[Vredeslijst] Demonstratie tegen interventie in SyriŽ; za 31 aug. 13:00 Den Haag, Vredespaleis

Jeff meisner op xs4all.nl
Za Aug 31 13:33:06 CEST 2013

At 01:08 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 t!
 he rem
aining "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 ext!
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!
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 circumstances.

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 d
id 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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