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A Close look at the Syrian revolution

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis author Tuesday November 06, 2012 18:17author by A Syrian comrade Report this post to the editors

This could to some extent tell my situation when I was inside the "liberated territories" of Syria, that is the territories controlled by the free army, the armed forces of the Syrian opposition... [Italiano] [Français]

siria_jihadist.jpg


A close look at the Syrian revolution

An Anarchist among jihadists


This could to some extent tell my situation when I was inside the "liberated territories" of Syria, that is the territories controlled by the free army, the armed forces of the Syrian opposition. But still it is not the whole truth. It is true that not all the free army militants are devoted jihadists, although most of them think, or say, that what they are practising is "Jihad". The truth is there are a lot of ordinary people, even thieves, etc. among them, as in any armed struggle.

My first and lasting impression about the current situation in Syria in that there is no more a popular revolution going on there; what is taking place there is an armed revolution that could degenerate simply into a civil conflict. The Syrian people, which has shown unprecedented courage and determination in the first few months of the revolution in defying Assad's regime despite all its brutality, is really exhausted now. 19 long months of fierce repression and lately of hunger, widespread scarcity and continuous bombardment by the regime's army, is weakening its spirit. Cynically, the beneficiary of all these hasn't been the regime, but the opposition, especially the Islamists. Depending on its international relationships, especially with the rich Gulf despotic governments, the opposition now can feed and support the hungry population in the areas controlled by its forces. Without such support, a grave humanitarian situation could be taking place.

But this support is not provided for free, neither by the Gulf rulers, nor by the opposition leaders. They are, like any other authoritarian force, asking the masses for submission and obedience. This in fact could only mean the real death of the Syrian revolution as a courageous popular act of the Syrian masses. Yes, I helped some jihadists to survive [1] and others to go back to fight; but my real intention was to help the masses I belong to, firstly as a physician, and secondly, as an anarchist .

To tell the truth, I don't think that our problem is with Islam itself. Islam can also be egalitarian, or even anarchistic. In the history of Islam there have been scholars who called for a stateless and free Muslim society, even a free universe without any sort of authority. The problem with what is happening now in Syria is not only the difficult and bloody process of changing a ruthless dictatorship, but might even be worse: substituting it with another dictatorship, which could be worse and bloodier. Early in the revolution, a small number of people, mainly devoted Islamists, claimed to represent the revolting masses and self-appointed themselves to be the true revolutionaries, the true representative of the revolution. This went unchallenged by the mainstream of the revolutionary masses and intellectuals. We did oppose such authoritarian and even false claims, but we were, and still are, too few to make any real difference.

These people claimed that what was taking place was a religious war, not a mere revolution of oppressed masses against their oppressor. They very aggressively used the fact that the oppressor was from another sect of Islam, different from the sect of the majority of the people he is exploiting, a sect that has frequently been judged by Sunni scholars in the past to be against the teachings of true Islam, which is even worse than non-Muslims. We were shocked by the fact that the majority of Alawis, the sect of the current dictator, who are poorer and more marginalized than the Sunni majority, did support the regime; and that they were participating in his brutal suppression of the revolting masses. This came as "evidence" of the "actual religious war" taking place between Sunni and Alawis. And in this regard these people could really claim to be the real Sunni; they are Muslim scholars and they are so sectarian that no one can challenge them in this regard. In fact, they built their spiritual and moral authority before the material one.

Then came the material support from the Gulf rulers. Now the potential for any real popular struggle is decreasing rapidly; Syria is governed now by weapons; and only those who have them can have a say about its present and future. And that is true not only for Assad's regime and its Islamic opposition. Everywhere in the Middle East the great hopes are disappearing rapidly - in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere. The Islamists seem to be getting all the benefits of the courageous struggles of the masses. And they could easily initiate the process of establishing their fanatical rule, without strong opposition from the masses. I could feel exactly like Emma Goldman felt in 1922 when she broke with the Bolsheviks and finally became disillusioned with their rule. In fact, no one in the whole Arab and Muslim world looks closer to the Bolsheviks nowadays than the Islamists. Even devoted Stalinists lack the full criteria of their ancestors, compared to the Islamists. For a long time they were badly repressed by local dictators, used to frighten the masses and the West; and because of that might have looked as if they were the most decisive part of the opposition to these dictatorships. At the same time, they really have the same efficient propaganda machine as the Bolsheviks did once. They are so authoritarian and aggressive, exactly as the Bolsheviks were during the decisive days of the October Revolution. So it seems logical that the Arab peoples opted to try them in power, or to accept their rise to power. Even to hope, as the Russian workers and peasants did once, that they could really create a better and different type of society. In the case of Emma Goldman, she awoke very early from such disillusion; for the masses, it took so long to realize the truth. Still Emma thought, rightly in my opinion: the masses were very right to rise up and try to change their miserable reality, the big "mistake", if it could be described as a mistake, was made by the authoritarian forces which sought to hijack the revolution. We still support the revolution, not its false "leaders".

