April 1st, 2013
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Article / K N Ramachandran

K N Ramachandran, secretary of CPI- ML WHEN the Arab Spring started blossoming with people coming out in the streets for democracy and social justice across a number of countries in North Africa and West Asia, Syria was no exception. Gone were the days when the Baath movement, influenced by Soviet Union, nationalized the industries, distributed the land and implemented egalitarian policies under state capitalist control. The bureaucratic control under a dictatorial presidential system had compelled the people to revolt.

But one thing that must be clearly stated is that the imperialists can play no positive role in Syria as they themselves are the butchers of whatever democratic practice existing in many countries. So, democratic forces should condemn totally any imperialist meddling in Syrian affairs. Across the Middle East, the role of imperialism has been completely exposed.

The brutal occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has seen hundreds of thousands of civilians perish, while no progress whatsoever has been made in terms of the living standards of the people, democratic reforms, women’s equality or economic growth. Imperialism has left a legacy of warlord-ism, corruption and sectarian conflict, while big corporations have made massive profits from the oil wealth,‘re-construction’ and arms manufacturing.

When mass upsurges took place in Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain, the imperialists openly supported the old ruling regimes and gave them military aid. The US and Canada continue to ship arms and tear gas to the Egyptian military council of General Tantawi. Likewise Saudi Arabia continues to be a major recipient of Western arms while they brutally crushed the revolution in Bahrain.

The Syrian regime is directly tied to Russia and Iran. It has also been a working partner with US and Israeli imperialism. It must be said, however, that at the current moment, it seems that the Western imperialists are very hesitant to intervene directly in Syria. They have limited their activity to condemning the Syrian regime, and promoting their local stooges. The West is trying to continue to manoeuvre against the revolution through their friends in the Syrian National Council (SNC). The interests of the imperialists are irreconcilably antagonistic to the interests of the workers, peasants and youth of the Middle East.

The imperialists wish to plunder the resources of the region and find markets for their products. The masses in the region are rising up precisely against this plunder and wealth inequality. The massive confidence and revolutionary consciousness sparked by the Arab Spring directly threatens the interests of the imperialists. None should have any illusions about the counter-revolutionary role they play.

Imperialist should be asked to keep their hands off Syria! The Syrian people should be allowed to settle their score with Assad regime.

The present official “leaders” of the movement have successfully antagonized significant sections of the population. The upsurge has been advancing painfully slowly, precisely because sections of society that objectively should be with it have not lined up behind it. The fact is that because of a series of factors – among which the pro-imperialist nature of the SNC and its collaboration with imperialism – Assad still maintains a degree of support, and has been able to use ethnic divisions to his advantage.

All these factors emphasizes the importance of decisive leadership that is able put forward a concrete programme of political and economic demands, of both a democratic and socialist nature and thus cut across the sectarian divisions. It is precisely the lack of such a programme that is the greatest weakness of the revolution.

Some of the “leaders” are in fact presenting the movement in sectarian or religious terms. The presentation of the movement as “Islamic” turns many ethnic and religious minorities away from the movement, as well as a significant section of secular and progressive minded Syrians, particularly those in Aleppo and Damascus. The counter- revolutionary war of the Assad regime is not a war against Islam – it is a war against the Syrian people – but because of the nature of the leaders of the opposition it can be presented as such.

Advancing social and economic demands would prove decisive, and would cut across ethnic and religious divisions. This should include the demand for the re-nationalization of all industries that have been privatized by the Assads, the establishment of workers’ democratic control in the workplace, expropriation of the assets and companies of the Assad clique and re-establishing subsidies for basic goods. The pressing needs for employment, housing and services should be made a priority of the revolution.

The Syrian people have shown great revolutionary instinct. The examples where they have established popular councils to replace the old state apparatus and co-ordinate social and economic life in certain cities show the way. The establishment of a revolutionary army, from the ranks of the soldiers and armed civilians, was a massive step forward, but unless this is accompanied with a revolutionary socialist programme, the sweep of the revolution shall remain limited, and it will not be able to bring out the full potential that exists. But all these initiatives require the leadership of a revolutionary party which is lacking. The present Syrian communist leadership is reformist and is incapable of leading the upsurge in a positive manner.

Lack of a genuine revolutionary leadership is the problem confronted by all the people’s upsurges which broke out in a number of countries. The recent events in many areas of Syria confirm this fact. The current leadership continually calls for “unity” in the face of any criticism. In fact, with the excuse of this so-called “unity” they attempt to crush any genuine opposition to their attempts to takeover and emasculate the revolution. It is they who are dividing the movement through their actions.

A genuine leadership must cut across sectarian divisions, oppose all foreign intervention and advance social and economic demands to solve the pressing needs of the people. Such a leadership, that could unite the different sides of the movement, could win the necessary majority that could end the brutal reign of the Assads once and for all, and establish a genuinely democratic Syria.


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