[Midden-Oosten] ALL the International Powers Want to Crush the Syrian Uprising | Joseph Daher

Jeff meisner op xs4all.nl
Di Feb 16 00:18:18 CET 2016


ALL the International Powers Want to Crush the Syrian Uprising | Joseph Daher

        About The Author

        Dr. Joseph Daher is an assistant teacher in the
        university of Lausanne, Switzerland and has a
        PhD in Development of the university of (School
        of Oriental and African Studies), SOAS, London,
        UK. He is the founder of the blog Syria Freedom
        Forever. He is a Swiss/Syrian leftist activist.

We are currently witnessing at different levels, politically and military, 
another attempt to put an end to the uprising in Syria. Military advances of 
the regime forces assisted by ground forces of Hezbollah and Shi’a sectarian 
militias directed by Iran and Russian airstrikes are occurring with the 
collaboration of Western imperialist powers, despite some rhetorical 
condemnations while Syrian opposition is pushed into diplomatic negotiations 
by these same international forces to basically kneel to the conditions of 
the Assad regime.

* Russian airstrikes are now leading to ground gains by Assad forces

* The Geneva talks were a failure and the U.S. blames the victims

* Our duty is to support the goals and forces of the democratic uprising

Military offensives throughout Syria of the regime forces backed by Russian 

For the past two weeks, Assad regime forces, Hezbollah and Shi’a sectarian 
militias directed by Iran, all backed by massive Russian bombing raids and 
using cluster munitions and vacuum missiles, have made unprecedented gains 
in the northern Aleppo countryside and encircled the liberated areas of 
Aleppo, which has been divided between regime and opposition control since 
autumn 2012. The advances of regime forces assisted by its allies broke the 
siege imposed by Jaysh al Fath, a coalition of armed forces dominated by 
Jabhat al Nusra and Ahrar Sham, on the Shi’a towns of Nubl and Zahraa. The 
result of these maneuvers is that the regime has cut off supply lines to the 
free areas of Aleppo city, which populated of around 350,000 civilians and 
isolated different armed groups opposed to the Assad regime in the northern 
countryside, while tens of thousands, of civilians, estimates goes as far as 
more than 50,000, are fleeing the forces of the regime and its allies were 
seeking refuge at the Bab al-Salama border crossing or also in the city of 
Afrin, which is under the control of the Kurdish force, the Democratic Union 
Party (PYD). At the same time massive destructions of civilian 
infrastructures occurred with Russian airstrikes, such as the bombing of the 
last major hospital, the Andan charitable hospital established in 2013, in a 
liberated areas of northern Aleppo.

Turkey has kept the Bab al-Salama crossing closed until today, while Turkish 
humanitarian groups sent in truckloads of aid for the tens of thousands of 
Syrians stranded on the border, but in insufficient quantity according to 
various Syrian activists at the border.

Following the military offensive of the regime and its allies, armed 
opposition groups operating in the northern countryside of Aleppo proclaimed 
the formation of the “unified military council” . In the liberated areas of 
Aleppo, the local council has formed a crisis center to provide and preserve 
the essential needs of food and fuel at affordable prices. The council has 
spent most of its funds to secure fuel to support bakery furnaces, 
hospitals, civil defense groups and water pumps, but expressed doubts the 
available amount would be enough. Massive popular protests also occurred 
throughout districts under opposition control in the city of Aleppo 
demanding that the province’s armed factions to unite under the “Army of 
Aleppo” and for a free Syria.

At the same time in the past few days, tens of thousands of Daraa 
inhabitants are fleeing a combination of regime ground advances and aerial 
bombardments by Russian and regime forces, with one estimate of up to 80,000 
people displaced. Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) also 
reported on February 9 that one of their hospitals in the Daraa province, 
has been hit by a Russian airstrike. The elected opposition Daraa Provincial 
Council wrote in a statement published on February 7 about the “difficulty 
to find shelter for them” and adding that “the lack of food and medicine and 
closure of the Jordanian border has exacerbated the suffering.” This 
followed the seizure of the town of Ataman, 3 km north of Daraa city, last 
week securing a section of the old Daraa-Damascus highway and extending 
defensive lines for regime forces in the provincial capital. Before this, 
the strategic city of Sheikh Miskeen, around 75km south of Damascus and sits 
on a crossroads connecting Suwaida, Quneitra and Damascus provinces, was 
captured by regime forces. In both cases, Russian airstrikes were key in the 
advances of the Assad regime forces.