Building the libertarian alternative: Anarchist propaganda and organization

The other issue that I think is so important for us, Arab anarchists and the Arab masses, is how to build the libertarian alternative: that is, how to initiate an effective anarchist or libertarian propaganda and how to build libertarian organizations. To tell the truth, I have never tried to convince anyone to be anarchist before. I have opted only for free dialogue between "equals" with everyone. I have never claimed that I know everything or that any anarchist or any other human being deserve to be the "guide" or the "leader" of others, that anyone deserve to be in the same position as the Pope, Muslim imams or the general secretary of any Stalinist or Leninist party. I have always thought that trying to affect others is another way to practice authority upon them. But now I see this issue from another perspective: it is all about making anarchism "available" or known to all those who want to fight any oppressing authority whose repression they are suffering from; be they workers, the unemployed, students, feminists, the youth or ethnic and religious minorities, etc. It is about trying to build an example or sample of the new free life in the body of a free or libertarian organisation; not only as a living manifestation of its potential presence, but also as a MEANS to achieve that society.

We have to make anarchism well known to all the slaves and victims of all the current suppressive systems and authorities. EFFECTIVE ANARCHIST PROPAGANDA is, I think, the first aim of such organizations. In a word, we are witnesses of the bankruptcy of the "secular" authoritarian trends (including the nationalist and Arab–nationalist, Stalinist and other verities of Leninism), and very soon the bankruptcy of the authoritarian religious ones. The future alternative should be, logically, a libertarian one. Of course, anarchism cannot be implanted artificially - it must be a "natural" product of the local masses' struggles. But still it will need good care and to be properly highlighted. This will be, supposedly, the role of our propaganda. Still there will be no "center" in our organisation, no bureaucracy, but still it is supposed to be as effective as its authoritarian counterparts, or even more efficient. Still our Stalin or Bonaparte is not in power, still the Syrian masses have the opportunity to get a better outcome than that of the Russian revolution. It is very true that this is difficult and is becoming more so every minute, but the revolution itself was a miracle, and on this earth the oppressed can create their miracles from time to time. This time also, we, Syrian anarchists, are putting all our cards and all our efforts with the masses. It could be no other way, or we would not deserve our libertarian name.



Note:
[1] I want here to give some details about this. In fact it wasn't easy for me to be among Jihadists, but for some reason, it wasn't the same to treat them as a doctor. For me, I was so clear - since the first moment I entered that front hospital where I was working - that I would treat anyone who needed my help, be they civilians, fighters from any group and religion or sect; and I was so convinced that no one could be mistreated inside that hospital, even if they were from Assad's army. I will insist here that my real problem, and that of the oppressed in general I think, is not with god himself, but with human beings who act as gods, who are so sick with authority that they think and act like gods, be they secular dictators like Assad or Islamic imams, etc. God himself is never as deadly dangerous as those who "speak" for him.

author by Milan Rai - Peace Newspublication date Thu Nov 08, 2012 13:39author email editorial at peacenews dot infoReport this post to the editors

This is a really important insight into what is going on. We would really like to print it in Peace News, a London-based radical paper. Please get in touch to give us permission!

You can check out our website - please email us if you're willing for this piece to be reprinted.

Best wishes

Milan Rai
author of Chomsky's Politics, War Plan Iraq

Related Link: http://peacenews.info
author by Wayne Pricepublication date Tue Nov 13, 2012 05:13author email drwdprice at aol dot comReport this post to the editors

These comments, by "a Syrian comrade," are excellent. As he points out, anarchists are particularly sensitive to the danger that a revolution can be taken over by revolutionary authoritarians, out to establish a new dictatorial state. As he says, the problem is not Islam as such. Islam, like any other religion, can be consistent with libertarian socialism. The problem, in this case, is a certain interpretation of Islam, which is used to justify a particularly dictatorial version of nationalism. With the failure of Marxism-Leninism on a world scale, rebellious people have often turned to some variety of authorirtarian religion for salvation from above.

