even money that Assad was dead or fled by the end of this weekend; which might be optimistic, but the Guardian reminds us that "an expected government ground offensive [in Aleppo] did not materialise", and if Aleppo is won, the end may not be long in coming.

Syrian refugees and local residents take part in a demonstration against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad, after Friday prayers outside the Syrian embassy in Amman March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

No happy outcome in Syria as conflict turns into proxy war

"No happy outcome in Syria as conflict turns into proxy war", is an as yet unsupported assertion, "Video apparently showing rebels gunning down Assad militiamen in cold blood suggests the insurgents are capable of brutality to match their enemies,"er, no, they are shooting prisoners that they may not have the facilities to hold until hostilities end, not atypical for rebels taking on a state, and to compare it with the torture and murder of children by the régime is inadvisable.
"Few observers of Syria see any sign of an opposition ready to run the country", the ones who would be happier for Assad to continue than to risk the people taking power.

William Hague: UK to step up help for Syrian rebels

Unrest in Syria

'British foreign secretary says Britain has been helping elements of the Syrian rebels in a "practical and non-lethal way", adding: "And we will help them more." '

That's the whole thing subverted then. Not.
[Al-Hamidiyah Souq in Damascus. Image from Wikipedia.]

Sowing the Seeds of Dissent: Economic Grievances

and the Syrian Social Contract’s Unraveling

"Moreover, infitah under Hafez evolved into subsequent agricultural privatization endeavors that Bashar has pursued, representing corporatist schemes through which the most powerful and wealthy have skimmed off profits from private investments and projects."

Iranian tankers return to buy Syrian crude

Some might say they're equally bad or equally good, I still see it as the vilification of Iran which encourages them to do something so insane as to prop up the Assad régime in its dying days.

Welcome to Free Syria

 Meeting the rebel government of an embattled country
 By Anand Gopal

 'Abu Malek was pacing back and forth in the hospital parking lot, muttering to himself and fring off phonecalls. “Don’t say ‘How are you’ to me,” he told one caller, “because I am not fine, I am very, very, very,very bad.” '

In Syria, mortars kill 15 in Damascus refugee camp

 "There were no reports on who had fired the mortars. The attack came amid government operations in the southern outskirts of the city as regime forces hunt down rebel sympathizers...Palestinians refugees in Syria have tried to stay out of the 17-month old uprising, but their camp is nestled in an area known for its support for the rebels."

 I think we can make an educated guess.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Image result for blood and treasure blog

how to storm a police station

"A tutorial [], courtesy of the Free Syrian Army. It's eight minutes long: the longuer after the explosives have been planted will be familiar to anyone who's taken their kids to a firework display."

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Back from Syria, Journalist Anand Gopal Warns Protesters "Face Slaughter" by Assad Regime

Image result for Back from Syria, Journalist Anand Gopal Warns Protesters "Face Slaughter" by Assad Regime

 "In every town and village, essentially the entire population was mobilized in support of the revolution," Gopal says. "You had from little children to old people. Really, I’ve never seen anything like that before. And it showed to me the extent to which the revolution has a mass, democratic popular base, and Assad doesn’t."

 Louis N. Proyect draws our attention […/…/welcome-to-free-syria/], to "an article in the latest Harper’s by Anand Gopal titled “Welcome to Free Syria” that sheds some light on the living humanity that has risen up against the Baathist dictatorship. Gopal, for what it is worth, has spoken at International Socialist Organization functions numerous times and for all I know may be a member. If so, they have covered themselves in glory by having one of their comrades making such a powerful contribution." But you would have to shell out real dollars to see it in full.


Steve Biko

 "How to live in a non-racial society must be brought to the people by the vanguard political movement."

 Wise words from Steve Biko, derided as a black supremacist by those not really in full solidarity with the South African people, and a useful lesson to those hoping to end sectarian rule.

Monday, 30 July 2012

The Arab Revolt and the conspiracist left

I've just been watching a BBC report on whether there was a conspiracy in Belarus [Were executed Minsk metro bombers framed?], while I think this is another politically astute and well-researched piece, sometimes conspiracies happen, and sometimes revulsion against one's own government can encourage a little too much gullibility about its official enemies.