In the opposition-controlled areas in the Homs countryside, regime aircraft 
dropped leaflets, threatening the use of new highly destructive weapons and 
claiming that residents would not be safe from harm inside their shelters. 
The regime wants to spread and increase the state of fear among inhabitants 
as a result of the raids, in which Russian aircraft also participate. 
Russian warplanes carried out 50 air raids targeting the town of Telbeesa 
over two consecutive nights (February 8 and 9), causing a number of deaths 
and wide damage to local infrastructure. In rural Idlib province, on 
February 9, at least 15 people were killed by Russian air-bombing that hit a 
camp for internally-displaced-persons, IDPs, or internal refugees.

We have to remember that these new military gains by regime forces would 
have been impossible without the military assistance of Russia, Iran, 
Hezbollah and various Shi’a sectarian militias. The Syrian army has been 
weakened considerably, various estimation pointing out that its numbers fell 
from 300,000 to as little as between 60,000 and 80,000 and had suffered 
various important defeats before the summer 2015, notably after the fall of 
the northern towns of Idlib and nearby Jisr al-Shughour in May 2015 falling 
in the hands of the coalition of the Jaysh al-Fath, led by Jabhat Al Nusra 
and Ahrar Sham.

Desertions and lack of will from the Syrian youth to die for a corrupt and 
authoritarian regime explain mainly the impossibility of the regime’s army 
to recruit new soldiers. A lot of young men have actually been fleeing for 
Europe often after having received their call-up papers or being ordered to 
report for reserve duty. In the same time, the weakness of the regime’s army 
has led to the creation of a 125,000-strong locally based National Defence 
Force, which has been mostly trained and paid by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

This is why opposing these foreign imperialist interventions, are so 
important, because without them the regime would not have been able to 
continue and deepen its war against the Syrian population.

Geneva III, Munich, etc… pushing the Syrians to kneel…

The Geneva III conference was a another failure, as regime forces and its 
allies continued its military offensives on various areas of Syria 
controlled by opposition armed groups, pushing the High Negotiations 
Committee of the Syrian opposition to withdraw form the negotiation. UN 
special envoy, De Mistura set a new target date of February 25 to reconvene 
talks between the Syrian regime and opposition in Geneva.

In the meantime, the various imperialist powers met for the International 
Syria Support Group in Munich, Germany, on February 11, 2016 in a bid to 
revive “peace efforts”. Trying to prevent a collapse of diplomatic efforts 
to pursue the “peace negociations”, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had 
pushed before this meeting for a ceasefire and more humanitarian aid access 
ahead of the meeting. Despite the formal agreement of Russian officials to 
Kerry’s diplomatic efforts, Russia continued its airstrikes campaign from 
Aleppo up north to Deraa down south as we have seen above.

Regime officials have on their side made clear that they are unwilling to 
stop any military advances. Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed al-Muallem 
declared last weekend that there will be “no ceasefire until the Turkish 
border is secured,” referring to Bab al-Salama, while Bouthaina Shaaban, 
senior adviser to dictator Assad, actually declared on February 9, that 
“there would be no let-up in the army advance, which aimed to recapture the 
city of Aleppo from various opposition armed forces and secure Syria’s 
border with Turkey”.

On their side, the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian opposition 
declared their readiness as well to attend the talks in Germany in an 
attempt to revive Syria peace efforts. In the same time, the High 
Negotiations Committee urged U.S. President Barack Obama to do more to stop 
Russian bombing raids in Syria and to provide weaponry to able armed 
opposition groups to defend them.

The delivery of arms and weapons with no political conditions attached from 
the West or any state to democratic sections of the Free Syrian Army to 
fight and struggle against the Assad regime and Islamic fundamentalist 
forces have been a key demand of democratic and progressive section of 
supporters of the Syrian revolution without success.