The writer rases the main problem of contemporary anarchism: "I have never tried to convince anyone to be anarchist before.... I have never claimed that I know everything or that any anarchist or any other human being deserve to be the "guide" or the "leader" of others,"

Anarchists have been so afraid of being authoritarian, that we have bent over backwards not to fight for our ideas. We have left the field open for all sorts of statists to present their ideas: reformists, pro-imperialist "democrats," moderate Islamists, extreme fanatical Islamists, secular nationalists, religious nationalists, Leninists, etc., etc.

It is essential for anarchists to raise our ideas, to organize ourselves in order to raise our ideas effectively, openly, and honestly, not as people who "know all the answers," or who want to be the new rulers, but as comrades in the struggle. In particular we need to warn the workers, peasants, and all the oppressed, about the dangers of imperialism, Islamist statism, and other forms of authoritarianism. This is not elitissm on our part. It is part of the process of the self-organization of the people. .

author by ajohnstone - socialist party of great britainpublication date Tue Nov 20, 2012 20:02author email alanjjohnstone at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address scotlandauthor phone naReport this post to the editors

"Syria is governed now by weapons; and only those who have them can have a say about its present and future."

Wasn't it Mao who said “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

It is sad that the early potential and hope has disappeared. See link

http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2011/08/re....html

http://socialismoryourmoneyback.blogspot.com/2012/04/sy....html

"We have to make anarchism well known to all the slaves and victims"

It was William Morris long ago who said the job of socialists is to make socialists.

"it should be our special aim to make Socialists, by putting before people, and especially the working-classes, the elementary truths of Socialism; since we feel sure, in the first place, that in spite of the stir in the ranks of labour, there are comparatively few who understand what Socialism is, or have had opportunities of arguing on the subject with those who have at least begun to understand it; and, in the second place, we are no less sure that before any definite Socialist action can be attempted, it must be backed up by a great body of intelligent opinion - the opinion of a great mass of people who are already Socialists, people who know what they want, and are prepared to accept the responsibilities of self-government, which must form a part of their claims."

In a personal aside, years ago i had a conversation with an anarchist doctor involved with Black Flag who wished to go to post-Kymer Rouge Cambodia as a medic. He hoped he could convince the local population of anarchism. I mentioned that his priority would end up being employing his medical skills, not his political acumen.

Related Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/no-1299-november-2012
author by Jessica Corbett - Peace Newspublication date Tue Sep 17, 2013 18:23author email reporter at peacenew dot infoReport this post to the editors

Hello,

In December 2012 - January 2013 Peace News reprinted this piece with your permission. (http://peacenews.info/node/7061/anarchist-among-jihadists) I am currently working on story about Syria for the next issue of Peace News. If you are willing, I would like to speak with you about the recent events in Syria and the continued movements within and related to Syria. We are working with a tight deadline, so any correspondence would need to take place this week. Please feel free to email me at reporter@peacenews.info.

Best,
Jessica Corbett

Related Link: http://peacenews.info/node/7061/anarchist-among-jihadists
 
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Issue #3 of the Newsletter of the Tokologo African Anarchist Collective

Front page

Elementos da Conjuntura Eleitoral 2014

The experiment of West Kurdistan (Syrian Kurdistan) has proved that people can make changes

[Chile] EL FTEM promueve una serie de “jornadas de debate sindical”

Ukraine: Interview with a Donetsk anarchist

The present confrontation between the Zionist settler colonialist project in Palestine and the indigenous working people

Prisões e mais criminalização marcam o final da Copa do Mundo no Brasil

An Anarchist Response to a Trotskyist Attack: Review of “An Introduction to Marxism and Anarchism” by Alan Woods (2011)

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Contra a Copa e a Repressão: Somente a Luta e Organização!

