September 20, 2013

Syria: A View From Venezuela And The U.S. Left


This is from a statement on Syria that was issued by the Venezuelan revolutionary organization Marea Socialista (“Socialist Tide”) on 8 September 2013. Active since the beginning within the Chavista movement and the Bolivarian process, Marea Socialista is a current organized within the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela), founded by Hugo Chavez. It advocates deepening the popular process in Venezuela and mobilizes against the bureaucratization of this process.

The erroneous argumentation of comrades who support Bashar al-Assad
For comrades who only see the bloody imperialism of the United States, the world is something simple and predictable and history repeats itself like an endless wheel. They see the international reality as a black and white photograph between on the one hand the intentions, hopes and policies of Obama - or any Yankee president - and the rest of humanity on the other. They do not seem to have learned yet of the death of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, or the restoration of capitalism in Russia and China, or the global crisis that erupted in 2007 and is the most serious crisis of the last hundred years. They close their eyes to a process of regional rebellion that has lasted two and a half years. And when they talk about it, they describe it as a plan meticulously designed by the United States, which they present as omniscient and omnipotent, thus despising the popular revolts.
The arguments of these sectors rely fundamentally on the denial of facts and reality. For them, there is no real civil war in Syria, but they publish in abundance photographs of "rebels killing Syrian soldiers." There was no use of chemical weapons, but at the same time they assert  "only the rebels have used them." They characterize as identical the foreign fundamentalist brigades and forces which oppress and act against the objectives of the revolution, and the rebel Syrian people, thus justifying Assad’s repression against this people.
They say that if we do not defend Assad, we are necessarily in the camp of the imperialist intervention. They argue that there is not a massive sector of the Syrian people who reject the regime and as proof of this, they say that Assad is still in power. But they overlook the fact that the regime maintains itself by conducting a massacre against a poorly armed people and by the destruction of much of the country.
They do not speak of the figures advanced by UN bodies such as UNHCR, which estimate the number of victims at more than 100,000 dead , two million refugees and half a million wounded. But they demand that the UN publishes the report of its inspectors on chemical weapons and that it finds a political solution to the conflict. A conflict whose nature, besides, they deny.
And those who have no problem denying the dictatorial nature of the regime of this hereditary republic justify its defense in the name of the "lesser evil."
This superficial and conspiratorial view of history is at the same time intolerant with those who, though in the camp of the opposition to imperialist intervention, think differently and do not accept to defend the Assad clan. And when their arguments fall short, they spend their time discrediting, making groundless accusations against and criminalizing those who have different opinions.
The need to make the voice of the radical Left heard
We do not take it upon ourselves - and we think it would be a mistake and a lack of respect for those who are struggling in the region – to enter into tactical discussions. We believe that we must respect the views of those who, in the ongoing popular processes, defend revolutionary objectives. That is why we call for this statement signed by organizations from different countries in the region, and among them, Syria, to be made known widely.
However, we cannot limit ourselves to expressing our rejection of imperialist intervention and solidarity with the Syrian people in their struggle. There are many of us in the world who have, since the beginning of the Arab Spring, supported unconditionally these revolts. But we have so far done so in isolation from each other, each in our own countries, where we live. For we who struggle against capital, the recovery of the internationalist tradition is a fundamental task in order to confront the new times that are emerging today. A first step in reviving this tradition is the need to create spaces for discussion and for joint action and solidarity that has an international impact.
If we do not act, the position of those sectors of the Left in the world who support the Syrian regime will represent a debt that the mass movement will make all those who situate themselves on the left pay, without distinction.
It is necessary for the voice of the radical Left to be heard on the level of its real power. So that the peoples who are struggling in the world can see that there is a different Left; plural, democratic, anti capitalist, genuinely committed against imperialist brutality and against all forms of barbarism.
Behind the toxic clouds that cover today the daily life and death of the rebel Syrian people, our duty is to take steps forward, towards an international coming together of the radical Left, which acts as an amplifier of the cry for freedom and the dignity that comes from deep within the collective memory of the peoples who are struggling .
The U.S. Left
"These same discussions are happening in the U.S. left. Some groups claim that opponents of U.S. imperialism must necessarily support the Assad regime. In mid-September, several of these organizations sent representatives to Damascus to meet with Bashar al-Assad himself. In many cities, these forces have tried to stop the rest of the movement from saying anything even faintly critical of the Assad regime's brutality--claiming that such criticism only feeds into the U.S. drive to war. There are groups claiming that opponents of U.S. imperialism must necessarily support the Assad regime. In mid-September, several of these organizations sent representatives to Damascus to meet with Bashar al-Assad himself. In many cities, these forces have tried to stop the rest of the movement from saying anything even faintly critical of the Assad regime's brutality--claiming that such criticism only feeds into the U.S. drive to war.
The question must be raised how can FRSO, Workers' World Party and Party of Socialism and Liberation support the Assad regime's use of savage and deadly repression against all opponents, its embrace of free-market neo liberalism and its collaboration with the U.S., including torturing people "renditioned" to Syria during the "war on terror."
When the Syrian uprising began, opponents of the Assad regime stayed committed to nonviolence for many months, even in the face of an increasingly bloody crackdown by the regime. Fairly quickly--and continuing to this day--in areas of the country liberated from regime control, Local Coordinating Committees sprang up to address the population's needs and to network with other liberated areas.
The Syrian rebellion is fed by the same sources as the Arab Spring in general--anger at growing inequality as a result of neoliberal economic measures imposed from above, high levels of youth unemployment, poverty among urban workers and rural peasants, and the lack of the most basic democratic rights.
The Assad regime's response has been barbaric. Though there is no definitive evidence that it has used chemical weapons, there is no doubt that the Syrian military has carried out savage artillery and air assaults against civilian populations, including the bombing of neighborhoods, university campuses and even hospitals. The death toll has now soared above 100,000." Sources: International Viewpoint and Socialist Worker


Kenneth Jopp said...

Assad is undoubtedly a thug. He presides in an region
where to survive one must resort to what's commonly
known as the mafia mentality. He evidently is sincere
in his wish to reduce threats to humanity by foreswearing use of biological/chemical WMDs. One must point out that this is something the US and its
allies, including Israel have NEVER ever considered.
I'm rather surprised by this response by the Venezuelan
punditry, can't help but wonder if it has not been messaged.

Ann Montague said...

Venezuela does not speak with one voice. This is a Socialist group within Venezuela. But to deny that Assad is a butcher or treat him as anything else is absurd. During the Arab Spring in 2011 he didn't just send in police with tear gas but he bombed cities and towns where there were demonstrations. The best we can do is stop U.S. intervention and call for self determination for Syria.