The outcome of the Munich conference was that the international powers 
agreed on February 12 to a cessation of hostilities in Syria set to begin 
week after and to provide rapid humanitarian access to besieged Syrian 
towns, but they failed to secure a complete ceasefire or an end to Russian 
bombing. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that Russia would 
not stop air attacks in Syria, saying the cessation of hostilities did not 
apply to Daech and Jabhat al Nusra. The Russian state propaganda has made 
similar declarations in the framework of the so called “war against terror” 
throughout its bombing campaigns in Syria that started on September 30, 2015 
to justify its military intervention in the country on the side of the Assad 
regime, but as we have shown in this article and in the previous one (see 
http://peacenews.org/2016/01/26/33329/) the targets are mostly not Daech and 
Jabhat al Nusra, but FSA groups and other Islamist forces as well as 
civilians and civilians infrastructure. As a reminder, on January 20, 2016, 
the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that Russian airstrikes, 
which started on 30 September 2015, have killed 1,015 civilians, including 
more than 200 children, while hundreds of thousands of civilians had to flee 
their areas because of the Russian airstrikes, in addition to the 
destruction of neighborhoods, hospitals, schools, etc…

The major powers also reaffirmed their commitment to a political transition 
when conditions on the ground improved… Moreover than ever we can see that 
regime change is not in the agenda of the various international imperialist 
powers in Syria, quite on the opposite as we said before.


The objectives of the Russian military intervention and massive airstrikes 
campaigns were clear since September 30, 2015: save and consolidate the 
political and military power of the Assad regime. Russian President Vladimir 
Putin actually said on September 28, before the beginning of the Russian 
airstrikes: “There is no other way to settle the Syrian conflict other than 
by strengthening the existing legitimate government agencies, support them 
in their fight against terrorism”. In other words crush all forms of 
opposition, whether democratic or reactionary, to the Assad regime under the 
so called “war on terror”. All authoritarian regimes have used this same 
kind of propaganda to repress popular movements and/ or opposition groups to 
their powers: Assad against the popular movement since day 1 of the popular 
uprising, Sissi in Egypt to repress particularly the Muslim Brotherhoods, 
but also progressive left and democratic movements, Erdogan against the PKK 
and various leftist movements, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia against the 
protesters and popular movements challenging their power, etc…

This also has severe consequences on civilians as we saw above.

Is the USA not aware of the objectives of the Russian state? It is hardly 
believable that they were not, on the opposite they probably saw it as an 
opportunity to pressure the opposition to negotiate with the Assad regime, 
as actually occurred these past few weeks and still is. US Secretary of 
State John Kerry actually told Syrian aid workers on the sidelines of the 
‘Supporting Syria’ donor conference in London that Syrian ‘opposition will 
be decimated’ and to expect 3 months of bombing. Kerry actually blamed the 
Syrian opposition for leaving the talks in Geneva III conference and paving 
the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian regime and Russia on Aleppo. 
This behaviour should not be seen as a surprise or a treason of the USA as 
some have put it. This would indeed have meant that Washington had had even 
for a second a political will for regime change in Syria, which was never 
case as I showed in a previous article in peacenews. 

Despite their rivalry, imperialist and sub imperialist interventions share a 
common purpose today: to liquidate the revolutionary popular movement 
initiated in March 2011, stabilize the regime in Damascus in keeping at the 
head its criminal dictator (for a short and medium term at least), and try 
to militarily defeat Daech. For example, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel 
al-Jubeir declared on February 8 that Riyad held out the possibility of 
sending Saudi special forces into Syria as part of a U.S.-led coalition 
against Daech. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also joined the movement 
saying its willingness to send troops to train and support a U.S.-led 
coalition against Daech, while Kuwait said it supported the alliance against 
Daech but that it would no send troops. At the same time, the King of 
Bahrain Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, welcomed and offered Russian president 
Putin a damascene sword and told him that they called it the sword of 
victory, and victory will be your ally… Russian Presidential Aide announced 
on February 10 that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman is scheduled to visit Russia 
in mid-March.