Nota Pública de soldariedade e denúncia

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Mayday: Building A New Workers Movement

Anarchist and international solidarity against Russian State repression

Argentina: Atentado y Amenazas contra militantes sociales de la FOB en Rosario, Santa Fe

Réponses anarchistes à la crise écologique

50 оттенков коричневого

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Mashriq / Arabia / Iraq | Imperialism / War | en

Thu 18 Sep, 13:42

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oabubakralbaghdadi570.jpg imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? 21:25 Tue 24 Jun by Kurdish Anarchists Forum 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, History's wheels turn faster and scream as blood does not oil the axes enough* 23:23 Mon 26 Aug by Ilan S. 0 comments

The turmoil in our region expresses the melting of world history as we knew it. It accelerates before it reaches its end as the axes of the old order cannot hold it any more. The Zionist settler colonialist bridgehead of the developed imperial countries in the cradle of human culture at the east of the Mediterranean Sea is being eroded by the resistance of the indigenous inhabitants who are recruiting supporters from all over the world. The cracks in neoliberal global capitalism, which seemed to have reached its ultimate victory just a few years ago when the end of history was declared, are pointing to the real end of the history of egoistic and alienated class society. In the day-to-day struggle here, it is still hard to discern the cracks in the structure of the system, but you can already smell it in the clouds of tear gas at the weekly demos and feel the ground tremor under your feet. [Italiano]

textPalestine-Israel, Some activities the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative involved with lately 17:23 Tue 15 Feb by Ilan S. 0 comments

There are four main areas of struggles the AAtW activists are involved with: Joint struggle with communities that invite us to join, like Bil'in and other struggles against the separation fence. Other joint struggles against occupation and settler colonialists like Nabi Salih. Joint struggles with wider coalitions like the Sheikh Jarrah coalition and South Hebron. The fourth is within Israel, like prison and jail solidarity, Al Araqeeb and Lod. It seems that our confrontational and direct-action mode of struggle is being adopted by more and more Israeli radicals.

textIraqi trade union leader on the current situation in Iraq 20:28 Wed 03 Oct by Manuel Baptista 0 comments

Falah Alwan, president of the Federation of Workers Councils & Unions in Iraq was recently on a short visit to Lisbon to gather some support for the workers' resistance inside Iraq.

textIsrael: "Occupation 40" - first actions in Tel Aviv 16:48 Wed 06 Jun by Ilan Shalif 1 comments

The 6 days of actions to commemorate the atrocities of the 40 years of Israeli occupation from the 1967 war started in Tel Aviv this afternoon, after an appetizer in the form of nightly hanging of placards during the last few weeks.

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation 18:50 Tue 05 Jun by Kibush 40 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

textItaly: "Resistance, disobedience, solidarity" - an evening with an Israeli refusni 17:09 Tue 21 Nov by FdCA Fano 0 comments

On Monday 20th November 2006 at the Istituto Tecnico-Commerciale Battisti in Fano, eastern Italy, with Lior Volinytz, a 19-year-old Israeli refusnik and activist in the Anarchists Against the Wall initiative.

textIsrael, Direct action near the border of Gaza Strip 01:29 Sun 19 Nov by Ilan S. 0 comments

It happened when the Zionist leftist peace now (who refused to join the previous Saturday more radical left demonstration against the massacre in Beit Hanun) had their demonstration and at Erez road block. 25 activists organized by the anarchists against the wall initiative traveled to the region bordering the Gaza strip. When the boring speeches started at the peace now not far away demonstration, we entered a compound of army tools of war - about 50 heavily armored soldiers carriers and 5 D9s (of the model that crashed to death Rachel Cury). We climbed on two of the carriers and placed around pictures, banners, and other materials representing massacred people. The soldiers on guard there tried to make us go away but we just ignored their commands. Police officers who came there just asked to see our ID cards, but surprisingly did noting more.

text655,000 Dead in Iraq since Invasion 17:23 Fri 13 Oct by Anarcho 0 comments

According to a new study published by a medical journal between 420,000 and 790,000 Iraqis have died as a result of war and political violence since the beginning of the US-UK invasion in March, 2003, with 655,000 considered the most likely figure.

textStatement on al-Badil article 16:51 Mon 11 Sep by Alternative Libertaire 0 comments

On 27th July 2006, Alternative Libertaire (France) distributed a text entitled "News from Lebanon: the Israeli attack" by our Lebanese comrades, Al-Badil al-Chouyouii al-Taharrouri (Libertarian Communist Alternative). This text denounced the Israeli war, Western plans for a Great Middle East, and criticized Hezbollah as a religious and reactionary organization.

