Weekly Worker, 23 December 2016 **** Front Page
By Hannu Reime
I have always admired Yassamine Mather's sharp analytical ability in her comments on the Middle East, and her rejection of the silly and dangerous notion, so common among the ”geopolitical left” nowadays, that ”my enemy's enemy is my friend.” But her article on Syria (Reaping the harvest, WW, December 15) left me perplexed.
Yassamine seems to argue – obliquely but still – that the Syrian uprising against the Assad tyranny was almost nothing else but a US, Saudi, and Qatari regime change scheme, and had very little in common with the Arab Spring in other countries of the Arab world, Egypt in particular. She dismisses socialists who support the ”Syrian revolution” (her quote marks), and seems to put an equality sign between solidarity with the Syrian democrats and revolutionaries and a call for (more) Western intervention.
It is true that the left is confused, and support for the Syrian revolution cannot, due to circumstances, be mostly but a Platonic affair. But I think that progressive US groups such as the Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Solidarity (Against the Current), and International Socialist Organization have taken quite sensible stands on Syria. CPD distributed a statement by a group of Syrian intellectuals, which called for solidarity with the Syrian revolution but explicitly condemned all outside interventions (http://www.cpdweb.org/news/war-tyranny-Syria.shtml). As to the "no-fly zone", it is one thing to oppose it (correctly in my mind), and another to understand why people living under Russia's and Assad's bombs might think that it's not so bad an idea.
I recommend reading Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami (Pluto Press 2016). I had no previous knowledge of the writers but their reporting seems to be honest and their own comments interesting. The book gives a voice to the Syrians, so much suppressed in the on-going geopolitical gangster warfare, whose victims they are right now.
Read Yassamine Mather's reply
The archive: Hannu Reime, Syria, Middle East. Phyllis Bennis, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Moshé Machover. Robert Parry
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