Socialist Worker

Difficult times for the Syrian revolution, but people continue to fight

by Judith Orr
Issue No. 2387

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad


Western politicians and the Syrian opposition groups they support —primarily the Syrian National Council—claim that talks in Geneva will solve the crisis in Syria. 

They hint that the talks, set to start on Wednesday of this week, may lead to a transitional government and a political solution. 

They imply that a Syria without dictator Bashar al?Assad in power is imminent. 

Yet Assad is sending his representatives and has made it clear he has no intention of standing down.

In the end no deal that comes out of these talks between imperialists and dictators will help people suffering in Syria.

Joseph Daher of the Syrian Revolutionary Left Current told Socialist Worker, “Geneva is a big threat to the revolution. The National Council has zero influence with people on the ground. 

“None of these forces want the revolution to deepen or be victorious.”

Joseph explained that most Western leaders would like to move Assad out. 

But they want to install “a Yemeni-style solution, where all the structures of the regime kept in place”. 

In Yemen, dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012 to head off a revolutionary uprising. 

So far the rest of the state has managed to keep power, while Saleh has avoided prosecution for any crimes he committed in office.

Worried

Western powers are worried about the growth of groups affiliated to Al Qaida. These include the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) among the opposition forces in Syria. 

Assad is using this fear and saying his delegates will attend Geneva to discuss “tackling terrorism”. 

But it is the masses on the ground who are suffering the most from the growth of these groups.

Joseph reported that in one town Islamists have whipped people in the street for not respecting Friday prayers. Popular committees and activists have been attacked. 

“Popular anger against ISIS has exploded in many areas,” said Joseph. “In some villages and towns they have been kicked out.”

There are continuous clashes as different forces fight for control in areas won from the regime.

A statement issued by the Revolutionary Left Current spoke of “the double repression” suffered by the popular movement—from the regime and armed Islamist groups.

It stated that ISIS had “shot and arrested demonstrators, or even assassinated numerous activists and some cadre of the Free Syrian Army known for their commitment to the principles of the popular revolution”. 

Weakened

Joseph said, “The situation is very difficult. We can’t deny that the popular movement and the Free Syrian Army have become weakened over recent months. 

“And the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. Half the population is displaced or refugees.”

The talks will do nothing for these millions of ordinary Syrians. Many supported opposition to Assad in the hope of winning the demands of the revolution—freedom, equality, democracy and social justice.

But Assad’s ability to unleash violent repression has enabled him to stay in power. And the rise of the ISIS and other Al Qaida affiliates means the revolution faces new dangers.

Joseph pointed to the risk that the West and its allies could do a deal with Assad’s regime. “For the West the main threat is the Islamists,” he said. 

“The international community could give legitimacy back to Assad to crush the revolution. Some sections of the opposition would be content with some ministerial posts in any new government.”

One of the slogans coming from Syrian activists now is, “The solution is not in Geneva but in the Hague”. 

They want Assad tried for war crimes there.

But as Joseph said, “These are very difficult times for the Syrian revolution. When you talk to those inside Syria, they are feeling tired. 

“There are still popular committees working in some areas, but people say we need a second revolution.

“The regime is still very strong but people feel there is no alternative. They have to continue to fight.”


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