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imageThe wonders of the desperate gamble that Netanyahu lost Aug 26 by Ilan S. 0 comments

To keep Hamas on its legs again after the Egyptian closure forced it to its knees and to compromise with the West Bank Palestinian Authority, Netanyahu started a war that was supposed to set Hamas back on its feet, though much weaker than before the closure.

textKurdish "Terrorists" Rescue Yezidis Aug 15 by PaulB 0 comments

The US special forces finally sent to Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq to assess a mission to rescue the threatened Yezidis this morning [Thursday 14 August], reported that most of the displaced population had already been rescued in the previous days. What is not being widely reported is the identity of the Kurdish forces who secured the northern side of the mountain and opened a safe passage for the threatened Yezidi civilians, through the Syrian territory they control to Dohuk in the north of the Kurdish Autonomous region in Iraq.

Embarrassingly for the US, arriving on its white charger to save the day, only to discover they are far too late, the saviours of the Yezidis are the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allies. The PKK are officially on the US and EU “terrorist” lists and the autonomous Syrian region defended by the YPG is subject to blockade by ISIS to the South and West, Turkey to the North and the corrupt Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) regime in Kurdish Northern Iraq to the East.

textIsrael burned the stew Aug 02 by Ilan S. 0 comments

The present Gaza war was started before the actual shooting, by Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip, intended to break the rule of Hamas due to it being a part of the Islamic Brotherhood movement. [Italiano] [Türkçe]

imageIsrael/Palestine: Background to the present conflict Jul 27 by Ilan S. 0 comments

Egypt insists on dissolving the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, Hamas, in the Gaza Strip. Israel "just" wants to sabotage the yielding/compromise by Hamas to the Palestinian West Bank Authority. The relevant political context for the present round begins in November 2012, with the agreement between Israel and Hamas under Egyptian sponsorship. [Italiano] [Português]

textSyria: the Struggle Continues – “Day of Rage Against Al-Qaeda & Assad” Jan 19 by TŘÍDNÍ VÁLKA 0 comments

Since nearly three years that an uprising broke out in Syria (as a local materialization of the upheavals shaking the whole regions of Maghreb and Mashreq) most of the reactions, comments and critics from militant structures which claim to be revolutionary, internationalist, communist, anarchist… go in the same direction: doubts about what happens, doubts about essential material determinations that give birth to the movements that develop in front of our eyes, doubts about the class nature of these events, doubts about the potentially subversive content of struggles of our class when it doesn’t wave the “good” flags, etc. [Português] [Français] [Italiano]

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imageWhat do we think about the current crisis of Iraq? Jun 24 KAF 0 comments

The Iraq crisis has been continued for decades while it has been under the power of Saddam Hussein or under the “current democratic Regime” since the invasion of 2003. There were no freedom, no social justice; no equality and also little opportunity for those who were independent from the political parties who were in power. In addition to existing brutality and discrimination against women and the ordinary people a very big gap was created between the rich and poor, making the poor even poorer and the rich richer. [Italiano]

text6 days of protests to mark 40 years of occupation Jun 05 0 comments

For six days, June 5 to 10 - corresponding to the days of the 1967 War - a wide spectrum of events will take place, including exhibitions, demonstrations, theatre plays, academic conferences etc., in order to place a the occupation and the millions suffering under its yoke on the public agenda. June 9 and 10 had been declared as International Days of Protest Against the Israeli Occupation, and we will hold The main march and rally on Saturday, June 9.

textStatement on al-Badil article Sep 11 AL 0 comments

On 27th July 2006, Alternative Libertaire (France) distributed a text entitled "News from Lebanon: the Israeli attack" by our Lebanese comrades, Al-Badil al-Chouyouii al-Taharrouri (Libertarian Communist Alternative). This text denounced the Israeli war, Western plans for a Great Middle East, and criticized Hezbollah as a religious and reactionary organization.

textLebanon- The Smoke, Anguish and Terror of a Fascist Attack Sep 02 Grupo Qhispikay Llaqta, Perú 1 comments

The anarchists of Peru and the rest of the world oppose the fascist attacks of the Israeli State against the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples. We refuse to follow reformist or reactionary positions that call for the formation of a new Palestinian state- a state that even if established could only survive subject to the mandates of American imperialism. Instead, we support and instigate the class struggle in the region as a means toward the eventual foundation of an Anarchist Federation, which in turn is the only way to secure a truly humane and dignified existence for the working class of these countries.

textOn the slaughter in the Middle East Aug 19 Anarkismo 19 comments

«Being slaves of God, the people owe to be, also, slaves of the Church and the State, insofar as the State has been blessed by the Church» Michael Bakounin

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