Events in Syria – Which side are you on?
Published May 5, 2011 8:23 PM
Palestinians carry a fallen comrade shot by
in the Golan Heights, May 15.
When U.S. imperialism engages in an attack on any government or movement, it is
cowardly to be neutral and rank betrayal to stand on the same side as the
imperialist octopus, which seeks to dominate the world. This has been an ABC
for workers’ movements through 150 years of class-conscious struggles. It
is the very basis of Marxism.
A social explosion is shaking the Arab world. U.S. imperialism and all the old
regimes tied to it in the region are trying desperately to manage and contain
this still unfolding mass upheaval into channels that do not threaten
imperialist domination of the region.
The U.S. and its collaborators are also trying to divide and undermine the two
wings of the resistance — the Islamic forces and the secular nationalist
forces — which together overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorships in Egypt
and Tunisia. There is now a concerted U.S. effort to turn these same political
forces against two regimes in the region that have opposed U.S. domination in
the past — Libya and Syria.
Both Libya and Syria have their own development problems, which are exacerbated
by the general global capitalist crisis and decades of compromise imposed on
them as they tried to survive in a hostile environment of unrelenting attacks
— political, sometimes military and including economic sanctions.
The U.S./NATO bombing of Libya has clarified where imperialism stands regarding
that country. Syria is also targeted by imperialism — because of its
refusal to recognize the Zionist occupation, its assistance to Hezbollah in
their struggle to end the Israeli occupation of Lebanon and its strategic
alliance with Iran.
Syria’s internal situation may be difficult to understand, but in this
unfolding struggle clear statements of support for the Syrian government and
against U.S. destabilization efforts have come from Hugo Chávez in
Venezuela, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon and
several exiled leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian organization that was elected
by the people of Gaza. These political leaders have experienced first-hand U.S.
destabilization campaigns that used corporate media fabrications, externally
financed opposition groups, targeted assassinations, “special
operations” sabotage and well-trained Internet operatives.
On the side of the supposedly “democratic opposition” are such
reactionaries as Sen. Joseph Lieberman, chair of the powerful Senate Homeland
Security Committee, who called on the U.S. to bomb Syria next, after Libya.
Outspoken supporters of the opposition in Syria include James Woolsey, former
CIA director and adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential
Wikileaks exposes U.S. role
An article entitled “U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups”
in the April 18 Washington Post described the Wikileaks report on U.S.
diplomatic cables. The article summarizes what these State Department cables
reveal about the secret funding of Syrian political opposition groups,
including the beaming of anti-government programming into the country via
The article describes the U.S.-funded efforts as part of a “long-standing
campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar
al-Assad,” which began under President George W. Bush and continued under
President Barack Obama, even though Obama claimed to be rebuilding relations
with Syria and posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six
According to an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in
Damascus at the time, Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S.
funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime
change.” The Post article describes the links between the U.S.-funded
opposition Barada TV and the role of Malik al-Abdeh, who is on its board and
distributes videos and protest updates. Al-Abdeh is also on the board of the
Movement for Justice and Democracy, which his brother, Anas Al-Abdeh, chairs.
The secret cables “report persistent fears among U.S. diplomats that
Syrian state security agents had uncovered the money trail from
Role of Al-Jazeera
Perhaps the most revealing challenge to and exposé of the destabilization
campaign in Syria came with the resignation of Ghassan Ben Jeddo, the
best-known journalist with Al-Jazeera’s television news programs and
chief of its Beirut bureau. Ben Jeddo resigned in protest of Al-Jazeera’s
biased coverage, especially noting a “smear campaign against the Syrian
government” that has turned Al-Jazeera into a “propaganda
Al-Jazeera favorably covered the unstoppable mass upsurge of millions in Egypt
and Tunisia. However, this satellite news channel has also extensively reported
every claim and political charge, regardless of how unsubstantiated, made by
the political opposition in both Syria and Libya. It called for U.S.
“humanitarian” intervention, no-fly zones and the bombing of Libya.
It is important to understand Al-Jazeera’s position as a news
corporation, especially when it claims to speak for the oppressed.
