[Midden-Oosten] (Fwd) Demonstratie tegen interventie in SyriŽ; za 31 aug. 13:00 Den Haag, Vredespaleis

Jeff meisner op xs4all.nl
Za Aug 31 13:33:52 CEST 2013

At 12:21 30-08-13 +0200, you wrote:
>Een ad hoc coalitie van organisaties organiseert een demonstratie ....

>..... roept o.a. op om tot een 
>politieke oplossing te komen, bijvoorbeeld door de afgeblazen 
>onderhandelingen in Geneve alsnog te starten.

This is a very mistaken position! The great powers US and Russia are trying
to force the Syrian revolutionaries into an agreement with the criminal
Syrian government; that should rather be their own decision. Such a
suggestion would have been more relevant 2 1/2 years ago, when the Syrians
were themselves trying to ask the regime for greater democracy, but those
demonstrators were shot down in the streets, repeatedly, leading to them
accepting armed defense from defecting army soldiers (who were to become
the Free Syrian Army). The government has never agreed to any negotiations
with rebels who it simply dismisses as "foreign terrorists." There is
nothing the Syrians would like more than to have free elections where they
could peacefully vote Assad out of office, but they have never received
that opportunity.

And even regardless of those facts, it is unacceptable for Western leftists
to determine how the Syrian revolutionaries must conduct their own
revolution, or who they must negotiate with under what conditions. Have we
forgotten the Vietnam war? Most (but unfortunately not all) organizing
against the Vietnam war clearly called for the US to leave Vietnam, period.
But there were "Peace Talks" organized in Paris where the Vietnamese were
forced to negotiate with their enemy. Those talks actually began in 1968,
yet the war continued until 1975! Those negotiations did nothing to advance
the victory of the Vietnamese, but arguably prolonged it, allowing the US
to claim that it was working towards a "peace settlement" while it
increased the horror of the war; most of the 2 - 3 million killed in that
war were during the "Peace Talks." The main thing accomplished by the Paris
negotiations was for the US to remove most of its forces from Vietnam by
1973, prior to the final defeat of the remaining "South Vietnamese"
government in 1975 (School children today in the US are not taught that the
US lost the Vietnam war!). The few "anti-war" actions in the West which had
called for ending the war through "negotiations" arguably helped to force
the Vietnamese into this situation which did nothing to end the war but may
well have prolonged it.

Actions in the West must be based on solidarity with the Syrians, not
deciding for them what is in their best interests. The reason the
revolution has continued for so long is that the revolutionaries have
insufficient weapons, particularly ones capable of defending their
communities against Assad's war planes. Despite all of the talk, the West
has sent no military aid to the revolutionaries (and in fact the CIA
operating in Turkey has acted to prevent anti-aircraft missiles and other
advanced weapons from getting to the rebels). The revolutionaries have been
forced to rely on capturing arms from the Syrian army, and from some
military supplies (mainly small arms) provided by Qatar and Saudi Arabia in
particular. Those reactionary countries have directed their aid to the
Jihadist groups, which is why their role in the conflict has been amplified
despite the secular character of Syrian society. Ironically, that
unfortunate result has been cited as a further reason to deny external aid
to the revolutionaries.

Many Syrian revolutionaries concede that no good will come from an American
bombing campaign (which is specifically not designed to aid the revolution,
but only to show that the US will back up "ultimatums" that they have
issued). However many would be encouraged to know that at least the rest of
the world does care when over 1000 civilians are killed in what was almost
certainly a poison gas attack, itself tiny compared to the 100,000 killed
over the last 2 years and with 1000 more killed every week. Clearly the
Syrian people need to be defended, and foreign demonstrations simply
protesting a planned American bombing (whereas we have had almost NO
actions in NL protesting the continuing brutality of the Assad regime!)
will only embolden Assad. Rather we need to express SOLIDARITY with the
Syrian people (and also solidarity with the revolution itself), in ways
that can actually protect them. For instance, the Syrians need gas masks to
use when Assad again attacks with poison gas, which can be provided from
the outside even though the Syrian government will try to prevent their
delivery to liberated zones. The Syrians have been requesting such defense
for the last year, yet the US government has refused to supply a single
one; this has been documented in this recent article:


So one actual way of helping would be to lobby aid agencies or even
governments to send these life-saving devices to the besieged Syrians. And
even besides the weapons they so badly need, there is a great lack of
medical supplies. For instance, even though the "UN Inspectors" were
allowed into the areas of Damascus attacked by poison gas, medical supplies
are blocked! Many besieged communities in Syria are short on food, with
hunger being used as a weapon by the regime which has cut off supply
routes. Sending medicine, food, and other humanitarian aid WILL save lives,
even if it requires military escorts. That will also give the
revolutionaries more space to advance their revolution under less desperate

What is not helpful at all, is demanding an end to arms supplies and
expecting that to reduce the level of violence. The two large powers
supplying the Syrian regime will do as they please, and the reactionary
Arab states will continue to strengthen the Jihadists if they choose. When
chemical attacks took place in May, the US and UK promised to send arms to
the Free Syrian Army in response, however they have not sent a single
bullet to them. The revolutionaries have every right to obtain weapons from
any source they choose, and some of the rhetoric from the West (even by
some who call themselves "revolutionaries"!) only makes this more difficult
for them. This is not unlike the Spanish Civil War, where most of the
Western countries adopted a position of "neutrality" which prevented arms
supplies to "either side." Yet of course Franco continued to be well
supplied by Germany and Italy, eventually crushing the republicans and
revolutionaries. To their credit, the left at that time did NOT call for
"neutrality" but actively supported the fight against fascism in Spain,
sending many thousands of comrades to fight alongside them. Now in 2013, it
would be better for us in the West to listen to the voices of the Syrian
people, rather than deciding what is in their interests and how they must
act. Below are links to a few such voices to consider.

- Jeff






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