We must not imagine that the imperialist rivalries at the global level 
between the United States, China and Russia would be insurmountable for 
these powers, to the extent that these powers are in reality in relations of 
interdependence on many issues. All these regimes are bourgeois regimes that 
are and always will be the enemies of the popular revolutions, seeking to 
impose or strengthen a stable political context allowing them to accumulate 
and develop their political and economic capital in defiance of the popular 
classes. It does not matter that the detainees held by the Syrian regime are 
being killed on a massive scale amounting to a state policy of 
“extermination” of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United 
Nations investigators declared few days ago. 

No regional or international power is a friend of the Syrian revolution as 
we have shown repeatedly.

In this framework, the United Nations acts as an institution at the service 
of these various imperialist powers. Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky’s 
described the UN ancestor the League of Nation the following way: “The 
League in its defence of the status quo is not an organization of ‘peace’, 
but an organization of the violence of the imperialist minority over the 
overwhelming majority of mankind”. This perfectly applies today to the 
United Nations and De Mistura’s plan of so called “peace negotiation” for 
Syria, as the previous one. This was also witnessed in the UN silence for 
months on the blockade of the city of Madaya which started as early of end 
of June / beginning of July 2015 and key aspects of the blockade for months, 
or the statement of Carla Del Ponte, current member of the UN commission of 
enquiry on Syria, declaring that generally speaking the Russian intervention 
in Syria was positive, because it attacked terrorists groups such as Daech 
and Al Qaeda, while adding that there was nevertheless still a small 
problem: the lack of distinction of Russian airstrikes between civilians and 
terrorist groups.

The role of the progressive forces is to oppose and condemn all the 
imperialist schemes to put an end to the Syrian popular uprising, condemn 
the continuous war of the Assad criminal regime against the population of 
Syria and the assistance given by foreign forces of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah 
and various other Shi’a sectarian militias in this murderous campaign. The 
intervention of these foreign powers and groups resulted in new and 
increasing civilian casualties and suffering. In the same time, even though 
less important, we also oppose the interventions of Gulf monarchies and 
Turkey in the past, which were to advance their own selfish political 
interests and not the ones of the Syrian people and to change the nature of 
the revolution into a sectarian war or increasing sectarian animosities, 
following a similar behaviour therefore of the Assad regime and its allies.

We have to support today crucial demands of the Syrian people, which are 
peace, the end of the war, end of the bombings, end of blockades, the 
release of political prisoners and the return of refugees and internal 
displaced populations, while in the same time maintaining the initial 
objectives of the revolution in our struggle: freedom, social justice, 
equality and no to sectarianism and to racism.

We can still find examples of pockets of hope within Syria supporting these 
initial objectives. The town of Zamalka, in rural Damascus, witnessed new 
experiences of local democracy with the election by the inhabitants of a new 
local council. The popular organisation “The Day After” (TDA)’s launched in 
the past few weeks a Women Empowerment campaign inside Douma, focusing on 
women’s participation and leadership in Syrian society and the challenges 
they face, including the effects of siege and war on their life and their 
ability to work. Another campaign of TDA called “Complain so that you don’t 
lose your rights,” was led in Daraa, in which TDA activists put ‘complaints 
box in streets’ to encourage citizens to express any concerns they may have 
about armed groups in their areas, and initiate action and dialogue to 
improve interactions between civilians and armed group members. The campaign 
has previously been launched in Idlib and Douma. Sit ins in Douma, Kafranbel 
and Saraqeb in solidarity with Kurdish people with slogans such as “From 
Douma to ‘Amouda Peace (Salutation) and respect” and “The Kurds are a part 
of the Syrian Revolution” and to reactivate the civil popular movement; the 
Sarareq Youth gathering in the Idlib Governorate launched a campaign to 
promote respect for basic freedom of expression called “that’s your 
opinion”, but had to stop after threats from the local armed groups.

We need to support these pockets of hope and the popular (armed and 
civilian) resistance still existing in Syria and composed of various 
democratic and progressive groups and movements opposing all sides of the 
counter-revolution, the Assad regime and Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Joseph Daher

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