Al-Jazeera, which is based in Qatar, never reports that 94 percent of the
workforce in Qatar is made up of immigrants who have absolutely no rights at
all and exist in conditions of near slavery. Al-Jazerra gives little coverage
to the brutal repression of the mass movement in the absolute monarchy of
Bahrain, which is just next door to Qatar and is now occupied by Saudi
Is this censorship because Al-Jazeera TV News is funded by the absolute monarch
of Qatar, the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani? Al-Jazeera never mentions
the huge U.S. Central Command military air base right there in Qatar. Drones on
secret missions throughout the region regularly take off from this base. Qatar
has also sent planes to participate in the U.S./NATO bombing of Libya, and it
works closely with the U.S. State Department in supporting U.S. intervention in
Facebook and counterrevolution
The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy have become expert at
utilizing a barrage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to
overwhelm targeted governments with millions of fabricated messages, wild
rumors and images.
Fabricated alerts about struggles and splits among rival factions in
Syria’s military leading to resignations turned out to be false. For
example, Major Gen. al-Rifai (Ret.) denied as baseless news broadcasts over
satellite television that he was leading a split in the military. He added that
he had retired 10 years ago.
Izzat al-Rashek of the Hamas Politburo and Ali Baraka, Hamas representative in
Lebanon, denied published claims that the leadership of this Palestinian
resistance organization was relocating to Qatar from Damascus. Ali Baraka
explained that this was a U.S. fabrication to pressure Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah
and obstruct Palestinian reconciliation while raising conflict between
resistance movements and Syria.
The Syrian government has charged that snipers fired into demonstrations,
shooting army and police in an effort to have police open fire on
Rumors, anonymous Internet postings and satellite television reports aimed at
heightening sectarian differences are part of the destabilization
Dual character of Syria
It is not difficult to see why U.S. imperialism and its pawns in the region,
including Israel and the corrupt dependent monarchies of Jordan, Qatar, the
United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, would want to see “regime
change’ in Syria.
Syria is one of the few Arab states that have no relations with Israel. Several
Palestinian resistance organizations have offices-in-exile in Syria, including
Hamas. Syria is allied closely with Iran and with the Hezbollah organization in
Syria today is not socialist nor a revolutionary country. Capitalism with its
resulting inequality has not been overturned. There is a capitalist class in
Syria. Many within it have benefited from “reforms” that sold
formerly state-owned industries to private capital. Thus, the Syrian state
represents contradictory forces.
Years of U.S. sanctions and past destabilization efforts have also had a
cumulative effect. The state apparatus, ever fearful of continuing outside
intervention, has become fearful of change.
Impact of Iraq war
The massive U.S. invasion and destruction of neighboring Iraq, the Bush-Blair
discussion of a similar attack on Syria in 2003, and the harsh new sanctions on
Syria have added intense pressure.
But the most dislocating factor is never discussed in the corporate media: To
escape the last eight years of U.S. occupation, more than 1.5 million Iraqis
have flooded into Syria, whose population in 2006 was 18 million. According to
a 2007 report by the office of the U.S. High Commissioner for Refugees, this
influx impacted all facets of life in Syria, particularly the services offered
by the state to all citizens and refugees.
The unexpected arrival of these Iraqi refugees has strained Syria’s
infrastructure, including guaranteed free elementary and high schools, free
health care, housing availability and other areas of the economy and has
increased costs across the board. The prices of foodstuffs and basic goods have
gone up by 30 percent, property prices by 40 percent and housing rentals by 150
Iraqi refugees also benefited from Syrian state subsidies in gasoline, food,
water and other essential goods provided to everyone. Such a large mass of
unemployed people led to the lowering of wages and increased competition for
jobs. The impact of the global economic downturn during this difficult period
added to the problems. (Middle East Institute, Dec. 10, 2010, report on Refugee
In its recent public statements, the Syrian government has recognized the
importance of making internal reforms while maintaining national unity in an
extremely diverse country that has historic differences in religion, tribes and
regions and now contains almost 2 million refugees.
The diverse nationalities, religions and cultural groupings in Syria have every
right to be part of this process. But what they need most is an end to
constant, unrelenting U.S. intervention. U.S. hands off!
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