Revolt and Revolution – Syrian Illusions and Syrian Realities | by Reuven Kaminer

by Jul 31, 2012Middle East

revolt-and-revolutionIf one tries to read most of the more serious material dealing with the Syrian crisis, one cannot but notice that the discussion has polarized around two major approaches. And after the polarization, it seems that the participants in this debate are merely scouring the area for another fact, thesis, bit of information which is supposed to add strength and depth to their own major thesis.

There those on the left who see the rebellion against the Assad regime as a genuine, democratic and progressive struggle. This being the essence of the matter, it is the duty of the left to give broad principled support to the popular forces fighting for a new Syria. It is in the nature of an authentic and genuine people’s movement to outgrow the reactionary influences which hope to mobilize it to the pro-imperialist cause.

There are those on the left who argue that the rebellion, whatever its origins, has become an important ally of US imperialism. As such, the rebellion has allied itself with Syria’s reactionary neighbors and is building its main hope on major intervention by the forces of imperialism active in the region. The forces active in the opposition and running it have determined the reactionary nature of its goals.

It is a commonplace that when major interests are involved, there will be a surfeit of analyses and arguments for each set of interests. There is a natural tendency to spend one’s time analyzing the ongoing analyses. This is interesting and may in some cases serve as a temporary, intermediary position. However, as far as I can understand the broad outlines of the struggle in Syria, they are quite clear.

I dare, even at this stage, to add another consideration for us here in Israel who may find ourselves in the eye of the storm quite soon. The forces fighting for regime change in Syria hope to use a “new” Syria to isolate Iran in preparation for the threatened military strike against that country. The imperial game is clear and unequivocal. One would hope that this threat, in and of itself, would be enough to help people decide against any support for a rebellion that could serve as a launching pad for another major war by the US-Israeli axis of aggression.

Richard Seymore’s Hasty Conclusions

Richard Seymore, posts rather modestly under the link lenin is reputed to be one of the sharper minds in the Trotskyist left in England.

On July 24, 2012, just two-three days ago, Seymore gave us this “precise” message:

“The Syrian revolt enters a new phase posted by lenin

As Bashar al-Assad flees the capital, the armed segments of the revolution appear to beinflicting blows on sections of the security apparatus and taking over major cities: the revolution is turning a corner. Robert Fisk reports that a crucial dynamic now is the fracturing of an alliance between the Sunni middle class and the Alawite regime, signalled by the spread of the revolt to Aleppo. And defections from the state-capitalist power bloc continue. Indeed, Juan Cole has suggested that such divisions must run deep in the Syrian state for the opposition to be capable of planting a bomb that can kill a senior minister.”

Seymore states without qualification : Assad has fled the capital. This was not and is not true. This is obviously a bit of rebel propaganda. Why did Seymore promote it as pure fact?”

Seymore states: “Armed segments of the revolutionaries are inflicting blows against the security apparatus.” This effective bomb planting can be seen as a success of mass struggle, but it is in essence an act of an individual or a terror cell. Seymore presents this as an act of “armed segments of the revolution,” but this is a guess and not a fact. It might be the work of Al-Qaida or another similar group. Seymore is quite celebratory over this bit of individual terror, which he converts into an act by the armed segments of the revolution. This may be true, and it may not be true. Killing or shooting the main “bad guys” is popular but always problematic on a deeper level. But Seymore will approve of anything “his side” does on the basis of the claim that the circumstances are dictated by the regime.

Seymore relates further: the armed segments are …”taking over major cities: the revolution is turning a corner.” This pious wish is presented as a fact. Now, simply stated, this event, reported by Seymore, never happened. The subject of Seymore’s imagination regarding events that did not happen is (not the rebels) but “the revolution.” The revolution according to Seymore is “taking over cities and is turning a corner.” But what could be the source of such a set of totally fanciful assertions?

Was it pure chance that the rebel activity and propaganda intensified in order to influence the proceedings of the Security Council? Why knowing the need to be cautious about all news from the various fronts, did Seymore allow himself to go ecstatic over the unconfirmed facts and allegations?

Moreover, the attempt to build a certain picture of events on the basis of opinions of Fisk and Cole is purely arbitrary. (And if my memory does not betray me, both these gentleman supported US sponsored intervention in Libya). Similar evaluations and assertions as well as counter evaluations on the same subjects flood the media. At any rate, we have heard endless accounts about Assad’s fracturing coalition and his disintegrating military. As a matter of fact, we started out with Barack, many a month ago, eliminating” Assad in a week or so,” plus mass defection by tens of thousands of soldiers. Nowadays we have to make do with a general here and a diplomat there.

There is a major disconnect between Seymore’s long and detailed analysis and the real developments on the ground. In fact, Seymore’s analysis is really a recycling of a long list of major arguments that occurred over the last year and a half. Quite clearly, his analysis was preparing him for a very certain set of events, or better non-events, and he rushed, without caution and responsibility, to report “successes” and “victories” that never occurred.

Two More Comments for My Faithful Readers.

Anti-Intervention as a Principal or a Tactic

I personally know some very committed leftists who demand to depose Assad but also reject imperial intervention. I respect their position knowing that their opposition to foreign intervention in Syria is sincere and steadfast. However, I fear that it might be increasingly difficult to maintain their position. In the event of critical and decisive battles in which the rebellion hovers between total loss or victory – there will be growing pressures for the justification of intervention. Indeed, if the rebel cause is that just, it will be increasingly hard for many “anti-interventionists” to argue against intervention. This kind of retreat from principle has already begun. Defections from the anti-intervention camp in the left are being noted.

Really Revolution?

A few months back I participated in an academic discussion on the Arab Spring. Everyone there, left right and center, was talking about the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia. A young woman sociologist suggested that we might all be a bit hasty in defining the events as a revolution, as important and as significant as they were. She was, of course, absolutely right. The categorization of events in the region as revolutions, up to this point, is totally unhelpful. Both the limited and rather conservative goals of the revolts and the relative weakness, if not the total absence of any organized revolutionary forces within them, suggest that we are discussing, at the very best, pre-revolutionary developments.

The revolution has not yet come. The region needs one. The present situation is unsustainable.

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